Bond: The Man With The Golden Gun
The phenomenal worldwide success of LIVE AND LET DIE proved once and for all that Sean Connery was not the only actor audiences would flock to see as James Bond 007. In an effort to strike while the iron was hot, producers Cubby Broccoli, and Harry Saltzman immediately began work on a follow up film.
PLOT: Bond goes after an international hit man, named Francisco Scaramanga, otherwise known as THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, after a golden bullet (Scaramanga’s trademark), with the prefix 007 etched in the casing, is retrieved by MI6.
REVIEW: As far as I’m concerned, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN really marked the lowest point of the series. I really despise this film, and for me, the fault here lies with two people- screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, and director Guy Hamilton. Together, they were responsible for the crappiest run of films in the series. First they did DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER- easily Connery’s worst, then they tackled LIVE AND LET DIE, which is even worse. That said, those two films are like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE & GOLDFINGER compared to this.
All of the Bond films Hamilton & Mankiewicz did together share the same flaws. They’re all rather drab looking, with lazy performances by the actors- for which the blame should go to Hamilton. To be fair to the man, he also directed one of the best Bonds- GOLDFINGER, but his enthusiasm for the series must have really waned, as his direction on the rest of his Bond outings was workman like at best.
As for Mankiewicz- each of the films he worked on share the same campy sense of humor that does not work for Bond at all. The producers should have learned this lesson on DIAMONDS, but as the films continued to make money- they kept letting Mankiewicz wreak havoc on the series with his cringe-worthy jokes and lame characterization. That said, Mankiewicz later did some solid work on the first two SUPERMAN films (although they also suffer from his love of camp).
Another problem is that it’s based on Ian Fleming’s worst Bond novel, which was completed shortly before his death. Add to this the fact that star Roger Moore was still having a hard time getting a handle on the role, and you get a pretty lame Bond movie. There’s really only one cool sequence in the film- where a car does an absolutely insane barrel roll, but even this is ruined by the dumb ass inclusion of a slide whistle on the soundtrack.
Roger Moore is really awful in this film. For some reason, they tried to inject a bit of cruelty into the role, which did not fit at all. There’s a scene where Bond beats up Scaramanga’s girlfriend in a hotel room that I consider the worst Bond sequence of all time. Connery might have been able to pull this rough scene off- but Moore is way out of his element here.
Brit Ekland as Mary Goodnight. Ekland is certainly foxy, but she really gets nothing to do here besides run around in a bikini and act stupid. My choice for worst Bond girl (with Denise Richards in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH being a close second).
BOND MUSIC: John Barry is back, but he contributes his worst Bond score- which I suppose is fitting considering how bad the film is. The theme song by Lulu is ok, but not particularly memorable. Supposedly Alice Cooper was going to contribute the theme, but the producers’ chickened out- although the song does exist, and can be heard on his album, “Muscle of Love”.
BODY COUNT: Bond only kills one person is this outing- any guess as to who it is? Weak.
NUMBER OF WOMEN BOND SLEEPS WITH: Two. At one point, Bond is about to get it on with Goodnight, until Scaramanga’s girlfriend, Andrea (Maud Adams- who would be back for OCTOPUSSY) walks in. Bond hides Goodnight in the closet and proceeds to get it on with Andrea, while Goodnight listens. Afterwards, Goodnight is pretty upset, but Bond re-assures her, “Don't worry- you’ll get your turn.” Wow- Connery could have pulled that one off- but its laughable coming from Moore.
BEST ONE- LINER: [Bond aims a gun at a man’s crotch] “Speak now or forever hold your piece!”
BEST DOUBLE ENTENDRE: There's not much to choose from here- but I did like this little exchange- where Bond speaks to a girl with the delightful name Chew-Mee.
Bond: Good morning. How's the water?
Chew Mee: Why don't you come in and find out?
Bond: Sounds very tempting, Miss...?
Chew Mee: Chew Mee.
Bond: Really? Well, there's only one small problem. I have no swimming trunks.
Chew Mee: Neither have I.
BEST GADGET: Not much here, but Scaramanga’s Golden Gun is pretty sweet. Bond also sports a fake third nipple at one point. Gotta get myself one of those.
RECEPTION: $97,000,000 worldwide, with $20 million in the U.S, which is very mediocre for a Bond film. Its relative failure actually turned out to be a good thing, as it was the kick in the ass the franchise needed.
GRADE: 4/10- worst film of the series- bar none!