Friday, November 23, 2007

The Man with the Golden Gun

1974, UK, directed by Guy Hamilton
The Man with the Golden Gun, the second of the Bond films to star Roger Moore, is likely the nadir of the series in terms of sheer improbable silliness. That surely constitutes an achievement of some kind in a franchise that has rarely prized realism. While it's not necessarily a guide to film quality, this entry's box office performance was also notably dismal, and the series subsequently took a three-year break.

Christopher Lee plays the villain, Scaramanga, whose titular weapon provides him a lavish living, while he remains largely unknown to the intelligence services of the world. That proves no obstacle to Bond, who picks up the evil one's trail in no time at all, criss-crossing Asia while he's at it (the Thai locations are especially beautiful; there's no hint of the turmoil in Southeast Asia at the time, of course). The scriptwriters throw in various ideas from previous films, notably an especially wicked dwarf manservant (Hervé Villechaize), while Clifton James, from Live and Let Die, shows up again as a redneck sheriff (on an especially improbable Vietnam-era holiday), in the somewhat desperate hope of camouflaging the absurd central plot. After a capable debut, Roger Moore looks distinctly uncomfortable on this occasion, perhaps sensing that the inspiration was running dry; that he survived the three-year hiatus indicates that the producers felt, correctly, that the film's problems did not begin with its star.

2 comments:

Andrew said...

I've always thought of Moonraker as the "nadir of the series in terms of sheer improbable silliness" myself . . .

Gareth said...

We could argue the toss, but I'll concede it may be a close call. Between those two and another five...

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