*NOTE* The mastermind behind the entire JAMES BOND PROJECT is the sweet, lovely, wonderful CRAIG KENNEDY who runs one of the best movie sites on the planet, LIVING IN CINEMA
I’ll be reviewing JAMES BOND films all week long. So make yourself at home and read to your heart’s content.
MOONRAKER kicks off with one of the most hilarious sequences ever filmed.
JAMES is making out with a flight attendant who unfortunately is – wouldn’t you know it? – a double agent. Both she and the pilot exit the aircraft while James is pushed out with no parachute in sight. Once airborne outside, BOND manages to get the parachute away from the pilot.
But what he’s completely unaware of – and the audience is just beginning to discover – is that JAWS (RICHARD KIEL, reprising his villainous role from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) is also on that plane. He’s all ready made his jump and he’s in hot pursuit of BOND.
You’d have to see it to believe it.
From all that precious hilarity, the adventure begins…
MOONRAKER is actually the name of a space shuttle that disappears mysteriously. It belongs to HUGO DRAX (MICHAEL LONSDALE), a wealthy industrialist who all ready owns at least half the world.
Now he wants the other half. His obsession with the space program is just the beginning.
Drax is a rather bland villain. But he does have one great piece of dialogue: “Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.“
Jaws more than makes up for Drax’s lack of charisma. In every way imaginable. There’s not a dull moment when he’s around.
James’ investigation surrounding the whereabouts of MOONRAKER leads him to a meeting with DR. HOLLY GOODHEAD (LOIS CHILES), a stunningly brilliant NASA scientist.
Ms. Chiles is not a particularly talented actor. But she’s absolute perfection as a BOND woman. There is a graciousness, a clear eyed intelligence and a particular kind of class that emanates from her. You know that, despite her cool reserve, that it won’t be long until they decide to pool their resources, as James so cleverly remarks.
The action set pieces are incredible. There’s an exciting gondola/high speed boat chase. There is also James and Holly fighting for their lives on top of two cable cars suspended hundreds of feet in the air above a sprawling aqua ocean. That particular sequence culminates in Jaws finding his true love.
The movie is beautifully shot and is an exacting evocation of the glamour of that sensually provocative period. Venice is spectacular and Ms. Chiles’ wardrobe is glorious.
In one scene, she’s staying in a monumental Italian hotel suite with an incredible balcony and golden light streaming through the room. She’s wearing the most magnificent white halter dress. There’s so much gorgeous luxuriousness packed into those few moments that it almost feels like sensory overload.
LEWIS GILBERT directed this picture with a keen eye and a genuine flair for the material. He knew what he was going for.
He’s had rather a mixed interesting resume (two other BOND flicks – THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE – and he’s also guided MICHAEL CAINE to two OSCAR nominations and JULIE WALTERS to one respectively: in ALFIE and EDUCATING RITA), so he’s equally good with performers and top of the line stunts.
ROGER MOORE is a marvelous JAMES BOND. His dry wit and his terribly arch quips are extremely entertaining. The fact that he’s nice to look at doesn’t hurt at all either.
MOONRAKER is a fabulously lavish look at that particular time. It’s also one of the best BOND films of its era.