Defence of an oftentimes abused film by CBn’s Tim Williams
Forty years ago, Moonraker was released to the world.
As we all know, Moonraker is a silly, over the top parody and a complete embarrassment to James Bond. That’s the kind of statement you’re used to hearing about the 11th outing in longest running film franchise, all too often labelled as an embarrassing low point.
I’m here to tell you those statements are wrong. Moonraker represents one last hurrah for the 1960s dream team who set the gold standard for cinematic spy entertainment a decade prior.
Shirley Bassey is back, this time singing a hauntingly beautiful title song, and an upbeat disco rendition which plays over the end credits. Ken Adam returns to oversee production design with his usual futuristic flair, and John Barry composes an ethereal work of art – with the last usage of the 007 Theme that first appeared in 1963’s From Russia With Love.
Moonraker also represents the last time the original MI6 team are together following Bernard Lee’s passing in 1981. The creative talent couldn’t be any more impressive and they all unite for this film.
The Bond of Moonraker is extremely appealing. He’s a smartly dressed daredevil who thinks nothing of freefalling without a parachute, rappelling down cable car wires and hang-gliding off waterfalls – while previously driving a gadget laden speedboat. He’s also an investigator – breaking into a safe, donning black attire to sneak into a secret laboratory, looking through a Rio warehouse and observing plane movements.
It is my belief Roger Moore looks his best in this film. Being his fourth film out of a total of seven, Moonraker is smack bang in the middle of his tenure. After the triumph of 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the Moore template was firmly established, and Moonraker wisely built upon it.