The Moonraker

Anything with a vague historical bent

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Ellen Gethin
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Hay-on-Wye, town of books

The Moonraker

Post by Ellen Gethin »

In my defence, I first saw this at a very impressionable age, and the memory that I'd enjoyed it stuck in my brain. Forty years on, I finally got the chance to see it again.
To start with, I had forgotten that it was a Cavalier/Roundhead story, and thought it was about smugglers.
I also wasn't prepared for the cheesy song over the titles.
There is a lot of riding around the countryside, but at least a low budget 1950s English film had the advantage over Hollywood that they could use real historical buildings as the backdrops to the action.
George Baker (better known now as Wexford) was the star, speaking with an implausibly plummy accent. If this had been a Scarlet Pimpernel picture, he would have been the Pimpernel, and Major Gregg (the Roundhead undercover agent) would have been Chauvelin. The story revolves around smuggling Prince Charles out of England after the battle of Worcester - and John le Mesurier (sp?) appears as Cromwell. Patrick Troughton also appears briefly as a Roundhead Captain. Although firmly on the side of the Royalists, the script is fair to the Roundheads. The Colonel who is trying to catch the elusive Moonraker is portrayed as an honourable man. And George Baker isn't invincible - he is wounded during a sword fight, though this is only so that Sylvia Sims can bind his wounds! And the comic fat Cavalier ends up being a hero, which was nice. There's an epic climactic swordfight between the Moonraker and Major Gregg on the sea shore - though they're not exactly Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, they try hard.
And the costumes are very good indeed.
So, although I was the perfect target audience at the age of eleven, liking anything with swordfights, horses, isolated smuggling inns perched on cliff tops, and a bit of chaste romance (not even a hint of cleavage with Syliva Sims' buttoned up night dress), it wasn't anything like as bad as it might have been to re-watch! Though I dare say George Baker might wince if he was reminded of it.
"Take wrong turns, talk to strangers, open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they're doing."
JimmyB27, absolutewrite

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