Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Movie of the Week
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)
Starring- Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams
I feel that this is one of the more under appreciated Bond films in the series. While it is not in the same league of Roger Moore's two best Bond films, For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved Me, it has some very memorable scenes and witty dialogue. It is indeed a film that is better judged for the merits of its parts rather than as a whole. Following on the success of Moore's first outing as 007, the producers and veteran Bond Director, Guy Hamilton hurried to get another Bond movie out as soon as possible.
Based on Ian Fleming's final novel, the film only retains a few elements from the source material, and replaces the plot completely with a modern story of Bond's search for a solar cell to combat the energy crisis. This is one of the few Bond plots that now seems very dated. One of the Fleming bits that was retained by the writers is the story's villain, assassin Francisco Scaramanga. He is also known as "The Man with the Golden Gun" because he uses a gold plated gun and golden bullets to kill his targets. Originally, Jack Palance was the choice to play Scaramanga, but he declined, leaving the role to none other than Ian Fleming's cousin and Dracula star- Christopher Lee. Lee is truly one of the best Bond villains, and magnificently balances charm with a sinister edge. He is a nice foil for the lighter Moore, and the two share a nice onscreen chemistry. In the role of Bond girl Mary Goodnight is the pretty, but somewhat vapid Britt Ekland. She is not as interesting as Scaramanga's mistress played by Maud Adams, who smolders nicely as she tries to get Bond to kill her deadly lover.
The plot unfolds rather predictably, as Bond ends up in a duel with Scaramanga in his island lair, with the winner taking home the title of 'world's best assassin' and, as a bonus- the Solex. The final shootout in Scaramanga's fun house is a nice change of pace from the large scale assault on the villain's lair that we see in so many 007 movies. Scenes like this are sadly offset by silly ones, which accounts for the very uneven feel to The Man with the Golden Gun. The rush to get this film made is somewhat obvious, as the whole thing feels a bit rushed, and not as polished as some other Bond adventures.
Roger Moore's best work as 007 was ahead of him, but this film proved that Bond was still a viable entity in the 1970's. It would be three years before the next Bond outing, but without this relatively successful installment, we might never have been treated to The Spy Who Loved Me or any of the rest.
Things to watch for-
Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack
Some great Tom Mankiewicz one liners
The return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper
The dressing room fist fight
"Six bullets to your one?"
"I only need one."