26 February 2012

"The Man with the Golden Gun"

Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli Present
Roger Moore as James Bond-007
in Ian Fleming's
Starring Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack, Clifton James as Sheriff J.W. Pepper
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Date of Screening: 25 February 2012

The winner of the annual Halloween costume contest at Baxter Ave. Theater gets to select a movie to play in February and this year, the winning fan's choice was The Man with the Golden Gun. It's strange to think that after five years, this would be 007's debut in the Midnights at the Baxter series but there you have it. Not only was it important to me as a Bond fan to attend this screening, but I really needed this experience on a personal level. The last two weeks have been particularly stressful and discouraging in ways that won't be discussed in this blog and I needed the comfort of James Bond and friends.

To that end, I really had a great time at tonight's screening. I got to see an old friend for the first time in a couple of years, and we laughed from start to finish. It was good to see him again. Of course, it was also nice to see three of my core group of friends again, and one friend brought someone with him I hadn't met before. She seemed to enjoy the picture and laughed at my egocentric rambling before the movie, so I think she left feeling as entertained as the rest of us.

I had originally planned to write a "Guilty Pleasures" piece about The Man with the Golden Gun to conclude the 12-part 50 Years of 007 blog series I'm overseeing for Flickchart to coincide with the film's anniversary in December. I may yet find something new to say about it by then, but I think I'll just leave my remarks about it here and find something new to discuss by year's end. (It's not like I'll run out of material to write about Bond!)

I can't even call this a "guilty pleasure" after finally seeing it on the big screen. I won't bother apologizing for it anymore. I really dig this absurd, over-the-top train wreck! Bond puts Britt Ekland in the closet so he can hook up with Maud Adams for two hours, then brings her out of the closet...to hook up with her! Even Connery never played the field that expertly as 007.

Christopher Lee doesn't get nearly as meaty a role as Scaramanga as he should have had, but he has commanding presence all the same and brings a disconcerting, cold-blooded composure with an undercurrent of absolute insanity to the performance. Hervé Villechaize chewed a ton of scenery and while some of the humor is very much of its era, there's something about the shamelessness of it all that makes it funny today--even if we feel bad for laughing, such as seeing Nick Nack disappear under a tiny couch or being scooped up in a suitcase.

In the context of the Bond series itself, one can easily see that the formula was becoming tired and increasingly dependent on set pieces and not enough on Ian Fleming. The Man with the Golden Gun was a creative low point in the series, reflected in the box office performance and even John Barry's score which the late composer said was rushed and lacking. Still, on its own, on the big screen, it still delivered a romping good time.

Oh, and I don't care what anyone says: I absolutely love the main title song, sung by Lulu. That wah-wah guitar and the brass? Killer.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen this Bond flick, but your sincere and introspective opening to this article has me interested.

    Hope things are picking up for you.