Friday, 14 October 2011

The Man with the Golden Gun

Year:  1974
Director:  Guy Hamilton
Screenplay:  Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz, based on the novel The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming
Starring:  Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize, Richard Loo, Soon-Tek Oh
Running Time:  125 minutes
Genre:  Action, thriller, spy

This film is the ninth in the official series based on the "James Bond" novels by Ian Fleming, and the second to star Roger Moore as the British super-spy.  In this entry, Bond receives information that he is the latest target of legendary hit-man Francisco Scaramanga (Lee), who charges a million dollars a kill and always uses a trademark golden gun.  Bond decides to kill Scaramanga first, and so sets off on a hunt through Beirut, Hong Kong and Bangkok only to discover that Scarmanga's real plot threatens far more than just him.

This film is not the best in the series by any reach and is pretty much average for a 1970s James Bond film.  I have to say I have always enjoyed a James Bond film.  They are pretty much the cinematic equivalent of , not really a Big Mac and fries, something more British than that, fish and chips wrapped in newspaper.  Fun at the time, not particularly nutritious at all and you couldn't really sit through too much at one time, but enjoyable, even if there's not much to trouble the memory after you've seen it.  Although, more recently with Daniel Craig in the lead role, the films have been taking on a more complex, darker and contemporary quality.

This film features the usual Bond film mixture of glamour, guns, girls and gags, with some wonderful exotic picture postcard locations.  It's very much a product of it's time with the 1973 energy crisis being a major theme in the plot, as well as using several elements from the martial arts films that were hugely popular at the time.  1970s daredevil Evel Knievel even gets a namecheck at one point when Bond jumps a river in a car, a sequence which is ruined by a ludicrously comical sound effect.  As with many of the 1970s Bond films the humour doesn't really gel very well with ther action.  One of the problems was that Roger Moore was better at the comedy than he was at being an action man.

Christopher Lee, who was a stepcousin to Ian Fleming and knew him fairly well, steals the film as the urbane villain Scaramanga and Herve Villechaize, as Scaramanga's diminutive assistant Nick Nack, also makes an impression.  One of the film's main problems is the female characters.  Britt Ekland appears as the main "Bond Girl" who is portrayed as the stereotypical "dumb blonde" and is there mainly to get kidnapped, cause chaos and look good in a bikini.  She is also the target of what is probably the most sexist scene in the whole of the James Bond series, and if you know the Bond films then you'll know that is really saying something, when she is angry at Bond's liaison with femme fatale Maud Adams and Bond cheerfully replies "Don't worry, darling, your turn will come."  Probably to most people that line would come across as a slightly coded request for a smack in the mouth, but surprisingly she doesn't hit him.  The film also features an irritating racist redneck stereotype sheriff (Clifton James) who appeared in the previous Bond film Live and Let Die (1973).  Intended to be comedic, he serves no purpose here except to be annoying.  The theme song, perfomed by Lulu, marks one of the low points for the Bond theme songs.  The lyrics are just so full of innuendo it becomes quite funny.

The film is too long, and the storyline could have done with tightening up, but then the important thing with Bond movies is not their stories.  This is watchable enough for fans though, and when the film tries to be serious and deliver a few thrills it can be quite good, and a couple of the set-pieces are genuinely impressive.  It also features at least one genuinely great line from Bond' boss "M" (Bernard Lee).  Whne Bond asks who could possibly want to kill him, "M" snaps back:  "Jealous husbands, humiliated chefs, outraged tailors.  The list is endless."

Christopher Lee and Roger Moore in The Man with the Golden Gun           


  1. This was the first Bond movie I saw, so I'll always have a soft spot for it! :-) All very silly but great fun! ;-)

  2. I really enjoy the Bond movies! They are really silly but they are always fun! The first Bond movie I saw was "Never Say Never Again".