Friday, July 25, 2014

Ten Statements About....THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)

If the film was just these two...and maybe Maud Adams...
I'd have been a lot happier.
“You see, Mr Bond, like all great artists I want to create one indisputable masterpiece: the death of 007."
“You mean stuffed and mounted over your rocky mantelpiece?"
“It's an amusing idea, but I was thinking more in terms of history.”

1) This is the last of the Maibaum and Mankiewicz scripts...and it is the most nonsensical one of all.  Never has a Bond film been more a string of crazy stuff that happens than in this film.

2) It’s obvious at this early juncture why the Moore era seems so dated while the Connery films aren’t is how they seem to be constantly chasing trends--in the case of this film, there’s a lengthy and fairly out of place kung fu sequence that ends with Bond being saved by a pair of schoolgirls in plaid skirts.  I remember thinking it was cool at one point, but now it just seems gratuitous and more than a little embarrassing.

3) And speaking of gratuitous and pointless...the film seems to literally stop so that Clifton James’ Sherrif J.W. Pepper can act like the ultimate ugly American (his constant referring to the Thai people around him as ‘pointy heads’ is particularly winge-worthy)...and then somehow shoehorns him into the major action sequence so that he can ‘enliven’ the film with his southern fried hick comedy.  It’s indicative how the Moore films seem skewed more to comedy than action.  However...
When you need two schoolgirls to save your ass...well,
you're no longer an effective secret agent.

4) It’s to the credit of the script that Bond himself is not part of the comedy.  We’re still in the phase where Moore is finding his voice, and he shows glimmers of true ruthlessness, especially when he’s dealing with the arms dealer Lazar and Maud Adams’ Allison Anders.  It’s a hint of what Moore’s Bond could have been if he hadn’t decided to coast on his charm and go for broad comedy.

5) What little life the film has lies in the hands of Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga.  Playing a dark mirror for Bond, Lee (Ian Fleming’s cousin, and the author’s choice to play Dr. No) sinks his teeth into the part enthusiastically, giving an otherwise thinly written character a dimension of quiet menace.  Giving him all the gadgets gives the film one of the few interesting edges.

6) Hmmm...a hired assassin with a perchance for carnival memorabilia who charges an exorbitant fee, lures victims into a funhouse to kill them and has an assistant named it time to add another item on the list of Things Chris Claremont Stole Shit From?
The only reason Britt Eklund is in the film.

7) Britt Eklund’s Holly Goodnight may very well be the single stupidest character ever to appear in a Bond film--and that’s saying something.  She contributes nothing to the film except to needlessly complicate things and look good in a bikini, and even has the distinction of extending the film’s bloated running time by having her butt activate a giant solar gun.  Adam’s Anders is much more effective, which is why it’s so sad she becomes the Sacrificial Lamb.

8) Hey, and speaking of that Giant Solar comes out of nowhere, makes no sense for Scaramanga to have it, and seems to be there solely so he can blow up an airplane.  It’s a real non-sequitur end to a villain plot.

9)   You know, there are moments where Herve Villechaize’s Nick Nack is an effective, even nightmarish presence...but then you see him in a diaper and an oni mask, or running around a yacht throwing wine bottles shouting ‘I keel you!  I keel you’ where he becomes embarrassing.
Go away, J.W Pepper...just.  Go. Away.

10) As uninteresting as I found many of the settings this time around--Thailand in particular comes off as a tawdry backwater of a country (but maybe that’s the Pepper Hate talking), I love the unique look of Scaramanga’s hideout in a series of small islands now ironically named The James Bond Islands.  They provide a bit of color and flair in a film that sorely needs it. of the worst Bonds from the Moore era that comes off better than it should thanks to the character of Scaramanga (and the performance of same by Lee) and some interesting minor characters.  I’m sure it thanks the Cinema Gods that it looks miles better when compared to Moonraker and A View To A Kill, as we’ll learn soon.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is one of those James Bond movies I thought was unbearably cool when I first saw it (I was in High School when this movie had it's original theatrical run) but now I find just barely tolerable.

    Why in the world would a southern fried redneck like J.W. Pepper go on a vacation in Thailand, of all places? And why is he in a car dealership pricing cars when he's on vacation? Who does that? It's stuff like that that makes me grind my teeth when I watch it now. It's just lazy, sloppy writing, plain and simple.

    Britt Eklund's Mary Goodnight is so astoundingly stupid it makes my brain hurt.
    For me, Christopher Lee saves the movie. Love every scene he's in and he's especially charmingly ruthless in the scene where he's assembling his Golden Gun just before killing Hai Fat. Good point you made about Scaramanga having all the gadgets.

    On a completely unrelated note, I stole the name of Chew Mi, a character in my novel "Dillon and The Voice of Odin" from this movie. It's the name of the naked girl swimming in the pool Bond briefly banters with when he infiltrates Hi Fat's estate.