James is taken off of a case involving a solar energy researcher in order to track down a famed assassin who reportedly has Bond as his next bounty.
Bond, James Bond:
Roger Moore returns for his second of seven appearances and he is still, generally, making a solid impression. The dialogue in this movie is still very silly and overly punny, but with small glances and his delivery, Moore makes it work as much as he can. It comes off as a very self-aware performance. In an early scene, a woman has a melted bullet/lucky charm held in her havel (sure) which James steals with his mouth (surrrrre). Upon realizing she’s lost it, she screams “I’ve lost my charm!” Moore, as he leaves her room, looks back, and with a slight movement of the head says “Not from where I’m standing.” Her delivery is wildly over-the-top and his little pause and response is charming enough that it kind of softens the absurdity of the entire scene. This Bond understands that what is he saying is more than a little bit absurd and goofy, and that helps it land as well as it possibly can.
That being said, this movie also finds Moore portraying a particularly misogynist Bond, which frustrated me throughout. In one of his first encounters with a woman in this film (with the villain’s mistress, Andrea), he threatens to break her arm, slaps her and frequently manhandles her in order to get information that he needs on the assassin. When a character is a threat of some kind, activities like this would not be quite as frustrating, but this particular character at no point has the upperhand on Bond. In fact, the scene begins when James breaks into her hotel room and walks in on her while she is in the shower. This is after his very first encounter with a non-MI6 woman, when he just kind of wanders into the dancing room of a belly-dancer. He does what he wants with little regard for the woman.
Another example of this occurs later in the movie when is about to bed Mary Goodnight, a fellow agent, when Andrea walks into the room and asks him to kill the villain. She says she is willing to pay anything, and then propositions Bond. After he accepts and she goes to change, he hides the first girl (who was hiding under the covers while James and the mistress speak) in a closet only a few feet away from the bed, where he leaves her, even hours after Andrea leaves. When Goodnight complains about being tossed aside, James basically tells her not to fret, because she will be able to have sex with him some day. This entire movie, women are either objects for him to manhandle to get what he wants, whether it is violence to get information or sex.
After the highs of Paul McCartney’s work on “Live and Let Die,” it was clear that whoever followed up would have big shoes to fill and would likely look lesser in comparison. Initial reactions to Lulu’s title song confirmed just that, especially because of the lyrics filled with sexual innuendo (“love is required whenever he’s hired, he comes just before the kill” and “who will he bang?” two examples that push the limits of innuendo). It is typically seen as one of the lesser efforts of the franchise. I certainly understand why this is the case, I kind of love the song for how weird and over the top it is. It fits this film in many ways, and it’s a fast-tempoed jaunt. It’s not a well-crafted song in any way, from over-the-top horns and bass lines, as well as very basic lyrics, including the song’s final moments of “the man with the golden gun/will get it done/he’ll shoot anyone/with his golden gun.” It’s no “Goldfinger” or “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” but it’s sure a helluva lot more fun to listen to than “From Russia with Love” and “Thunderball.”
The late Christopher Lee portrays the eponymous villain, Francisco Scaramanga, and he is hands down the best part of this movie, and quickly vaults himself to the top of my list of villains in this franchise. As the famed assassin, Lee is both threatening and charming. He often wears a large, warm smile on his face when he is around James, both before they officially meet (after he sees James impersonate him) and as James discovers his secret island. Scaramanga believes his work (i.e. murder) to be an art, and he knows that killing James Bond, 007, the most famous spy in the world, will be his masterpiece, and Lee conveys this perfectly every moment the two characters are together.
Lee also gets to deliver some incredible lines in this movie. After he kills Hai Fat, a former employer, he walks out of a building and tells a nearby employee that “[Hai Fat] always liked that mausoleum. Put him in it.” He tells James the story of how he grew up in a circus, and that his only friend was an elephant. After an accident where the elephant hurt a customer, a circus employee had to put him down. Scaramanga responds by killing the employee, telling James “I always liked animals. I discovered I like killing people more.” Finally, after explaining that killing Bond, mano-y-mano, in a duel, would be his ultimate masterpiece, James clarifies that he will have six bullets to Scaramanga’s one. Scaramanga responds: “I only need one.” This character and this performance are both incredible, and I wish they were both better supported by everything else around them.
Similarly to the previous film, the two women in this movie seem to be on entirely opposite spectrums. Similar to Rosie in Live and Let Die, Britt Ekland plays Mary Goodnight, a wildly stupid fellow agent that works alongside James. Goodnight is about as incompetent as they come, getting thrown into the villain’s trunk because she is not even trying to be stealthy as she puts a tracker on his car, and then eventually believing that she has stopped moving when, in fact, she is now flying (a car flies in this movie, I don’t know). Once on Scaramanga’s island, she just spends the rest of the movie walking around in a bikini (despite technically being a prisoner, she seems to be enjoying herself fairly well), and at one point almost kills James when her butt presses a button that causes a sun laser to stream into a machine James is working inside of (have I mentioned this movie is weird?) Ekland’s performance isn’t particularly strong throughout all of this either, somehow making a terrible character all the more unbearable.
On the other side of the spectrum is Maud Adams portrayal of Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s mistress. We find out that Anders is actually the person who sent James the initial warning that Scaramanga was setting his sights on the famous agent, with the belief that Bond is the only person who could plausible kill the man with the golden gun. Adams portrays her fears well, whether when she is being seduced by Lee (who uses his weapon as a sort of instrument of foreplay), or simply speaking to James about Scaramanga. Although her character only gets a few scenes, she makes the most of them, and James finding her corpse sitting up during a boxing match is a genuinely deflating moment. Adams gives an excellent performance, which might be part of the reason the franchise brings her back as a different character a few years later, as the title character in the film (heavy sigh) Octopussy.
The regular MI6 group is back, this time in full force, with Desmond Llewelyn returning as Q, joining Bernard Lee’s M and Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny. Again, these characters do not get as much to do as I would like. Moneypenny realistically only gets a singular quick exchange with James, where she mocks him for never taking advantage of her willingness to spend time more intimate time together (reminder, she can do better than him). M and Q at least both get to be annoyed with James, which is quickly becoming my favorite past time in these movies. After James incredulously asks who would be willing to pay Scaramanga’s $1 million fee in order to kill Bond, M quickly rattles off a line of professions who would all understandably hate Bond, and seems to fall just short of a Gary Oldman-esque “Everyone!” Q mostly just seems put out when James asks him to make him a third nipple, so that he could go undercover as Scaramanga (who randomly has a third nipple), which is pretty understandable, because it’s an entirely unnecessary step, especially because a third nipple does not seem like it is something that would be exclusive to just one person, but, whatever.
Also, quick shoutout to MI6 for using an abandoned ship as a secret base in Hong Kong.
For some inexplicable reason, Clifton James reprises his role from the previous film as racist sheriff J.W. Pepper. The movie expects me to believe that this wildly racist human being would travel to Thailand just for funsies (although, he may do it just so he can be racist to the locals, who he constantly refers to as pointy heads.) James’ performance is pretty grating, even if he didn’t have to be terribly racist, but, alas, we get the worst of both worlds. This character yet again drags down entire sequences of a Bond film. I’m not saying this movie would be good if he weren’t in it, but having him in it is one of many ways that the film leans too heavily on humor, and the fact his humor is built on a foundation of being a terrible human being makes it all the harder to watch.
That leaves us with Scaramanga’s main henchperson, a dwarf named Nick Nack, played by Herve Villechaize of “Fantasy Island” fame. In a lot of ways this character feels like he is here to act as comedic fodder to make fun of a dwarf, but credit to Villechaize for giving a performance that tries to overcome that. He seems to be genuinely having a lot of fun in this role, whether it be excitably guiding Scaramanga’s victims through the murderous funhouse in his lair, or snacking on popcorn while holding James at gunpoint during a boxing match. His unadulterated joy is able to soften the blow of the film’s overall portrayal of him, whether it be showing him hidden by a tray of champagne that he carries, or James point blank telling him that although “[he’s] never killed a midget before. There is a first time for everything.” I wish he had been given a character who was respected better by those around him, but I really do like what Villechaize was able to do despite all of that.
Despite the return of Q, this is not a very gadget heavy movie. There’s the solex agitator that converts the sun’s rays into energy, as well as a set of wings and engine that Scaramanga attaches to his car to turn it into a plane. Probably the most significant gadget in the movie is Scaramanga’s golden gun. The gun has a striking look, and can be broken down into a lighter, pen and cigarette case. Although it gained extra notoriety through the popular Goldeneye Nintendo 64 game, the weapon itself is not nearly as noteworthy as the man holding it.
There just isn’t much here. The core of the plot is basically a hunter-becomes-the-hunted situation with James trying to track down the assassin that is trying to kill him. There’s some weird solar technology plot line that is thrown in to give the third act some higher stakes, but it all comes to down to Roger Moore vs Christopher Lee. Which really isn’t enough for a two hour movie, which is why we get weird extended sequences of racist cop randomly visiting Thailand. I think if the movie pulled back a little bit on the absurdity of everything, a James Bond vs Scaramanga plotline would have been one of the all-time movies in the franchise. Instead, it’s typically seen as one of the worst, which is kind of sad, especially considering just how good Christopher Lee really is in this movie. But even his best and most threatening efforts can’t even begin to help this movie make sense. And this is coming from someone who at least kind of appreciated the silliness for what it was.
Miscellaneous Spy Business:
-“Nick Nack, Tabasco!”- is the first line of dialogue in this movie, and honestly, if I were the screenwriters, I would have stopped writing, knowingly that nothing else I commit to paper will ever be that good.
-While in the belly dancer’s dressing room, some gangsters or something show up in the room and a fight ensues. At one point, a mirror is bumped and it just reveals the entire film crew. I can’t imagine this was the best take.
-James at one point calls a car an inverted bedpan. I have zero idea what this means.
-After James rips off his fake third nipple he says that someone must have found him “titillating” and I’ve never hated anything so deeply.
-There is a shot of this movie entirely dedicated to James grabbing a sumo wrestler’s butt. I cannot stress enough how weird this movie is.
-James randomly gets kidnapped into a ninja school, which he escapes by jumping out of a window, while having Lieutenant Hip, his partner, and Hip’s ninja nieces show up to fend off extra ninjas. This probably is not the weirdest sentence I could type about this movie.
-The racist sheriff called an elephant ugly, and then the elephant pushes him into water. That elephant is the closest I have ever felt to any character in this franchise.
-There’s a scene where a car does a full flip, which is awesome, but it is confusingly scored with a slide whistle, which is decidedly not awesome. If you watch that linked clip, prepare for terrible, terrible Clifton James.
-Scaramanga basically gets defeated because he thinks that Bond is a wax figure of Bond, which begs the question, why wouldn’t you remove that figure from the funhouse?
-Nick Nack: “I may be small, but I never forget.” What in the hell do those two things have to do with each other?
This is a deeply, deeply weird movie. There were times when I was convinced that me having a fever and imagining the whole movie seemed more plausible than me actually watching this movie. But I kind of enjoyed it for that? I mean, it isn’t good, but it was kind of fun. And, holy hell Christopher Lee is so cool. Like, I’m fairly certain he will end up being my favorite villain in this franchise, if not at least in the top three. He probably should have been in a more normal movie, but I’ll take what I can get. That being said, I can’t really say I like this in the same way I like some of the others, especially when I remember how deeply I disliked Bond in this one. All that taken into consideration, I’ll probably give this one like a 005/0010.
TJ Hizer Will Return With: The Spy Who Loved Me
References The Man with The Golden Gun Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_with_the_Golden_Gun_(film) "The Man With The Golden Gun" lyrics https://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/007jamesbondthebestsongs/themanwiththegoldengun.htm Golden Gun Page on James Bond Wiki http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/Golden_Gun Images Cover Photo https://pccdn.perfectchannel.com/christies/live/images/item/VFPosters11108/5945885/original/CSK_11108_0014.jpg Roger Moore Gif https://78.media.tumblr.com/6857c0a7e7f16af9186f3f0e94e08fd3/tumblr_ms73k3szJQ1srtv8ho1_400.gif Lee and Moore back to back http://cdn-static.denofgeek.com/sites/denofgeek/files/9/53//gg1.jpg Goodnight https://artistsrevelation.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/goodnight.jpg Anders https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e3/33/51/e33351fff010fd04edb80c7b88f6f9bd.jpg Nick Nackhttp://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1570933/nick-nack.jpg Lee with the Golden Gun https://theredlist.com/media/database/settings/cinema/1970-1980/the-man-with-the-golden-gun/012-the-man-with-the-golden-gun-theredlist.jpg Crew https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/monsterkidclassichorrorforum/imageproxy.php?url=http://i159.photobucket.com/albums/t123/TimAarts_photos/MWTGG.png