James Bond At A Nadir
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) Is Uh-Oh Seven For Series Fans
The James Bond that many called "cheap," that a relative term in view of money poured over the series to then. Maybe "tired" was a better word. The Bonds so far with Roger Moore had pandered to current fads in exploitation: first black-aimed actioners with Live and Let Die, a milieu where 007 had no business, and now karate/kung-fu which was as uneasy a fit. Ill-advised too was hix-stix outreach via "J.W. Pepper," annoying times two for his appearances in Live and Let Die and Golden Gun encore. Not a few fans were ready to give up. I had, in fact, sworn off Bond after Live and Let Die, Moore seeming ineffective, almost effete, beside ruggedness that was Sean Connery. There were unattractive aspects that needed ironing out, specifically RM roughing up women, a brutish hic-cup to an otherwise jokey approach. It still startles when he slaps and strong-arms Maud Adams.
Golden Gun's real attraction was Christopher Lee as principal villain, even that dissipated by muddy water of high-ups he must dispatch in order to go one-on-one against Bond. Lee plays an assassin who hires out for a million and uses golden bullets, this too small an ambition for 007 heavies previously set upon world domination. The Saltzman/Broccoli series had painted itself into corners; too many rules to obey, too few detours from formula. The action this time was tame, snake-bit by comparison with tricks done bigger/better by earlier Bonds, that being quicksand for eleven years of a series now competing with itself. Rentals were down, probably no surprise for the ordinary entry this was, and not a few wondered if Bond was played out. It was a gamble and vote of renewed confidence when the team took a three season break to better prepare The Spy Who Loved Me, a 70's equivalent to reboots we're seeing so much of in today's marketplace.