Movie Review: ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’


The Man With the Golden GunDirector: Guy Hamilton

Cast: Roger Moore, Sir Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize, Clifton James, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewellyn, Lois Maxwell

Plot: When James Bond and MI:6 receive a golden bullet with 007’s code number engraved on it, M removes Bond from investigating the new solar technologies for fear of an assassination attempt from the notorious Man With the Golden Gun. Bond takes matters into his own hands by going after infamous hitman.

Review: Roger Moore’s second adventure as the world’s most famous spy is one of the most derided of the series, which is downright nonsense. It did come out during the goofiest part of the Bond franchise and it is not without some of the dumbest moments in the series. However, much of that can be countered by one simple factor.

Christopher Lee

This.

Let’s deal with the silliness first. For all the good that this movie has, they really is an epic amount of goofiness. James Bond finds himself facing down a dojo full of karate masters and gets rescued by a pair of high kicking school girls. At one stage of the movie he gets ambushed by a sumo wrestler who was under cover as a statue. We see the return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper, a grating Southern redneck whose slack-jawed yokelism was deemed funny enough in Live and Let Die for the part to be written back into the series. Mercifully the part is short and we never have to hear from him as comedy relief ever again. Throughout the films there’s also a forced sexuality that feels tacky and off-putting more than anything else.

J.W. Pepper

J.W. Pepper – nothing to do with the forced sexuality.

Much of the gadgets and vehicles seem to be very much token efforts. Scaramanga’s flying car and even the solar powered giant laser that makes up his primary motivation are largely glossed over and feel as thought they were included just for the sake of having a gadgety car and tn oversized laser beam because that’s what you’re supposed to have in Bond films. Even parts of the movie that should be the stand out scenes are sometimes made sillier without any reason. Primarily this applies to the famed stunt in which Bond corkscrews a car through the air while jumping it across river. The fact that this incredibly impressive stunt is performed in a single shot makes it even more impressive, but then it gets cheapened by the terrible slide trumpet effect used. Britt Ekland is good casting as Mary Goodknight, being a performer whose always brought a lot of charm to her roles, but the character adds little to the adventure. It’s hard to imagine how she managed to attain any position in the secret service at all given what a bimbo she is.

Britt Ekland

This is the scene where she almost kills Bond with a laser by being careless with her ass. For real.

On the flip side of the coin the good in this movie is really, really good. Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga is downright brilliant and one of the most interesting and complex villains Bond has ever had to face. Lee (Ian Fleming’s cousin) is the perfect counterpoint tot Bond’s gentlemen spy, being cold and merciless while being just as charming as 007. Dressed in a white linen suit and with his distinctively angular features he’s very much the polar opposite to Bond, representing what he may have become. The very best scenes in the movie are the conversations held between Bond and Scaramanga are the highlights – much more of the movie should’ve been dedicated to these two characters discussing their motives and trying to outwit one another.

Scaramanga

“Bitch please…I’m Saruman.”

The ‘funhouse’ that Scaramanga uses as part of his training might be construed as more goofiness, but it’s a brilliant reflection on the character. Scaramanga enjoys nothing more than mind games, as evidenced by the way he lures Bond into a duel only to pull the wool over his eyes. The funhouse is a further extension of this, creating a maze that traps his victims as well as himself in a fight to the death. His signature weapon is also genius, being more than just a catchy title for the movie the unique design of the weapon stands the test of time as one of the most recognizable plots to be featured in the Bond series.

Mostly the movie just gets a damn sight to silly for its own good, but the scenes between Roger Moore and the remarkable Sir Christopher Lee are electric. If only more of the movie could’ve featured this.

Score: SEVEN outta TEN