Happy 86th birthday to Roger Moore, who still holds the record for longest tenure as James Bond.
Roger Moore as James Bond, British “secret” agent who carries a camera with his “secret” code number on it
“California”, Fall 1979
Release Date: June 26, 1979
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Costume Design: Jacques Fonteray
By the time Moonraker rolled around, the realism of earlier Bond films like From Russia With Love was gone, replaced by near-fantasy adventures of a man who practically introduces himself as a secret agent, is completely irresistible to every woman to every woman in the world, and even goes into outer space. Outer fucking space.
Despite that, Moonraker is still only my 2nd least favorite Bond movie. The film taking the award for my least favorite is A View to a Kill, which will likely never find its way onto this blog.
The first half of the film, the superior half in my opinion, is still at least semi-grounded as far as Bond movies go. Bond is sent to check on the operation of Hugo Drax, a man whose eccentric affability must make him EVIL! if our knowledge of Bond movies tells us anything.
Bond is thus sent to California, where Drax has painstakingly recreated a French château. In fact, it is actually the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a real life castle in Maincy, about fifty miles southeast of Paris.
What’d He Wear?
Although not planning for a hunt when he got dressed that morning, Bond’s tweed suit is very appropriate for an old fashioned English gentleman’s hunt. The heavy light brown Donegal tweed keeps Bond warm as the weather gets cooler as I believe this is supposed to be fall in California. The suit is perfect for a gentleman in the country and the traditional military cut is flattering for Moore’s aging Bond, looking more sophisticated than Drax in his dramatic and villainous ulster and trilby. By this time, Moore’s suits were getting more queues from the rest of ’70s fashion with wide lapels and pocket flaps and large vents, but this suit manages to avoid looking overly ’70s as Moore wears it well.
Bond also notably wears a country suit for his visit to Drax’s English estate in the 1955 book Moonraker, the third of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels. In the novel, Fleming outfits Bond in a “battered” black and white houndstooth (“dog’s tooth”) suit, paired with a dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt and a black silk knitted tie. We don’t find out much more about the literary outfit, other than the fact that he wears shoes, a shoulder holster, and blue underpants.
Everything about the jacket is very sporty and appropriate for Bond’s character. The jacket is naturally single-breasted with wide ’70s-style notch lapels. The two buttons in the front and four buttons on each cuff are dark brown horn. The pockets are flapped, including the slanted hip pockets, the ticket pocket on the right, and even the flapped breast pocket, which is slightly slanted down towards the middle.
The elbow patches are dark brown suede. All of Bond’s suit coats in Moonraker have long rear double vents, as this is 1979, but they look especially appropriate with this suit as hacking jackets traditionally have longer vents for riding. Of course, the only riding Bond does in this scene is in the back of Drax’s brown Hispano-Suiza J12 Décapotable convertible coupe.
Bond’s jacket is fitted, as mentioned, in a military style with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a clean chest, and a nipped waist.
The trousers are flat front and are worn at Roger Moore’s natural waist, with a more traditional rise than the trousers worn during Sean Connery’s early tenure as Bond. Also differing from Connery’s trousers are belt loops and wider legs. The wider legs on this suit thankfully diminish the effect of the flared plain-hemmed bottoms, another “fashionable” touch that this suit thankfully managed to save itself from.
The pants are held up by a black leather belt with a squared steel single-claw buckle.
Bond keeps with his brown motif by wearing a pale ecru dress shirt, likely made by Moore’s traditional shirtmaker Frank Foster. The collar length has grown with the decade, and the length of the collar points is at an all-time high. However, this shirt is noticeably different from Moore’s earlier shirts as this one has tab cuffs rather than cocktail cuffs. Tab cuffs are also very unique and difficult to find, with the button fastened on an extended tab rather than just on the cuff itself. They are slightly more utilitarian than cocktail cuffs but still lack the basic functionality of standard barrel cuffs.
Similar to the suit worn by Fleming’s Bond in the novel, Bond wears a wool knit tie, except this is in brown rather than the black of the book. 1979 was the height of the “wide tie era” (despite what the costumers of The Godfather, Part III might have chosen), but Moore’s Bond is again saved from this overly “fashionable” trend in this scene with a slightly slimmer tie – due to it being a wool knit – tied in a small four-in-hand knot under the narrow spread of the large shirt collar.
Bond breaks away from wearing too much brown by slipping on a black belt and his black horsebit moccasins, a casual pair of slip-on shoes with a tall heel that likely would’ve been too flashy for Fleming to give his approval.
Continuing the trend of digital watches started by Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond wears a stainless SEIKO M354-5019 on his left wrist. We only see a few glimpses of it under Bond’s sleeves, but publicity photos show that Bond is indeed wearing his SEIKO with this suit. To me, a digital watch looks strange with such a traditional country suit, but perhaps that is why the filmmakers didn’t choose this scene to show it off.
Go Big or Go Home
Bond only gets a brief moment to shine in this short scene, but he certainly makes it memorable. A reviewer at The Agony Booth did a great job in his mostly negative but hilariously accurate recap of Moonraker, breaking down the scene:
The next morning, Drax and his men are doing a little shooting, and pheasants are being blown out of the sky. Oddly enough, while California does have the quail, a member of the pheasant family, the birds being shot at here are a bit too large to be quail. Man, to give pheasants a nice, long ride to the woods, and blow them to smithereens. Drax isn’t just evil, he’s Evil! Anyway, Bond drives up in a car on his way out of the complex. As he does this, one of Drax’s men blows a horn to signal the end of the shoot, and in a poor attempt at space-related humor, the tune the horn plays is the first three notes from Also Sprach Zarathustra.
As all the men disperse, Drax nods to a gunman who might as well be called Pierre Redshirt. Bond walks up, and Drax introduces him to two more women who will never have any bearing on the plot. They walk away and Drax invites Bond to take a shot at some birds with a rifle. Meanwhile, Pierre takes aim from a tree and has Bond in his sights. Bond fires at a pheasant and misses, and Drax chuckles at this.Drax: You missed, Mr. Bond.
Bond: Did I?
As he says this, Pierre falls from the tree, dead.
The last part of this, Bond’s shooting of the sniper, is actually pretty cool.
How to Get the Look
If you’re going hunting but want to look better than the guys from Duck Dynasty, Moore’s Bond lays the groundwork for a very sartorially-friendly day of pheasant shooting.
- Light brown heavy Donegal tweed military-cut suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted jacket with wide notch lapels, 2-button front, 4-button cuffs, dark brown suede shoulder patches, slightly slanted flapped breast pocket, slanted and flapped hip pockets, a flapped ticket pocket, and large double rear vents
- Flat front trousers with belt loops, wide legs, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Pale ecru dress shirt with long point collar and 1-button tab cuffs
- Dark brown wool knit necktie, tied in a four-in-hand knot
- Black horsebit moccasin slip-on shoes
- Black belt with a squared steel single-claw buckle
- SEIKO M354-5019 stainless digital watch
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie or just skip it and watch For Your Eyes Only, which is my personal favorite of the Moore-Bond era.
Moonraker is the only gun where Bond never uses his signature Walther pistol. Instead, the only real gun we see him firing (besides the “laser gun” in the film’s unmentionable final act) is a beautiful Holland & Holland Royal double-barreled hammerless shotgun that Drax uses for hunting pheasants and Bond uses for hunting snipers. Holland & Holland is one of England’s premier shotgun manufacturers, with their site still offering Royal models for upwards of £65,000 for a bespoke model.
The Holland & Holland shotgun uses its patent self-opening system sidelock ejector with hand-detachable locks, two triggers, and either a manual or an automatic safety. The barrels can range from 25″ to 32″ long with a chopper lump and a game rib. The 12-gauge shells fit into 2¾” chambers. The Royal model has a traditional scroll engraving pattern in either a color-hardened or a bright finish, with the serial number engraved or inlaid in gold. The walnut stock is polished and oiled to the desired measurements of the individual who orders it, as all Holland & Holland shotguns are bespoke.
Drax hands off the shotgun to Bond, offering him a chance to shoot. Bond meekly protests, stating that he’s probably not as good of a shot as Drax. Of course, we know Bond’ll have a trick up his sleeve as no one could ever get the drop on Moore’s Bond. After Bond doesn’t shoot down any birds, Drax tells him: “You missed…”
Bond waits until the sniper falls from the tree, then chimes in with…
… Did I?
Of course, Matt Spaiser gave this suit excellent coverage on his blog, The Suits of James Bond.