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May 14, 2009

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Dan

Yes, it is that bad.

On the other hand, it doesn't suck NEARLY as hard as "Moonraker". Best book, worst movie, go figure.

As a side note, I enjoy Patrick Goldstein's blog, but his shitting on "Quantum of Solace" has confused me ever since the picture came out. Claiming it's the worst Bond ever is a real stretch, but that's what he does.

IA

TMWTGG might not be the worst Bond film--Moonraker, A View to a Kill, and Tomorrow Never Dies are all just as hard or harder to sit through--but it comes close.
The film has very little to do with Fleming's novel. The latter isn't very good either, since Fleming died before he could revise it, but it does have a bang-up beginning with Bond as an amnesiac zombie brainwashed into committing a treasonous act.

The film's problems are crippling and numerous. The assassination plot and solex plot don't mix very well (writers should never go into too much detail about the macguffin), Roger Moore looks like an utter prick when he tries acting macho (he's even made to slap poor Maude Adams, who would go on to slightly better roles such as...Octopussy), Lee is too jovial to make an effective villain (he loved shooting the film, since it gave him a break from Dracula-type roles, but all of the best Bond villains are monsters), the budget is quite obviously lower than usual (Jesse Jackson is the only employee in Scaramanga's plant) and the filmmakers are terrified of having any action pieces that actually generate tension or wonder (so we get that blasted kazoo during the film's best stunt). And from a semi-auteurist standpoint (semi since Guy Hamilton isn't really an auteur), one can say that Hamilton--who proved his chops in Goldfinger--was sleepwalking here. But the Bond pictures he directed before TMWTGG are also rather poor, and I get the sense that Hamilton's lack of engagement with the material (in contrast with Peter Hunt's in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the best film in the entire series) hurt his later Bond pictures, especially when the scripts weren't on the level of Goldfinger's adaptation by Maibaum and the underrated Paul Dehn.

Two other notes: terms of gender roles TMWTGG is very ugly, even for a Bond film. Britt Eklund's character is made into an utter bimbo (the Bond women have always been sex objects, but they've rarely been ditzy sex objects). Bond locking her in the closet so he can make love to Anders is an especially ugly disgrace note. Bond isn't supposed to be THAT much of a cad. A swashbuckler should not be a jerk.

Tom Mankiewicz should definitely shoulder much blame for the badness of DAF, LALD and TMWTGG, but I should note that Wint and Kidd were not his inventions but rather Fleming's. But in the book they're extremely vicious and proficient mafia hitmen, instead of the campy hench-doofuses in Mankiewicz's version. Anyway, I realize I've rambled on too long about this shoddy movie, so I'll hold my peace.

Christian

Allow me a defense of TMWTGG as I prefer this very weak Moore Bond to almost any of the others. I love the John Barry score, despite the ridiculous Lulu theme. And I think Moore has some of his best Bond lines. And there's kung-fu. The defense rests.

Matthew Coniam

I've been ruminating on this subject at my blog Movietone News recently. Man With the Golden Gun has always struck me as the best of all Bond films. As to my personal favourite: well, that has to be Moonraker, obviously.

Account Deleted

My favourite Bond is The Living Daylights. Absolutely cracking pre-credits sequence, "The sniper is a woman", the ice chase, the romantic interlude in Vienna, Saunders being assassinated at the fair and Dalton bursting the balloon, the final fight between Bond and Necros hanging out the back of the plane on a cargo net (with a breathtaking shot as the cameraman skydives away beneath the plane). All topped off with Dalton's wonderful interpretation of the role and one of John Barry's best ever scores. This was the last great Bond film IMO.

Owain Wilson

The Man With The Golden Gun is quite ropey, it has to be said. I love Roger Moore, I love the trumpet stabs hook of the theme song which reappear throughout the score, and I love Scaramanga's island. But really, it all comes across like one of those long forgotten, cheap Bond knock-offs that were doing the rounds at the time.

Briefly, Moonraker is amazing. It may be full of deeply unfunny gags and pointless references to other movies, but my God it's spectacular. The pre-credits skydive is astonishing, the sun-drenched 1970s locations are gorgeous, and the bit where Jaws slowly walks down the Brazilian alleyway in parade costume is utterly terrifying. Plus, it was the very first movie I saw in the cinema so I'll always love it.

Also, Roger Moore just looks fantastic in a 2.35:1 frame. Watch his gunbarrel walk - he has one of the best full-body profiles of any actor. Cool bastard.

Tony Dayoub

Sorry guys, but just having Roger Moore playing Bond automatically knocks down one of those movies 2 points on my 10-point scale. Moore simply seemed too old for the part.

My favorite of his is For Your Eyes Only, because Bond manges to display some lethality without the tongue in cheek humor and the preponderance of gadgets that became the hallmark of Moore's films. The Spy Who Loved Me is fun but it is too derivative of You Only Live Twice to be given any serious kudos.

Count my absolute favorite as On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Had this one starred Sean Connery it could have easily been the best. As it stands Connery's best is From Russia with Love, the last one (and maybe only one) that actually feels like a straight up espionage thriller.

Ryan Kelly

I second the notion that "Moonraker", somehow, makes "The Man with the Golden Gun" look like a masterpiece. At least this movie has Christopher Lee in it, who outclasses the material every step of the way. And the bit with the "Fantasy Island" midget who killed himself trying to kill Roger Moore at the end has a kind of... amazing quality to it.

I haven't seen it since I was like 13, but I still remember it pretty vividly. I distinctly recall 007 donning a brilliant disguise to trick people into thinking he was Christopher Lee... he wore a fake third nipple! That Bond, always one step ahead he is. Obviously it's the most sophisticated 'gadget' in the entire series.

Brian

Golden Gun is definitely the worst Bond, for the reasons Glenn and some of the commenters note. When the pre-credits sequence shows Christopher Lee shooting at a cardboard cut-out of Roger Moore, it somehow feels like a summary of the whole film. In a slight defense of the film, it was also made while producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were becoming estranged, and had traded off producing each film, so I think there were a lot of distractions at the time. Still-- yeesh, what a disappointment.

I completely agree with the love for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, however, and wish Hunt had directed more films in the series. And The Living Daylights really IS great-- it's a shame that Dalton's follow-up, License to Kill, is kind of a mess (but not without some good moments). Moonraker's first half is quite fun, even if it falls apart in the end.

Christian

OHMSS and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS are fantastic as any true Bond fan knows.

Gareth

There are a handful of moments I like, such as the gambling scene with the little baskets, but this is absolutely the nadir of the series for me: Roger Moore looks desperately uncomfortable, after being reasonably charming in Live and Let Die, and shoe-horning in evil dwarves and redneck sheriffs on Vietnam-era holiday jaunts to Southeast Asia, um, right. It wasn't really surprising that the series' first more extended hiatus was immediately after this film.

Herman Scobie

In the novel Fleming writes that three nipples are a sign of sexual potency, a fact ("fact"?) that has been of immense comfort in my journey through life as a Man with Three Nipples.

IA

OHMSS I think can stand as the best even without Connery, whose charisma and forcefullness might have capsized the film. The Bond of OHMSS is a slightly cocky young man who gradually becomes more human due to his love for Tracy--Lazenby's callow,limited charisma actually fits this idea of Bond as an unextraordinary civil servant to whom extraordinary things happen.
I prefer Licence to Kill to the Living Daylights. The latter has an incomprehensible plot and weak villains, whereas LTK has a coherent story-line (with elements from Yojimbo and Rio Bravo), Robert Davi at his slimiest, and a more focused, seething performance from Dalton.
On the "ridiculous Lulu theme" of TMWTGG: it's definitely trashy but I'm still tickled at Lulu's loud but stoic way of declaiming double-entendre porn-star lyrics like "He has a powerful weapon!"

Brian

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN offered some value four years ago when Stephen Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE came out. The actress who plays the landlady in KFH is one of the kung fu-fighting schoolgirls who come to Bond's rescue in TMWTGG, some 30 years before KFH. At the time of KFH's release, I brought a VHS of the Bond movie to my office where I could cue it to the fight scene with the schoolgirls and show it to co-workers who'd seen KFH and watch the look of surprise on their faces as they recognized the actress. The actress was billed as Yuen Qiu in KFH, but I don't think she had a credit on TMWTGG. She's had other names in her long career, including Kan Chia Fong. She was in numerous 1970s kung fu films, including DRAGON'S CLAWS, where she had more substantial martial arts scenes than those in the Bond film.

Christian

When I say "ridiculous Lulu theme" I mean I love it. Trashy pulp bombast at its finest. Was there ever a bad Bond Barry score? Nope.

Campaspe

The weakest Bond--Lee is atrocious, I don't care how much affection I have for him via other movies--and the only one that doesn't tempt me to linger if I discover it while flipping channels. Just a colossal failure on every level, and you and IA enumerate its faults very nicely.

Moonraker is bad but I can watch it; at least Lois Chiles' character has a brain and Shirley Bassey still sounded great. Second weakest is A View to a Kill.

Dan Coyle

Yeah, Lois Chiles is the only redemption Moonraker has, unless you think the Jaws subplot is hilarious. Which I did, when I was like, 9.

Christian

MOONRAKER is worse than MWTGG if only because MOONRAKER is the first all-out Moore Bond comedy. MWTGG has a feeling, a tonality of the period that I find engaging. You have to wonder what they they were thinking when they greenlit the script. But it's still great to see Chris Lee in a 007 film, and face it, he was the most memorable villain of the Bond 70's decade. That was a cool gun...

A VIEW TO A KILL has a great theme (sorry but Duran Duran were born to do one as the first incarnation of the band were named after a character in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) and Walken is a terific bad guy when he's given the chance. I still think his fight scene with Moore on the Golden Gate was nifty. And I love the way Walken LAUGHS right before he falls. Otherwise, not a good film. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS was like our reward.

Lord Henry

My first Bonds were LIVE AND LET DIE and MWTGG in a double-bill, and I loved J. W. Pepper! THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is clearly the best Bond, though, from beginning to end.

In defence of Clifton James: he's good in RANCHO DELUXE, and really good in Lester's excellent JUGGERNAUT.

joncro

ALL Bond films are terrible. All of them.

That is all.

Kyle

"In the novel Fleming writes that three nipples are a sign of sexual potency, a fact ("fact"?) that has been of immense comfort in my journey through life as a Man with Three Nipples."

If I recall correctly, Fleming also wrote that the inability to whistle was a sign of latent homosexuality.

Tom Russell

"(sorry but Duran Duran were born to do one as the first incarnation of the band were named after a character in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE)"

I do believe you're mistaken, there; the name comes from "Barbarella".

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