The blog’s complicated feelings about Moonraker

Moonraker teaser poster

This week, I participated in an upcoming episode of the James Bond & Friends podcast where everybody watched Moonraker and commented about it in real time.

Afterward, I reflected on my own conflicted feelings about the 11th James Bond film.

When Moonraker came out in the summer of 1979, I was all in. The Spy Who Loved Me two years earlier had re-energized the franchise. Producer Albert R. Broccoli promised he was going all out with his next effort.

When the movie came out, Broccoli delivered. It even got favorable reviews from The New York Times (Vincent Canby wrote it was “one of the most buoyant Bond films”) and Time magazine, which likened Broccoli to the proverbial Jewish mother who doesn’t let anyone go away hungry. And it was a big hit.

Later, after the initial hit waned, I noted the lack of Fleming material in the movie. And, yes, that double-taking pigeon was a reminder the movie went for comedy in places.

I probably felt the lowest toward the movie in the 2000s. I was a contributor to the now-offline site Her Majesty’s Secret Servant. The site asked its contributors to rank all the movies up through 2006’s Casino Royale. We were also asked to write some remarks and mine about Moonraker were pretty tough.

Since then, my opinions toward the movie have mellowed. Here in the 21st century, there’s been a lot of bad news, including two major financial recessions a decade apart. Escapist entertainment, such as Moonraker, looks a lot better now. I appreciate it a lot more for what it is.

My stock line about Moonraker is, whatever you think of it, is it’s not pretentious. That’s not true of all Bond films.

Also, at this point, we have 25 Bond films from Eon Productions. The fact we can’t see the 25th (because of the release delay because of COVID-19) is another indicator of just how the 21st century has a lot of bad news.

That’s yet another reason why escapist entertainment like Moonraker is better appreciated.

6 Responses

  1. Moonraker is definitely a clunky facsimile of The Spy Who Loved Me. On the plus side, Michael Lonsdale as Drax is a step up from the anemic Stromberg and that John Barry score is one of the greatest ever composed in film history.

  2. Moonraker is fun to watch but I wish they’d do a serious film and follow Ian Fleming’s story. It would make a good film.

  3. I disliked it then and time has not mellowed my view of it, but then I also disliked The Spy Who Loved Me. I need a modicum of grit to offset the fantasy. I don’t expect John le Carré. I love John le Carré, but if I’m in the mood for John le Carré I’ll read or watch some John le Carré. But neither do I want Bond to be Our Man Flint, which was basically irreproducible. Even In Like Flint didn’t really capture the magic of its predecessor, so I was relieved that they didn’t crank out any more. Most of the Roger Moores seemed like they wanted to be Flint movies. Only FYEO, which I always liked, and L&LD, which I initially disliked, but have mellowed on, demonstrating that my views can evolve, had any semblance of grit in them.

  4. I still want to know about the Mandela effect.
    My late friend Glenn and I attended opening day of every James Bond film at he Royal theater in San Francisco from 1970.
    We saw Jaw’s girlfriend with braces on her teeth.
    Then magically…poof !
    No braces in the DVD, VHS, or Blu Ray version.
    So what happened to them.
    We and millions of others did not imagine them.
    And even the series of comic books Trump’s Titans has an issue The Mandela Effect where she is on the cover and in the story.
    I’d like an answer.
    I do have a personal tie in to James Bond.
    My late Aunt on my Mother’s side was Lotte Lenya.
    I wrote her a letter after seeing From Russia With Love asking why did she try to kill James Bond ?
    She called my Mother up and said she laughed and laughed for 10 minutes after reading the letter.
    I lost her reply letter when I lost my storage in 2001 along with so many prized and cherished possessions.
    So MY Aunt tried to KILL James Bond and paid the price for failure.
    I was 10 at the time, will be 69 in 10 days.
    I saw FRWL then Goldfinger with a 2 block long Shirley Eaton above the marquee, then Dr. No. and did not miss an opening day for years.

  5. @James

    I would have loved to have seen Moonraker directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Cary Grant as Bond.

  6. Moonraker is just God awful. I remember the sick to my stomach feeling I had after seeing it. Time and age does NOT change my opinion.

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