Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Hero vs villain: Roger Moore and Michael Lonsdale
MOONRAKER (1979). Director: Lewis Gilbert.

"Mr. Bond, you arrive with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season." -- Hugo Drax

When a Moonraker shuttle built by Drax Industries is hijacked in midair, James Bond (Roger Moore) is assigned to the investigation. He discovers that Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) is behind a scheme to wipe out the earth's population and replace it with perfect specimens over which he, of course, will rule. After a variety of misadventures, Bond -- assisted by CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) -- winds up on a space station for the final battle. Moonraker was the ultimate live-action cartoon and science fiction version of 007, but it's great fun on that level. There are major action setpieces in the film, such as a prologue in which Bond is forced out of an airplane; a scene when Bond is caught in a whirling thingamajig that registers acceleration pressure; a battle with metal-toothed Jaws (Richard Kiel) high atop a cable car over Rio; a chase on a river with a waterfall, Bond's glider at the ready; and another boat chase on a canal in Venice. [Bond's gondola is outfitted with wheels and an outboard motor!] Moore plays his own version of a lighter-hearted Bond and plays it well. The other two main performers underplay to good effect: Lonsdale is neither hysterical nor flamboyant but radiates a quiet menace; and while Chiles could be considered bland, even wooden at times, she gets across her character's strength, avoids making her a Kewpie doll (despite her dirty joke of a name), and only succumbs to Bond's charms when she is ready. John Barry's majestic music is on the money, including an excellent title tune very well-sung by Shirley Bassey of Goldfinger fame. A very colorful and exciting picture with some fascinating settings.

Verdict: More silly than it needs to be, but highly entertaining. ***.


angelman66 said...

I confess...Roger Moore is my all-time favorite Bond...probably because he was the one I grew up with. And he's sooo charming! He is less smug than Connery and less dangerous than Dalton...good-looking but not pretty like Brosnan...I don't know why I don't care for Craig, but I don't.(I might even prefer Lazenby to Craig...nahhh, scratch that!) I like Moonraker very much but always LOVED Spy Who Loved Me. Big crush on Barbara Bach and obsessed with Richard Kiel! But Lois Chiles is hardly chopped liver...she was gorgeous too, just not as much fun as Barbara...
Need to see this one again - thank you, Bill!!

William said...

Yes, I think I might prefer "Spy Who Loved Me" to "Moonraker" also. Didn't Bach marry Ringo Starr?
Craig may grow on you -- or not. I always thought Lazenby made an excellent Bond, closer to Ian Fleming's conception of the role, and it's a shame it did absolutely nothing for the poor guy's career.

Obsessed with Richard Kiel? Well, he certainly was different, LOL!

angelman66 said...

Yes, Barbara is still married to Ringo, I believe.
Richard Kiel had such a huge moment in the mid-70s - he also appeared in one of my all-time favorite films, Silver Streak, with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor...