6.0/10
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13 user 4 critic

The Moonraker (1958)

After the battle of Worcester at the end of the Civil War, the main aim of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth is to capture Charles Stuart. The future king's escape depends on the intrepid Earl... See full summary »

Director:

David MacDonald (as David Macdonald)

Writers:

Robert Hall (screenplay), Wilfred Eades (screenplay) (as Wilfrid Eades) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Baker ... The Moonraker
Sylvia Syms ... Anne Wyndham
Marius Goring ... Colonel Beaumont
Peter Arne ... Edmund Tyler
Clive Morton ... Lord Harcourt
Gary Raymond ... Charles Stuart
Richard Leech ... Henry Strangeways
Iris Russell Iris Russell ... Judith Strangeways
Michael Anderson Jr. ... Martin Strangeways (as Michael Anderson Jnr.)
Paul Whitsun-Jones Paul Whitsun-Jones ... Parfitt
John Le Mesurier ... Cromwell
Patrick Troughton ... Captain Wilcox
Julian Somers Julian Somers ... Captain Foster
Sylvia Bidmead Sylvia Bidmead ... Meg
Patrick Waddington ... Lord Dorset
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Storyline

After the battle of Worcester at the end of the Civil War, the main aim of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth is to capture Charles Stuart. The future king's escape depends on the intrepid Earl of Dawlish, who as the Moonraker has already spirited away many Royalists. Dawlish travels to the Windwhistle Inn on the south coast to prepare the escape, where he meets Anne Wyndham, the fiancée of a top Roundhead colonel. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

£500 REWARD! The Moonraker must be captured... DEAD OR ALIVE!

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 August 1958 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Blood on the Sword See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gary Raymond's film debut. See more »

Goofs

The Roundhead troops wear red sashes. This was the sash colour worn by Royalists - Roundheads wore tawny or blue. See more »

Soundtracks

The Moonraker
song
Music by Laurie Johnson
Lyrics by Geoffrey Parsons
Sung by Ronnie Hilton over the Main Titles
See more »

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User Reviews

Underwatched and underated English Swashbuckler

It is a real shame this film has received so little attention from fans and critics over the years. It is by far one of the most watchable, entertaining, and interesting swashbucklers made.

The period and setting of the English Civil War is a much-underused one, the Moonraker serves up every aspect of this tortured period of England's history. The fantastic consumes, magnificent mansions, and dashing heroes, offset by the darker aspects of The Civil War: hatred, mistrust, and exile. The storyline of chase and escape though not complex, is rich enough to offer the viewer with everything a swashbuckler requires; revenge, hatred, honour, courage romance and of course swordplay!! Not enough buckles are swashed as accurately or as interestingly as they are in the Moonraker. Unlike in many swashbucklers where the actors brandish weapons from a mix of different periods(usualy totally wrong), the Moonraker pays huge attention to historic accuracy in all the weapons and armour used. The same attention to detail went into the elaborate costumes and hugely impressive use of the sets, including the actual Bodiam Castle!

The actual action itself is very well done, larger group battles contrasted with intense one-on-one action between our hero Lord Dawlish, (George Baker), and his nemesis the insidious Major Greg, (the late Peter Arne). Their duel in the darkened inn is probably one of the most atmospheric and well choreographed duels in any British film. This compared to perhaps the best duel on film ever that between Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin in the Princess Bride. The larger battles once again demonstrate Bakers terrific athleticism, backed by the dogged Clive Morton as Lord Harcourt.

The rest of the straightforward story is carried though by the excellent supporting cast, Notably Marius Goering as Colonel Beaumont, and the ever brilliant John Le Mesurier as a sullen, though surprisingly good looking version of the very ugly Oliver Cromwell. However,the Star-supporting actor has to be the little known, and equally underrated Paul Whitsun-Jones as Mr Parfitt. Parfitt adds much of the films light relief with his pompous tirades which accurately reflected the manner and feelings of much of the gentry of the period. Whitsun-Jones shows his fantastic versatility at the end of the film, throwing off his blustery comic role, and donning that of a hero; doing his part for King and Country. Parfitt supplies probably the most poignant moment in the film as he sacrifices his own life so the King, and his hero The Moonraker, can escape.

Sylvia Syms is faultless though not outstanding as the love interest Anne Whyndham,and the future Dr Who Patrick Troughton is also well placed as the harassed and hard-nosed Captain Wilcox.

The only letdowns acting-wise are the King (Gary Raymond), and to a lesser degree the Innkeeper Henry Strangeways (Richard Leech). Leech is far too subdued as the salt-of-the-earth Landlord, plus his Irish accent is poorly hidden by his woeful attempt at west-country drawl.

Raymond is far to effete as Charles Stuart, lacking the flare or energy of either Baker or Morton as he glides about, or poses like a ballet dancer. His best moment is in the duel in the cloisters where he picks up his act, only for it to tail off again almost at once.

However the casting of Michael Anderson Jr as young Martin Strangeways has to be the most ghastly oversight of the whole film. This very British film is let down by the very American sounding 'brat actor', who's strong American accent grates irritatingly alongside Bakers refined English. Mercifully his appearances are both short and few.

Overall the film is a triumph of 'all British' swashbuckling. While predictable it is not corny as so many swashbucklers are. The key cast is kept small (and almost all are fantastic), the romantic twist not long and drawn out so as to be tiresome, and the fighting fast paced and frequent. As well as this it's a family film with few of the crudities or disembowellings of modern swashbucklers whilst retaining a realistic level of violence.

A must for fans of buckle swashing or historical themed films, and highly

recommended for everyone else. 7.5/10


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