Thursday, 19 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: Christopher Lee in The Man With the Golden Gun

Christopher Lee did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun.

The Man With the Golden Gun though not a utter failure, as common for a Moore era Bond, suffers from a disengaged lead and tonal problems, such as when it randomly becomes a Kung Fu movie briefly,  or when Clifton James unfortunately returns as the hillbilly Sheriff from Live and Let Die.

Roger Moore as per usual seems to be not taking anything very seriously which is a bit problematic when James Bond is marked for death. Bond as played by Moore only ever seems mildly concerned by this at the very worst. The film though seems somewhat aware that this Bond is almost a non-character in a way therefore it does give a certain focus to the villain right down to the opening pre-credits action sequence being devoted to our villain rather than our hero. Well if the film is going to lean on the villain a bit it is a good thing that it's played by serial film villain Christopher Lee, who has graced just about every franchise in existence with his presence at one time or antoher. Lee must be said is a particularly good fit for a Bond villain with his suave style, and deep booming voice that's perfect for the Bond style villain who loves his tailored suits, tropical villas, and overly elaborate methods of killing people. For Scarmanga the ex-KGB, ex-trick shot artist, slash high priced hit man his method technically should be swift, killing with a gold bullet and a highly impractical golden gun, however he ensures the unneeded elaboration since Scaramanga will only kill Bond after he's outsmarted him a set number of times, frankly a few too many to be honest.

Christopher Lee though brings what you'd expect him to do so which is a natural bit of gravitas for the character and is the smooth villain you'd expect him to be. Lee makes such a strong use of that devious grin of his in particular whether it is one of the many time he tricks Bond, or he deals with a no longer useful associate. Lee is simply fun to watch here as he grants a much needed shot of energy to the film through his charismatic approach to the grandiose villain. Lee though knows how to balance the style for a Bond villain with some genuine menace. This of course comes very easily to Lee as usual, and the moments where he gets his villain speeches are the best in the film. Thankfully we are granted two of these and absolutely dominates the screen in these scenes to make Scaramanga a proper threat. The only problem I'd say is that Moore never really plays off of him too much say the way Sean Connery did to Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love. Lee delivers the needed intimidation in his performance, but Moore does not really bother to reflect this himself limiting the tension of these scenes. This cannot be blamed again Lee who remains on point to the point that he work stands far above the film itself. This isn't even Lee just throwing in an as expected good villain turn, it is Christopher Lee after all. He goes further in the action scenes himself by portraying a little vulnerability and fear in Scarmanaga to try to create any sense of reality in these scenes. This is yet again wasted by Moore's excessively light touch in what ends up being a colossal disappointment in terms of the final duel. Christopher Lee though is never disappointing. He delivers a proper Bond villain in every regard however it's a shame it's a little wasted on a rather indifferent Bond.


Anonymous said...

Luke Higham

Very pleased with this rating.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Barely remember the film. I remember him being the best part though I was not especially impressed. Thoughts on the rest of the cast?

Louis Morgan said...


James - 1(Once again intolerable as his exceptionally unfunny sheriff routine that was terrible the first time.)

Ekland - 2(Doesn't really make much of her Bond girl more than the most basic appeal of a Bond Girl.)

Adams - 2.5(She adds just a bit more in that she at least creates some idea of conflict in the moments where she betrays Lee.)

Villechaize - 2(Really just comes off as a cartoon that undercuts Lee's performance slightly given that he's always around when Lee is.)