Monday, September 10, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "The Man with the Golden Gun" (1974)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

To my way of thinking, this has always been the third part in the trilogy of terrible, early seventies Bond. Part of that is due to the fact that “Diamonds,” “Live and Let Die” and “Golden Gun” are a period in Bond where things get silly and dingy. After this they may stay silly but the dinginess simply goes with the time period.

For some reason our culture reacted against the polished, artificial, glamour of the fifties and sixties by not just going “real” but also gritty. Bond will do this again a couple of times in the series—try to go for a more realistic almost believable presentation—but they won’t lose the cinematic quality of things again like they do here. These might as well have been low quality TV productions.

If you think in terms of inspiration or analogies, the sixties Bond tried to pull off a classy, thriller with doses of humor, inspired by the likes of Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest.” When the seventies hit—and especially with the addition of Moore as Bond—they veered off into straight slapstick and sophomoric humor; at least through “The Man with the Golden Gun,” and the series really suffered.

Of course, the unpolished technicals and the awkward humor are not the only problems. As with every story in the series so for, this one tries at once to address its problems with women while indulging in the sort of attitudes that caused those problems in the first place. Here, we get a battered woman reaching out to James Bond for help as she sees him as the only man who can save her from her abusive boyfriend. She is even willing to give herself to Bond in exchange for help. The irony appears to be lost on the writers. They even have Bond beat her up a bit when he first meets her. They need to go back to the drawing board yet again…

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