Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Man with the Golden Gun (4½ Stars)

Following the death of Christopher Lee, which I reported earlier today, I've decided to watch a few of his films. He made so many, more than 200 films in his career that spanned from 1948 up to his death in 2015. This is the first film in my list. It's one of the James Bond films that starred Roger Moore as James Bond. In my opinion it's the best of the Roger Moore Bond films, but it seems like public opinion is against me. Maybe I'm just biased because it stars Christopher Lee? His performance lifts the film and makes it something memorable, a film that deserves to be watched and rewatched many times over.

The film is about a professional hitman, Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), who charges one million dollars for each job. He uses a custom made golden gun, and he shoots golden bullets. He's so confident of his skill that he only takes one bullet with him on each job. Apart from this he likes to have fun. He pays other hitmen to come to his house and attempt to kill him. This is more of a challenge. Scaramanga also has a great respect for James Bond, since he considers him to be the world's second best hitman; second after himself, of course.

The film borrows ideas from many other films. For instance, in the opening scene Christopher Lee emerges from the water wearing white swimming trunks looking like Ursula Andress in "Dr. No", the first James Bond film. The effect is spoilt by the camera not showing him from the front as he walks onto the beach, but there's a reason for this, obvious to all who have seen the film. The final scene in Scaramanga's fun fair looks like it comes from an episode of the Avengers TV series. The martial arts scene in a dojo is reminiscent of "Fist of Fury", and the showdown among the mirrors looks very much like the final scene from "Enter the Dragon".

Apart from that, we have the typical motifs that we know from the James Bond films. Whenever Bond walks into a woman's hotel room she's in the shower. There are the car chases, which were at their craziest during Roger Moore's time as Bond. There are sexy women with suggestive names, in this case the naked girl in the swimming pool called Choo Mi. There's the scene where the villain explains his evil plans to Bond in great detail as if they were old friends. And there's the big explosion at the end.

Someone should tell Christopher Lee that you can't impress a girl by pointing your gun in her face. However big it is.

I'll choo yu if you choo mi.

Roger Moore has kung fu kicking schoolgirls to help him out. They may be young, but they know the best place to kick a man.

Isn't it nice to catch a ball game with your enemy before you fight to the death?

Much too generous. Mr. Lee, you are the best!


  1. I liked this when young and I would say this is the best family film in the bond series. Plenty of flaws though. Sheriff pepper was annoying and ruined the car stunt, ( as did the slide whistle). The final showdown being the same as the previous credits teaser was a logistics decision but still is poor by bond standards. The film is tense and dark and works well for the first act or two, then the tone gets all muddled. And Mary goodnight is a pretty unlikeable bond girl if still acted well enough by brittle Ekland.
    But thanks to Christopher lee's class, I can enjoy this film as a grown up, if always aware that it doesn't hold a candle to either film before or after it in the Moore series.

    1. You seem to have analysed this film more than me. I'm not so critical. Unlike you, I like the bracketing of a similar scene at the beginning and end of the film. If anything, I wish the final scene had been longer. I would have liked to see Roger Moore spend more time running through the maze.

      I agree that the American sheriff was annoying. I'm glad he didn't become a regular in the films. Twice was more than enough.

      At some point I intend to rewatch all the Bond films, up to and including Brosnan. But then again, there are so many films I want to watch again. So many films, so little time.

  2. Yeah I have got through a number of indepth guides to bond and perhaps the series need not be treated too seriously. I still am much more fond of this film than some other die hard 007 fans. The director for this one somehow managed the iconic film in goldfinger but also the pretty ragged diamonds are forever. I suspect another director would have made this film more sure of itself, and thus more popular.

    1. I know a lot of people call Roger Moore the worst Bond ever. Even Roger Moore says that of himself! But was he really that bad? Or was it just the change in style in the scripts and directing that let down the Moore era? The Sean Connery Bond films had subtle humour, they were very tongue-in-cheek, but the Roger Moore Bond films were over the top, they were spy spoofs. You can't blame Roger Moore himself for that.

      In retrospect (five years from now) I think people will agree that Daniel Craig was the worst Bond. People never criticise the reigning Bond, so we'll have to wait until he's been replaced to let the dust settle, so that people can judge impartially.


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