It’s interesting how many posters here rave about how great Skyfall is, while also dissing on The Man With the Golden Gun for being too low-rent and disappointing.
Consider: Bond is sent out to track down someone with whom he has no personal animosity - someone about whom there is more information than M is willing to share. He goes to Macau where he meets a woman who is a sex slave to the villain and who hopes that Bond will rescue her from him. She sleeps with him as a down payment, but the villain shoots her dead the next day - whist still bearing Bond no malice. Drawn to an isolated location (his home), Bond must try to rescue a female MI6 employee, kill the villain and ends up blowing the whole place sky-high.
Now, which film did I just describe?
And now for the "yeah, but…"s, but I also hope to hear some defence of what is one of my all-time favorite 007 films (again, guess which one I mean).
I’ve always liked the movie myself. Highly underrated. It was just disappointing that they took the lighter tone with it.
Think of the opening scene for example - a hit man hired to give an assassin practice. If they had dropped the goofiness of it with the music… and Al Capone… there was a lot of possibilities there that was left on the floor.
Take that script and give it the seriousness of FRWL and you would have really had something.
On a side note, this movie has the only Bond locations I’ve ever visited - when I visited a friend in Hong Kong.
I‘ve long since argued that SKYFALL is TMWTGG‘s remake, book and film. And I liked both earlier incarnations for their particular strengths: the bizarre comeback of lit-Bond and his ‘deprogramming’ as well as the exotic qualities of the film, the idea to have the villain carry his gun in parts, the charming villain that is a mirror image of Bond.
However, both also have several weak points, the book implies many more things than it delivers: Bond’s time in Russia at the hands of the KGB is an obvious gap, also his missing memories of Tracy (she’s not even mentioned once, although Bond leaves London at around Christmas time and should rightfully at least consider the events of the last few years) and the - implied but never played out - homosexual sides of Scaramanga. Even the finale lacks somewhat when Fleming mentions earlier ‘a duel at moonlight’ on the golf course of a Las Vegas hotel.
The film has different problems; sadly they don’t make its case easier: the ‘funny’ parts undermine the dangerous ones, especially the Karate school, Nick Nack and the totally useless Goodnight character. And the film misses out on a decent finale with the shooting gallery while the Solex MacGuffin is a largely pointless episode tacked onto the climax.
But overall the film is still a remarkably solid piece of 70s adventure entertainment, in spite of some questionable creative decisions. Moore wasn’t yet entirely in the role but showed potential. One would have wished for a more distinctive tone, leaving the slapstick aside and concentrate the script on the duel idea and the Scaramanga/007 duality. Then this could have been Moore’s TSWLM moment already.
I’d say this is the principal problem with both films. But at least TMWTGGs camp self harming was a little more of its time and made pragmatic sense with Moore as Bond.
Craig usually seems terribly uncomfortable delivering this kind of almost-breaking-the-4th-wall ‘comedy quip’. Plus they’re pretty badly written for the most part; M’s the on the nose “Oh go on, eject me” line is totally unnecessary - we already get the gag with the thumb revealing the button and Craig asking if she’s going to complain the whole way:
And then there’s context: SFs high-camp moments are far more contrived than TMWTGG’s because the overall tone is far grittier. So they’re that much more jarring; it’s as though the narrative and pacing has been torn open by rewrite in order to implant a ‘comedy moment’ and then carelessly sutured back together be a blind, one handed surgeon with the DTs. Jumping onto the back of the tube train
It’s a long clip, but that does provide the context I’m in talking about. It’s a great 6 minutes of thrilling chase completely sabotaged imo by the ‘comedy’ moment with the old man’s ”He’s in a rush to get home”. They’re trying to keep too many people happy at the same time. I just hope they learn from this (which I think they did, since SP didn’t make such arch pitfalls (save the being-too-clever contrivance of the car chase/Moneypenny looks in the fridge sequence).
TMWTGGs comedy was fresh and new in the franchise at that time. SFs comedy is unnecessary, naked nostalgia.
On a positive note, plot wise there are indeed many similarities that work wonderfully in both imo which hadn’t really occurred to me (save SFs emotional evaluation scene and Moloney’s rehabilitation of Bond in TMWTGG). Great thread!
TMWTGG and Skyfall have the same “problem”, one that isn’t actually a problem. They attempt to merge the two styles Bond does; self-deprecating humour and the dark elements of an espionage drama. Whichever one you like, feel free to hate the film for daring to have the other one.
I LOVE TMWTGG and Skyfall. I like the dual nature both have, but both of them do somewhat invite an odd attitude of criticism of “Stick to your lane!”
Skyfall got away with it because the wider audience was more willing to accept multiple tones…mostly (scroll around, it won’t take you long to find that exact criticism)
TMWTGG was truly the first Bond film to attempt that, in an era that didn’t have a willing audience for it, so in many ways the biggest crime TMWTGG ever committed was to have soul that was well ahead of it’s time.
This as an example of TMWTGG being ahead of it’s time; Westworld has got lots of praise, and awards, for doing exactly what that scene does, playing it’s core anthem (and anarchistic songs) on a pianola as diegetic music.
For me, I don’t need it to stick to a lane; be a Drama, or a Comedy. But I do need those shifts of tone to work in context and not feel added on. TMWTGG as a whole is far from gritty and not particularly dramatic, or emotional. So the comedy moments aren’t so out of kilter with the rest.
SF’s comedy moments and the rest of the film’s emotionally charged drama have a far greater gulf between them. Plus, SF doesn’t have the comic-timing genius of Moore to sell those moments. So I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying do it well and in context.
It’s right to point out that there’s these two slightly desperate approaches to Bond. They are often, in fact always side by side at one time or another in all of the films. But some stories, eras and talent do it better than others. TMWTGG did it pretty well. SF did it pretty poorly. But that’s just my opinion and for the record i prefer SF as a Bond movie and as a movie - its top 4 along with FRWL, GE and CR.
Does anyone outside of the remaining members of Monty Python have that?
But on the same note of lead actors ability, the harsher scenes of TMWTGG, such as the interrogation of Anders, sit uncomfortably with Moore, something Lewis Gilbert stated as what he wanted to fix in TSWLM. It is in the extremes that the two Englishmen struggle - Moore cannot do blatant physical aggression in the same way Craig can’t do blatant humour. Bless them both for trying, though.
I would say TMWTGG’s underdeveloped side is the drama: Bond - or rather the Service - is thrown a gauntlet by ‘the world’s most proficient assassin’ but all it comes down to is giving him leave enough to ‘settle’ the matter. Audiences have seen Scaramanga killing a caricature hood. And there’s some killing later in the cause of events. But a sense of danger, to Bond or to a greater scheme of things, fails to show up.
Of course, one might level the same accusation at OHMSS, for a long time into the film - until Campbell is caught - Blofeld doesn’t do anything threatening. But once he starts doing evil it’s evil enough.*
*And the big hole in OHMSS isn’t that Blofeld does or doesn’t recognise Bond in disguise. It’s that he doesn’t act accordingly, but that’s another story altogether…
@AMC_Hornet good job with the Skyfall comparisons. I hadn’t considered that before. TMWTGG is an interesting film because I do think it’s underrated, but I also find its pacing too languid at times, thus challenging my interest. But I’m a fan. I posted this in another thread:
The fight with Nick Nack aboard the junk is one of my favourite Bond film endings. I love how low key and enjoyable it is, showing Bond’s reflexes and TMWTGG Moore’s temper. “She’s just coming, sir” is equally as good as Q’s attempting re-entry double entendre in Moonraker.
I 'm always struck by how ill-tempered everyone is in TMWTGG. M is generally disgusted with Bond, which is nothing new, but 007 gets chewed out more often than usual. Moneypenny gets ticked off enough at Bond to break with her acquiescent doormat image for the first time and slam a door. Q is short with him (again, not a new thing) but Bond is equally testy with Q. M is also cranky towards Q, and keeps telling him to shut up. Bond is constantly angry with Goodnight, and while no one could reasonably argue with him there, it does make the “love scenes” unconvincing at best and unsavory at worst. He only beds her because she’s handy and he’s randy. Amazingly, despite being in an ill-humored funk throughout, Bond does NOT lose his top with JW Pepper and toss him out of the car, which even an even-tempered soul could be forgiven for doing.
I’m not sure what they were going for here. Humor? But when no one on screen is happy, it’s hard for me to be.
On the plus side, Roger looks better here than he maybe ever did anywhere, and Christopher Lee is awesome.
From the outset, my Lazenby timeline doesn’t include You Only Live Twice, so that removes the main issue people have. But in regards to Blofeld’s action of placing Bond in the cable car room, I think his “let me show you to your new quarters” line could explain it.
I think Blofeld knew Bray was Bond for a little while, and was happy for him to stay inside the room. Once his suspicions were confirmed with his setup with Bunt, he was still happy for him to stay atop the mountain, but with a demotion of conditions. With them being on top of the world, I’ll give Blofeld the benefit of the doubt in considering Bond an isolated prisoner, with possible future uses.
I thought it was perhaps result of the various scripts and treatments (reaching back to June 64 and at times making Blofeld Goldfinger’s half-brother) and the effort to show Blofeld’s hand earlier by the Phidian subplot: at one time Blofeld is not meant to be tricked by Bond’s ‘disguise’ - see Savalas’ line when he toys with Bond’s glasses; then Blofeld is meant to learn about Bond after capturing Campbell as in the novel.
Both cases can be argued: if Blofeld knows it’s Bond and he merely plays cat and mouse with him you could point to Bond finding out about the hypnosis as trigger to bag him. If Blofeld is only learning about Bond after Campbell turns up it’s evident that he then would act. Here the question would be why they let him walk about the complex any longer at all and wait for him in the girl’s room - Bond could immediately make a run for it and it’s not a given he could be caught again.
My own approach is much like yours, I ignore YOLT happened before OHMSS. That still leaves the other big hole that Blofeld evidently knows about Bond since the days of DN and would probably be able to identify him. But that is a gap in the logic that stems from Fleming’s novel where it would have been safer to send the real Bray (Basilisk actually) and have Bond follow him in Campbell fashion.
Only that would of course have been much less exciting and so would never do for Fleming.
I watched TMWTGG this morning and jotted down some notes along the way.
The PTS establishes the film appropriately given the title of the film and song we segue in to.
The briefing with M maintains a sense of urgency and focus on Scaramanga, which continues onwards to the meeting with Lazar and the tailing of Anders.
Anyone who says Moore couldn’t be cold needs to see how he behaves when he fears for his life against a foe he can’t physically identify. You feel his stern attitude come across during his conversations with Q and Anders.
His facial expression when he points the champagne bottle at Anders and says “because if he doesn’t get them” is savage.
Moore smoking cigars is fantastic and I wish it continued across his other films.
The sequence of Hip arresting Bond has a nice sense of tension.
Hai Fat’s garden at night is wonderfully atmospheric, and Bond’s white tuxedo looks great.
“Heaven, definitely heaven” evoking Connery’s “I must be dreaming” remark in GF.
The Chula sequence isn’t necessarily bad but I feel the film loses its drive here, and with the boat chase that follows. Could’ve been tightened up.
Scaramanga’s murder of Hai Fat is one of the best killings in the series.
Bond being watched by Nick Nack during his meeting with Goodnight is cool in the way it presents the villains as omnipresent. Various times Bond is being monitored without knowing.
Goodnight hiding in the closet, similar to the sequence from LALD, is funny, tense and cold. “You can come out now”, after two hours. One of his most underrated scenes.
And pretty much everything that happens once Bond arrives at the island is solid gold, which has already been well documented.
Very underrated film and worth revisiting if you haven’t seen it in a while.