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TMWTGG random thoughts
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Author:  serge_gorodish [ Sun Dec 06, 2015 6:56 am ]
Post subject:  TMWTGG random thoughts

1. Gave this a careful watch recently. I realize this runs against popular opinion, but this is one of my favorite Bond movies, and I would say it’s the best of the Moore films. Why so will be apparent in the comments. Herewith some random musings:

2. From square one we get a totally Bondian image with Scaramanga and Anders on the beach as Nick-Nack approaches. Scaramanga’s house is perfectly Bond and over forty years later (you’ll hear this phrase a lot) the style holds up well. Generally speaking the production design in this film is top-notch throughout.

3. Where did they get the butterfly samples and specimen drawers? This is an interesting detail of the house.

4. The mechanical gunslinger resembles Roger Moore. A secret cameo?

5. The plot of this Bond movie differs from most, with no apocalyptic plan to destroy the world. The bullet makes an intriguing starting point.

6. Plot hole: Why does Bond travel to Beirut to retrieve a golden bullet when they just received one in the mail?

7. The Beirut sequences are minimal, with just a couple of interior sets. This contrasts with the superb location work later in the film.

8. Every nightclub in the Middle East has a sweaty, fat, bald guy sitting in the corner. It’s in the rule book.

9. Interesting that Bond asks to be taken to a “pharmacy” rather than a “chemist.”

10. The “Welcome to Macao” sign is reminiscent of “Welcome to Tokyo” from YOLT. In SKYFALL they use a straight-up caption. This is the first example of excellent location scenery in the film, which I consider second to none in the Bond series.

11. Fun bit of byplay with Bond and Lazar.

12. My wife’s favorite scene in the movie: the woman and children resume eating their noodles.

13. More excellent scenery in the casino, with interesting use of the dropping basket. Interesting to contrast this with the casino in SKYFALL.

14. The front of the Peninsula Hotel is shot in tight close-up. The opposite side of the street must have been something unattractive. These days it features a large globular structure which is part of the Hong Kong Science Museum.

15. The interior scenes of the hotel are not location (hey, I’ve stayed there!). The Peninsula Hotel room set is another example of timeless elegance.

16. Plot hole: Why does Miss Anders have a hotel room rather than staying on Scaramanga’s yacht?

17. I love the entire Bottoms-Up club sequence, from the lovely Wei-Wei Wong, to Bond looking cool checking his watch, Bond and Nick-Nack both checking themselves out in the TV monitors, and the gunshot and its aftermath. If I made a montage to show what Bond is all about this would definitely be in it.

18. If I hadn’t seen this a hundred times already I would totally believe for a moment that Bond had been taken down.

19. The bottom of the Bottoms Up club sign says “Drinks half-price from 5:00 to 8:00.” The top says “Ultra-high-class club born in Hong Kong—Japanese welcome” (in slightly loopy Japanese). The left side says “露臀Nightclub.” “露” means “dew” and “臀” means “buttocks.” “露臀” does not appear in my dictionary but a Google Image search (try it) convinced me that a pretty good English translation might be “mooning.” This was a real place. Regrettably it apparently no longer exists.

20. Where do the Bottoms-Up bartenders put their tips?

21. What does Scaramanga plan on doing with all those melons on his yacht? Maybe he really likes melons?

22. The yacht interior is recognizably 70’s but still very elegant.

23. Maud Adams does some excellent acting in her scenes with Scaramanga. A woman in fear.

24. Goodnight gets a lot of criticism, but I will speak in her defense. She is unique among Bond girls in trying to bring a little humor to the role, and she still looks good in a bikini. There are worse qualities in a girlfriend than being a klutz. I’d take her over the sullen Melina (“He killed my parents, bleh.”) any day.

25. The Queen Elizabeth sequence is a level up in terms of location work, because it offers something that could not be done in any other location. I like it when location is integrated into story this way. And another superb set.

26. As a young person watching the film, I didn’t quite follow the location transition to Bangkok, which is not announced with a “Welcome to Bangkok” sign. It didn’t help that Hi Fat’s estate is Chinese-style, and Chu Mi is clearly Chinese.

27. Bond is a little sloppy in having a Hong Kong police officer (as well as MI6 agent) drop him off at Hi Fat’s front gate.

28. Sumo wrestlers are Japanese, not Chinese. But I guess we’re not in China anyway.

29. Boy, Nick Nack really does have a killer instinct.

30. Think how much fun it would be if a job interview, trip to the dentist, etc., would conclude with the wall sliding open to reveal a martial-arts school and everyone beckoning you to join the lesson.

31. Roger Moore looks really good in a gi.

32. After the girls take down the first wave of chop-socky fighters, where does the second wave come from? What were they waiting on?

33. I absolutely love the location shots in the klongs with the ramshackle buildings. I’ll quit going on and on about this, but shot after shot in this sequence and others leaves no doubt that we are in Thailand. Contrast this with SKYFALL for example, where we get a few (very elegant) exterior shots and the rest is all interiors.

34. I also like the “real elephant” kid with the intense gaze.

35. Okay, so we could have done without the return of J.W. Pepper.

36. I wonder if the outdoor restaurant was a real place or just made up with some tables and chairs?

37. Bond’s Bangkok hotel room is another excellent, elegant set design.

38. It makes a great twist that Miss Anders was the one who sent the bullet. Everything falls into place. Plot also is a strong point for this film, much more interesting than the usual discover-the-plan-to-destroy-the-world.

39. Of course Bond doesn’t recognize Scaramanga the first time he sees him, but it took me a moment to recall this. Did Bond actually have a plan for killing Scaramanga at this point? Because he promised to.

40. Time for a comment on the wardrobe in the movie. Bond’s safari shirts, etc. are non-traditional for the series but still quite stylish. Scaramanga, Goodnight, Anders all still look elegant forty years later. Bond’s wardrobe in particular is like a manual for being cool and stylish in a warm climate.

41. Scaramanga is one of the most interesting and fully-realized Bond villains, standing out from the usual run of megalomaniacs. His attitude toward Bond is unique—he’s more of a fan than an enemy. And Christopher Lee’s performance is top-notch.

42. One must recall what a mysterious forbidden zone Communist China was in those days.

43. I find myself wondering about the lifestyle of Kra (Scaramanga’s other henchman). What did he do during those long periods when Scaramanga, Anders, and Nick-Nack were off gallivanting about? Did he go into Scaramanga’s room and play with his stuff?

44. Scaramanga’s death-ray is nice but not very useful—unless someone stupidly parks on the beach right in front of it.

45. Goodnight finally proves useful in locating Scaramanga’s junk.

46. Great special effects as Scaramanga’s island blows up. I can’t tell. Was this done with models? Optical effects? Did they actually blow up an island?

47. By my count 10 out of 24 Bond movies end with Bond in a boat with a girl. This is the best one.

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