The first thing you see in Roger Moore’s second outing as 007 is Dracula sunbathing. Christopher Lee lays out in the sun with Maude Adams awaiting the next professional killer to duel with him. For the next two hours or so, you’ll find yourself waiting impatiently for Lee, Adams, or Herve Villechaize to show up. In between, Roger Moore and the rest of the cast sleep walk through The Man with the Golden Gun. For Moore’s sophomore effort, it’s a huge disappointment.
The premise: Pistols Scaramanga is the world’s most feared assassin. He often challenges rivals by sending them a golden bullet with the intended victim’s name on it. He charges one million dollars per killing and only needs one shot.
Moore can’t really be blamed for this, probably the weakest (but not the worst) Bond film to date. The writing is horrible, and much of it is shot like a half-hearted thowback to the Connery era. The dialog is stilted, and Moore’s job is not to make James Bond the most feared killer in the world. It’s to spout expository dialog. Even the theme song, which can’t decide if it’s early seventies rock or the latest in a long-line of Bond themes like that for Goldfinger. Worse, producers thought it prudent to bring back JW Pepper from Live and Let Die, a southern police officer so addled he makes Roscoe from The Dukes of Hazzard look like one of the cast of a Law & Order show.
Also, who got the bright idea to stage the movie’s most prominent car chase in a pair of AMC’s? We’ve seen Bond or other characters in Fords and Chevies, and it would not surprise me if Daniel Craig chases Spectre in a Dodge Viper or some other Chrysler pony car. But AMC?
It’s Lee, Adams, and Villechaize who own this movie’s best scenes. Lee is terrific as the charming menace Scaramanga, but his zest for playing the baddie is eclipsed only by Villechaize’s sadistic glee as Nick Knack, Scaramanga’s homicidal man servant. Adams provides a counterpoint as Andrea Anders, trapped as basically a sexual battery to Scaramanga. She lures Bond to his island hide-out not to provide sport for her master but for Bond to free her.
But if Maude Adams is the tragic Bond girl in this movie, Britt Eckland stars as one of the weakest. Mary Goodnight is both agent and girlfriend in this one. She’s not very good at it. Normally, the female agent poses as Bond’s girlfriend but spends as much time putting Bond in his place. (Think Moneypenny in Skyfall.) When Goodnight isn’t failing at attempts to seduce Bond, she’s a clutz in the field.
It’s not the worst of the series. Moore owns two of those, and Brosnan one. But it is the dullest.