After the campy disappointment that was Live And Let Die, I was apprehensive to watch Roger Moore’s next Bond flick, 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun. Unfortunately, those worries were not unfounded, and by the end I found myself thinking, “What have I done??”
The Man With The Golden Gun, while even more campy than Live And Let Die, was actually a bit easier to get through, perhaps thanks to Christopher Lee’s performance as the titular assassin, Francisco Scaramanga. I do think he was tragically under utilized, and the full potential of his character was never reached – but it was great to see him nonetheless. I also like that Scaramanga’s motives were refreshingly selfish, and had nothing to do with world domination.
I loved the cat-and-mouse interplay between Scaramanga and Bond (and the genuine reverence that Scaramanga holds for 007), and the idea of Scaramanga drawing people to his island just to kill them in a funhouse (was that one of the Vegas mobsters from Diamonds Are Forever?) – but the film goes way out of its way to go deliver cheap laughs than do anything compelling with its narrative.
Both Scaramanga and Bond are foiled by their annoying sidekicks; the former by his midget butler Nick Nack, and 007 by another terrible Bond Girl, Mary Goodnight (the epitome of the sad and demeaning “blonde bimbo” archetype). If Live And Let Die‘s Sheriff Pepper (who they brought back for some god forsaken reason) is the Jar Jar Binks of the Bond films – Goodnight and Nick Nack are the Ewoks.
I really wish that The Man With The Golden Gun were a film adapted in Connery’s era, where the more compelling and intriguing aspects of the narrative could have taken center stage over crappy sound effects (that slide whistle during the car flip: What the hell is that about??) and campy side characters.
Moore himself is better here than he was in Live and Let Die, though I still don’t like him very much in the role. I just get such a weird vibe from his 007 – he’s very sleazy and, again, too trigger-happy when it comes to bad puns. I’m so ready to get to the Dalton films, and can’t believe I have five more Moore outings to go.
Next up: The Spy Who Loved Me.