…and every ounce of it extracted from its real 007th Minute by our resident metallurgist and fine jeweller Jacques Stewart. Exclusively dissected and commented in the most opinionated manner by himself, just for your distraction.
Please applaud us for this amusement in this thread.
I appear to have made a serious mistake.
Such confession doubtless prompts troubling thoughts in the reader, replacing that one about whether your boss is contemplating having you killed, namely:-
A ) of course you have, you clot. You’ve subjected yourself to The Man with the Golden Gun; and/or
B ) only the one serious mistake? In a whole lifetime? I find this unlikely; and/or
C ) you haven’t gone and told someone about that bad thing, that really bad thing you did, twice, with [name redacted: seditious libel]; and/or
D ) you’ve gone and spent the pocket-money Mrs Jim permits you on obscenely expensive wine again, haven’t you?
Tackling these in reverse order, it’s D ) how is this a mistake? Don’t understand; C ) not yet, but blackmailing Clarence House can be so protracted; B ) find it unlikely, then; I am evidently a god amongst worms and A ) ouch. Smidge harsh, pickle. More on this “soon”.
Nope, the serious mistake – and By Toutatis, is it serious – is that anyone bothering itself to consider these fistfuls of red-hot excreted tapeworm as anything approaching a meaningful enterprise and is playing along interactively (in which case I pity them, but pity more the people who have met them), will now have realised that the timings of the 007th minute in each case so far is “off”. Timing’s never been my strong suit. I have more offspring than the rhythm method and piteously listless willymilk would otherwise allow, for example, and there was of course that time I sat next to Kevin Spacey on a train and failed to repeatedly smash him in that face of his with my bony elbow for making me sit through Pay It Forward.
What I’ve been doing is just taking minute 0.06.00 to 0.07.00 as counted down by them little green numbers on the magic disc masher, blithe to the fact that these start ticking my life away the moment the latest version of the studio shows the latest version of its logo upon which it has spent the latest version of money it doesn’t really have. That’s not actually the “start of the film”, is it? Should “really” start timing it when the gunbarrel heaves its weary self before us, although of course this would mean that Quantum of Solace never actually begins, rendering pleasure to those persons who see fit to express their exciting view that they rathered it had not, although this would mean they had nothing to tediously bicker about, thereby rendering the internet null and void.
Accordingly, the precision of this valuable exercise is tainted and it’s all just because A ) I am very, very lazy and B ) I can’t be bothered with a B ). See “A )”. It does to an extent disrupt the aesthetic splendour of finishing on a precise 0.07.00 and instead concluding the 007th minute a random fifteen seconds or so beyond that target, fifteen seconds being long enough for MGM to turn up right at the start, roar a bit and then go bust yet again. Still, it would be a considerably more credible exercise (if ultimately equally pointless and timewasty) to actually do it “properly”. This means that we can play a jolly game. It’s more thrilling than carrrds, anyway. Would those previously abused 007th minutes be any better, adjusted to suit an attempt to pay attention to detail rather than sitting on the sofa scratching myself, typing a lukewarm gush of drivel and letting the roasthot laptop battery curdle the cocksnot in my nadgers to brie? Let’s see.
Dr No – we’re going to have lose most of Buddy Holly, and that’s a pity; seventeen seconds of horn-rimmed (not a euphemism) splendour gone forever from the 007th minute. Yet we gain overall. Rebooted premise of this nonsense applying, during the 007th minute we rather gloriously receive some banco/suivi piffle and the elderly chap to the right of the Scarlet Strumpet overacts violently. And there’s the back of Connery’s head. Oh dear, she’s about to lose again. Men leer, Bond flips his eight, that’s yer lot. Still as definitive and it’s still the case that the introduction will happen with 0.07 on the clock (however you calculate it), it’s probably all a better and more 007-y 007th minute so, one nil to the reconsidered arrangements there.
From Russia with Love – the loss of some chessiness can only be a good thing, so it looks like we’re onto a winner already. We still get cigarette-eating and weird water-drinking, cigarette-eating and weird water-drinking fans (some of you must be; it’s the internet, express yourselves, start a blog). At the rump end of this 007th minute there’s now an extra sixteen seconds, which is plenty of time in which to perform a startlingly brilliant “bit of chess”, or more than enough time to get heartily sick of it. Additional thrills are King to Rook 2 – I mean, King to Rook 2, what an utter cretin. Everyone knows that’s just crap. Look at him; I bet he holds his knife like a pen and says “haitch”. King to Rook 2, indeed. Tchoh! – and here comes Kronsteen for the kill, picking up a big ivory knobbly one but no! The suspense! He doesn’t put it down again (I think one is meant to otherwise one loses the pieces) but shoots a mean little look over at Useless-at-Parlour-Games-Boy who is now all frowny. Ach! Too late have I done gone did realising that I shouldna done gone dood King to Rook 2 but shoulda done gone did fling the table to one side and lamp the sinister little . Hmm. Largely because it actually ups the uncontrollable drama, this has to be an improvement over the original structure. It’s viciously tense. Two-nil to the new directive. Can’t imagine why I didn’t do this before. Oh yes, that’s right, couldn’t be bothered.
Goldfinger – fifteen seconds. Odd how the timing’s slightly inconsistent, although it’s probably me again. Stuff it. So, the 007th minute now loses fifteen seconds in which we used to learn of Ted Moore’s Bachelor of Science (or whatever it does mean), assembly editors, sound recordists and flippy-flappy licence plate gobbery. L.C. Rudkin’s gone! No. This will not stand. Safely still encompassing Continuity Gurrrl and a gently undulating putting surface, the 007th minute gains something exploding across Margaret Nolan’s back – hm – and then setting her on fire whilst Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli loom over her as 0.07.00 turns up. Appropriate. But they get more than enough attention anyway and the loss of L.C. Rudkin is a shock so, rather surprisingly it has to be said, that’s one back for the Good Old Days and The 007th Minute We All Knew And Loved. Whatever. 2-1.
Thunderball – fifteen seconds, so reassuringly the same as Goldfinger but a very widescreen fifteen seconds, and that’s the point, see, yeah? Right, so quite a bit of the snot green awfulness is lost, to be replaced by a rather brilliant silhouette filling the screen as Kevin McClory’s name wobbles into view and Tom Jones faints into a big sweaty heap of heap on the floor. Hard to say whether any of that’s really an improvement. No score draw, and it’s half time. Still 2-1. Back after some persuasive words from lager, a car, online gambling and more lager.
You Only Live Twice – getting on with things a bit more swiftly, a fairly unlikely comment for this film as a whole, we only have twelve seconds to spare. Unspared, mercilessly, and shoved in time’s big pirhana pool are SEAN CONNERY and Ian Fleming, fairly bold decisions to dump these although one of them was pretty much jettisoned by the film anyway. Top end gains are William P Cartlidge, who always comes across as a good sport, doing assistant-directing (I think it involves directing traffic and shouting at indigenous populace lest they fall under a Bondola), Robert Watts as location manager (and that was all some location to manage, I’ll have you know), Ernie Day operating a camera, Angela Martelli as Continuity (not Continuity Girl – emancipation has hit!) and the return of Newell and Rabiger, the scamps. It was all going so well, and then they turn up to make SEAN CONNERY spend large parts of the film looking like he’s had a stroke. Still, in embracing some element of gender-equivalence, although it’s a bit of a mystery why Continuity should be the preserve of women – are they more consistent than me? Discuss. (Don’t) – it’s the new boy beginning to forge ahead here. 3-1. It could be a cricket score. For those not aware, cricket is the English version of Lethal Weapon 2.
OHMSS – I know the film has girth, but eighteen seconds less/more/however this works of the 007th minute? Nearly a third (I think that’s right) shaved off and then bolted back on? This never happened to The Other Fella. We lose Bond being mounted from behind and squealywheelysandypops. NOT good. Yes, so we gain “Starring George Lazenby”. Questionable substitution there. Not sure of the tactic. Own goal. 3-2. Not even disallowed by the presence of Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas. Not even they can rescue it. Nor all the Steppats, Ferzettis, Scoulars, Maxwells, “von” Schells, Bakers and “as ‘M’”s, although to be fair they did give it a bloody good try, especially George Baker and his use of an archly false and preposterous comedy accent to dub Bond, later homaged by The Actor Piaerse Brognam throughout four whole films. Very much on the line, but it stands. Oh, the crowd are getting angry, largely because they’re wondering why I’m engaging in this displacement activity rather than getting on with “reviewing” The Man with the Golden Gun. Oh come on. You’ve seen it. You know why.
Diamonds are Forever – back to normality (hah!) and just thirteen seconds to muck about with. During which time Sean’s probably had “a” kebab. Not lost too much really, it’s credits, still have the opportunity to be mystified by the unlingeringness of men and that they are not worth going to one’s grave for (and they probably won’t come to the funeral anyway, and even if so, definitely not for a cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake afterwards. Just not keen on lingering, y’see). New moments of 007th minute bring us Saltzman and Broccoli once more, so we know who to blame now, and that it was directed by Guy Hamilton, taking the positive daily workgrind mantra of “every day something new and different” a little too literally, the film being not so much directed as shoved about a bit, its yo-yo tone presumably a homage to the 1967 Casino Royale, although with less coherence. Hmm. No goal. It’s still 3-2 as we head into the final moments. And how much time added on…?
Live and Let Die – …fourteen seconds. Fair chunks of Filament Lady go but she was getting very tired doing all that waving. Yes, bye-bye dear. Geoffrey Holder’s still in there, defining the 007th minute of Live and Let Die as much as every other lovely minute of it, and we get added Guy Hamilton, marginally more focussed this time, and rather magically, right on 0.07.14, right on it, right at the point the film is 0.07.00 old, not a second either way, it’s Roger Moore. As James Bond. Having a kip. It’s deliberate, it must be and even if it’s accidental it’s brilliant; a resounding top corner piledriver to make it 4-2 to the new way of thinking. Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over.
It is not.
So, taking that as having sorted “everything”, all’s right in the world and we can move away from turgid, self-indulgent non-comedy to The Man with the Golden Gun. You decide how much of a move between the two is required: many would take the view that they’re close neighbours, therefore no need to hire hirsute cromagnons and their van. It’s not the most popular of films as a whole, is it? The Man with the Golden Gun, a film about the energy crisis that then sees fit to demonstrate precisely that over two long hours during which bum all happens. The Man with the Golden Gun, blessed with some nice and unusual locations and engaging performances by Maud Adams (especially) and Christopher Lee but weighed down like puppies in a canal-bound binbag by dismal smut, tit “jokes”, Britt Ekland’s curious acting, Sheriff Pepper giving racism a through test-drive and, of course, Nick Nack, who is played by Billie-Jean King in a hat. The Man with the Golden Gun, a film with an outrageously dangerous car stunt, that immediately molests its impact by having a swanny-whistle blow; what next, a frickin’ kazoo? The Man with the Golden Gun, where the titular (see, it’s got me doing it now) gun is very neatly put together but that’s really no metaphor for the rest of it, comprising two stories crunched artlessly and tragically into a coupling, forced to mate unenthusiastically at Golden Gunpoint, no love behind the eyes, when otherwise each element would contentedly have no business being anywhere near the other. Bit like the time I went to “Wales”. One part of it a cat-and-mouse tale of two rather ghastly psychopathic misogynists circling around a horribly abused woman who they both proceed to abuse further, who comes to learn far too late that these chaps are exactly the same, the other part some statutory supervillainy about weaponised sunshine ultimately foiled by a quipping waxwork and a talking bikini (no, not Die Another Day, but I can see your point). By themselves these are reasonably engaging ideas that can provide grand entertainment for differing moods, but mashing the two into a loveless marriage by means of a stunningly crapulous and illogical coincidence doesn’t double the excitement, it just dilutes it. Yet another one where the tone is, let’s be nice, “yet to fully settle down”.
I do like The Man with the Golden Gun. It’s harmless. Actually, it’s docile. Actually, it’s inert. Actually, I don’t like it. See? “Tone”. Spurning the invention and energy of Live and Let Die, this ambles along without being terribly bothersome, but it does feel like it’s going through the motions like a Beirut bullet pooed from Bond’s botty. There’s an awful lot of hanging around, there are some good bits but they’re stolen moments, lucid intervals at best, and then it comes to a conclusion. Not saying it is bereft of ideas: some of them are appealing (albeit primarily in the Andrea Anders story, not the “Solex” guff) but such as are there feel very stretched out – the car chase and the klong chase go on forever – to the point the joins in the screenplay splinter, and the cracks are abundant. If more – much more, Roger Moore – actually happened it might recklessly risk being exciting; alternatively if it was edited to about an hour. This theory that Bond films need be a couple of hours long at least is only sustainable if there’s a couple of hours’ worth of stuff to do. Goldfinger, Tomorrow Never Dies and Quantum of Solace turn up, do their thing, bugger off again, fond of them all for so doing. The most significant kill of The Man with the Golden Gun is time. Arguably they filled The Spy who Loved Me with far too much, but at least it’s not boring. This one holds just about (but barely) enough to engage now and again but it sails dangerously close to sinking in mysterious circumstances and looking a bit rusty, lopsided and stricken.
This leisurely stroll through patchy mild peril is exemplified in what happens up to and then throughout the 007th minute. Up to 0.06.00 we’ve had an indigo gunbarrel, bit odd but probably a signal that this does get a bit blue and is not for kids, even if it does wallow in the childish by having the Bond theme played on a tambourine and a whoopee cushion. No guitars evident, saved them all for the “song” I guess. Really shouldn’t have bothered. Nice island, man with three mammary glands which entirely justifies all the breast jokes from here on in – it is dealt with at a juvenile level – and leads to useless Q’s most useless gadget and aggravation about considering whether the taxpayer should have its money spent making Roger Moore a right tit. More disturbing is Scaramanga’s strange chest hair although it’s obvious that they shaved some – but not all – so they could apply a nipple that looks like the flange from the top of an Actimel. How very half-hearted. How very The Man with the Golden Gun. Maud Adams has wiped TripNip down and looks distracted in so doing – perhaps she’s found another one on his inner thigh. She doesn’t look at all happy, nor need she – when the champagne cork bursts and there’s spume everywhere, she’s going to get it in her hair and it’s a sod to shift. An interesting character with motives and much tragedy, the film goes into decline when she leaves it, albeit involuntarily.
Then we had Skeletor appear and you could tell he was a villain because he’s wearing a navy shirt and a yellow tie. He appears to be played by Blofeld’s last remaining Las Vegas goon and it’s nice to have such a vital character return. I seem to recall his name is Rodney, which is the very definition of not bothering. Might as well have called him Geoff. Still, one can try too hard, Mr Kil. No-one said anything for a minute and a half until the product placement starts with a scream for “Tabasco” (registered trade mark) which is the slippery slope towards AMC showrooms (and makes one wonder quite where the shops are around here) and we had a nice look at Scaramanga’s butterfly collection: he seems like a nice man, why is Muttley trying to have him killed? It is an interesting idea to have a duplicitous henchperson and although he does expressly state as such to Bond later, perhaps more – much more, Roger Moore – could have been made of it. But it’s The Man with the Golden Gun, and making an effort would have been disconcerting and entirely out of character.
We have also seen Scaramanga’s gymnasium; he needs to work on his pecs, he has three after all. Skeletor went all cackly, suggesting he’s up to no good but then there were weird goings on in the Pinewood Funhouse (a very filthy euphemism) and another skellington (hard to tell them apart) and a bar-room piano (Christ) and an Al Capone dummy that blinks when it fires which is either a really incredible animatronic and obviously where the budget went or really cheap any-old-thing-will-do-by-now. Comedy music; total shambles, frankly. Boggly-eyed Rodney, his lower dentures about to flee the film (lucky them), he hasn’t seem so much slapdash crumminess in one place since Vegas. But he’s no fool; manages to take off both of Capone’s arms with one shot. He’s a pretty good assassin too and doesn’t come laboured with a Lulu theme song; bit of a win.
On and on it goes – stretching it out until we finally reach
0.06.00 – 0.07.00 The Man with the Golden Gun
And there’s Christopher Lee – sporting a most extraordinary hairdo and a divine navy leisuresuit with ivory piping, unzipped to the abdomen – trying to get at his leeedle Golden Gun in some mirrors. Couple of things to note straightaway. Firstly, the gun appears to be mounted on a crow. I have absolutely no idea what this is meant to signify, unless it’s another unarmed thing Scaramanga has shot (it’s not as if most of his victims in this film were actually able to defend themselves, is it?). Alternatively it’s one of the birds from 3 ½ Love Lane, which is a neat reference albeit the execution is still peculiar. Alternatively alternatively it’s a prop that’s been hanging around Pinewood with all the rest of the rubbish on show here and whilst using whatever’s in the loft instead of coming up with something new is a bit cheap, it’s very The Man with the Golden Gun and is ultimately less shaming than taking any pride in creating these awful things from scratch. I prefer to think of it having been hypnotised. That or it’s watched what’s going on, fallen asleep and it’s just there, dozing gently, its slumber unthreatened by the prospect of anything actually happening. This is markedly the longest of the pre-credits sequences so far, and unjustifiably so. Big solid slab of sod all. By this time in Dr No we’d had murders, same for Live and Let Die; in Thunderball there had been transvestites and jetpacks; in OHMSS George had done drownings and been jilted and in You Only Live Twice, James Bond was dead. They’ve had as long to make this since Live and Let Die, as they did between Live and Let Die and its predecessor and in that time they came up with something weird and wild and wonderful, cast a new Bond and tried to kill Baron Samedi nine times until they gave up, relented to his sinister rider demands for blue Smarties, a scythe and a buttered binman, and put him in the film instead. Here, this is two middle aged men, Frank and Rodney, wandering around a warehouse which is, y’know, slightly disappointing.
The second thing to note is that evidently this bit with the mirrors is a major blooper as Christopher Lee cannot personally be seen in one, science fact! Overall, he’s fine and as dignified as the film lets him be but it’s plain that the motives (such as they are) of the character he is ordered to play (such as it is) are all over the place. Firstly he’s not bothered with Bond, even as a love-rival, and then he suddenly does want rid of him for…why? Just because Bond’s coming to rescue Goodnight from a life of going at a Golden Gun like a dog with a mouthful of hot chips and having Francis show her his salty Junk and admire his many watermelons? Why does he have the power plant when he confesses that he doesn’t really know how it works and seems to populate it with a mute who has wandered in off the set of a pørn film? How did the island have any power anyway before he got hold of the Solex? Did Nick Nack generate electricity by running around in a plastic wheel? It was all going along quite nicely with his horrible attitude to Andrea Anders and making her lick his pistol and then, once she’s been offed, he’s just at a loose end. May as well become a mad supervillain because we’ve half an hour to fill and we do require an explosion. Scaramanga becomes progressively less interesting the more the film stumbles along – the only remotely interesting fact about him by the end is that he keeps sealed but utterly empty bottles of wine in his bedroom, the big weirdo, and M has his direct line (???) which makes the entire film redundant (no comment) – although it is quite neat that Bond ultimately shoots him through that third nipple.
“I fooled you”, screams Midgely, and it’s right, he did, I thought this was going to be exciting. The revolving mirrors were ommidged in Die Another Day, in that bit where Lee Tamahori looked in them, adjusted his bra and took a long deep moment of reflection about what he was inflicting upon us. I think it’s a deleted scene.
Worried look on Scaramanga’s face. Not surprising; he’s regretting the day-glo purple bricks. Probably also concerned that the honky-tonk piano’s going to start up again or that his waxworks are…coming back to life. Record states that Manky was thinking of Jack Palance as the villain; strikes me that Vincent Price must have been in with a chance too.
Right, so a wide-shot of the main arena of the “fun” house. “Fun” in the sense of “fun” sized Mars Bar, i.e. not a source of fun at all and rather tiny. Bit like Nick Nack. “Wide-shot” is exaggerating too; all the film, especially this, looks compressed-for-TV, a long way from the spectacles we were given 1965-1969. You now need spectacles to see anything here. It’s boringly photographed and underwhelmingly edited. Bring back Peter Hunt; we’d have been through this in about a minute. Whereas previous hollowed out rocks have given us monorails and helicopters and space rockets, this downsized austerity version has some cardboard jaggedy red and black shapes and green footlights and, mesmerised ravens aside, could pass so convincingly as a 80s dance studio you half expect Scaramanga to be wearing puce legwarmers. There seem to be two Skeletors on show, presumably “mirrors”, although when we hit the end of this scene – if we ever do – one of them is standing pretty much where the Bond waxwork appears. This is not a mistake – evidently it came to life and walked over. Skeletor’s looking really sweaty; he wasn’t expecting anything this horrible to occur. Don’t think any of us were. Quite what he was expecting when he accepted the challenge from Nick Nack – played by Tom Cruise. Standing on a pouffe – is unclear. You’re off to the private island of the world’s greatest hitman not as training bait, not that at all, perish the thought, but with a very good chance of killing him, despite his knowing his way around and your being a bit, y’know, old. Hm.
“Now…how are you going to get down the stairs?” He’s going to turn into a bat and fly. Haven’t you seen any of these films? C’mon Frodo, pay attention. “So near, and yet so far.” Quite true. So near to the credits and yet soooooo farrrrrrrr. Fairly steep stairs there, decorated in brown and orange – the 70s, bless – and even Al and his boys have wandered over for a look. Al’s so thrilled it’s made his arms grow back. Actually, this is quite exciting, flickery lights and shrill music and it does indeed appear to be Christopher Lee doing his own stunt here, tumbling forward, plucking the Golden Gun from the raven and fires and Rodney gets a third eye (which is more impressive than a third nipple) and it’s quite graphic on pause y’know, and
Now that we’re playing the game properly – fairly low threshold of “proper”, granted – I’d say the wobbly old waxy dummy of Big Rog – homage in Octopussy onwards – is about three seconds outside the 007th minute, so near and yet so far, although patently it does appear when 0.07 is on the ticker. Which is by far the most interesting thing to have happened, although competing with the fact, noted above, that it wasn’t actually there a few seconds ago. Why does he have a waxwork of Bond? Who made it – Nick Nack? Presumably he melted down the Connery one and still had enough left over for Al Capone and some goons. Plausibility not walking very tall around here either, at least it gives Andrea the inspiration to set her little plot in motion, although it must have been a bit of a downer, when having her arm nearly broken by Bond, to realise that the dummy was in fact much nicer.
While I’m on it, that scene in the hotel bedroom when Bond and Andrea first meet: I veer between admiring it and worrying that it’s just the crassest example of the Hamilton/Mankiewicz approach to both Bond specifically – a mean bastard – and women generally. MooreBond starts as deftly amusing as only he can be, albeit he is leering at a woman showering, and then very, very brutal, far more so than the books, then grimly determined to “get” Scaramanga (this doesn’t last; shame, he comes across as rattled, it’s genuine acting and Moore’s great), hilariously rude with his dismissal of Andrea as not being worth the cost of a bullet (and yet she doesn’t really notice and remains submissive because she’s a woman and therefore, in Mankyland, a bit thick) and then finally charming again. Whereas the rest of the film lollops around, this is oddly perhaps all a little too quick, although it does tend to demonstrate that this new regeneration still needs time to settle. It would come.
The flipside of this – at best awkward, at worst insulting – approach to women is that Andrea is a proper character with a proper story and it’s actually all rather tragic and melodramatic. Disturbing when you think about it, both men are vile to her and she’s just trapped in being attracted to such losers; it’s an oddly bleak point. Without doubt the scenes Maud Adams shares with either Christopher Lee or Roger Moore are the film’s highpoints and, absent her, there’s little heart or purpose to any of it. I suppose the balance to all this troubling victimhood is shoving us Britt Ekland who, on her first appearance, appears with ears sticking out from her blonde hair in a way that reminds one of Daniel Craig, or a mouse. Sticking her in a bikini is no real distraction from the patent truth that the character brings nothing to the film whatsoever apart from some dreadful dialogue dreadfully delivered and she’s only there as rescue-fodder and everything that happens – everything – could just as easily have happened without her involvement or interference; homaged later, in many, many hateful ways, by Jinx.
Back in that hotel room, though… I dunno. Perhaps I’ve liked it in the past because it does demonstrate actual acting, and had that overshadow what it is they are both acting, which is horribly dodgy. Still, it’s capable of provoking a reaction, which is something of a rarity for this film.
The other notable moment is of course the flipping of an ugly hatchback across a broken bridge. The stunt itself is desperately necessary, the car chase being stunningly dull, with the only points of interest up to the spiral jump being quite how much petrol car showrooms put in their display models, and accepting that a million-dollar hit on the person whose idea it was to put Sheriff Pepper in the car is tremendously good value for money. OK, so the doop-whistle “thing”. It’s not great, is it, but would some of the other Bond composers have done better? George Martin would have left it silent (probably for the best) but then that would have been true of most of the film so not really a specific decision as such. Conti would have abandoned the whistle for a disco cowbell, not evidently an improvement. Arnold David would have – and you know it – done yet more James Bond theme; yes, David, we know, now put it away, there’s a good boy. I’d say Michael Kamen’s twangy Spanish guitar would have worked best.
Still, it remains a great Bond moment whatever it sounds like, just as Roger Moore remains a great Bond whatever he’s given to wear – additional nipple, green flares, grotesque “sports” jacket, kung-fu jim-jams, a very angry face, Britt Ekland, etc. The decision to have him impersonate a waxwork is unfortunate fodder for the naysayers but, again, he’s consistently watchable here and lively and uses the word “kinky” to devastating effect, although that’s an odd decision towards the end of the film to drop the Solex down his shirt rather than, say, put it in his pocket. I wonder what he does with the Solex? Bit useless for the British government to have it; dismal summer we’ve just had. We’ve probably lost it anyway or the Dench M traded it in for some moonshine. I recall that the Bond dummy did confuse me the first time I saw this. Scaramanga fires five shots, and four fingers fly. Wither the fifth shot? Ah yes, sent to SIS with “007” carved in the side, a little waxy willy. Golden bullet you say? How depressingly orthodox.
This 007th minute does exemplify something about the series by this point (a comment that clings desperately to the initial premise of this “experiment); a capacity to be “a bit” drawn out if ideas are on the thin side. I must be giving off the impression I don’t like it. I am quite fond of it, but perhaps that’s because it offers itself up gamely for ridicule (perhaps too knowingly so). I have to accept it could have been worse. Much worse. With Vol.1 being “Blaxploitation” – a phrase I have never really understood, although I accept that there were Blax in it and there could have been some ploitation, and whatever that is we have to assume it’s an improvement on plantation – and Vol.2 being a hybrid Wild-West / Kung-Fu thing, what we have in an alternative universe is Kill Jim, the umpteenth film by Quentin Tarantino although given his fondness for the “N-word”*, it’s just as well he didn’t get his mitts on Live and Let Die; it could have all been very distressing. (*”Translucent Self-Regard”. The N is silent. Wish he was).
Another thing that could do with being silent is the theme song. Oh no, it’s Lulu. Lulu. Hide. Think on that for a moment. Last time around, we had the Very Reverend McCartney, “pop” – and if he had his way, real – Royalty. Emitting Lulu into a world full of war and abuse and exploitation and disease, but still really too nice to be punished with Application of Lulu, seems to be an unnervingly pointed and deliberate reduction of standards. McCartney to Lulu. Foie Gras to Shippam’s. Oxford to Cambridge. Dalton to Brosmon. Caterwauling her miserable way through leaden and hateful Carry-On innuendon’t (it’s not really a “song”, is it?) about a man with a metal penis lurking in doorways, an embarrassingly guitarded pørntrack row wailing away whilst moistened lovelies show us their pert lulus all dampened-up with Binder loveglug; yeah, wholesome family entertainment. Whilst instrumental versions of the… thing are better, that’s like saying being drunk is better than being eaten; each is pretty appalling in its own special way although one is markedly much, much worse. Gruesome shrieking about who “he” will Boom Bang-a-Bang with his powerful weapon this time; one wonders what demographic this was aimed at, save for deaf self-abusers and the blissfully dead. Was Lulu the best they could do for “contemporary artist what does screeching” at the time? Was Rod Hull indisposed? I find it hard to believe they couldn’t really have improved it and hired a coked-up epileptic mendicant to scrape his overgrown fungal toenails down a blackboard. Those titles are also a bit odd – they jump disconcertingly to the first scene which tends to suggest they were only ready and edited in at the very last minute which is not a surprise as I suspect there was quite a bit of persuading that had to be done to encourage the young ladies to be as naked as they patently are. Coupled with the ditty about a bad man shooting off his expensive shagclag all over the place, it’s all a bit mucky.
Nothing else of note actually happens, save that two schoolgirls beat off a lot of men in pyjamas. It is unclear what we are to make of this. The end.
James Bond will return in the 007th minute of The Spy who Loved Me. Jacques Stewart is in the next room, or this vair one. Boo!