1979. The year I was born, and the year Moonraker blasted onto cinema screens. We’re halfway through Roger Moore’s tenure as 007, but will Mel be in double-O heaven?
An aeroplane is transporting a Moonraker space shuttle to the UK, when two stowaways launch the shuttle, destroying the plane at the same time.
“Shit!” Exclaims Mel.
On M’s desk is a bundle of papers bound in pink ribbon.
Mel tells me, “Pink ribbon on papers is a legal tradition. It means it’s going to counsel. They come back in pink ribbon too. It’s where the term ‘red tape’ comes from.”
Mel suggests, “He’s probably having to deal with sexual harassment claims against James Bond.”
Bond is on his way back from a mission in Africa. He’s touching a lady’s leg on board a plane.
“He’s a walking STD.”
But the lady in question pulls a gun on our hero.
“Ha ha!” says Mel, like Nelson in The Simpsons.
Bond falls out of the plane without a parachute. He manages to wrestle one off a bad guy, but soon Jaws is free-falling towards the super-spy. He grabs Bond’s legs and tries to bite him.
In M’s office, a mirror slides away to reveal a monitor screen.
Mel says, “I wish we had a TV that turned into a mirror. I’d really like that.”
We do need a new telly. Our Samsung has started to develop pixel-wide horizontal black lines across the screen. I’d rather have 3D on our next one than a mirror cover though. And it won’t be another Samsung.
Bond is dispatched to California to start his investigation into the Moonraker’s disappearance. He pays a visit to Drax Industries, and is greeted by their helicopter pilot, Corinne.
“That looks like the Ann Summers version of a pilot’s outfit.”
They fly over Drax’s home, re-located brick-by-brick from France.
“That chateau is beautiful.”
Bond and Hugo Drax come face-to-face, and Bond is told he will meet Doctor Goodhead.
Mel is not impressed. “She’s called Goodhead? are you —-ing joking?”
I ask how she knows it’s going to be a woman.
“Because of the name.”
Bond has no such foresight. He wanders into the lab and announces to the young lady there that he’s looking for Dr. Goodhead.
Goodhead: “You just found her.”
Bond smiles, raises an eyebrow, and says, “A woman.”
Mel: “(gasps) What a twat. Again, they put a woman in a role that’s breaking boundaries. Then they have to undermine that, just like they did with that Russian spy. And she’s called Doctor —-ing Goodhead. They take two steps forward and three steps back. She will end up sleeping with James Bond. Without a doubt. They all do.”
Goodhead shows 007 around the Moonraker facility, but the agent is keen to show that he’s done his homework and already knows most of what she has to tell him.
Mel says, “He has to dominate her doesn’t he? finish her sentences. She’s told him that she’s from NASA, and he’s like, ‘All right, Love. I’m the man here.'”
Bond pays a night-time visit to Corinne’s boudoir.
Corinne: “My mother gave me a list of things not to do on a first date.”
Bond: “Maybe you won’t need it. That’s not what I came for.”
Corinne: “(surprised) No?! What do you want then?”
“You could only possibly want a woman for one thing couldn’t you?” asks Mel.
Corinne says, “You presume a great deal, Mr Bond.”
“… but I’ll sleep with you anyway,” finishes Mel.
As the pair kiss, some sexy music strikes up on the film’s soundtrack.
Mel says “I don’t know why they play the soft music. It’s anything but romantic. They’ve just met! It’s honestly like Geordie Shore; just looking for the next conquest.”
Corinne helps Bond find Drax’s safe, but as they leave they are being watched by henchman Chang.
The next morning Drax is hosting a pheasant shoot. The villain persuades Bond to have a shot, but 007 misses the bird and hits a sniper in the trees. He saunters off back to his car, like a total badass.
“He just shot a man and walked off!”
Corrine pulls up in a golf cart and is promptly sacked by Drax for showing Bond the safe. She is soon running off into the woods, being pursued by two Rottweilers.
“Why would you not get in the golf buggy you just came on?!” asks Mel.
It’s for employees only?
“I think, in the circumstances, you’d just get in the —-ing golf buggy.”
The dogs chase Corrine through the woods.
“Does she die now?”
The dogs eat her.
“So Bond’s killed her?”
No, Drax did.
“Bond made her go into that study, when she said no. Now she’s dead.”
Bond follows up a clue from Drax’s safe; a glass-making company in Venice. There he sees Dr. Goodhead again. She can’t go to dinner with him because she’s delivering a lecture. He asks, “Can you think of a reason we can’t have a drink afterwards?”
“Because you’re a sexist pig?” Mel answers for her.
Some henchmen try to kill Bond while he’s riding round in a gondola, luckily it’s outfitted with a motor, and then turns into a hovercraft, which he suavely parades around St Mark’s Square in full view of hundreds of people.
“That is mental.”
We reach the most infamous scene of the movie, for some the nadir of the entire Roger Moore era. As he nonchalantly drives his gondola-hovercraft past, a pigeon does a double-take.
“Ha! I love that!” Exclaims Mel.
I tell Mel that this is a deeply unpopular scene with a lot of Bond fans.
“Why? It’s funny.”
Because it’s ridiculous and unrealistic I tell her. She just looks at me.
To be fair, I am enjoying this movie a lot more this time. It’s probably the Bond film I’ve watched the least number of times. The gondola-hovercraft and incredulous pigeon loom large in my memory, as does the space battle. But there’s lot to enjoy here, particularly the cable car fight with Jaws, who is brilliant as usual, and an iconic presence in all his scenes.
In his four-part article Hulk Vs. James Bond: Staring into the id of a Boner Incarnate Hulk Film Critic (“FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.”) says, “…DAMMIT IF HULK DOESN’T THINK THAT THE SPECIAL FORM OF BONKERSNESS ON DISPLAY IN MOONRAKER IS THE KIND OF BONKERS THAT (BARELY) WORKS. MAYBE IT’S THAT IT WORKS WAY, WAY, WAY BETTER THAN HAMILTON’S EFFORTS, BUT HULK SWEARS THAT THERE IS A CAREFUL TACT TO THE GOOFINESS HERE. AND IT ALSO KNOWS HOW TO GET BACK TO SOME OF THE GOOD ROMANTIC STUFF TOO. SO CHALK UP ANOTHER POINT FOR LEWIS GILBERT AND HIS IN-PROGRESS RESCUING OF THE BOND SERIES! BECAUSE WITH THESE LAST TWO ENTRIES HE SHOWS THAT HE HAS THE PASSION TO MAKE THE ABSURD ALLURING.”
The article is an excellent film-by-film examination of the significance of Bond as an icon on Badass Digest.
After the confrontation with Jaws on a cable car in Rio, the giant henchman meets Dolly, and it’s love at first sight.
“Look at that girl.”
I thought Mel would be pleased that Jaws has got a little girlfriend.
I meant little compared to him.
“No you didn’t.”
After a boat chase through the Amazon, followed by a hang-glider escape from a waterfall, Bond ends up in an ancient temple.
“That’s like Chichen Itza,” points out Mel. We were there during our honeymoon a couple of months ago. Unlike visitors to that pyramid, though, Bond is allowed to wander inside. He meets some ladies, then is tipped into a pool where a huge snake tries to squeeze the life out of him.
I ask Mel if she’d rather be savaged by dogs or crushed by a snake?
“Crushed by a snake. It would be over more quickly. The dogs would hurt more.”
Drax says, “James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.”
“That’s about right.”
Mel is very quiet. Bond ends up in space on Drax’s space station. From here he plans to unleash a deadly toxin into the Earth’s atmosphere and kill all human life, then re-populate with the offspring of his perfect specimens.
“I have no interest in this one,” says Mel.
This one is really failing to engage her at all. She really isn’t saying very much, so I tell her the sad news that this is the last appearance of Bernard Lee as M. He sadly died not long after this. He’s been in every Bond movie so far, and I ask what she thought of him?
“I loved him. He was a nice person. He was intelligent without being arrogant, everything James Bond should aspire to be and doesn’t.”
He could be grumpy as well.
“Only with James Bond, because he’s a toss-pot.”
Hulk Film Critic puts it best when he says, “AND ON A SAD NOTE, THE FILM ALSO HAS BERNARD LEE’S LAST PERFORMANCE AS M, AND HULK CERTAINLY WISHES HULK HAD MORE TO SAY ON THE MATTER, BUT SOMETIMES THERE IS A TRUE JOY IN REALIZING THERE’S JUST NOT MUCH TO SAY. THE MAN WAS AN EVER-DEPENDABLE MAINSTAY OF THE SERIES AND ABSOLUTELY IMBUED ALL THE NOTIONS OF SERIOUSNESS AND FORMALITY THAT WERE REQUIRED TO BE BOND’S SUPERIOR. AND IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE THAT RELATIONSHIP, THEN YOU CAN’T TAKE BOND SERIOUSLY (BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS TO). THAT’S HOW IT IS MOST OF THE TIME IN THIS SERIES. LITTLE CONSTANTS THAT ARE SO GOOD THEY ARE PRACTICALLY INVISIBLE, BUT THEIR ABSENCE CAN OFTEN PROVE THEM CRITICAL. FOR THAT, HE WILL BE DEEPLY MISSED GOING FORWARD.”
Jaws teams up with Bond when he realises that he and Dolly are not perfect specimens, and the US Space Marines arrive and battle Drax’s minions with lasers in space. Bond shoots Drax with his wrist dart gun, and ejects him from an airlock, telling Goodhead, “He had to fly.”
Jaws finds Dolly amid the carnage.
Mel says, “She’s a little pixie bell. You can see her nips.”
“It’s a bit perverted though; she’s like a child with a man.”
Jaws speaks for the first time when he raises a toast, “Well, here’s to us.”
“He’s got a nice voice. How tall he is?” Says Mel.
Seven foot two I think.
Bond and Goodhead destroy the spheres of poison before they enter Earth’s atmosphere. NASA have arranged a video link for Sir Frederick, M, Q, the US President and Her Majesty the Queen. But when the screen comes on, the scene aboard the shuttle is one of Bond and Goodhead in flagrante delecto.
“Another dogging session.”
Freddie asks what Bond is doing. Q answers, “I think he’s attempting re-entry.”
I ask Mel what she thought of the movie.
You say that about all of them.
“They’re all awful.”
Nothing you liked about it?
“It’s good that love changed Jaws. I’m glad he found love. I hated James Bond though. He’s not bothered that people see him have sex all the time. I would get sacked if I had sex at work. The Queen was on the line; she had to see that. He should have learnt by now that they tend to do this at the end of his missions. He should wait an hour.”
I ask Mel if she thinks the Queen was remembering this incident when Bond went to Buckingham Palace to escort her to the Olympics.
“She was probably thinking, ‘don’t stand too close, I don’t want to catch something.'”
Mel will return… watching For Your Eyes Only.
Moonraker original theatrical trailer:
Order Moonraker on DVD from Amazon:
Moonraker [Blu-ray] 
Screenwriting 101 by Hulk Film Critic:
Screenwriting 101 by Film Crit Hulk!