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THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN
Not one of his better Bond scores, but it still has some great moments
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2003 Danjaq; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
Almost always being a major contender when people speak about the worst James Bond films, The Man with the Golden Gun is probably the only thing in history which benefited from the release of Die Another Day, meaning it was no longer a major contender. Actually, it's high camp and ludicrous plot probably make it seem a little better today than it did in the past. The self-parody was never higher and Christopher Lee's triple-nippled villain is very amusing (I'm not sure Lee was in on the joke though). It does feature one of the greatest stunts in film history - the twisting car jumping over the river is just breathtaking - and John Barry scoring his first Roger Moore Bond film, having missed his debut, Live and Let Die.
Even Barry seemed to struggle for inspiration a bit here. The title song seems to contain all the ingredients of a classic Bond song, including Lulu's powerful vocal, but somehow it never quite seems to fall into place properly, and the same is true of some of the score. It doesn't help that the film is so silly the music sometimes has to follow suit - "Scaramanga's Fun House" starts as if it's going to be vintage Bond suspense music before descending into funfair source; the instrumental of the main title song is in a honky tonk arrangement which might best be described as an acquired taste; and even that classic stunt is scored with a very silly slide-whistle which surely can't have been Barry's idea.
But... this is a John Barry score for a James Bond film! So, of course, even though it's not one of the better ones, there are still plenty of decent moments. The Asian tint to some of the cues might be cliche-riddled, but is great fun; the absurdly-titled "Chew Me in Crisly Land" is splendid, as is the later "Kung Fu Fight" - but best is "Hip's Trip", with a great little one-off theme in the middle. The jazzy sax opening to "Getting the Bullet" is brilliant - perfectly fitting into Barry's Bond sound but being something fresh-sounding; and it turns into a great piece of action music. "Goodnight Goodnight" is the only real romantic cue (Goodnight being the name of the Bond Girl, played by Britt Ekland) - somehow turning the main theme from the song into a lovely cue, as only Barry could.
The opening lick of the song is obvious material for action music so it's surprising that it's not until "Let's Go Get 'Em" that it's used in that way, but combined with the Bond theme (not heard much at all in this score) it makes for a really good track - apart from the aforementioned slide-whistle malaise. "In Search of Scaramanga's Island" is good fun too - another fine action piece - and the end title combines a brief, romantic, orchestral performance of the main theme and Lulu's vocal for a most satisfactory conclusion. This is one of Barry's weaker Bond efforts, but is still very enjoyable - ultimately, who can resist the Barry/Bond combination?