The James Bond series was a monumental series for me growing up and, as I planned on featuring one of the 20+ films in the series as a Key Movie, I just couldn’t choose. Since I can’t choose a single one, I am reviewing each and every Bond film continuing with today’s entry, The Man With The Golden Gun
Welcome to Key Movies Of My Life James Bond Edition.
Todays Key Movie:
After recovering a golden bullet with the numbers 007 etched on it, Bond goes after the famed assassin Scaramanga whose calling card is the use of Golden Bullets to mark his victims. Bond must also retrieve the Solex Agitator, a device that can harness the power of the sun, before it falls into the hands of the wrong people.
Why this movie?
Of the Roger Moore Bond films, This one is my favorite. Being a fan of Christopher Lee, when I found out that he portrayed a Bond Villain I had to see this film. I remember the first time I watched it and being enthralled by how incredible Lee was in the role. I could think of no better actor to go up against Bond and boy was I right.
One thing that really sets this Bond entry apart from the rest is the cold opening. Instead of a moment from one of Bond’s adventures, we get a hint of just how good Scaramanga is when his servant Nick Nack (played by the famous Hervé Villechaize) sets up a trap for him in his own home. During the course of the opening, Scaramanga takes out the paid assassin with relative ease only to face a wax model of Bond himself in the end. It would seem that this assassin is out to take out 007.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
Like I said earlier, this is my favorite of the Roger Moore Bond entries. It has everything you need in a Bond film, action, intrigue, amazing villains and strong gorgeous women. Moore does a terrific job in this one, carefully avoiding the camp he had in the last one. In many ways I feel that he realized his mistakes with Live and Let Die toning his portrayal back a bit. If anything , it is clear that he is feeling much more comfortable in the role this time around. We even get a chance to see Bond in a a more physical role going up against a school of Karate masters in an ‘Enter the Dragon-esque fight. It is really quite cool and shows the viewer just how physical this new bond can be. I get the feeling that the filmmakers had wanted the famous Bruce Lee in this scene but I doubt he would have allowed himself to be beat by Bond, besides, he had already passed away by the time this was released so that could have something to do with it. Fun note, we almost saw a Bond vs Lee in a little known film called Stoner staring one time Bond George Lazenby, sadly due to Lee’s death, the film was never made as intended.
Everyone in the film is spot on from Moore’s Bond to Lee’s Scaramanga. One of the best Bond Girls is that of Andrea Anders played by Maud Adams. She plays the typical ‘working for the villain’ characters but with an earnest that most of the others have lacked. She isn’t the ‘bad ass’ that many of them tend to be but she is fairly strong in her own right. Sadly, much like many of the women in Bond’s life, she doesn’t make it to the end of the film…
The other Bond Girl, Mary Goodnight, is at best annoying. Apparently she has worked with Bond before and for some reason still thinks, like Moneypenny, that she will eventually have a serious relationship with the secret agent. It is sad and even though they end up sleeping together in the end like most of his conquests do, even though Bond treats her pretty horribly even locking her in a closet when Mary Goodnight arrives in Bond’s room. Let’s be honest here, Bond is a cad and really doesn’t deserve the adoration from these women. I mean, most of the women in his life are used and forgotten as if they were only tools in his game of espionage. It’s sad really, but then again, even though it’s no excuse for how he acts, how can an international spy like Bond think to have any real relationship with the life he leads?
As for allies, in addition to Mary Goodnight, Bond meets up with his Hong Kong contact Lt Hip. He is a pretty stereotypical Asian kung-fu master but is pretty awesome in his own right. I would have loved to see him return for later movies as he is every bit as much a bad ass as James Bond is and would have made a great ally in later films, who knows, maybe we will see him again in the newer films…
While Felix Lieter doesn’t make an appearance in this one, we do get the privilege of one Sheriff J.W. Pepper. Yeah, the same one that was in Live and Let Die. Even though he is visiting Bangkok with his wife, he is every bit the racist xenophobe he was in the last film, but this time he actually tries to help Bond even though it is to ‘get those commies’. Even a film as good as this has it’s faults…
Where this movie really shines is it’s choice in the lead Villain. Christopher Lee’s portrayal of the enigmatic Scaramanga is a sight to be seen. His is calm, cool and every bit as skillful as Bond. If anything, this is the closest to an equal Bond has faced in his adventures thus far. Although they do not meet one another until nearly half way through the film, Scaramanga plays the perfect criminal mastermind waiting until the perfect moment to strike. Interesting tidbit, Christopher Lee was Bond Creator Ian Fleming’s step-cousin and he originally wanted the actor to play Dr No in the first Bond Film. Personally, I’m glad he was forced to wait until the role of Scaramanga came around.
Finally Although this is one of his best films, the theme song is by far one of the worst so far. Sung by Scottish singer Lulu, it is full of obvious sexual innuendo and really just not that good of a tune.
Warts and all, to me, this is one of Roger Moore’s best outings as Bond. It has everything needed to make a great Bond film, A solid villain, outstanding allies and even a believable macguffin in the Solex Agitator. It has it’s problems but it’s a solid entry.
OK, where do I get this movie?
You can get this one dirt cheap on Second Spin for around $4 or, in the box set I have mentioned before. Then again, if you like digital, you’ll find it on your favorite streaming service like Vudu.
Of course, as usual, the trailer.
Late To The Game 2/28/2019
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