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Live and Let Die was an enormous success; it triumphed over Diamonds Are Forever in their box-office returns. Following this unexpected outcome, Harry and Cubby decided to strike while the iron was still hot, and set about filming, The Man With The Golden Gun.
Tom Mankiewicz's first draft of the script was completed in 1973, and as Ian Fleming's The Man With The Golden Gun featured Jamaica as it's primary setting, the same setting as Live and Let Die, new locations had to be found. Both Iran and Ha Long Bay were considered, but fell by the wayside - the Yom Kippur War took care of the former, and an uneasy ceasefire between U.S.A and Vietnam took care of the latter. Interestingly the Iran/Israel War, proved Richard Maibaum with his gist of his later rewrites of Mankiewicz's original script; the energy crisis.
Delays on the locations scouting perhaps had an effect. Golden Gun only had 5 months shooting wise - principal photography lasted between April and August 1974. (Although the film-makers shoot footage of the sunken Queen Elizabeth II in November 1973). Cubby felt that this was too "tight (a) schedule", later on, after Golden Gun's postmortem on it's unsatisfactory box-office receipts.
This "rushing" is one of many problems that would blight Golden Gun. Not only does it feel rushed, there is a lack of creativity to the film, in part not to having the desired time of pre-production, in order to get things planned out, but also down to the creative powers, that shaped the film. In effect Golden Gun feels jaded.
One possible reason for this, is the ensuing break up between Harry and Cubby. Things were very tense at the top, and perhaps this tension, stymied up the creative team.
Certainly it did not help, but that was not the only problem facing Golden Gun. Tom Mankiewicz submitted a draft of the screenplay, which featured heavily on the duel between James Bond and the titular The Man With The Golden Gun, Francisco Scaramanga. Mankiewicz imagined his screenplay as a reworking of the Western, Shane.
However, by this time, some of the ill-feeling at the top was starting to creep downwards. Director Guy Hamilton and Mankiewicz disagreed on the style in which the franchise was heading, and so Mankiewicz dropped out of the film. Replacing him was veteran Bond screen writer, Richard Maibaum.
Maibaum downplayed the duel between Bond and Scaramanga, and choose to instead focus on the energy crisis, which, at that time, dominated world news. Ironically, setting the Bond pictures up against certain backdrops is usually not a good idea, but in this case, the need for renewable energy is even more relevant today.
Thus the two different screenplays merge into one; MI6 receives an envelope, containing a golden bullet, which is engraved 007. This is the calling card of the assassin Scaramanga, where by he uses his fearful reputation as a psychological weapon.
M pulls Bond off his current assignment, finding the missing Solex Agitator. However, Bond proposes to kill Scaramanga first, and sets off in pursuit. During his investigation, Bond discovers that it was not Scaramanga who sent the bullet, but Andrea Anders, the mistress of the man with the golden gun.
Andrea believes that Bond is the only man capable of killing Scaramanga, thus setting her free. Scaramanga often talks about Bond; it seems that Scaramanga has put Bond on a pedestal. Bond and Andrea reach a deal; Bond would kill Scaramanga, if Andrea gets the Solex Agitator, whom Scaramanga recently, and "conveniently" acquired.
Christopher Lee, who has made a career of playing iconic villains, portrays the role of Francisco Scaramanga with relish and skill. He is the dark side of Bond, being erudite, sophisticated, charming and witty, and is the best aspect of Golden Gun.
In Ian Fleming's novel, Scaramanga is a thug, with little personality or traits, and is symptomatic of the novels general malaise. That is apart from one attribute; interestingly, both the literary and cinematic Scaramanga's have a pistol fetish. In the film, Scaramanga delights in Andrea's obvious distress in having a pistol thrust against her body, a blatant metaphor.
Fleming was desperately ill when he wrote Golden Gun, and it shows, being devoid of the rich detail that Fleming was famous for. It is a sad coda to bow out, for this great author. Golden Gun was published posthumously in 1965, and it read like a first draft of a very ill author.
In the film, the script springs to life, where ever Scaramanga is involved, and the scenes between him and Bond are quite simply legendary, and can boast to be some of the finest in the series proud history. Both the script and Lee deserve great credit to bringing Scaramanga vividly to life.
Two such scenes are the kick-boxing introduction and the dinner scene. The former is at a Thai kick-boxing arena, where the two assassins meet for the first time, where upon Scaramanga regales Bond with his childhood experiences, straight from the pen of Ian Fleming; a classic back-story that typifies all Fleming's villains. As Lee tells the tale of Scaramanga's upbringing, he has a glint in his eye, first for his love of animals, and then for his love of killing, where the aforementioned "glint" becomes almost feverous in desire, a superb piece of acting.
The latter dinner scene is another iconic sequence between Bond and Scaramanga, as they sit down to a gourmet dinner, as all good Bond villains should, treating Bond to his final meal. The dialogue between them is sparkling, a highlight of the film, and indeed series, as they move from gentle sparring, to outright hostility.
As James Bond, 007, Roger Moore improves on his début in Live And Let Die, showing more confidence in the role. This time, however, Moore presents a terser interpretation, as if he's being haunted by the spectre of Scaramanga.
This edgier undercurrent counterpoints well with Moore's urbane charm, and is used to great effect in the film, for example, there is a surprisingly nasty encounter between Bond and some goons in Beirut, in which Moore acquits himself rather well. Indeed we get to see Moore's Bond not playing by the rules. Moore's Bond, like Fleming's Bond, used the gambit of the unassuming Englishman to deceive their enemies. Further evidence of this, is in an enjoyable kung fu showdown. That is before the sequence was ruined by having the entire kung fu dojo, being defeated by two schoolgirls, one of the low-points in the Bondian cannon.
Moreover, at the dinner, Scaramanga goads Bond into admitting that he enjoys killing just as much as him. "Killing you would be a pleasure" Bond coolly replies. Lastly Bond gets overly physical with Andrea, over the whereabouts of Scaramanga. There is a subtle quality in Golden Gun's script, regrading the character of Bond.
This last scene is uncomfortable to watch, Bond slapping a woman, but it is meant to be. We are meant to question Bond's actions, this moral quandary is an excellent piece of drama, and remember drama doesn't have to be nice, to be drama, and is inspired by the novels of Fleming, in which Fleming encapsulates this "moral quandary" so well. Andrea could be the key to finding out where Scaramanga is, and lest not forget that Scaramanga is reportedly trying to kill Bond. The means justified the end. This scene, uncomfortable as it may be to watch, is played well by Moore and Maud Adams, who portrays Andrea.
Adams is quietly effective as the haunted mistress of Scaramanga, and is deserving of a better film to showcase her talents. Luckily Adams was cast as the main Bond girl in Octopussy some nine years later.
Andrea has a very warped value of her self worth, in this telling sentence;
"You can have me, if you like. I'm not unattractive..." Which shows how little self confidence she has, willing to offer herself to Bond, in order for him to kill Scaramanga, who systematically abused Andrea as a mere "sex-plaything", and consequently undermined her self worth. Which leads extra credence to Andrea wanting Scaramanga dead. This lack of self worth comes from the fact that Scaramanga used Andrea to sleep with, before he went out "on the job". Apparently bull-fighters used the same trick in order to get their "eye" in, and is lifted from Fleming's The Man With The Golden Gun.
Andrea also has the unwitting part to play in one of Golden Gun's most unsavoury scenes. Bond is entertaining Mary Goodnight in his hotel room, a stock character from Fleming's later novels, and is elevated to the main Bond girl in both the film and novel versions of Golden Gun. They are interrupted by Andrea.
Bond shoves Goodnight into a closet, in a scene not to dissimilar to the farcical scene that introduced Moore as 007, where by he attempts to hide Ms Caruso from M. Bond and Andrea discuss their arrangement – Bond would kill Scaramanga, but only after Andrea has got the Solex Agitator. Before, inevitably, making love, with Goodnight still in the closet.
This is the most chauvinistic act, in the series, perpetrated by Bond, especially when Bond has "finished" with Andrea, he promises Goodnight that "her time will come soon". This odd mix between callous and camp that makes Golden Gun so disconcerting.
This dichotomy between Bond's callous actions, slapping Andrea and locking Goodnight in a closet, while he and Andrea gets intimate, for example, and the high camp and overt humour, is quite unsettling, and is one of the myriad problems facing Golden Gun, not least of which, is the underwhelming lead heroine, Mary Goodnight.
Goodnight is one of the most disappointing Bond girls, being one dimensional, and sadly inept at anything she does. It beggars believe that MI6 would employ someone so incompetent, and Bond's frustration at being in her presence is wholly understandable. Only Britt Ekland's game performance brings a semblance of dignity to the part.
Bond girls are, usually, smart, feisty and independent – smart see Tatiana (From Russia With Love) and Tracy (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), feisty see Pussy Galore (Goldfinger), and independent see Honey (Dr No) and Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice). However, the Bond girls since Tracy, have been none of those things, or only fleeting glimpses of those attributes, anyway. Perhaps this was a conscious decision by the film-makers, shying away from the perceived failure of Majesty's, which presented a Bond girl full of life, a true multi faceted performance, and instead went down the route of mere "damsels in distress", which relied on Bond to heroically save them. It is only the skill and charm of the actress playing the parts, that elevates the characters to a remotely intriguing place. No wonder feminists have such a dim view of Bond girls.
Another problem facing Golden Gun is it's tone, being, as was discussed, the unsettling blend of camp and callous. In fact Golden Gun is a remarkably straight laced film; structurally the film's problems are in it's middle third, where by the movie almost becomes a slapstick "comedy", featuring Sheriff J.W Pepper, at it's core. Pepper is meant to be vacationing with his wife, no less, in Thailand, just as Bond is up to his usual hi-jinx. This "coincidence" almost undermines the creditably of the film. As many high-points that Golden Gun has, the low-points are more numerous and more frequent, and the low-points are lower than the high-points are higher.
Clifton James again plays Pepper, and if he was barely tolerable in Live and Let Die, Pepper is even worse here. He ends up in a wild car chase through the streets of Bangkok. The audience is meant to believe that Pepper was buying a car in Thailand, while on holiday, which Bond promptly hijacks. The film ends up making the cardinal sin, treating the audience like idiots - implausibility heaped on implausibility. That is Golden Gun's biggest mistake, taking the audience for granted.
The car chase itself is enjoyable and entertaining, and features Bond using his skill and cunning, which is eminently more satisfying than watching Bond pushing a button in his gadget laden car.
Unfortunately Pepper is along for the ride, and one is subjected to his whining and slobbering. The films signature stunt, the complete 360 degrees revolution, mid air of a car, is a worthy stunt, and in normal circumstance should be applauded. Thankfully the drive team, lead by "Bumps" Willard, took only one take, for this incredible stunt.
However Pepper's antics, and a cringe inducing "slide whistle" sound effect, render this as another low point.
Once the film is free of Pepper's baleful influence, and the overt humour that dominates the middle third, the picture thankfully improves, and it's final third is quite tense and quite good, featuring the classic dinner scene, and the confrontation, between Messrs Scaramanga and Bond.
One final piece of casting is Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack, the diminutive henchman of Scaramanga. He is an inspired choice, paring the six feet five inches tall Lee, with Villechaize, who is 3 feet 10 inches; they make for one of the most intriguing and macabre pairings in the Bondian cannon.
The trio of Bond films, directed by Guy Hamilton, featured a "sting in the tail";
the henchmen trying to kill Bond after their master had failed. In Golden Gun it falls to Nick Nack to avenge Scaramanga, so the fight between him and Bond is inevitable, as it is embarrassing.
Villechaize is a good foil for Scaramanga, and is played skilfully. More to the point, Nick Nack is not used for cheap humour, apart from the final fight. Tragically Villechaize, who would go on to star in "Fantasy Island", committed suicide in 1993.
John Barry returns to score the ninth Bond film, and his eighth overall score. Alas it was rushed, like the rest of the film. Barry only had three weeks to compose the score - no wonder it feels so hectic, and one can only hear fleeting glimpses of Barry's genius.
Even worse is the main title song, sung with great panache by Lulu, it has to be said. The problem lies in it's lyrics; subtlety is not one of Golden Gun's strengths, both the film and the song - more single entendre than double.
Director Hamilton steadies the film, in what must be trying circumstances, what with his falling out with Tom Mankiewicz and the strained relationship between the producers. Hamilton smoothly directs, fusing the two different screenplays competently, although both he and the film lose their way in the middle third. When one compares Golden Gun to Goldfinger, Golden Gun seems rather lackadaisical.
What really hurts Golden Gun is the lack of self confidence it has; the latching on to popular cinematic trends, such as kung fu; going for an easy laugh; bringing back popular characters; going for the safe option, all hinting at discontentment, that was besetting the franchise.
Perhaps the hurried production forced the film-makers into this trap, of going for the safe option, more bankable options. Or perhaps the disillusionment over the troubles at the top, shook the foundations of the crew, leading them to have no confidence in the product they were making. Or maybe it was a little of both.
One major plus point in Golden Gun's favour is it's cinematography, captured beautifully by Ted Moore and Oswald Morris. Unfortunately Moore was ill, so Morris was brought on board, after dining with Cubby, who allayed his fears about taking over from another cinematographers work. From the grimy, sweaty urban expanses, such as Bangkok, to the picturesque beaches, Moore and Morris arrest the stunning beauty of the Far East exquisitely.
Golden Gun is a rather solid yet tired film, punctuated by some classic scenes, most of which featured Roger Moore and Christopher Lee.
Accordingly Golden Gun's box offices returns were disappointing; $98 million in 1974, and neither the audience or critics were impressed by the tone of the film. This, coupled with the break up of Cubby and Harry, seemed to spell the end of 007.
If Live And Let Die was the film that saved James Bond, then The Man With The Golden Gun is the film that just about killed it again. With the success of Roger Moore’s debut 007 outing, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman sought to capitalize on it as a fast as they possibly could. This rush to follow up one success produced one of the least successful films of the Bond series.
After a good debut performance, Roger Moore delivers a performance that is anything but good. Like Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, Moore’s performance is basically sleepwalking his way through the film. His line delivery is flat virtually the whole way through, no matter what the situation is, be it facing down villains, seducing women or making any one of the horrible one liners. The result is one of the worst performances of any actor in the role.
Much the same can be said of Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight. Goodnight embodies the very cliché of what a Bond girl is: a pretty face and not an ounce of acting talent. She does little more in the film than whine about how Bond is treating her yet keeps trying to get into bed with him. Outside of this whininess and helping to get the last act of the film going, neither the actress nor the character add much to the movie otherwise. The result is pretty close to the worst Bond girl ever.
Much more interesting than either Bond or Goodnight is the villain: Francisco Scaramanga played by Christopher Lee. Scaramanga is almost the anti-Bond: he’s suave, charming, seductive and a man who kills for money. Lee plays the role brilliantly, encompassing all of those aspects into his performance. This villain in the hands of a lesser actor could easily have been one dimensional, but instead we have a fleshed out character that is far more interesting than anyone else in the film. In fact, it’s almost a shame that Christopher Lee never got the chance to be James Bond himself based on his performance here.
The rest of the cast is almost a disaster. Virtually everyone of them are played for laughs, whether it is Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack, Richard Loo’s over the top performance as Hai Fat and of course the unnecessary, cringe-worthy return of Clifton James as J.W. Pepper. Soon-Taik Oh’s performance as Lieutenant Hip is okay, but heavily undermined by some bad dubbing. Even the usual supporting cast members disappoint, such as Bernard Lee’s grouchy M. If there is a shining star of the supporting cast its Maud Adams as Scaramanga’s mistress Andrea Anders who, like Scaramanga, outshines the rest. The result overall is one of the worst Bond ensemble casts yet assembled.
The problem with the entire film is that it all feels rushed and lacks polish. The production design and cinematography are both good, but they lack something that worked so well in the previous Bond films. Maurice Binder turns in his first set of lackluster title sequences as well, further undermining the success of the film. Even the score from John Barry shows this lack of polish. Compare the score for this film with that of You Only Live Twice, another Bond film set largely in Asia, to illustrate the point. The score lacks Barry’s usual lushness as it feels shockingly cramped and unoriginal. Much the same can be said of the title song as well. Barry is even guilty of taking the film’s one truly good stunt piece and undermining it with a silly piece of music. Indeed, the entire film feels like it is being played more for laughs then for suspense, something that proves to be the undoing of it. Where does the fault of that come from though?
Nothing else in the entire film is as big a culprit in that department then its script. It’s a script filled with a lack of logic, overly convenient plot twists and bad one liner’s. After a suspenseful pre-credit sequence, the film becomes little more than a list of Bond film clichés that undercuts suspense for the almost two hours that follows, right up to the point that it manages to undermine its own climax. Writers Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz, along with director Guy Hamilton, simply reuse the formula they used in the two previous Bond films with the result being stale and unoriginal.
At the end of the day, it is easy to see how The Man With The Golden Gun ends up being named one of the worst Bond films ever. Despite an excellent villain and at least one good supporting cast member, this is a movie that embodies everything that can be bad about a Bond film. Bond himself is uninteresting, the girl is window dressing, it’s played for laughs and it’s utterly formulaic. The Man With The Golden Gun? More like a film made with fool’s gold…
Last night, I rewatched The Man with the Golden Gun. This was my second viewing after seeing it a few weeks ago. I wanted to see it again because its 11th on my list, and I couldn't quite remember how I felt about it, especially in the context of the other films, most of which I saw after it. I also plan to rewatch Goldfinger and Thunderball for the same reasons. They're 6th and 8th on my list, respectively.
I really enjoyed Golden Gun the second time around, maybe even more than the first. The movie is solid almost all the way through. It loses some momentum when he first visits Bangkok (visiting Hai Fat in his palace and the kung fu school), but otherwise it really keeps up the pace and intrigue throughout. Even the kung fu scene, though, is redeemed by the nieces being badass.
The fight scene in the belly dancer's dressing room is very good. I think close-quarters fight scenes are hard to choreograph and film, and they made top marks on both. It's certainly a stand-out for Moore's films (to my recollection), with good impact and creative fighting from Bond. It's interesting; there aren't many Hollywood movies that have good-old fisticuffs these days. Spectre has a good fight with Bautista on the train, and recent movies like The Raid and John Wick have fighting, but I honestly haven't gotten around to watching them, mostly because I don't like overly violent films. Most modern action movies are superhero films, which sometimes have fantastic action, like Captain American 2 and 3, but other times do not. Watching Bond films makes me miss the old days of fisticuffs. Sony is making an Uncharted movie with a Tom Holland playing a young Drake, and I bet that will have some more Bond-like fight scenes, but it will depend on the choreographer and cinematographer.
This is definitely Moore's darkest version of Bond. I watched it with my parents this time around and felt bad about his first scene with Adams in her hotel. I'm not sure how well that scene would be received if it were filmed today. Moore is uncharacteristically violent towards her, for his version of Bond at least, and the scene is unnerving. Anders is another example of a Bond girl dying because of Bond. Her death is slightly more justified, if you can justify a death, because of her having summoned Bond to save her, but she's another casualty along the way, and you can't help feeling it's Bond's fault. In this movie, I feel the sacrificial Bond girl and the partner Bond Girl are switched. Without knowing the ending, I would have guessed that Goodnight would have been the girl to die. Her role is similar to Fields in Quantum, except Fields is the one who dies. She's also similar to Manuela in Moonraker, though, who just barely escapes the jaws of death.
Now seems like a good time to discuss Midnight. She's the only girl I can think of who comes with an established desire for Bond (except for Moneypenny of course!). I really like that she's open about her desire, and the writing and direction for Bond to be. . . annoyed, was a good decision. Britt Ekland is not only gorgeous as hell, she's a great actress, at least in this role. I love her response at dinner when she says she's "not that type of girl." Only a minute later, though, she admits that her "playing hard-to-get act" did not work out as she had planned. It's adorable. I started writing a more detailed opinion here about misogyny vs feminism in the Bond films, but I need to rewatch the movies and consider the arguments more carefully before stating my opinion.
Which brings us to the boxing match, arguably one of the best scenes in any Bond movie. It's a horrifying scene, first upon realizing that Anders has been killed, and again when Scaramanga says "a challenging shot, but satisfying." Scaramanga is subtly psychotic, which is true for a number of Bond villains -- like Drax, I would argue -- but Christopher Lee is an exceptional actor, and I doubt anyone else could have brought such a light touch to the role. While we're on the subject, Walken's Zorin is opposite; he's blatantly insane and is the best part of A View to a Kill, particularly his murderous rampage in the mine. Back to the boxing scene. Moore, here, has a perfect response to the situation. He is clearly sickened by Anders' murder but able to hold himself together like the professional he is. His jovial facade contrasts well against Scaramanga's coldness, in a way that I think Moore is best suited for. It would be interesting to see how the scene plays with the other Bond actors. Lazenby's Bond, despite being my favorite Bond, lacks the depth or subtlety to lend much tension to the scene. Dalton's Bond doesn't play games; his response would be a cold reflection of Scaramanga's. And, actually, I think the other three Bonds would play similarly. Connery is interesting because his Bond often knows when to be playful and when to be serious, and I don't think he could be playful here.
Golden Gun has two excellent chase scenes. The boat chase offers an efficient window into the cross-section of culture and tourism, but is also exciting. The car chase is very well shot, featuring two gorgeous cars, that shows speed but also deft handling through traffic. A good car chase scene is hard to find, and I think this ranks among the best, alongside the opening of Quantum and The Spy Who Loved Me. Sadly, the chase through Rome in Spectre and across the ice in Die Another Day were missed opportunities. I don't know how you make a chase through Rome boring, but they managed it. And Die Another Day has a couple of dope-as-hell moments with the Vanquish, when it's sliding and spinning across the ice, but that should have been the entire chase. I appreciate what they were attempting with the anti-Bond Q car, but frankly I prefer to see something cool and exciting over humorous, especially given the chance at a truly original chase location.
Other scenes. When Scaramanga assassinates the solex scientist, he is perched behind on the roof of a building with bright sign that reads "the golden cafe", or something similar. It's a clever scouting location and also provides menacing lighting for the hidden gunman.
I love when Bond visits the gunsmith. The scene is so well written. It immediately introduces a clever gun design, which Bond tries on a target. He learns that the gun isn't balanced how he expected, but he's a professional assassin and instantly masters it. When he turns it on the gunsmith, you know that Bond will not miss, except when he intends to. The scene is suspenseful and interesting while also advancing the plot.
The running gag of M's pop-up office in odd places never gets old.
When Bond first arrives on the island, Scaramanga blows off the wine bottle's cork. Then he comes out laughing and says he couldn't resist, followed by laying down the revolver on the serving tray "a harmless toy." It's funny and offers another glimpse into his psychosis. Maybe one of you can help clarify something for me. At the dinner scene, which Nick Nack has so delightfully prepared, Goodnight seems to speak to Bond in innuendo, but I honestly didn't understand what she was implying. The situation seems perfectly apparent to me. Regardless, the scene is suspenseful, as is typical for this movie. If I'm not mistaken, the line about their both being killers is relatively famous. Also, Scaramanga is adorable when he takes a physical note about Bond's wine recommendation.
There's always plenty more to say, but I'll just wrap it up now with a comment about the music. I don't know enough about music to speak intelligently about it, but the score sounded particularly great and accompanied each scene appropriately. I wonder how it compares to the scores of the other movies.
I really like The Man with the Golden Gun. The more I think about it, the more I like it. I could see it jumping way up my list, but I'll first have to reconsider Skyfall, Casino Royale, Thunderball, and Goldfinger. It won't place higher than 7th at best, though.
P.S. Unrelated, but there's a martial arts film called The Man with the Golden Arms that's arguably the best martial arts film ever made. Highly recommended
Roger Moore still looked young in this movie. Hamilton and company seemed to be trying to get Roger to do things Sean Connery’s way, which is most evident when Roger is slapping the poor Andrea Anders around. Some believe this is Roger’s worst performance as Bond. Not me. I think it’s his best. I’d rather see Roger Moore be mean than grandfatherly as he was in his later, terrible movies.
The film really comes to a halt after Bond escapes the martial arts school. And it doesn’t pick up the pace until Bond meets Scaramanga at the kickboxing tournament. And that’s such a great scene, isn’t it. Bond sits down next to Andrea, only to realize she is dead. He calmly starts looking for the Solex in her purse until a certain tall, dark gentleman sits down next to him. Bond sees him and quickly tries to act like a married man looking for one of his wife’s missing things.
You won’t find it in there, Mister Bond!
Cue Roger’s eyebrow. At last, Scaramanga!!
A wonderful scene from a wonderful entry in the Bond saga.
Like usual I'll start off with the positives. First of all great dialogue all throughout this movie, I know that's not something that's usually brought up in a bond film but in this one I feel the dialogue is what really adds to the movie. Another great thing was the amount of tension the movie built up with Scaramanga being on the hunt for Bond and you never knew when he would possibly strike, the ending duel in particular was amazingly done imo.
The characters as a whole were quite enjoyable and serves their roles very well in my eyes, I liked Lt. Hip as he was all about getting the job done and he proved himself to he more than capable, Scaramanga is simply amazing (more on him in a minute), Roger Moore delivers an amazing performance as Bond that may very well be his greatest, The return of Desmond as Q is a welcomed return and as usual Desmond rocks, Nick Nack was a nice little (no pun intended) henchmen for Scaramanga and I liked all the mischief he caused, and as usual the MI6 gang of M and Moneypenny more than delivered.
The score by John Barry is great and fits scenes really well. And there were some great action bits, stunts and really nice set designs (especially Scaramanga's island). Now of course I have to talk about the amazing performance by Sir Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, he just absolutely brings class and greatness to every scene he's in not to mention badassness, tension and just coolness, he's just that good.
Now for the negatives and there is a few. For one I feel at times the movie does drag on it's feet, with the worst being when Bond is in the karate school as it not only was long but a bit ridiculous and dare I say dumb. Another sorta negative is Agent goodnight, while I don't feel she's bad by any means her clumsiness is a bit overdone and it makes you question how she's an agent in the first place. And of course..we have Sheriff JW pepper, granted while he doesn't take over the movie like he does in LALD he is still annoying to me and I feel he had too much screen time.
But as a whole I really like this one and find it very enjoyable to watch. My final rating is a 7.5/10
TMWTGG is a flawed Bond film, but it has some seriously strong content in it. Roger Moore's performance as Bond is pretty good, and at times great (ex: lunch with Scaramanga). Though I think he was even more impressive in his debut, LALD, he follows it up well and proves he's comfortable as Bond in his sophomore outing. Anders is a good minor Bond girl, while my feelings about Goodnight are pretty much neutral. I enjoyed JW Pepper's moments in LALD, but I felt it didn't work so well this time around. The moments and lines in TMWTGG with him just weren't as funny for me. The MI6 regulars are good as usual. What really shines most about TMWTGG though is the villains.
Christopher Lee as Scaramanga is the best part of the film. Lee's portrayal improves on the novel character version IMO, and is without doubt one of the best villains Bond ever faces on screen. The final showdown in the funhouse is one of my favorite moments in the whole series. Lee makes Scaramanga ominous, lethal, eccentric, and smart. I love the conversation between him and Bond at lunch. He and Bond are similar, and I think had a couple things gone differently in Bond's life he could have ended up how Scaramanga is vs. working for the government. Scaramanga is basically Bond as a bad guy, and it makes for such good interaction between them. Nick Nack is a memorable henchman as well; I really like his character. He adds a lot to the film's personality.
The silly bits are what drags TMWTGG down for me. A lot of the comedy just falls flat (felt so much more sincere and energetic in LALD) and feels unnecessary. The karate stuff also feels like it's there just to be there. I think this film would have benefited from a more serious tone, and could have potentially been a very high-ranking Bond film with some adjustments. As it stands, I do have issues with it, but lately it has climbed back up from the bottom section to the middle for me, and I find a lot to enjoy in it. It's a smaller-scale entry which I like about it, especially with the epic TSWLM and MR coming right after. So the pros and cons have kind of finally balanced out; I don't love the film as much as I used to as a kid, but I don't dislike it as much as I did a few months ago.
It's also on of the 'smallest' Bond-films: the stakes aren't very high, the villain doesn't want to blow up the world for once, there isn't an army of henchmen Bond has to battle against, it all leads up to a one-on-one fight, whose impact gets diminished by being an almost exact carbon-copy of the pre-credit sequence. There's also some business with a macguffin, which is exactly that: the Solex Agitator everybody is looking for might as well be a kitchen-utensil for all the impact it has on the plot. To add insult to injury, the film marks the unwelcome return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper.
And yet, despite it all, The Man With the Golden Gun is somehow still an enjoyable Bond-movie. There are some good stunts and set-pieces and, because the plot deviates from what had by then become the standard Bond-story, it contains some nice twists and surprises, and Christopher Lee, while not exactly called upon to broaden his range as an actor, makes a fine villain.
Certainly an improvement over the previous, Live and Let Die, and a decent warm-up to The Spy Who Loved Me, the film where the Roger Moore-era Bond movies finally got things right.
A few gems:
Warp yourselves back to 1973/74:
It has some good moments, but overall, it's a dumb derivative movie.
Bond going head to head with an assassin of his caliber was a great concept; a lot more could've been done with that. It should've stayed focused on that instead of veering off into random gags.