For Fresh Eyes Only: The Man With The Golden Gun
I’m ten films deep, and I’ve yet to nail down what exactly it is that I think makes a good James Bond movie. At the risk of alienating everybody that reads this, I’m beginning to I wonder if I even like these movies at all. There are varying degrees of course, but there’s no one aspect of any of these movies that I’ve found consistently interesting. The action is often filmed poorly, with only a handful of scenes sticking out in my memory. The jet-setting travelogue elements that excited me so much when I saw the beautiful Jamaican beaches in Dr. No are only occasionally utilized (I’ve had a rough time even figuring out what country some of these films are set in). The comedy, when they choose to employ it, always lands with a thud. I haven’t found any of the individual plots to be that interesting since From Russia With Love. To top it all off, everything is steeped in terrible misogyny and racism that refuses to go away. I think I have a fundamental misunderstanding as to what these movies are supposed to be.
But, I have agreed to do this. I’ve come too far and I can’t back out now. It must get better. It just has to. I can almost guarantee it will when I get to the Daniel Craig era. So there’s only... twelve movies to go. Haha.
Ok, the movie I’m here to talk about, The Man With the Golden Gun. Despite how dour I sounded in the preamble, I actually mostly liked this one. It’s too long and complicated for its own good, but there’s still a lot of cool stuff here. Like Christopher Lee. He’s cool. Remember when he was Dracula or when he was Sauron or whatever? Rock on. And he’s got a gun made of gold that shoots specially made golden bullets that exclusively nail headshots. That’s awesome. He even has three nipples. Hell yeah. That’s a super fun setup for a badass foil to James Bond. It’s easy to see a world where this didn’t have any of the worthless subplots and side characters and was a simple cat-and-mouse thriller. Why does every motherfucker have to have a whole island?
Roger Moore’s Bond has yet to find a personality. Disappointing, but once again he does a serviceable job. Hervé Villecheiz plays a fun villainous sidekick. Britt Eckland and Maud Adams do well with what little they’re given. There’s no dignity to any of these characters, though. My archnemesis J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) is back, a baffling decision I will assume was done only to annoy me personally. He gets to ride along in the car with Bond that does the lone cool action thing of the whole movie, a stunning midair side flip thingy across two warped ramps, hurt by the appearance of Pepper and a total buzzkill slide whistle sound effect. As if there’s no way we could earnestly enjoy one of the coolest car tricks ever done without a lame comedy beat.
I said that I “mostly liked this one” and I’m struggling to figure out why I did. The theme song was, as always, excellent. But that’s not enough. There was another beautiful helicopter shot of impossibly blue water. But that’s not enough. All I can remember is the bad, even after reading back through my notes. The movie failed on almost all the elements that I talked about in the intro. It was pleasant and watchable, I suppose. Is that enough? I guess so. I can’t believe I have so many more of these to watch. I feel like I’m going insane. See you next time!
Marcus will return in For Fresh Eyes Only: The Spy Who Loved Me.