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.

Disney boss hints he covets owning Bond

Walt Disney Co. logo

Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co., suggested he wouldn’t mind owning the James Bond franchise.

Iger was named “Businessperson of the Year” by Time magazine, an offshoot of its “Person of the Year” issue. At the very end of the article, there was this passage:

But for now, for just this moment, Iger is unassailable. He’s transformed his company from a stuffy media doyen into a sexy cultural force. He can glide to retirement in 2021 on the fumes of that triumph. Except it’s not his style. When asked which IP he would buy if in some fantasy world he could: Harry Potter, Gandalf or James Bond, Iger smiles. “We’re not looking to buy anything right now,” he says. “But I’ve always been a huge James Bond fan.”

The thing is, Disney has a piece of Bond, at least through mid-2020.

Disney paid more than $71 billion for most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox studio. That included Fox’s home video operation, the current distributor for Bond films.

Under Iger, Disney has also acquired Marvel and its movie-making operation as well as Lucasfilm Ltd., the maker of Star Wars movies.

Some James Bond fans would rather slit their wrists rather than see Disney get more involved with Bond. Currently, the Bond franchise is controlled by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the weakest Hollywood studios, and the Broccoli-Wilson family-controlled Danjaq (parent company of Eon Productions).

MGM has been rebuilding since a 2010 bankruptcy. Financial issues at MGM have affected how often Bond films have been released.