Release Details - Credits - Music - Cast - Notes

release details
Date of release: 26 June 1979 (UK), 29 June 1979 (US)
Running time: 126 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35 : 1
Classification: PG (UK), R (US)

Alternative titles: Moonraker: Top Secret (Germany), Moonraker: Operation Space (Italy), Moonrocket (Finland), Moonraker: Space Mission (Latin America).

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert
Produced by: Albert R Broccoli
Screenplay by: Christopher Wood
Associate producer: William P Cartridge
Production designed by: Ken Adam
Director of photography: Jean Tournier
Second unit directors: Ernest Day and John Glen
Editor: John Glen
Visual effects supervisor: Derek Meddings
Action sequences arranged by: Bob Simmons
Main title designed by: Maurice Binder

Music by: John Barry

Main theme: "Moonraker"
Performed by: Shirley Bassey
Composed by: John Barry
Lyrics by: Hal David
Highest chart position: 139 (US)

Additional: Theme from The Magnificent Seven
Composed by: Elmer Bernstein
Usage: When Bond arrives at the Secret Service base in Brazil.

Musical notes: A more up-tempo version of the main theme is used for the end credits (known as "Disco Moonraker"). The soundtrack makes use of the secondary Bond theme, "007", for the first time since Diamonds Are Forever (and for the last time to date).

James Bond: Roger Moore
Dr Holly Goodhead: Lois Chiles
Hugo Drax: Michael Lonsdale
Jaws: Richard Kiel
Corinne Dufour: Corinne Clery
M: Bernard Lee
Minister of Defence (Frederick Gray): Geoffrey Keen
Q: Desmond Llewelyn
Miss Moneypenny: Lois Maxwell
Chang: Toshiro Suga
Manuela: Emily Bolton
Dolly: Blanche Ravalec
Blonde Beauty: Irka Bochenko
Colonel C Scott: Michael Marshall
Hostess of Private Jet: Leila Shenna
Museum Guide: Anne Lonberg
Pilot of Private Jet: Jean Pierre Castaldi
General Gogol: Walter Gotell
Mission Control Director: Douglas Lambert
Cavendish: Arthur Howard
Consumptive Italian: Alfie Bass
US Shuttle Captain: Brian Keith
Captain of Boeing 747: George Birt
RAF Officer: Kim Fortune
Russian Girl: Lizzie Warville
Funambulist: Johnny Traber's Troop
Drax's Boy: Nicholas Arbez
Ambulanceman: Guy Di Rigo
Drax's Technicians: Chris Dillinger, Georges Beller
Gondolier: Claude Carliez
Officer on Boeing 747: Denis Seurat

Drax's Girls:
Signoria Del Mateo: Chicinou Kaepller
Lady Victoria Devon: Francoise Gayat
Countess Labinsky: Catherine Serre
Mademoiselle Deradier: Beatrice Libert
Others: Christina Hui, Nicaise Jean Louis

Venice Boat Henchman: Michel Berreur
Rio de Janeiro Hotel Manager: Peter Howitt
Airport Metal Detector Attendant: Carlos Kurt
Lab Technician: Marc Mazza
Fighting Monk: Daniel Breton
Space Station Radar Operator: Francis Perrin
Painter in Saint Marks Square: Patrick Morin

The gunbarrel: The gunbarrel sequence uses the same footage that was used for The Spy Who Loved Me. John Barry's music agains uses strings and no guitar.

Using the title: Moonraker is the somewhat uncharacteristically poetic name given to Drax's space shuttles, one of which is hi-jacked at the start of the film.

The novel approach: As with most of the other films of the 70s, Moonraker bears little resemblance to Fleming's novel of the same name. The name of the villain, Hugo Drax, is taken from the novel, although the name of the Bond girl (Gala Brandt) was changed to Holly Goodhead. There is one scene that is familiar from the novel, where Bond and the girl are imprisoned below the exhausts from a rocket, but it is here in a different context. There is also a subtle reference to the novel when it is revealed that Frederick Gray plays bridge with Drax - the literary version of the villain cheats at that particular game when he plays M. All this does not stop the opening titles from calling the film Ian Fleming's Moonraker; although subsequent films would move Fleming's name from the film title to the name of Bond (so that the actor is credited as playing "Ian Fleming's James Bond").
In common with The Spy Who Loved Me, the movie was novelised by Christopher Wood (as "James Bond and Moonraker"), who also wrote the screenplay.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service: The original Secret Service team appear together for the last time, with Bernard Lee making his final appearance prior to his death. Station VH covers Rio; its staff includes Manuela. MI6 also has a base in a monastry in rural Brazil.

Locations: Somewhere over the Yukon; MI6 HQ in London; somewhere mid-air (over Africa?); the Drax Estate in California, USA; Venice, Italy; Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian jungle (the upper reaches of the Amazoco); Outer Space. There are also brief scenes at US Mission Control and in Moscow.

The villain: Hugo Drax, the billionaire owner of the Drax Corporation, who is obsessed with the conquest of space. His company builds the Moonraker space shuttle for NASA, but he is also carrying out his own scheme to wipe out humanity from space using a highly toxic nerve gas developed from a rare orchid and repopulate Earth with his own perfect race. When one of his own shuttles has a malfunction he is forced to reclaim another vessel that has been lent to the British, resulting in Bond's investigation and eventually to Drax's death when Bond shoots him with a poison dart and ejects him into space.
Drax's nationality is uncertain - he isn't British and doesn't appear to be American, although he lives in California in a huge estate, the centrepiece of which is a chateau that was imported from France (he also bought the Eiffel Tower, but couldn't get an export licence).
Drax has some very obedient dobermens and plays the piano (kind of). He enjoys afternoon tea (including cucumber sandwiches). His butler is called Cavendish and his chauffeur, Fraser. His original henchman is an oriental named Chang (according to the credits, although his name appears to be pronounced Charr). When Chang is killed, Drax appears to contact an agency that supplies henchmen to evil masterminds, resulting in him employing Jaws.

The girl: Dr Holly Goodhead, a CIA agent who is operating undercover in Drax Industries. She claims to be on loan from NASA, and given her expertise this appears to be at least partly true. She is a graduate of Vassar, the US's first proper women-only college that is devoted largely to the liberal arts.

Bond's conquests: Three - Corinne Dufour, Holly Goodhead and Manuela.

Gadgets: A wrist gun that is activated by nerve impulses from the wrist muscle, which is now standard equipment. It has two types of dart - blue, which are explosive tipped, and red, which are cyanide coated and result in death in 30 seconds. Bond also uses a spy camera (which is labelled with 007), an X-Ray safe cracker inside a cigarette case, and a watch that contains plastic explosives and a detonator. Bond takes to the water in a Venetian gondola that is motorised and turns into a hovercraft, and an armoured Glastron speedboat that deploys mines, torpedoes and a hang-glider. Holly has standard CIA equipment including a pen with a poison spike, a diary that fires darts, a flame-throwing atomizer and a radio disguised as a handbag. In Brazil we see Q testing some exploding bollasts and a machine gun that is disguised as a local person taking their siesta! There are lots of laser guns on show, although this is not that incredible in Bond's world, given Goldfinger's use of one 15 years previously.

Recurring characters: The popularity of Jaws following his appearance in The Spy Who Loved Me and the fortuitous fact that he was not killed off lead to the character's return. This time around, there is more emphasis on Jaws's indestructability, and any credibility that the character had in his first film quickly disappears. Especially when he finds love and helps Bond to save the day...
Two other characters who were introduced in The Spy Who Loved Me reappear, namely the Minister of Defence and General Gogol, played by Geoffrey Keen and Walter Gotell respectively. The Minister of Defence is credited here by his given name of Frederick Gray for the only time; in other films he would be credited only by his role. The character is noticebly less friendly to Bond than in the earlier film when they were on first name terms.
A final link with the preceeding film comes during the St Marks Square sequence; one of the amazed on-lookers when Bond's gondola turns into a hovercraft is a man who looks aghast at his bottle of wine, in exactly the same manner as he did when the Lotus drives out of the sea in The Spy Who Loved Me. This is a member of the crew called Victor Tourjansky. He appears again in For Your Eyes Only.

Cameos: When Bond arrives in Venice and steps out of his gondola we see a group of tourists - this includes Cubby Broccoli (wearing a blue jacket), his wife Dana, and his stepson and producer, Michael G Wilson. Wilson appears again later in the film as a NASA controller who comments on Drax's space station after its cloaking device has been disabled.

Oscars: Derek Meddings and his team were nominated for the Visual Effects award in 1979 but lost to Alien.

Cuts: We never got to see Drax holding a meeting in the room below Moonraker 5. This explains why the room has a retracting table and other fittings.

I didn't catch the name?: Bond gives his trademark introduction when he first meets Holly Goodhead.

Vodka Martinis: Manuela prepares one for Bond in his Rio hotel room.

Gambling: None.

Bond bits: Bond is returning from an unspecified African job at the start of the film. He speaks Italian.

Other trivia: Drax has heard of Jaws, although Holly hasn't (unlike Anya in the previous film). The USA has a troop of Space Marines which make use of a space shuttle that is based at Vandenburg.

Anything else?: In a none too subtle reference to another science fiction movie of the time, the entry coder to the Venetian laboratory plays the 5 note tune from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. However, this is not the first musical reference to another science fiction film in the movie; when Bond arrives by car at Drax's hunting party, his presence is announced by a horn playing the first three notes of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss, a piece of music that was famously used as the main theme in Stanley Kubrick's 2001 - A Space Odyssey.
The list of the locations given in the end credits includes Outer Space.

The Bond Film Informant was compiled by Matthew Newton. © Copyright MJ Newton. No part of this site may be reproduced without permission unless otherwise stated.

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