“I mean sir, who would pay a million dollars to have me killed?”
“Jealous husbands! Outraged chefs! Humiliated tailors! The list is endless!”
The Bond: Roger Moore
The Villain: Francisco Scaramanga
The Henchmen: Nick Nack
The Bond Girls: Mary Goodnight, Andrea Anders, and some dancing lady
The Plan: Someone wants to kill Bond…James Bond!
The Gadget/Car: Although not used by Bond, the Golden Gun I think counts as a gadget. And an AMC Hornet! Oh! I almost forgot the nipple! There’s a nipple.
The Song: “The Man With the Golden Gun” by Lulu
After a hiatus we finally got this next installment in 1974. In a strange shift in setup that I don’t think ever happens again until much, much later, James Bond isn’t going after some megalomaniac who wants to take over nuclear warheads or gain a monopoly on the drug market. This time, James Bond is trying to save his own skin! In this adventure we have a dangerous little assassin, quite possibly the greatest car stunt ever filmed (although ruined by the music,) and the late and great Christopher Lee as the intimidating Francisco Scaramanga! Although I believe it’s kind of a weak entry and the pacing is odd, it’s still a fun romp.
Our opening hook is notable for it doesn’t feature James Bond in the flesh. Instead we see Francisco Scaramanga…a guy who lives on an island with a weird fun-house that he kills people in. A gangster arrives having been paid to come and kill Scaramanga by the latter’s butler. This all ends terribly when through a series of trick lighting, puppets, and mirrors, is shot clean in the head by Scaramanga himself with his special golden gun. Who is he? What’s that golden gun of his? And why does he…why does he have a third nipple?
We learn, after the silly song, that James Bond already has an assignment! What? I think someone involved with the making of this movie should’ve paid more attention to what they’re doing. His mission involves technology for alternative power and a device called the Solex. This is all derailed when we learn that somebody has sent a golden bullet with the numbers 007 on it. This is a warning from the fearsome and arrogant assassin Scaramanga. He uses a golden gun that fires a golden bullet and he never misses. No one has ever seen him and lived therefore nobody knows what he looks like save for that he has a third nipple.
M takes him off his current assignment for fear that if he were to be killed, it would jeopardize things…with him being dead and all. Bond decides to investigate this assassin himself and kill Scaramanga before Scaramanga can kill him! Not sure if you’d call it a twist but there’s a pretty interesting little twist to what the mission actually is and how it ties back into everything else.
The Bond girls are alright especially Mary Goodnight. Goodnight is a sad panda because she keeps trying to be alone with Bond but keeps getting interrupted in rude and hilarious ways. In one instance, just before her and Bond finally get in bed together, she’s shoved in the closet when the other Bond girl comes in the room and he gets in bed with her.
A good ways into the film…Sheriff J.W. Pepper shows up on vacation with his probably racist wife in Thailand where Bond is mi6ing it up. They make an excuse to have the two of them join forces and go on a car chase in an AMC Hornet. During this chase, there’s a stunt that may be more stupid than the alligator jump in the previous movie. Much to the Confederate flag advocate’s chagrin Bond performs a corkscrew jump…with the genius idea of a slide whistle sound effect.
A lot of things feel out of place in this movie. I’m not sure what the tone was supposed to be because it shifts so often. We start off pretty tense with the opening hook, which despite not having Bond in it is actually really great. But then we get a lot of really silly and ridiculous moments with Sumo wrestlers pretending to be statues, an overly ambitious street vendor, and we already discussed the sheriff. Additionally, for those that played Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64, there was a “Golden Gun” mode in which you rush to get the golden gun and then it was one shot one kill…just like in the movie. It was annoying and if you were Oddjob and had the golden gun…then nobody liked you.
This movie definitely has it’s moments but I find it to be a rather weak entry. I think when most people are clamoring how The Man With the Golden Gun is underrated they are just remembering how awesome Christopher Lee was and how cool that car stunt was.
Every second that Christopher Lee is on screen he eats it up and oozes with intimidation and neato-ness. Scaramanga is one of the greatest Bond villains yet. He’s equal to Bond in every way minus the extra nip nip and it gives Bond a challenge he doesn’t usually get. In most cases the baddie lets his henchmen do most of the fighting. Not so in this story.
Despite Christopher Lee and his golden gun and the car chase making for a great couple of scenes…I don’t think it’s quite enough to save it from being labeled just mediocre.
Justin Davis will return…to review: The Spy Who Loved Me!