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The Man with the Golden Gun  

Review: written Sept 2007

The era of the silly Bonds begins in earnest...

How did a movie with so many great ideas and locations become so tired in execution? This really was a movie where the ingredients seemed perfectly aligned to create a great movie. Genius casting made Ian Fleming's own cousin, Christopher Lee, play the titular nemesis for Bond. Locations included Hong Kong and Phuket - before it was `discovered', possibly one of the most breathtaking locations in the Bond series. The key crew members are back - John Barry doing the score, sets by Peter Lamont, who worked under the great Ken Adams, Guy Hamilton (director of Live and Let Die and Goldfinger) and even Sherrif J W Pepper making a return for comic relief purposes. And then the eye-popping stunt - the car doing the corkscrew in the air over the river... genius.

However, in execution, the whole thing just seems... well, pedestrian, in delivery. John Barry delivers one of his weakest scores, Sheriff JW Pepper raises more groans than laughs when taken out of the context of the bayous in Louisiana, and Britt Ekland is just plain goofy as Mary Goodnight, Bond's assistant. How do the Secret Service ever get anything done in the Moore era when his supposed assistants are so stupid he has his closest brush with death in the movie because Britt Ekland manages to have her behind pushing buttons by accident...? Much more than in Live and Let Die, Moore lets the side down when it comes to the action scenes - he looks great skulking around corners, but when it comes to running or throwing a punch, he just looks too lanky and unwieldy to be a killer... no amount of acting could make it otherwise. Is it really a plus to say that the best thing in the movie is some of the highly original set designs, such as M's mobile office in the lopsided Queen Mary, and Nick-Nack's fun house killing ground?

Christopher Lee as Scaramanga plays the role as if this was a good movie, straight to the hilt, probably relishing the escape from Dracula typecasting, and Maud Adams has the only decent women's role in the movie.. her acting proving so effective they brought her back as the title character in Octopussy years later. Yes, it's the movie that bucks the rule of thumb, that a good Bond villain makes a good Bond movie..

The final act of the movie as Bond penetrates Scaramanga's lair is pretty preposterous, even as Bond movies go ... after a well executed (no pun intended) sequence in which Bond kills his man, the blowing up of the lair is so contrived as to be embarrassing, especially since the whole darn complex only has one henchman to kill... and it's Goodnight who does that, not Bond.

Great baddie then, and great sets and locations.. but weak plot and lacklustre direction, make this bottom of the pile of Moore Bond outings. Rather like one of Scaramanga’s golden bullets, this movie turns out to be dum-dum.

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