Friday, June 19, 2015

Moonraker (1979) | Women

I really like Drax's helicopter pilot, Corrine Dufour. Corinne Cléry plays her sweetly and also very smart. She doesn't fall for Bond's baloney, but she likes him anyway and I get the feeling that she's helping him simply because she knows Drax is creepy and up to something and she wants to do the right thing. It makes me legitimately sad when she dies, even though I kind of love how dramatic and spooky that scene is. It doesn't match the tone of the rest of Moonraker, but then Corrine belongs in a better film herself.

Manuela is an MI6 agent from Station VH in Brazil. She's a rubbish agent who obviously knows Bond's reputation and is looking forward to nothing but screwing him. She meets him in his hotel room wearing negligée and even tries to talk him out of investigating Drax's warehouse for no good reason that she offers. The impression that I get is that she wants to spend the whole evening having sex, but Bond is professional enough to cut that down to just the afternoon.

When they do go to the warehouse, it's being guarded by Jaws. I guess? It's not really clear why Jaws is there. At any rate, Jaws attacks Manuela while Bond's inside and she pulls a knife on the metal-toothed giant. I'm not saying that she should have come prepared to fight Jaws, but she doesn't even carry a pistol? And when he picks her up and tries to kill her, she doesn't make a peep, even when a crowd of people show up. It's no wonder we never see her again after that night. Bond's clearly dumped her and moved on alone with the investigation.

I feel like Holly Goodhead gets a lot of grief as a Bond Girl. Among my friends, she was the Christmas Jones of the series before the actual Christmas Jones showed up. I may have even felt that way myself. But the last few times I've watched Moonraker, I've decided that she gets a bad rap. It's probably her name.

Lois Chiles is as good an actress as most of the Bond Girls up to that point and I really like her character. She's smart, she's tough in a fight, she's a great pilot, and she is absolutely Bond's equal partner in saving the world. If anything, she may be so multi-talented as to be unbelievable, but this is a movie where Bond is an expert in the history of missionary work in South America. We need to cut her some slack for being a CIA agent and also an astronaut.

I also like that she's at least partially inspired by Gala Brand from the novel in that she's a law enforcement agent disguised as one of Drax's top employees. Brand is one of my favorite characters in Fleming, so I like that she's at least partially represented in Goodhead. On the other hand, Goodhead is also inspired by Anya Amasova from The Spy Who Loved Me with the whole rival-agents-who-learn-to-love angle. Moonraker is a giant copy cat.

One other minorly irritating thing about Goodhead is that it's never really explained why she's undercover at Drax Industries. What put the CIA on Drax's trail? There's no more reason for them to be investigating him than there is for MI6 to be there.

My Favorite Bond Women

1. Tracy Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2. Paula Caplan (Thunderball)
3. Tatiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)
4. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
5. Domino Derval (Thunderball)
6. Holly Goodhead (Moonraker)
7. Mary Goodnight (The Man with the Golden Gun)
8. Andrea Anders (The Man with the Golden Gun)
9. Honey Rider (Dr. No)
10. Anya Amasova (The Spy Who Loved Me)


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I just remember being caught off guard by Corrine's line "I don't know how to read". It's right up there with Honey Ryder's childlike understanding of the world, expect this time it's played for laughs.

Michael May said...

That line always makes me cringe. The script certainly does Corrine no favors; I just think the actress does some nice things with the role.


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