By Marc S. Sanders

Roger Moore’s fourth outing as James Bond was supposed to be For Your Eyes Only. However, producer Albert R. Broccoli made a last minute switch before production was to take place. Two little known films called Star Wars and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind broke box office records and Broccoli went with “Moonraker” to piggy back on the science fiction trend. James Bond needed to launch into outer space. The effort proved profitable even if the story mostly fails.

A Moonraker shuttle is mysteriously hijacked from the Americans. After Bond survives being thrown out of an airplane with no parachute by the hulking assassin Jaws, he is assigned to determine what happened to the ship, and what purpose it is being used for.

Bond travels to California to introduce himself to Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) with his samurai henchman Chang, and to Dr. Holly Goodhead (yes you read that right) played by Lois Chiles.

The issue with Moonraker is it suffers from a number of boring elements including Lonsdale, Chiles and even Jaws is watered down as he falls in love with a nerdy, pigtailed, blonde. Eventually, Jaws becomes a good guy and that’s when your eyes roll. Lonsdale is hardly any fun in his villainy. Chiles is not any more interesting than her character’s last name. Action scenes are bland beyond the airplane drop in the title sequence which has outstanding camerawork accompanied by the staple Bond theme.

Broccoli and returning director Lewis Gilbert (The Spy Who Loved Me) focused more on the science fiction cinematic trend with laser guns and laughable lack of effective zero gravity.

Broccoli became guilty of going with what was trendy with Moore’s 007. Blaxploitation with Live And Let Die, martial arts with The Man With The Golden Gun, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, in The Spy Who Loved Me, and now science fiction in Moonraker. The sci fi doesn’t work so well for Bond or Drax’ diabolical scheme to destroy all human civilization and begin a new life in space.

Q provides Bond with a cool wrist band that shoots darts. That’s pretty fun.

As well, travel sites still hold up with destinations along the California coast, Italy with a gadget filled gondola and a glass shop fight, and Rio De Janeiro where Bond faces off against Jaws along the tops of two cable cars and engages in a boat chase. Then of course Bond eventually reaches Drax’ satellite base in space. None of it is unwatchable. It’s fun. It’s just not comparatively as exciting as prior Bond adventures before, and still to come.

Moonraker is just a little too weightless.

It should be noted as well that sadly, we also say goodbye to Bernard Lee as M, head of the Double O section for the last eleven films. He’s here to remind 007 that the British government can’t afford any slip ups. The whole series thus far was only better because of Lee to emit humorous aggravation in response to Bond’s relaxed and sarcastic response to the government risks at hand. Bernard Lee deserves recognition.


By Marc S. Sanders

The Spy Who Loved Me remains as my most favorite movie going experience ever. It was the first Bond film I saw in a movie theatre. I was 5, accompanying mom and dad to a dinner party. Upon leaving the party close to midnight, dad says to mom “Linda, let’s go see James Bond.” Mom’s reply was “Walter, it’s midnight and we have Marc with us.” Dad won the argument by simply saying “C’mon Linda!” So he pulled into The Forum movie theatre located off Route 4 in Paramus, NJ.

At the time, my youth didn’t allow me to comprehend really what was going on, but I clearly remember being thrilled during the pre title sequence as Bond (Roger Moore) dons his yellow snow suit to evade KGB agents trying to kill him off while skiing in Austria. I’ll never forget the ski jump/parachute ski dive off the mountain to close out the scene. Still one of the greatest stunts ever performed in a Bond film.

Beyond that, I cherish the memory of mom covering my eyes each time the vicious henchman Jaws bared his metal teeth and the maze running through the Egyptian construction site. 007 in his tuxedo with Russian Agent Triple X (Barbara Bach, one the best Bond girls) in her navy evening gown. Bach was gorgeous, intelligent and perfect in the role.

The Spy Who Loved Me is superb in so many ways. It returns to the Cold War threats that a megalomaniac takes pleasure in. This time it’s Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) who manages to apprehend nuclear armed submarines from Russia, Great Britain and eventually the United States. His plan is to destroy the world and start a new civilization beneath the sea. Honestly, I think that might take a little more effort than the capabilities of three submarines.

Triple X must now form an alliance with 007, only she has vengeance on her mind following the loss of her lover during the earlier ski pursuit. Bond must survive Stromberg and Jaws, as well as his Russian partner.

There’s so much that Director Lewis Gilbert, with Producer Albert Broccoli (first time working without Harry Saltzman) offers here. Bond drives a Lotus Esprit turned submarine, while also outrunning helicopters, motorcycles and Jaws who seems invincible. He also gets a cool new gadget vehicle to play with-a put it together yourself Jet Ski. Who woulda thunk it?

Jaws (Richard Kiel) is menacing but he’s also a great running gag, almost like the Wile E. Coyote from Looney Tunes. Throw him off a train, drop a building on him or fly his car off a mountain and he’ll come out of it with just a dust off of his shoulders.

Gilbert gets great scenic footage of Cairo, Egypt, Sardinia, and the snowy mountains of Austria. Stromberg’s ocean base is really cool to see too. Just avoid the elevators if you can.

Again, The Spy Who Loved Me has some of the best of everything-Bond Girl, a terrific soundtrack from Marvin Hamlisch as well as his musical accompaniment on the film’s Oscar nominated song from Carly Simon (“Nobody Does It Better”), Jaws, and it’s arguably Roger Moore’s best work in the role.

I could watch The Spy Who Loved Me a hundred times and never get tired of it.

Nobody Does It Better.


By Marc S. Sanders

James Bond is murdered in a murphy bed!!!!

Thereafter, he ventures off to Japan to uncover who is capturing American & Russian spacecraft in an effort to pit the two countries in a global war. 007 already has his suspicions. Could it be SPECTRE?

In Sean Connery’s 5th outing as the super spy, Roald Dahl (yes, the same guy who wrote James & The Giant Peach and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) pens the script for You Only Live Twice, a story that finally reveals the architect in charge of the terrorist organization. His name is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Donald Pleasence appears as the man with the white cat, long before he chased after slasher Michael Myers every October 31st. “Austin Powers” films have taken all of the shock & awe away from this Blofeld. You can’t help but see Dr. Evil when Pleasence appears.

Still, there is so much to be impressed with. Producers Harry Salzman & Albert Brocolli throw all the money into this film with a hidden fortress beneath a giant volcano, plus gorgeous footage of the Orient, as well as in simulated outer space and underwater, for the secret agent’s funeral.

The first two thirds are fast paced storytelling as Bond encounters one informant or enemy after another. He even gets into a great brawl with the grandfather of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. A large sofa makes a great battering weapon.

Regrettably, the movie languishes very unnecessarily into a silly subplot where Bond has to disguise himself as a Japanese man (Mickey Rooney may have looked better in Breakfast At Tiffany’s), learn how to be a ninja in four days (ummmmm…why????), and get married to a Japanese woman (again…..why?????). This apparently is all necessary to raid the hidden volcano fortress. Yeah. It’s ridiculous and you can almost see how ridiculous Connery thinks this is. One of Dahl’s everlasting gobstoppers might have been more useful.

Fortunately, the film redeems itself very well in its ending with an explosive battle between ninjas and henchmen. Bond serves the biggest henchman to some quick eating piranhas. That’s pretty fun.

You Only Live Twice is a gigantic production of grand indulgence largely thanks to the success of 007’s four prior large screen adventures. It’s got big moments, cool gadgets like “Little Nellie” and some unexpected surprises too.

It’s good entertainment.