Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) | Bond

Actors and Allies

Roger Moore continues to be relaxed and charming as Bond. One of the advantages of his already having a screen personality before coming to the series is that the writers have always been able to write to that. Two movies in and he's pretty much the same Bond he'll be for the rest of his movies (with the possible exception of For Your Eyes Only).

He is a little less creepy this time around than he was in Live and Let Die though. When he meets Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), he smacks her around which is never cool, but he doesn't follow that up by immediately trying to sleep with her. So thanks for that, I guess? And later on, when she's freaked out for her life and desperate to get away from Scaramanga, Bond uses the Solex as his price to help her. Sex is still part of the negotiation, but at least that's not the only thing he's interested in. Baby steps.

While we're on the topic of Bond and women, who are the guys who attack Bond in the bellydancer's room in Beirut? I was going to mention this as a coincidence yesterday since it's odd that they just happen to be there the night that Bond shows up. But then I realized that they really aren't connected to any of the movie's other villains. What are they doing there? Why do they attack Bond? The movie never says!

And speaking of attacking Bond, I mentioned yesterday that we still get cranky M in The Man with the Golden Gun, but that it's tempered with some genuine fondness. On second thought though, M's conspiratorial smile might be pleasure at his own idea and not because he cares about his agent. He likes Bond in the books, so I might have been transferring that relationship to the movies where it really isn't there. There's not a lot of evidence that Movie M has any respect for the philandering know-it-all. For instance, there's his line as he speculates about who might have hired Scaramanga to kill Bond: "Jealous husbands, outraged chefs, humiliated tailors, the list is endless." He assumes that others find Bond as irritating as he does. He must respect the work Bond does, but he doesn't appear to take any pleasure in the man himself.

Another thing about M: why does he have the phone number to Scaramanga's boat at the end? That makes no sense.

Moneypenny is mostly just flirty again, but she has a weird line delivery towards the end of her scene. Bond stops her as she's about to go into M's office and she turns around sweetly to talk to him. But when he asks her a question about 002's death, she sounds pissed. Are we supposed to assume she's mad because he wants to talk business instead of flirting some more? If so, that's dumb.

Q is nicer to Bond this time around. We mentioned ballistics expert Colthorpe yesterday from the briefing scene and he's got another scene with Q as they try to figure out where the bellydancer's gold bullet was made. I like Q and Colthorpe's method of working as they bounce ideas off each other and come up with the solution. And that distracts Q from Bond, which is also refreshing.

MI6 agent Lt Hip is pretty cool and I especially dig his butt-kicking nieces. It's stupid that they drive off and leave Bond after rescuing him at the dojo though. That's all to set up the boat chase scene, but there are ways to do that without making Hip seem like an idiot.

The boat chase is where we're reintroduced to Sheriff JW Pepper from Live and Let Die. He's vacationing in Thailand with his wife and runs into Bond a couple of times. On the second one, he's getting ready to test drive a car that Bond steals, so we're graced with his presence for another chase scene.

He's even more overtly racist in Golden Gun, so let's talk about that for a second. Clearly, Pepper is held up as an object of ridicule. In Live and Let Die, he's an ignorant hick. In Golden Gun, he's the Ugly American. Even in the '70s, audiences were meant to shake their heads as they chuckled at him. That kind of humor doesn't hold up well today - at least not to me - but I appreciate that these two films don't mimic the racist attitudes of some of Fleming's books. Instead, they hold racism at a distance as something to be viewed and commented on, however immaturely.

Best Quip

"Goodnight, sir." It's funny even when - or maybe because - you see it coming a mile away.

Runners up: "Not from where I'm standing" (responding to the bellydancer's complaint that she's lost her charm) and "You have no idea what it went through to get here" (referring to the gold bullet he swallowed and later presented to Q).

Worst Quip

"What you might call a Mexican screw-up!" What does that even mean? Are you talking about a Mexican stand-off, James? Is "Mexican screw-up" a British expression?


None, unless you count that fake nipple that Q works up for Bond's Scaramanga disguise.

I read somewhere that the reason Q wasn't in Live and Let Die was that Saltzman and Broccoli were trying to get away from the emphasis on gadgets. That didn't make any sense to me, because people love the gadgets and Saltzman and Broccoli love people's money. It's not like the rest of the series was all about artistic integrity. And besides, even though Q wasn't in Live and Let Die, his gadgets certainly were.

But then we get to Golden Gun and Bond doesn't have a single toy. Scaramanga gets them all, with the golden gun and flying car being some of the best in the whole series. If I was ranking all the gadgets and not just Bond's they'd probably both be Top Five. I'm not sure what to make of this.

Top Ten Gadgets

1. Aston Martin DB V (Goldfinger and Thunderball)
2. Jet pack (Thunderball)
3. Little Nellie (You Only Live Twice)
4. Rocket cigarettes (You Only Live Twice)
5. Magnetic buzzsaw watch (Live and Let Die)
6. Attaché case (From Russia with Love)
7. Propeller SCUBA tank with built-in spearguns (Thunderball)
8. Rebreather (Thunderball)
9. Camera-tape recorder; mostly because it reminds me of a camera my dad used to use (From Russia with Love)
10. Seagull SCUBA hat (Goldfinger)

Bond's Best Outfit

Scaramanga's black silk kimono looks great on Bond.

Bond's Worst Outfit

I'm surprised by how little I hate Moore's fashions so far. I expected much less from the '70s. I don't think this plaid jacket is particularly dapper, but it sure beats Connery's little pink tie from Diamonds Are Forever.

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