The Moonraker (1958)   3/53/53/53/53/5


George Baker in The Moonraker (1958)

The Name's Dawlish, Earl of Dawlish

Not to be confused with the James Bond movie of a similar name "The Moonraker" is basically a 50s British swashbuckler with a fictionalised tale of how Charles II escaped from Oliver Cromwell and his roundhead's thanks to the Earl of Dawlish, aka The Moonraker. And as such whilst we have this tale of daring do as The Moonraker tries to smuggle the King out of the country, it really is a series of sword fights with a romantic twist. Dated it most certainly is but "The Moonraker" is also still entertaining thanks to the performances of George Baker, Paul Whitsun-Jones and Sylvia Syms and one thing which does take you by surprise is how much George Baker looked like Mel Gibson when he had the long hair.

With Oliver Cromwell (John Le Mesurier) demanding the capture of Charles II (Gary Raymond), royalist Earl of Dawlish, aka The Moonraker (George Baker - North Sea Hijack) sets about helping the King escape leading him South to the Windwhistle Inn where he should be safe until he can arrange a ship. But at the Inn Dawlish comes face to face with Anne Wyndham (Sylvia Syms - Is Anybody There?), the fiancee of Colonel Beaumont (Marius Goring), Cromwell's top soldier and has to tread carefully around the beauty.

Sylvia Syms in The Moonraker (1958)

So "The Moonraker" is one of the simplest movies you will every come across, Cromwell wants Charles II, The Moonraker is trying to help him escape, and that is it. And so what this means is on their journey down to the coast we have a series of action scenes as The Moonraker tackles any roundhead soldier which comes their way. Too make it slightly more interesting we have the twist where The Moonraker ends up befriending Anne Wyndham who comes to realise that he is not as bad as she thought. But really there is so little story that even if you're not a history buff and know the ins and outs of Cromwell and the royalists you can easily follow.

And so what that really means is that "The Moonraker" really ends up a series of action scenes be it a couple of horse chases or the various sword fights. Now it is dated as every sword fight feels very choreographed and staged, lacking the flare which made some swashbuckling movies standout but it is still entertaining. Watching The Moonraker tackle 3 roundhead swordsmen on his own is corny but also good fun as is all the table jumping and diving through windows.

In many ways the enjoyment of "The Moonraker" when watched now is from the cast be it the beautiful Sylvia Syms as Anne Wyndham or Paul Whitsun-Jones as the bellowing Parfitt. But whilst there are these entertaining performances through out it is George Baker who delivers the lion share of the fun be it as the swashbuckling The Moonraker or his mild mannered alter ego Mr. Rice. And Baker really sells the action be it the fast horse chase as he goes after a roundhead soldier or when he tackles the deceptive Edmund Tyler. Plus of course there is also the fact that there are times when Baker looks a dead ringer for Mel Gibson which takes you by surprise.

What this all boils down to is that "The Moonraker" is dated and a very old fashioned British swashbuckler with very little storyline but it is a good piece of fun. It's worth watching just for the delight of Sylvia Syms and George Baker delivering plenty of action.


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