Working my way through the Bond50 Blu-ray box, I’ve finally reached the first of the Bond films that I had never seen before- Roger Moore’s second outing as 007 in The Man with the Golden Gun. Never seen it before, despite many ITV airings over the years- how weird is that? About as weird as finding out Lulu sang a Bond theme song. Never knew.
The weird feeling of unreality hearing Lulu sing a Bond theme carries on throughout the film- its a strange one. The whole thing feels rather rushed, and as the previous film, Live and Let Die, was released in 1973, it would seem evident that as this was speedily made and released just a year later, quality would take something of a dive. There is definitely an apparent lack of ambition with this film. Moore doesn’t seem to be even trying, remarkably phoning-in a performance already, just two 007 films in. Thank goodness then for Christopher Lee, playing the films villain, assassin Francisco Scaramanga- Lee is actually very good and pretty much saves the film from being a disaster. He deserved a better Bond film really.
Oddly, I found myself actually rather enjoying it. Perhaps because I was watching it for the first time, perhaps because, as it is a Bond film I have heard little of I really didn’t expect much. It certainly seemed a better film than the insipid Diamonds Are Forever. The truth is that I kind of expect the Bond films not to age very well, particularly when compared to Daniel Craig’s superb three 21st century outings, and indeed as I have commented regards Diamonds Are Forever, not even Connery’s Bond is immune from that. At least The Man with the Golden Gun dispenses with much of the gadgets and comic excess that can ruin Bond films, and its plot (Bond believes he is the next target of Scaramanga, a deadly assassin who never fails) is interesting and refreshingly free of megalomaniac villains with armies of henchmen intent on destroying the world/western civilisation.
Its lesser Bond, yes, but on first viewing at least, hardly the bottom of the pile. Films like this are the perfect reason for the existence of the Bond 50 set. I cannot imagine anyone buying this film separately but as part of a reasonably-priced 22-film collection its hardly something to cry over. The duds actually make the greats more great.
And yes, that’s the 93rd ‘new’ film I have seen this year. Time is running out, but I’m inching closer to the 100.