You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them
according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things
one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual
effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that
make a Bond film a Bond film and how THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN rates
on a scale of 1 to 10:
Title: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN: Exceedingly lame, the title might be an accurate description of the film's villain, but it is almost embarrassing in its attempt at sexual innuendo. 4 points.
Pre-Credit Teaser: A forty-year-old stereotype of a gangster (black shirt, white tie, fedora, etc.) is lured into a cheesy funhouse, that wouldn't even cut the muster at a fifth rate carnival, to do battle with Scaramanga, the world's highest paid professional assassin. This is supposed to foreshadow a duel of the titans confrontation between Scaramanga and Bond. Instead it introduces us to the rather tacky quality of the entire movie. 5 points.
Opening Credits: Same old same old from Maurice Binder. 4 points.
Theme Song: As bad as the title is, the attempt to turn it into a theme song is even worse. The music itself is catchy enough, I suppose, and the instrumental theme that pops up on the soundtrack now again is decent. But the lyrics are just plain awful in their attempt to cross themes of sex and violence: "His eye may be on you or me. Who will he bang? We shall see." Ouch! Even pop diva Lulu can't do much with such numbingly bad material. 1 point.
"Bond, James Bond": Were it not for the bits of campy humor peppered throughout the film, I suspect that Roger Moore would just nod off. It's only his second film and already he seems bored -- but with this material, who can blame him? 5 points.
Bond Babes: As Scaramanga's mistress, Maud Adams is surprisingly poignant as a woman trapped in a corrupt world and controlled by an abusive man. She shows more depth than we have come to expect from a Bond Girl, but predictably her character is killed off far too soon. And, unfortunately, the film's heroine becomes Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland, the one-time Mrs. Peter Sellers. Though we are supposed to believe she is a British agent, Goodnight is a one-joke ditz of the sort that suddenly became a Bond cliché. The two cancel each other out. 5 points.
Bond Villain: It is said that Ian Fleming wanted his cousin, famed screen Dracula, Christopher Lee, to be the villain in the first Bond film, DR. NO. That didn't work out, but it is hard to say if it was worth the wait to see him here. Lee is a class act and one of the legendary screen villains of all time. Unfortunately, he is saddled with playing one of the dullest Bond villains of all time. Scaramanga seems to be as noted for his good manners as for his bloodlust. Lee seems to be enjoying the role and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with his portrayal, it is just that Scaramanga doesn't seem all the threatening. Why doesn't Bond just shoot him and be done with it? 5 points.
Bond Baddies: As sort of a Mini-Me version of Goldfinger's Oddjob, Nick Nack is apparently an all purpose butler, henchman, adorable sidekick and source of comic relief. At less than four feet tall, Hervé Villechaize is certainly not very threatening, but pound for pound and inch for inch, he is probably one of Bond's more memorable adversaries. 8 points.
Sinister Plot: The world's most notorious hired assassin apparently has a contract to kill 007, though considering Bond dodges three or four assassins in every one of his adventures, it's hard to see what the big deal is. Anyway, Bond is working on an assignment involving a missing scientist involved in harnessing solar energy and it turns out that Scaramanga is trying to take control of the world using solar energy. Wow, what a coincidence! And how lame. 3 points.
Production values: Whatever ill that can be said about the film as a whole, it will always be cherished by Bondophiles for the infamous spinning car jump. In an attempt to jazz up their image, the carmaker AMC somehow persuaded the Bond producers to let them supply the cars for TMWTGG (just as Fords costarred in GOLDFINGER and Chevys in LIVE AND LET DIE), which is the only possible reason that Scaramanga would be driving a Matador. Anyway, it is also the only possible reason that Bond would commandeer an AMC Hornet to give chase. After a fairly well staged chase through the streets of Bangkok, Bond must catch up with Scaramanga by crossing a river via a half-collapsed bridge. Thus, the car trick from two ramps twisted in opposite directions. A neat trick. And if all Matadors could sprout wings and fly like Scaramanga's, maybe AMC would still be in business. 10 points.
Bonus Points: Clifton James, as the big-bellied, tobacco-spitting, none-too-bright southern sheriff, J.W. Pepper, is back and for no apparent reason beyond being a desperate attempt to repeat a joke that fell flat when used in LIVE AND LET DIE. Minus 5 points.
Summary: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN was used as evidence that the Bond series was wearing out its welcome. Despite trying new things with the character and the formula, the film seems listless and uninspired. It is a low point, but it is also the lull before the rebirth that would come with THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.
Bond-o-meter Rating: 45 points out of 100.
The Man with the Golden Gun
Action / Adventure / Thriller
The Man with the Golden Gun
Action / Adventure / Thriller
Scaramanga is a hit-man who charges a million dollars per job. He becomes linked to the death of a scientist working on a powerful solar cell, and James Bond is called in to investigate. As he tracks down Scaramanga, he realises that he is highly respected by the killer, but will this prove to be an advantage in the final showdown?
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December 17, 2012 at 01:57 PM