007 reasons not to hate Moonraker

Let’s face it. It’s fashionable for fans of James Bond movies to criticize Moonraker, the 11th 007 movie made by Eon Productions and the fourth to star Roger Moore. Some fans who count Sean Connery as the best film 007 dismiss Moore as “Roger, the clown.” Some fans who say Daniel Craig, the current film 007, is the best screen 007, dismiss Sir Roger as “Roger, the clown.”

That’s a heavy burden for any James Bond movie to carry. Still, there are some reasons why Moonraker isn’t a lost cause. For example:

001. It’s the last 007 film where Hal David did the lyrics: Hal David (b. 1921) did the lyrics for three 007 movies, starting with 1967’s Casino Royale spoof, extending to songs for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and concluding with 1979’s Moonraker. David has a long and distinguished record for writing lyrics for songs in films.

002. It was the last time that John Barry’s 007 theme was used: John Barry orchestrated (and, in real life, added to) Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme. Barry composed the 007 theme for From Russia With Love, hoping it would replace The James Bond Theme. No such luck, but Moonraker was the last time the 007 theme (da-da-da-da-DUH DUH) would be used in a Bond film.

003. It was the last time a Bond movie got an Oscar (R) special effects nomination: Moonraker’s special-effects crew, led by Derek Meddings, secured a nomination for an Academy Award. Meddings & Co. didn’t win. Still, Moonraker came out the same year as Alien (which won the Oscar). Meddings may not have had the resources of its competitor but the nomiation was still an accomplishment for the Bond crew. The last time a 007 movie received an Oscar nomination was For Your Eyes Only (1981) for best song. Meanwhile, John Stears won a special effects Oscar (R) for Thunderball.

004. It was the last time Ken Adam was production designer for Bond: Adam designed the sets for seven Bond films and Moonraker was his finale. Starting with Dr. No, Adam established a distinct look for the films (making the modestly budgeted Dr. No look more expensive than it was). Adam’s work in Moonraker was as good as it was in any other 007 film he worked on.

005. It has a John Barry score: Any John Barry score is special and the composer didn’t disappoint with his work for Moonraker.

006. It was the first 007 film that exceeded Thunderball in U.S. ticket sales. 1965’s Thunderball had U.S. ticket sales of $63.6 million. Live And Let Die exceeded Thunderball’s unadjusted worldwide ticket sales. But the U.S. market held on to Thunderball as the top-grossing 007 movie until Moonraker, where $70.3 million in tickets were sold.

007. Outer Space! (exclamation mark included) listed as a location for filming in the end titles. When was the last time you saw that in a 007 movie?