Moonraker, the novel, is significantly different from the film. That could be said about all the Bond films.

After a brief picture of the everyday work of the 00 secret agent, Bond is invited to a special, off-the-books job by M. Hugo Drax, hideously scarred multimillionare, pride of England, has been cheating at bridge at an exclusive london club, Blades. Bond beats him at his own game, with the help of Scarne's book.

The next day Bond is formally assigned to replace the freshly murdered security officer at Drax's great project, the Moonraker. The Moonraker is a ballistic missile that can drop a nuclear bomb on any European capital, and sabotage is feared.

Drax's crew is all expatriate german engineers with shaved heads and extravagant moustaches. Bond discovers a few irregularities, but nothing conclusive until someone tries to drop half of the white cliffs of dover on him and Gala Brand. She discovers that the Moonraker, scheduled for a test flight into the North Sea with an instrument package, is actually targeted at downtown London with a nuclear warhead.

She is captured by Drax, and in the ensuing chase, so is Bond (a chase that includes the destruction of his beloved Bentley). The next chapter is one of the most beautiful now-that-I've-got-you-where-I-want-you-I'm-going-to-brag-and-tell-you-my-whole-plan scenes I've ever read. Drax is actually an unrepentant Nazi, a commando who has done all this for vengance against England.

Bond and the girl escape and reprogram the missile to go to its original test target, where Drax and his crew have gone in a Russian submarine to gloat.

So much for the villain.

Bond, looking forward to a month in southern France with Gala, learns she is engaged, and the book ends with Bond alone and a little more bitter, a little colder, a shade less human. Far superior to the nookie-in-space joke that ends the movie.

Bond in Space

M: My God, what's Bond doing?
Q: I think he's attempting re-entry, sir.


As mentioned above, the movie has not much in common with the novel. In this generally underrated James Bond movie released in 1979, director Lewis Gilbert gives us Roger Moore at his best. This movie gives us a lot of those classic one-liners we all came to love and expect of Bond.


As I mentioned above, this movie takes James Bond to new heights, into Space to be precise. When a Boeing 747 carrier plane with a space shuttle created by billionaire Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) crashes in the Atlantic, and the shuttle disappears afterwards, agent 007 is sent out to apologize. However, someone tries to assassinate Bond while on Drax's estate and Drax himself becomes the number one suspect. Dr. Holly Goodhead (where do they get those names), who is working for the CIA teams up with him. They finally uncover Drax's sinister plot. He plans to take the "genetic elite" of the world (or whom he thinks to be part of that) to his space station, and then wipe the human race off the face of the earth, so his newly created superior race can take over (Somehow this reminds me of the plot of movie before, The Spy Who Loved Me, seems they were running short on ideas back then). So Bond and Dr. Goodhead will have to go up to the station, in order for the final showdown.

Hugo Drax: Mr. Bond, you persist in defying my efforts to provide an amusing death for you.
Hugo Drax: Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.

And to make things worse, Drax also hired an old playmate of Bond's: Jaws, the man with the steel teeth and high tolerance against physical attacks. Unforgettable is the scene in Rio with the fight on the cable car and the final showdown in space. Oh, and he brought his girl-friend as well.

Dr. Holly Goodhead: You know him?
James Bond: Not socially. His name's Jaws, he kills people.


What would a Bond movie be without the gorgeous women? Just another action movie, I suppose. But this is something we don't get to find out, as Lois Chiles plays Dr. Holly Goodhead, a NASA trained astrophysicist working for the CIA. She teams up with Bond and pilots the shuttle which takes them to Drax's hidden space station. She is a first in Bond as she has looks _and_ brains. But there's always Corinne Dufour, played by Corinne Clery and Irka Bochenko's token "Blonde Beauty" to take the usual female role. But as times change, so does the female cast of James Bond. Slowly!

Dr. Holly Goodhead: Oh, come-on now Mr. Bond, a 70-year old can take 3 G's.
James Bond: Well, the trouble is there's never a 70-year old around when you need one.

And "Q" (Desmond Llewelyn) has a lot to offer as well: He rigs up special viewing equipment in M's office, provides Bond with a camera in a cigarette lighter, an X-ray apparatus in his cigarette case, a Seiko watch with a demolition apparatus and detonator built in and exploding bolas. In the vehicle department, he provides a high-speed Gondola and Hovercraft, powered hang-glider, and finally a boat with mine-laying capabilities and homing torpedo. All in a day's work.

The Title song "Moonraker" is performed by Shirley Bassey

Filming took place in Italy, Brazil, Guatemala, USA, Boulogne/Eclair/Paris Studios and as always, the Pinewood Studios.

To finish up and complete the writeup, here is a nice link to all things Bond:

Moon"rak`er (?), n. Naut.

Same as Moonsail.


© Webster 1913.

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