★★ The eleventh James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli. US release date: June 29, 1979. Budget: $30 million. Worldwide box office gross: $210.3 million (US domestic gross: $70.3 million; international gross: $140.0 million). Running time: 126 minutes
Billionaire aerospace industrialist Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) builds space shuttles, one of which, enroute to the UK aboard a 747 jetliner, disappears over the Yukon. British intelligence wants to know what happened to the missing shuttle, so they send James Bond (Roger Moore) to Drax’s facility in California to investigate. Bond meets Drax, who says he also wants to know what happened to his shuttle, blaming the British for its disappearance, and icy US space scientist Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). Bond’s investigations will lead him to Drax’s deadly plot to destroy mankind with a toxin that will spare plants and animals but eliminate all human life on Earth. The only survivors: Drax’s super-race, waiting out the destruction on a radar-proof space station that orbits the Earth.
Behind the Scenes
Although producer Albert R. Broccoli was wise to follow the Goldfinger formula of less serious, more fantastical Bond adventures after the success of the lighthearted Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, Moonraker actually proved to be too fantastical. Not only did it send Bond into outer space, where no double-0 agent should ever go, but it also returned to The Man with the Golden Gun’s style of action sequences that lack all credibility. Except for the wild parachute jump in the pre-credits teaser, the action in the movie is just plain stupid, including the unbelievably dumb moment when Bond glides through Venice’s St. Mark’s Square on a gondola hovercraft. Even a pigeon did a double take. Interestingly, what could have been a great action sequence in the film—Bond flying a mini jet behind Angel Falls in Venezuela—was eliminated from the shooting script when the river dried up.
Steel-toothed assassin Jaws (Richard Kiel) returns and adds some tension, but his Wile E. Coyote antics are not as flavorful as they were in The Spy Who Loved Me. Lois Chiles is a cocky Bond heroine, but she’s an ice machine in the charisma department. And Michael Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax spends much of the film mumbling about Bond’s ability to survive numerous assassination attempts—though one of those is actually the film’s most effective sequence: the centrifuge trainer mishap.
High points include John Barry’s score and Corinne Cléry’s death scene in the forest, where she becomes lunch for Drax’s Dobermans—a scene that found its way into the film’s teaser trailer. The film’s failings didn’t hurt it at the box office; building upon the momentum of The Spy Who Loved Me and backed by an inspired marketing campaign, Moonraker became, to that point, the biggest moneymaker in Bond history.
|James Bond||Roger Moore|
|Holly Goodhead||Lois Chiles|
|Hugo Drax||Michael Lonsdale|
|Corinne Dufour||Corinne Cléry|
|Miss Moneypenny||Lois Maxwell|
|Frederick Gray||Geoffrey Keen|
|Private Jet Pilot||Jean Pierre Castaldi|
|Private Jet Hostess||Leila Shenna|
|General Gogol||Walter Gotell|
|Blonde Beauty/Drax Girl||Irka Bochenko|
|Colonel Scott||Michael Marshall|
|Mission-Control Director||Douglas Lambert|
|Consumptive Italian||Alfie Bass|
|Museum Guide/Drax Girl||Anne Lonnberg|
|U.S. Shuttle Captain||Brian Keith|
|Captain Boeing 747||George Birt|
|RAF Officer||Kim Fortune|
|Screenplay by||Christopher Wood|
|Executive Producer||Michael G. Wilson|
|Producer||Albert R. Broccoli|
|Associate Producer||William P. Cartlidge|
|Director of Photography||Jean Tournier|
|Music by||John Barry|
|Title song performed by||Shirley Bassey|
|Lyrics by||Hal David|
|Production Designer||Ken Adam|
|Costume Designer||Jacques Fonteray|
|Stunt Arranger||Bob Simmons|
|Title Designer||Maurice Binder|
|Special Effects||John Evans|
|Visual Effects Supervisor||Derek Meddings|
|Visual Effects Art Director||Peter Lamont|
 “Moonraker (1979),” The Numbers, accessed June 11, 2020, https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Moonraker.