Bond 50: Part V – The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) & The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Part5

Here it is, folks. Part 5 of my 12 part Bond Blu-Ray collection review! This edition features Christopher Lee as a villain, my new favorite Bond girl and the introduction of the evil henchman Jaws! Enjoy and be sure to comment with your thoughts on these movies. You find my other Bond reviews here.

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The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)

Release Date: December 20th, 1974

Director: Guy Hamilton

Writers: Richard MaibaumTom Mankiewicz 

Stars: Roger MooreBritt Ekland, Christopher Lee

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Movie

Plot:

The world’s most expensive assassin is hunting James Bond. As 007 searches for his would-be killer, he uncovers a more sinister plot.

Thoughts:

I didn’t know much about this entry in the franchise going into it. I knew Christopher Lee played the villain but aside from that, I was in the dark. The pre-credit sequence didn’t help me out, either. The haunted house/weird funhouse mirror scene didn’t really feel like Bond to me. I will admit, however, that it was an intriguing way to introduce the movie’s villain.

The theme song this time around was ok but pretty forgettable. At the time of this writing, I finished The Man With the Golden Gun around 5 hours ago and I’ve already forgotten what the theme song sounded like.

The villain, Scaramanga, is an assassin who charges a cool $1 million per hit. He sports a golden gun, gold bullets and, like most of Bond’s adversaries, his own private lair. We’re told that Scaramanga is a great shot that was raised around the circus.

I was hopeful the movie would be centered on Bond and Scaramanga’s game of cat and mouse. It is, for a while. But, in classic Bond fashion, the plot takes some turns and the villain’s true goals come to light. It’s an interesting plot and Christopher Lee is a great villain.

There’s more overt sexuality in this installment. I feel like it may be indicative of the mid-70s, more than anything. That’s not a complaint, however. I mentioned in the previous installment that I enjoy seeing the franchise adapt to the world around it. It was a lot more evident in Live and Let Die, obviously, but it’s still evident here.

There are some signature Bond action sequences, of course. There’s a great martial arts sequence that strikes a perfect balance between action and comic relief. Later in the movie there’s a boat chase in Thailand. It’s fun but after having just seen a boat chase in the previous movie, I could have done without this one.

Clifton James makes his appearance (reprising his role as Sheriff Pepper) during the Thailand boat chase. I wasn’t a fan of his role in Live and Let Die. He isn’t much better in The Man With the Golden Gun. His forced presence only served to make me question why the hell such an extremely racist character would vacation in Thailand of all places.

Sheriff Pepper later joins Bond in a car chase. Clifton James warmed up to me in this sequence. For starters, it’s a great chase sequence. It’s thrilling, fun and ends with a very satisfying stunt and a ridiculously over the top escape that’s classic Bond movie fare.

Seeing Roger Moore’s reactions to Clifton James (and even offering a hysterical impression) was actually one of the high points of the entire movie for me. The only negative thing I will say about this sequence was that it made me miss the days of the gadget-laden Bond vehicle.

As a whole, Bond’s 9th installment (and Moore’s 2nd outing in the role) is a very satisfying movie and a step up from the bizarre, supernatural themed Live and Let Die.

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Blu-Ray Features

MI6 Commentary

Commentary Featuring Director Guy Hamilton and members of the cast and crew

Commentary Featuring Sir Roger Moore

Declassified: MI6 Vault

The Russell Harty Show (3mins) – Footage of a TV interview with Roger Moore and Hervé Villechaize (Nick Nack)

On Location with The Man With the Golden Gun (1min, 31secs) – Some footage from one of the movie’s many locations.

Girls Fighting (3mins, 32secs) – Rare footage of the Tae Kwon Do school girl scene.

American Thrill Show Stunt Film (5mins, 17secs) – Behind the scenes look at one of the stunts in the movie. Also includes an optional commentary track.

The Road to Bond: Stunt Coordinator W.J. Milligan (Audio Only) (8mins, 1sec) – Audio track of the stunt man talking about his career. It’s a genuinely interesting audio track with a single photo of the stunt man and (I think) Cubby Broccoli. I wish it would have had more photos though.

Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks (5mins, 22secs) – An audio track of the director sharing stories from his filmmaking career set against a bevy of photos from his Bond days.

007 Mission ControlThis is a nifty little interactive chapter selection feature.

Mission Dossier 

Inside The Man With the Golden Gun – An Original Documentary (31mins) – Standard making-of feature that is present in the rest of the discs up to this point. This may be my favorite of the “Inside” documentaries. There seems to be more money put into producing the doc.

Double-O Stuntment (28mins, 39secs) – A look at the stuntmen involved in the Bond franchise.

Ministry of PropagandaTheatrical Archive, TV Broadcasts & Radio CommunicationA thorough collection of all the promotional material.

Image DatabaseA sizable gallery of pictures from the making of the movie.

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Buy the individual “The Man With the Golden Gun” blu-ray here.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Release Date: August 3rd, 1977

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Writers: Christopher WoodRichard Maibaum

Stars: Roger MooreBarbara BachCurd Jürgens

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Movie

Plot:

James Bond teams up with a KGB agent whose lover he killed to find out who is hijacking British and Russian nuclear submarines.

Thoughts:

The Spy Who Loved Me came three years after The Man With The Golden Gun. That stretch of time isn’t uncommon for the franchise, I just thought it was interesting given the way Roger Moore seemed to really settle into his Bond role in Golden Gun. Still, though, ten movies in 14 years is a tremendous achievement. Some are better than others and at least one has no earthly business existing. Suffice it to say, this is a very impressive feat.

When it comes to Bond’s 1977 adventure, I’ll start off by saying, wow. This movie hooked me with the precredit introduction of my new favorite Bond girl, Barbara Bach as Russian Major Anya Amasova (or Agent XXX). It set up a promise of a great dynamic between Bond and Anya that the movie followed through on really well.

Other notable things about the precredit sequence were the telegraph/wristwatch gadget that Bond wore and the ski chase/sky dive setpiece. The gadget was a great comfort considering the franchise had been noticeably lacking the cheesier spy stuff that I love so much.

As for the ski chase/sky dive setpiece that closed out the precredit sequence, holy crap! It instantly became my favorite setpiece from the franchise so far. The ski chase was reminiscent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, of course, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I also appreciated this scene as it shows Bond in the opposite setting he spends a lot of the movie in; the Egyptian desert. It reminded me of the way Danny Boyle surrounded the audience with water in the pre-confinement scenes of 127 Hours.

When we’re introduced to the villain Karl Stromberg, he’s in an ocean top lair talking to two lackeys. This scene ends badly for the lackeys (they’re fed to sharks) but it made me cackle as all I could keep thinking was how much Bond villains love sharks. I also noticed the sets in the movie seem more elaborate than past installments.

I really enjoyed the Egypt setting. For starters, I was glad to see that Clifton James didn’t take an Egyptian vacation. Other than that, I just thought it was a unique setting. They hadn’t really put Bond anywhere like that before (except for Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever, but let’s not mention that).

Jaws is a fantastic henchmen. I like the idea of an indestructible villain with metal jaws. At times it was even a little unsettling to see him go after Bond and XXX. Richard Kiel played the role great in an intimidating, mechanical way. I loved it and I’m happy to know he returns in at least one other Bond movie.

Initially the big fight scene in the train car bugged me. It felt really repetitive. I rationalized it by saying this is the 10th movie and there are only so many forms of transportation for Bond to kick ass in. But that’s a flimsy rationalization, I admit it. The bottom line is that despite being repetitive in nature, I still enjoyed the fight.

Speaking of transportation, I was ecstatic to see the return of the gadget car! Bond’s crazy submarine car was a delight. Even though I’m a Desmond Llewelyn fan, I got a huge kick out of the lack of a “there’s are the gadgets” scene. It made the car chase that much more thrilling and made the surprise submarine portion a very nice surprise. The car chase was a treat in and of itself. The way Bond’s pursuers escalated (motorcycle to car to helicopter) had me roaring with glee.

The Blu-Ray looked nice. However, there was one scene they obviously skipped over in the restoration. It was distracting but didn’t last quite long enough to cause a stink about.

Overall, I liked this movie a lot. The chemistry between Moore and Bach and the story of Bond and XXX me almost made me forget about the Stromberg plot. It’s not surprising, considering the plot is similar to You Only Live Twice but with subs instead of satellites. The Spy Who Loved Me also had higher production value and a villain who had no interest in extortion. It was honestly pleasantly refreshing to see Bond deal with a mad man as opposed to a greedy, well, mad man.

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Blu-Ray Features

* Unfortunately 007 Mission Control is not featured on this disc. *

MI6 Commentary

Commentary – Featuring Director Lewis Gilbert, Production Designer Ken Adam, Co-Writer Christopher Wood and Michael G. Wilson

Commentary – Featuring Sir Roger Moore

Declassified: MI6 Vault

007 in Egypt (6mins, 12secs) – Behind the scenes footage of the Egypt shoot on the movie.

Roger Moore: My Word is My Bond (4mins, 31secs) – An interview with Roger Moore talking about Bond on the set.

On Location with Ken Adam (5mins, 55secs) – Production designer Ken Adam talks about his work on the film over behind the scenes footage.

007 Stage Dedication – Original 1977 Featurette (1min, 10secs) – A short featurette showing the dedication of what was the world’s largest sound stage.

Escape from Atlantis: Storyboard Sequence (2mins, 20secs) – Storyboards of the climactic sequence.

Mission Dossier

Inside The Spy Who Loved Me (40mins, 41secs) – Documentary about the making of Bond 10. It goes into detail about producer Harry Saltzman’s personal problems as production began that led to him parting ways with the company.

Ken Adam: Designing Bond (21mins, 42secs) – A documentary on the production designer of the Bond franchise.

Exotic Locations (4mins, 49secs) – Maud Adams takes us through the locales seen in the film.

Ministry of PropagandaTheatrical Archive, TV Broadcasts & Radio CommunicationA thorough collection of all the promotional material.

Image DatabaseA sizable gallery of pictures from the making of the movie.

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Buy the individual “The Spy Who Loved Me” blu-ray here.

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Verdict

I watched these movies last month (June 30th) and am just now (July 16th) getting around to finishing up this part of my Bond 50 review. Part of my procrastination is due to other things taking precedence (my Under the Dome reviews, Podcast, general life stuff). Another part of it is due to my hesitance to choose which of these two movies I liked more.

Both The Man With The Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me have a lot to offer. Memorable Bond girls, enjoyable villains, cool plots and very entertaining car chases are included in these two entries in the franchise.

But I have to pick one and, with apologies to Christopher Lee, I’ve got to go with The Spy Who Loved Me. The movie hooked me from the start and never really let up, despite being reminiscent of past movies. It introduced a great henchman to make up for a less memorable main villain. It also featured a hint of a personal story for Bond that we hadn’t seen since OHMSS.

Besides, there’s a car that’s also a submarine! You’ve got to give me that.

You can buy the Bond 50th Anniversary blu-ray collection here.

I don’t have a rigid schedule for these reviews, so if you want to know when the next one is posted, you can follow me on Twitter @ObsessiveViewer and like the blog on Facebook. You can also check out The Obsessive Viewer Podcast for weekly episodes about a bevy of TV & Movie related discussions.

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The Obsessive Viewer will return in…

Bond 50: Part VI – Moonraker (1979) & For Your Eyes Only (1981)

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3 responses to “Bond 50: Part V – The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) & The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

  1. Pingback: Bond 50: Part IV – Diamonds Are Forever (1971) & Live and Let Die (1973) | The Obsessive Viewer

  2. I like both these films. For some reason “The Man WIth the Golden Gun” gets no love, while “The Spy Who Loved Me” is universally loved.

    Curios to get your take on the next two Moore Bond outings.

    Like

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