From Academic Kids

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A 2002 Penguin Books paperback edition

Moonraker is both a James Bond book by Ian Fleming first published in 1955, and a 1979 movie loosely adapted from the book. The title comes from "moonraker," a synonym for moonsail, the highest sail carried by sailing ships. It is the eleventh official James Bond film in the series and the fourth to star Roger Moore as British Secret Service Agent, Commander James Bond. It was made by EON Productions and was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.


The novel

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Uncommon 1969 Pan Books paperback edition.

The title, Moonraker wasn't the first choice by Fleming. In fact there were several titles that Fleming and the publishers came up with including "Mondays are Hell", "Hell is Here", "The Infernal Machine", "Wide of the Mark", "Bond & the Moonraker", "The Inhuman Element", "The Moonraker Sense", "The Moonraker Plan", "The Moonraker", "The Moonraker Plot", "The Moonraker Secret", and "Too Hot to Handle".

For an unknown reason, Moonraker's title for the first U.S. paperback publication by Permabooks was changed to Too Hot to Handle in 1956. One possible reason might have been to avoid confusion with the then-current stage play The Moonraker by Arthur Watkin (which was made into a film of the same title in 1958). Similar to Casino Royale, however, the novel was subtitled (Moonraker) on the cover. Too Hot To Handle is notable for being the only Fleming Bond novel that was "Americanized", exchanging British idioms for American ones such as "knave of hearts" for "jack of hearts", "lift" for "elevator", etc. The title was later changed back to Moonraker in 1960.

Plot summary

In the novel Bond is asked by M to observe Sir Hugo Drax, who is winning money playing bridge at M's club, Blades, and who M suspects of cheating. Although M claims to not really care, he is concerned why a multimillionaire and national hero such as Drax would resort to cheating at a card game. Bond later confirms Drax's deception, and manages to 'cheat the cheater', winning a large amount of money and infuriating Drax.

As it turns out, Drax is the backer of the 'Moonraker' missile project being built to defend the UK against its Cold War enemies (compare to the real life Blue Streak missile). The Moonraker rocket is essentially an upgraded V-2 rocket that can withstand hotter temperatures to its engine thanks to to the use of columbite, on which Drax has a monopoly. Because the engine can withstand more heat the Moonraker therefore can use more powerful fuels which results in the rocket having a vast improvement in range. Partly due to the cheating episode, M asks Bond to infiltrate Drax's missile-building organization on the coast of England. Bond uncovers a dreadful and fiendish plot to destroy London, which he foils with the assistance of a female (and, of course, attractive) Special Branch agent, Gala Brand.

With the exception of the name "Moonraker" and the character of Sir Hugo Drax, little else from this book made it into the 1979 film. The 2002 film, Die Another Day, however, used several concepts from this book including the Blades club, and at one point the character of Miranda Frost from the film was to have been named Gala Brand. The villain, Gustav Graves, is also based somewhat on Fleming's original concept of Hugo Drax.


Comic strip adaptation

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from March 30 to August 8,1959. The adaptation was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. Titan Books is planning to reprint the strip in 2005.

The film


Plot summary

In the 1979 movie, Hugo Drax's lair is relocated to outer space, although the plot remains equally fiendish. In the movie, Drax has converted a toxin found in a species of orchid found in the Amazon River basin, which in its natural state causes sterility, into a lethal nerve agent. He plans to destroy all human life (the toxin affects only humans) by launching a series of 50 globes containing the toxin from a space station; the toxin would be dispersed when each globe broke up during reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Before launching the globes, Drax transported several hundred carefully selected young men and women to the space station. They would live there until Earth was safe again for human life; these people would be the seed for a "new master race".

Bond reaches the villain's orbital lair by means of the space shuttle (which was soon to be launched for real when the movie was released). Widely considered to be one of the most juvenile Bond movies, it is, unexpectedly, the first where Bond's female companion is on a more or less equal footing with him. The "Bond girl", Dr. Holly Goodhead (played by Lois Chiles), is a CIA agent who competently wards off bad guys and pilots the space shuttle.

Cast & characters



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Original Moonraker soundtrack cover

Moonraker was the third of the three Bond movies for which the theme song was performed by Shirley Bassey. The soundtrack was composed by John Barry. Moonraker uses for the first time since Diamonds Are Forever a piece of music called "007", the secondary Bond theme composed by Barry which was introduced in From Russia With Love. The soundtrack also references the theme from The Spy Who Loved Me.

Track listing

  1. Main Title - Moonraker by Shirley Bassey
  2. Space Laser Battle
  3. Miss Goodhead Meets Bond
  4. Cable Car and Snake Fight
  5. Bond Lured to Pyramid
  6. Flight into Space
  7. Bond Arrives in Rio and Boat Chase
  8. Centrifuge and Corrine Put Down
  9. Bond Smells a Rat
  10. End Title - Moonraker

Vehicles and gadgets

This film was criticized for the overabundance of gadgets to a degree many fans considered excessive.

  • Gondola - A gondola made by Q-Branch that could transform into a hovercraft and move on land.
  • Q's Hydrofoil Boat – Bond uses this boat to escape from Jaws while searching for the spacecraft launching facility. Comes with all the usual Q refinements as well as a hang-glider.
  • 007 Camera - A mini camera imprinted with Bond's 00 number.
  • Moonraker Laser - A laser gun that can be shot in space. The gun is also used in the video game, GoldenEye 007.
  • Cigarette case safecraker - a gunmetal cigarette case that contains a device that uses x-rays to reveal the tumblers on a safe's combination lock.
  • Watch - Branded by Seiko, the watch face can open up for a small explosive charge connected to a wire, allowing for the quick removal of an entry obstacle.
  • Ballpoint pen - In his ballpoint pen there's a hypodermic needle which Bond uses to eliminate the boa constrictor in the pool in the jungle hideout of Drax ("She had a crush on me"). Dr. Goodhead is also seen to have one of these earlier in the film (Bond pocketed the pen while he was looking at her gadgets - see below).
  • Wrist Gun - Bond has a wrist gun given to him by Q-Branch that can shoot armor-piercing or envenomed darts. The former he uses to disable the high g-force simulator (centrifuge) and so thwarts Drax's plan to kill him at their first meeting. A dart of the latter kind is used by Bond to kill Drax ("Take a giant leap for mankind," and, "He had to fly."). (Many people think his watch can fire the darts, but if you look closely you'll find out that he has his watch on his left wrist and fires the darts from his right wrist. It's also clearly seen in the scene in which Q gives him the armband that it isn't the watch.)

In addition, Dr. Goodhead is shown equipped with several gadgets of her own, including the aforementioned needle pen, a flame-throwing perfume bottle, and a radio transmitter concealed in her purse.

See also


Film Locations

Shooting Locations


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1979 Triad/Panther British paperback edition.

The screenplay of Moonraker differed enough from Ian Fleming's novel that EON Productions and Glidrose Publications authorized the film's screenwriter, Christopher Wood to write his second novelisation based upon the film (his first, 'James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me', was based upon his script for the film The Spy Who Loved Me, and released in 1977).

The book was retitled James Bond and Moonraker to avoid confusion with Fleming's novel and released in 1979.



  • The Jaws character (played by Richard Kiel) makes a return, although in Moonraker the role is played more for laughs than as the killing machine that he was in The Spy Who Loved Me (see Jaws (James Bond) for more information on the character changes).
  • Executive Producer Michael G. Wilson continues a tradition in the Bond films he started in the film Goldfinger where he has a small cameo role. He appears twice in Moonraker, firstly as a tourist outside the Venini Glass shop in Venice, then at the end of the film as a technician in the NASA control room.
  • Bernard Lee makes his final appearance as 'M'. The actor was in ill health at the time of filming and the production afforded him a touching scene in which he gives some final guidance to Bond.
  • Lois Chiles had been first approached by the producers for the role of Anya in The Spy Who Loved Me but had turned down the role as she had planned to leave the acting profession at that time.
  • As the first truly science fictional Bond film, Moonraker pays homage to two SF classics. When Bond arrives at Drax's pheasant shoot, a man plays the first three notes of "Also sprach Zarathustra", the famous theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, on a bugle. Later, when Bond observes a Drax scientist entering an access code into a keypad, the tones heard coming from the keypad form the famous five-note "alien message" theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In another film reference, the song "Nobody Does it Better" - the theme from the previous Bond film - The Spy Who Loved Me, is also reprised on the soundtrack when Bond arrives at Drax's mansion in California.
  • Moonraker was at one point considered to be the Bond film to follow On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • In 1955 the film rights to Moonraker were initially sold to the Rank Organization for £10,000. Fleming eventually bought back the rights in 1959. The Rank Organization never did anything with it.
  • A hoax was perpetrated in 2004, featuring a rumoured, lost 1956 version of Moonraker by Orson Welles. Supposedly, this lost film recently was discovered as 40 minutes of raw footage. However, the film soon was revealed as a hoax. See [1] ( for more information.


The film inspires part of the plot of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

External links



fr:Moonraker sv:Moonraker


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