Sunday, 25 October 2015

007 - The Man with the Golden Gun

Nine films in the James Bond series is running on pure cynicism. Ian Fleming's The Man with the Golden Gun was a slight, unfinished novel that saw a compromised 007 shipped off to Jamaica on a suicide mission. Since this is only Moore's second adventure, obsolescence doesn't really fit the bill so Fleming's story about a KGB sanctioned pimp is reorganised into a dreary, unconvincing travelogue that occasionally allows Bond to peck at a dark twin played by Christopher Lee.

Scaramanga resides in a pocket universe of tropical islands accented with nightmarish carnival violence, his residence a gaudy mash of low-art and new money living. The big idea being that this would be Bond if he gave into avarice and auctioned off his talents to the highest bidder. Scaramanga is 007 tracked to a terrifying conclusion as an undead monster residing within a state-of-the-art mausoleum. This concept is good but it would work a little better if Lee's pistolero was reflecting off a particularly virtuous interpretation of Bond but, unfortunately, he isn't.

Screenwriters Tom Mankiewicz and Richard Maibaum have written a Bond so indistinguishable from his enemy that when 007 starts sniping at Scaramanga for his amorality it registers as sanctimonious. Perhaps that's the point? Regardless, Golden Gun's Bond is a sadistic control freak who delights in his ability to dominate women both physically and mentally. In a series not exactly noted for its chivalry, Golden Gun still manages to stand out with a hero that threatens to snap a helpless women's arm one minute, the next he's breaking out the bubbly to seduce her. Moore's performance manages to be both smarmy and robotic, a man so completely drained of charm that his see-sawing mood comes across psychotic rather than rakish.

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