1979: Frank Rich reviews Moonraker

Frank Rich is considered one of the most important journalists in America. He writes a weekly column for The New York Times and has been a contender for the Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious U.S. journalism award.

A long time ago, the 1970s to be precise, he was the movie critic for Time magazine. And one movie he liked a lot was 1979’s Moonraker. An excerpt:

Producer Albert R. Broccoli, the major-domo of the James Bond movies, is the proverbial Jewish mother of cinema: he is not about to let anyone go away hungry. In Moonraker, the eleventh 007 opus, Broccoli serves the audience a space-shuttle hijacking, a jumbo-jet explosion and a protracted wrestling match between two men who are falling from the sky without parachutes. All this happens before the opening credits. From there, it’s on to gondola chases in Venice, funicular crashes in Rio and laser-gun shootouts and lovemaking in deep space. Meanwhile, beautiful women come and go, talking (ever so discreetly) about fellatio. When Broccoli lays out a feast, he makes sure that there is at least one course for every conceivable taste.

Want more? Here it is:

The result is a film that is irresistibly entertaining as only truly mindless spectacle can be. Those who have held out on Bond movies over 17 years may not be convinced by Moonraker, but everyone else will be. With their rigid formulas and well-worn gags, these films have transcended fashion. Styles in Pop culture, sexual politics and international espionage have changed drastically since Ian Fleming invented his superhero, but the immaculately tailored, fun-loving British agent remains a jolly spokesman for the simple virtues of Western civilization. Not even Margaret Thatcher would dare consider slowing him down.

These days, Rich tackles larger, more imporant topics. To read his latest NYT column, just CLICK HERE. Meanwhile, if you’d like to read his Moonraker review in full, just CLICK RIGHT HERE.

MGM’s impending deadline for bidders

Next Friday, Jan. 15, is the deadline Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has set for bids. From a Jan. 6 story by Michael White on Bloomberg.com:

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) — Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the film studio burdened by about $4 billion in debt, set a Jan. 15 deadline for potential buyers to say whether they are interested in acquiring the company.

About a dozen parties, including film studios and investment groups, signed non-disclosure agreements allowing them to examine MGM’s finances, said a person familiar with the process, who declined to be identified because talks are confidential. The person wouldn’t name the interested parties.

Of course, this is of interest to James Bond fans because all this may affect Bond 23, the as-yet-untitled next entry in the film series that began in 1962. It has already caused work on the script to be suspended, as disclosed by screenwriter Peter Morgan. MGM controls half of the Bond franchise and the 007 films are part of MGM’s film library.

You can get all the MGM details by clicking on the link above. Meanwhile, the story has an explanation for 007 fans confused about what happened to Sony and Columbia Pictures, which released Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Some fans were under the impression that Sony had bought MGM. But as the story explains, it was a lot more complicated:

MGM is controlled by Providence Equity Partners Inc. and TPG. Comcast Corp. and Sony Corp. each own 20 percent, while DLJ Merchant Partners holds 7 percent and Quadrangle Group holds 3 percent. Led by Providence, the group bought MGM for $5 billion in 2005. Sony and Comcast have written off their investments.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra to perform 007 music

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform music from James Bond movies. The shows will run April 15 through April 18, with tickets priced from $19 (upper balcony) to $48 (dress circle). For more information JUST CLICK HERE. The site doesn’t list a lot of details but it’s likely to include a good helping of music from John Barry’s 11 007 scores.

The Final Affair

Back in the ’60s, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. spawned a series of popular paperback novels based on the television. Perhaps the most favorite among fans were the ones done by David McDaniel, which included an origin of Thrush (it was he, and not the show’s writers who decided it should be an acronym, the Technologial Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).

One of his U.N.C.L.E. novels that was never published was The Final Affair, intended to wrap things up, including a final battle with Thrush, the death of U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly and the return of agent Illya Kuryakin to Russia. However, with the series canceled in January 1968, there was no market for the book. Still, copies of the manuscript circulate among fans.

Blogger Randy Johnson (who is quick to remind readers he’s not the baseball pitcher who just retired), who writes about forgotten books, has done a post. You can READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The post also includes a photo of the late author, taken shortly before his death.

We’ll also tip our cap once more to the Bish’s Beat blog, where we spotted the item.