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Moonraker (1979)



Running time: 126 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35 : 1


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, 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







Cast:

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 - 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 - 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

Uncredited:
Venice Boat Henchman:
Michel Berreur
Rio Hotel Manager:
Peter Howitt
Metal Detector Attendant:
Carlos Kurt
Lab Technician:
Marc Mazza
Fighting Monk:
Daniel Breton
Radar Operator:
Francis Perrin
Painter - St Marks Square:
Patrick Morin



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* While arguably the most critically derided film of the Bond series, MOONRAKER, at the time of it's release, was the most financially successful; it would hold the record for 16 years until eclipsed by the release of GOLDENEYE in 1995.

* In Ian Fleming's original 1954 novel, the villain - Sir Hugo Drax, is a British industrialist who creates and gives to his homeland it's first long range nuclear weapon - the Moonraker.  He is later revealed by Bond to actually be a neo Nazi, who, through plastic surgery, "masquerades as an English gentleman" and intends to launch the missle at London as the first stage in a plan to create a Fourth Reich.  For the film this plot was abandoned in favor of a more sci fi era friendly adventure, but elements of it would later be integrated into the plotline of DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002). 

* MOONRAKER opens with the hijacking of a U.S space shuttle from the back of a 747 transport plane.  The film's 1979 release was to coincide with the first orbital flight of NASA's real life Columbia shuttle.  But when the actual shuttle project ran into construction and testing delays, MOONRAKER took flight two years before it's 1981 launch. 


* Fleming's MOONRAKER novel had previously been adapted as a 1956 radio play in South Africa, and as a 1958 serialized comic strip in the Daily Express

* The film's original (unused) script was by Bond vet Tom Mankiewicz (DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, LIVE AND LET DIE).  It contained elements which would be used in later films such as the AcroStar mini-jet seen in OCTOPUSSY (1983) and A VIEW TO A KILL's  jump from the Eiffel Tower (1985).



* MOONRAKER's final shooting script was by Christopher Wood (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS); but as it's story bore little resemblance to Ian Fleming's original, a novelization of the film - also by Wood, was published (entitled "JAMES BOND AND MOONRAKER" - so as not to be confused with Fleming's book) at the time of the film's release.  A novelization by Wood had similarly been issued for the previous Bond adventure - THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977).  



* Originally set to shoot at London's famed Pinewood Studios' 007 Stage, Britain's high taxation rate at the time forced a move to France, where the company took over three of the nation's largest studios - to the consternation of many French film makers. 

* MOONRAKER makes no pretense about cashing in on the sci fi craze of the day.  In fact it makes self-referential musical jokes to that effect.  In the scene where Bond arrives at Drax's pheasant hunt, his arrival is heralded by a hunter's horn call playing the opening notes of  "Also Sprach Zarathustra" from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.  Later as Bond breaks into Drax's nerve gas manufacturing facility in Italy, he enters via use of a five digit keypad code ... the keys emitting the "five tone" theme from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.  As Steven Spielberg (once considered to direct a Bond film) had allowed the use of the famous tune, Bond producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli would later reciprocate the favor by allowing Spielberg use of the James Bond Theme in the 1985 children's adventure THE GOONIES.  



* Both Frank Sinatra and Kate Bush were considered to perfom John Barry's haunting "Moonraker Theme" before it was finally offered to the legendary Johnny Mathis.  Mathis began recording with Barry, but shortly thereafter abandoned the project.  Just weeks prior to the film's premiere, Bond vocal veteran Shirley Bassey stepped in to record her third James Bond theme song - following GOLDFINGER (1964) and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971). 

  

* In 2009 Bassey recorded the album THE PERFORMANCE, co-produced by current James Bond composer David Arnold (TOMORROW NEVER DIES, CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, STARGATE, INDEPENDENCE DAY).  Among the album songs written specifically for Bassey by artists such as Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys, and John Barry, is Arnold's "No Good About Goodbye" which uses as it's main motif the same six note melody primary theme instrumental phrase from 2008's QUANTUM OF SOLACE.  This has lead many to speculate the tune is in fact a "rejected" Bond theme song which Arnold and Bassey refused to let disappear. 


* MOONRAKER features one of the most popular of all Bond movie pre-credit sequences, wherein 007 is hurled from a plane without a parachute, then must steal the chute of a villain while both men are in freefall.  No special visual effects are used.  The sequence was designed and filmed by 2nd Unit Director John Glenn (who would go on to direct five 007 adventures incl. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, A VIEW TO A KILL and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS) and performed by members of the U.S. Championship Skydiving Team including B.J. Worth, Jake Lombard and Ron Luginbill.




   The 2 minute (on film) stunt sequence took 88 dives to record, with the performers wearing specially designed rigs beneath clothing (to create the illusion of freefalling sans parachute) and an experimental lightweight anamorphic Panavision camera lens (made of plastic instead of glass) attached to the helmet of a skydiving cinematographer.  Worth and Lombard would become regular aerial stunt performers on later Bond films such as OCTOPUSSY, A VIEW TO A KILL and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. 


* For the film's spectacular visual effects (much of them amazingly realized "in camera" with miniatures, forced perspective, and old school opticals), Derek Meddings, Paul Wilson, and John Evans were nominated for a 1979 Academy Award.  Other FX nominees that year included ALIEN, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, THE BLACK HOLE, and 1941. 

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