VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Moonraker (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 9, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Could James Bond be relevant in a post-Star Wars world? If Moonraker had anything to say about it, yes. Up until GoldenEye, it was the highest-grossing of the series, making $230 million worldwide.

But wait — didn’t the end credits of the last film promise James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only? Sure they did. However, the producers chose the novel Moonraker because of the aforementioned Jedi-starring George Lucas film.

One could also argue that Hugo Drax’s plan is exactly the same plan as Karl Stromberg’s in The Spy Who Loved Me: blow up the world and go away to build your own civilization. This time, it’s in space versus underwater.

Here’s the weird thing: for such an iconic British character, this movie’s shooting was moved from the tax heavy UK to France. This is also why Michael Lonsdale was cast as Drax instead of James Mason and Corinne Clery was cast instead of Corinne Dufour. Ah, the 1965–79 film treaty in action. Well, I have no complaints about Clery, who is also in Yor Hunter from the Future and Fulci’s The Devil’s Honey.

Lois Chiles (Creepshow 2) had originally been offered the role of Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, but was in temporary retirement. In actuality, bad reviews had sent her back to acting school and she ended up getting the role of Holly Goodhead when she was seated next to director Lewis Gilbert on a flight. Jaclyn Smith had almost signed for the part but had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts with Charlie’s Angels.

This is perhaps the silliest of the Moore movies — well, there’s also him bedding Grace Jones in A View to a Kill — and it’s nearly overflowing with effects and gadgets. But hey — Jaws turns good, gets a girlfriend and opens a bottle of champagne by biting into it. So there’s that.

There remains an urban legend that Orson Welles was making his own version of this movie, as Fleming intended it to be filmed as early as 1955. The rumor is that 40 minutes of raw footage exists with Dirk Bogarde as Bond, Welles as Drax and Peter Lorre as Drax’s henchman.

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