Mary Goodnight

Bond Legacy: The Man With The Golden Gun

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Once again, the satnav had led them down an unexpected road.

We’re now over a third of the way along this epic journey through all cinematic Bondage, and many people will be preparing themselves for the fact that we’re going to be in the company of Sir Roger Moore until well into next year. As I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing, being the Bond I grew up on, but even I will admit that The Man With The Golden Gun is somewhat uneven, and rough around the edges. It’s a shame, because it had one of the best bad guys of the whole series, not just of the Moore era, in Francisco Scaramanga.

One thing that the Bond series has never really had is a true nemesis. Sure, Blofeld crops up a lot, but let’s face it, he’s the head of an international conglomerate of evil – Bond, when it comes down to it, is basically a minion with a giant ego who shoots well. (I hope I’m not going to come to regret that last sentence.) But many literary works have their evil doppelgänger – for Holmes, his Moriarty, for The Doctor his Master; someone who operates on a level playing field but who has the polar opposite in terms of ethos, and Scaramanga could, and probably should, have been that for Bond. There’s a fantastically tense dinner scene, which upholds fine British traditions of never letting anything like a war or a lethal grudge get in the way of a civilised meal, but other than that, it never feels like The Man With The Golden Gun fully grasps that opportunity with both hands. The lesson for anyone else coming up with a new literary or cinematic icon: if you’re going to have a nemesis, do give him as many scenes with your protagonist as possible.

Anyway, after we’ve got over that disappointment, and glossed over Lulu’s shouty opening song, there are still plenty of points of reference being created for both the rest of the Bond series and for movies in general.

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