Location Guide - Moonraker
North African Skies
James Bond is
returning from a successful operation on a small
private jet when the air crew, lead by the infamous Jaws,
turn against 007 and he is thrown from the craft without
a chute. 007 dives after the pilot who is also in
free fall and wrestles the parachute from him. Jaws
pursues the MI6 Agent but when Bond pulls the rip cord,
the goon's chute malfunctions and Jaws plummets into
a circus big top.
Back on home turf, it is revealed that a space shuttle
on loan from NASA and the Drax Corporation has gone
missing whilst in British care. Bond meets with M, Q and
the Minister of Defense at MI6 headquarters. It is
revealed that despite carnage of the craft carrying
the shuttle there is no evidence of the spacecraft
itself. 007 is deployed to the US to negotiate with
the prominent aviation entrepreneur Sir
Hugo Drax and investigate the missing craft.
Los Angeles, California, USA
At the home of the hi-tech Moonraker shuttles,
Bond meets with Drax at his lavish Franco-mansion, imported
from Europe piece by piece. He is shown around by the
savvy NASA-based Dr.
Goodhead, who surprises Bond in more ways than one.
He makes the acquaintance of the willing helicopter pilot Corinne
Dufour who meets a brutal death when she shows Bond
more than she should. Bond uncovers documentation from
a Venetian glassmaker and follows the lead to Italy.
Bond visits the Vinini glass factory in Murano. He joins
a guided tour and spots a
familiar face. He returns to the factory at nightfall
to snoop around.
Here he faces a masked assassin and the brawl ends
with much of the priceless glass artifacts destroyed.
The following day, Bond is again the target of an assassination
attempt on the canals. A chase ensues that climaxes
with 007 driving his hover-gondola across
St. Mark's square. Bond discovers a scientific lab
where masked scientists carefully arm space probes
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After finding the probes postmarked for the Drax Corporation
in Rio, Bond journeys to South America. He touches
down at Galeão's Airport and quickly rendezvous
with Goodhead. The agents agree to cooperate in their
mission to thwart Drax's plan. On a precarious cable
car ride at Grumari beach, Bond and Goodhead do battle
with Jaws, who is now on the payroll of Drax. At
the Brazilian branch of MI6, Q explains to M and
Bond that the poison used by Drax's probes is rare
and 007 sets out to find the area where this orchid
grows, deep in the Amazon jungle.
Bond is on the river when a band of goons, lead by Jaws,
attack. With the help of Q's gadget laden hydrofoil,
Bond defeats the pack and the incredible chase ends
with Bond jettisoning the boat (by hang-glider) as
it falls over Iguaçu. Stranded in the Amazonian
jungle, Bond follows a lovely young temptress into
a ruined temple in the wilderness. Here he is challenged
by a gigantic python and runs into the damsel in distress:
Dr. Goodhead. The pair escape confinement and board
Blasting into outer space, Bond and Goodhead arrive
at Drax's super satellite, masked from radar and undetectable.
Bond fights his way to the radar jamming control room and
puts the system out of action, prompting NASA to launch
a shuttle of their own. A battle ensues on the space station
and Bond and Holly go after the poisonous probes in Drax's
armed Moonraker 5.
Lewis Gilbert rolled
cameras on the high-flying "Moonraker",
his third Bond adventure, in August 1978. The home of this, the
11th Bond picture, would not be the Brit-based Pinewood Studios.
Instead, due to high UK taxation of the film industry, EON Productions
opted to host most the film in France. The 007 team occupied three
of France's film studios and only the miniature work was filmed
The crew spread themselves out across Boulogne-sur-Mer, Billancourt and Epinay film studios - the latter being the location of the stunning sci-fi set of Drax's space station. 007 and his support team journeyed to London (for minimal exteriors), Paris, Venice, Palmdale, California, Rio de Janeiro and even some skeleton work in Guatemala.
Above: On a diplomatic mission from
England, James Bond visits the home of the Moonraker and
fronts up against its eccentric creator...
On set, director Gilbert had to contend with
a series of challenges including Roger Moore's ill health, who'd
been stricken with kidney stones whilst on location in Brazil,
and the comparatively short working hours and the temperament
of their new French crew.
John Glen took a crew to California, prior to
the principal photography on "Moonraker" began, in
order to capture the highly technical and ultimately stunning
pre-title sequence. Accompanied by B. J. Worth and Jake Lombard,
like the Ski-parachute jump of "The
Spy Who Loved Me", nobody was 100% sure they could pull
it off. The pre-titles was tested, shot and edited in plenty
of time so as to make sure it did not put pressure on the rest
of the production. The sequence proved a huge hit with fans of
the film and wows viewers even today. This would be John Glen's
final film as second unit director, before he took up mantle
of director on for "For Your Eyes Only".
Above: From the West Coast of the USA to the East Coast of Italy - Bond traces the shady dealings of the Drax Corporation...
The famed Italian Vinini Glass museum was paid
a visit by the James Bond production when they shot extensively
in Italy. Founded in 1921, Vinini is one of the premium crafters
of fine glass art. Hotel Danieli is where 007 spends the night
with Dr. Holly Goodhead. The Canals and famed St. Marks square
are host to a fantastic gondola chase. The Lido estate in Venice
was used by
the 007 team to double for MI6's Brazilian outpost where 007
meets Q and M.
Vaux-le-Vicomte in France was the real location
of Drax's estate (depicted as being located in California in
and the interiors were filmed at Château
de Guermantes, in Seine-et-Marne. The Georges Pompidou
Centre provided interiors for the Drax Corporation plans - including
Holly Goodhead's office. The Kennedy Space Centre in Florida
was utilized for its gigantic hangers when 007 is given the official
tour and the sweeping exteriors of the Moonraker plant were
captured in Palmdale, California. The second unit also shot
action sequence in St. Lucie, Florida when 007 jets down the
St. Lucie River, pursued by Jaws and his goons. The sequence
cleverly cut to seem as if Bond is approaching the impressive
Above: Bond has a hankering to go
to Rio, following the suspicious probes and tracing the
source of this rare poison to the Iguaçu...
After their work in California and France, the
Bond team headed to Rio in January 1979. Here Richard Graydon,
doubling for 007, took the precarious position atop the Sugarloaf
Mountain cable car. Without any kind of safety setup he swung
from the edge of the cable car to capture a memorable sequence.
The Mardi Gras had been shot by a special crew earlier in the
year, so all that was left to do was an in-studio sequence involving
007, Jaws and Goodhead set in a Rio back-alley. The Myan pyramid
and Drax's shuttle deploying hideout that Bond stumbles across
in the rainforest is Tikal Mayan, some 3,700 miles from Rio,
The Iguaçu Falls were
to a key location for the action team. The second unit, who had
a life-size replica of 007's jet boat to bail over the massive
waterfall, fell short when the model collided with the rocks
and would not be easily unstuck. The plan was shelved and Derek
Meddings and the model unit were tasked with replicating the
boat's plummet in miniature. Meddings and his crew were also
responsible for the thousands of frames of outer-space,
all filmed at Pinewood and in miniature. The stunning photography
on "Moonraker" earned
an Academy Award nod at the 1980 Oscars