This Should Run A Few Electric Toothbrushes (1974)

Another month, another Bond; BlogalongaBond is back for another dose of Fleming-brand special agenting. Proving once again that less is indeed Moore, Guy Hamilton returns for a swan-song of truly tuneless proportions.Pulled off of a case involving a purported solution to the planet’s energy crisis, James Bond (Roger Moore) is informed of a suspected attempt on his life by famed assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). Having been sent a golden bullet with his 00 code etched in its side (do bullets have sides?), Bond sets out on an unofficial mission to find the man with the golden gun before he can carry out the hit hitself. Coming into contact with Scaramanga’s reluctant lover, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), and teamed with Agent Goodnight (Britt Ekland) while in Hong Kong, Bond quickly discovers that his two cases may not be as separate as first assumed. With Q (Desmond Llewelyn) on hand at a secret base aboard an apparent shipwreck, and armed with the knowledge that nobody knows anything about Scaramanga other than his possession of a third nipple, Bond breaks out the prosthetics and goes in search of his would-be assassin.

007’s a bit rubbish isn’t he; forever getting his associates killed and spending about as much time in captivity as he does with the upper hand – it really is a small wonder he hasn’t been forced into early retirement. The man can’t even jump-start a car, how does he expect to save the world from Dracula?

That’s right, we’re back in crazy-town for another dose of post-Connery, pre-Craig contrivance, as Bond faces off against Sumo wrestlers, wax likenesses and a peanut-touting midget with a fondness for dramatics. Not even Christopher Lee can bring a sense of sobriety to proceedings, not least thanks to the presence of a flying car, a fake third nipple and Foghorn Leghorn once again reimagined as the racist cop from Live and Let Die.

Boasting a car-chase that might well have been scored by Benny Hill and a wrestling match that ends in a truly unforgiven wedgie, it really is incredible that Austin Powers had anything left to lampoon. As the last Bond film to be directed by Guy Hamilton, and the result of a turn-around that makes Saw XXII look long-gestated, The Man With The Golden Gun smacks both of complacency and a desperation to finally be done. It’s the last Big Mac of the night: generously laden with cheese but saggy from being endlessly reheated.

In between the trademark tasteless domestic violence, casual racism and rampant stupidity, however, The Man With The Golden Gun does make a play for memorability. The fight scenes are uncharacteristically exciting, with the ninja element delivering a welcome dose of actual choreography and Bond’s duel with Lee’s Scaramanga proving surprisingly well balanced. Scaramanga is a ostensible threat, providing the first proper nemesis so far in the franchise. Their final confrontation satisfies in a way that Bond’s antagonism with the ever-changing face of Blofeld never quite achieved; undoubtedly facilitated by the relatively simple plot, the pre-credits sequence nicely setting up Scaramanga’s house of horrors, and bringing a nice sense of closure to a film that might otherwise have felt incomplete.

Similarly impressive is the production itself. Packed with exhilarating stunt-work and jaw-dropping locations, The Man With The Golden Gun feels delightfully fresh and distinct from the extant series. The famous car stunt is matched by a disagreement between boats, an urgent car chase and a truly bonkers sequence in which two schoolgirls take out an entire class of kung-fu protégées. As if that wasn’t enough, even the resident blonde – Goodnight – is given something to do; both besting a whole bad guy on her own and accidentally putting Bond’s life in danger with a head-shakingly misplaced butt cheek.

Mad as a box of Solex Agitators, The Man With The Golden Gun is, however, saved by a surprisingly well-balanced plot and an ending that actually satisfies. Though it could have done with a few recognisably human characters and a quick education in common sense, it is nevertheless one of the most purely enjoyable Bond films this side of Goldfinger.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to This Should Run A Few Electric Toothbrushes (1974)

  1. Pingback: September 2011 – What, there are no good sharks? « popcornaddict

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