30 JUNE 1979, Page 33



Ted Whitehead

Moon raker (Odeon, Leicester Square) That Summer (Classic, Oxford Street) Never having seen Roger Moore in the role of James Bond. I was curious to see what he Would make of it in MoonraketIA). He comes over as a very engaging fellow, a Classic type of English gent. urbane, civilised, with a self-deprecating twinkle in his Pure blue eyes. The trouble is. he lacks fist. It's impossible to imagine him frightening the villains and all too easy to imagine him being terrified of them.

But if Bond isn't what he used to be, then as if in compensation the villains aren't either. It's a long way from the ferocious Korean bowler-thrower in Doctor No and Robert Shaw's psychopathic executioner in From Russia With Love to Richard Kiel's Jaws, a goofy giant whose steel teeth make him look almost endearing. At the end this Villain even falls in love, changes sides and rescues James and his CIA sidekick (Lois Chiles). I don't know whether this conversion is in Ian Fleming's novel or whether it is the invention of the screenwriter. Christopher Wood, but in any case it is typical of the relentlessly opportunist and jokey nature of the script. Wrjting nearly 30 years ago. Fleming conceived of a megalomaniac millionaire developing his own ballistic missile when the British government refused to do so. Here we have Hugo Drax. a manufacturer of space shuttles for the NASA programme. developing his own private fleet when Congress slashes the budget. He uses the space Shuttles to build a city. in space and to Populate it with selected couples. intending to destroy human life on earth by a bombardment of toxic chemicals and to return eventually as master of a super race. Bond's investigation into the disappearance of the Shuttles enables the director. Lewis Gilbert. to provide the usual ration of bizarre Punch-ups and erotic encounters in locations ranging from California to Venice to Rio de Janeiro before we finally take off for the climactic battle in outer space.

Surprisingly, this is a bit of a let-down. Eric Burgess. space technology adviser for the film, has written a fascinating article in New Scientist explaining how carefully the producers drew on current knowledge to create the effect of science fact rather than science fiction. Perhaps we've been spoiled by too many galactic spectaculars but I'm afraid the sight of men floating in space and blasting each other with laser guns now seems as routine as any Western shoot-out. and the film races wearily through its two hours' length.

Or perhaps James Bond is simply obsolete. Is this the figure who in the Sixties could provoke articles in the serious press about fascist decadence, the aristocratic daredevil with an insatiable appetite for sex and high life and with an amoral ruthlessness only vaguely justified by his patriotic committment?

No, it isn't actually. All that remains of the mood of the early films is the theme tune. And though Albert R. Broccoli, the producer, says that Bond goes on forever and never ages. the fact is that he is getting more juvenile with every film that's made. For the technical wizardry and the bravery of the stuntmen. I'd like to say Moonraker might appeal to the kids — but my daughters would kill me.

Davina Belling and Clive Parsons have produced a refreshingly accurate film of contemporary adolescents at work and play in That Summer (AA). Based on a story by Tony Attard, the screenplay by Janey Preger brilliantly catches the idiom of discontented working-class youth with its volatile mix of bravado and inhibition. Emily Moore and Julie Shipley play two refugees from a Leeds factory, all boom and bore, dom, who take summer jobs as chambermaids in a Torbay hotel, where the housekeeper instructs them. 'You dust the furniture and the floors — the flowers are my domain.' They meet two boys — Tony London. who has escaped from his father's butcher's shop to work on the boats, and Ray Winstone. an East End reject. fresh from borstal, who works in a pub and spends his spare time training for the Devon Swimming Marathon. Their romance is threatened by three Glaswegian rowdies, one of whom (Jon Morrison) is also entering for the race.

If the climax is straight teen-magazine stuff and the direction by Harley Cokliss sometimes pedantic. there's compensation in the swift pace of the narrative and in the beautifully alert and spontaneous performances. The effortless naturalism of such as David Daker and Jo Rowbottom in minor but important roles is another reminder of the depth of British acting talent. It's a modest film, made on a low budget, concerning problems any young audience will recognise. I wish there were dozens more like it. and hate to think how many could have been made for the price of one Moonraker.