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After the success of 1973?s Live and Let Die the producers we're...

After the success of 1973?s Live and Let Die the producers were quick to put their next film into production. The Man With the Golden Gun came out only a year after Live and Let Die.

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The premise is one of the better ones of the series, with a super-assassin against a super-secret-agent. However, this doesn't translate well to the screen and the end result is one of the sillier, more over-the-top, campy and overblown efforts.

In Scaramanga there is one of the more formidable adversaries for 007, but here he is given very little screen time, which is a shame, as when he's on screen there is a big presence given to life by the always great Christopher Lee (who incidentally was Ian Fleming's distant cousin).

However, when he's not on screen there is little to keep your attention: 007 is almost a passenger in his own movie; the secondary villain: Hai Fat, is so inconsequential as to almost be a hindrance. The Bond girl here, Mary Goodnight, portrayed by Britt Ekland is the weakest, most pointless leading lady in the series up to this point. While beautiful, you cannot buy her as a government agent. Shrill, and incompetent. Maud Adams' doomed Andrea Anders on the other hand, has a lot of dramatic weight and her performance is actually very good.

The script is too campy. And why Sheriff J.W Pepper makes a re-appearance from Live and Let Die is beyond me. Taking a racist red-neck into a foreign country seems a bit odd (you'd wonder if he'd ever actually want to leave the good ol' US of A), let alone to country in the far East. He is still as racist and oppressive as ever and it sits even less comfortably in this film than it did in the previous one.

The car that turns into a plane is absurd (although actually based on a real-life prototype). The fun-house that is Scaramanga's training facility again is way too comical.

The henchman is played by 3? Herve Villachaise. The way the script is written you don't know whether he wants Scaramanaga dead or not. He says he would inherit the island and everything on it if he we're eliminated but he is almost The Man With the Golden Gun's bodyguard.

The positives from this movie are few: but the car chase that culminates in one of the greatest stunts ever put on film (the barrel roll over the river) is well executed. But the stunt is almost ruined with the unnecessary use of the "comical" slide whistle sound effect. Roger Moore's performance shows he is more comfortable in the role.

The subplot of the energy device takes away time from the main, meatier section of the film which should deal with the upcoming struggle between the two titans. As Scaramanga says "we are the best".

This is definitely not one of the better Bond films, in fact it sits comfortably near the top of Worst Bond film lists. It's definitely a missed opportunity. They have a near-perfect villain and Bond's "dark shadow" in the Man With the Golden Gun himself yet waste this golden (no pun intended) opportunity to make a dark thriller.

The fact that it didn't perform too well at the box office when it was released back in 1974 comes as little surprise.

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Posted in Business Post Date 07/04/2018


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