Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Quick Look: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974 - color)

   One of the very last films of the spy cycle, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN was also the first James Bond movie to under-perform at the box office. While not a total flop or anything, the film did far less business than did the previous entries. Following this, the producers re-trenched and made sure the next entry delivered everything fans expected. Meanwhile, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN became the unmentioned middle child of the series until it would find an audience on television. Personally, I rather like the film, and it remains one of my favorite Moore episodes. Agent 007 finds himself on the hit list of Scaramanga, the world's top assassin. The killer is known for taking out his targets with a golden bullet, fired from his custom-made golden gun. Scaramanga sees himself as cut from the same cloth as Bond, and dreams of the ultimate showdown between himself and the British agent. The climax of the film takes on the familiar territory of a THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME take-off, which may partly be why the film was received so coolly. Audiences had come to expect much more originality from 007. At any rate, this is a good vehicle for Roger Moore, and showcases him in a much more typical Bond adventure. Christopher Lee plays Scaramanga, and the part benefits from the actor's imposing physical presence and powerful voice. The girls this time around are Maude Adams as Scaramanga's kept woman and Britt Ekland as a fellow agent who serves much the same function for Bond as Sharon Tate's character did for Matt Helm in THE WRECKING CREW. Adams, of course, would break James Bond tradition by being cast in another Bond vehicle, as the titular character of OCTOPUSSY. And of course, Clifton James returns as Sheriff J.W. Pepper, who runs into Bond while on vacation in Thailand! I always forget about this until he shows up. That aside, the film is pretty nifty. The main theme song is one of the series' best. Still, the film's comparatively poor reception spooked the producers into holding back the next adventure, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, until 1977. Though basically an aquatic re-imagining of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, the film was so handsome and exciting that it drew fans back in droves and set the stage for even more adventures.

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