The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)


Directed by Guy Hamilton

Written by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz (based on the Ian Fleming novel)

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Maud Adams, Britt Ekland, Herve Villechaize, Clifton James, Richard Yoo, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn

Tagline: Roger Moore as 007

Trivia: Alice Cooper wrote a song based on the film.

Roger Moore’s second outing as James Bond rolls along nicely with plenty of fantastic stunts and exotic locales.  The plot doesn’t take itself too seriously and the villain played by Christopher Lee (Francisco Scaramanga) marked a career highlight for the prolific actor.

I would place The Man With the Golden Gun in the category of low key Bond films, since the story doesn’t involve a plot to destroy the world.  Released during the energy crisis of the mid 1970s, the Magoffin involves a devise that will bring efficient solar power to the world.  Most of the film is a cat and mouse game between Bond and Scaramanga.

The prologue is one of the few in the series not to feature Bond.  Instead we meet Scaramanga who sets up traps for other assassins at his island lair with the help of his loyal sidekick Nick Knack (Villachaize).  The story takes Bond to Asia with impressive on location shooting in Macau, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

Bond, a Cold War creation of author Ian Fleming, needed reinvention for the new realities of international politics.  Moore proved the ideal choice, playing the character with sensible blend of humor and seriousness.

Modern audiences may dislike the film for going into camp territory with the Redneck Sheriff played by Clifton James.  When Bond implausibly jumps his car across a river, in an actual dangerous stunt, dopey sound effects added in post-production ruin the sequence.  John Barry’s score lacks the edge of his previous ones for the Bond franchise.

And the climax falls a bit flat. Scaramanga dies in a fashion unbecoming of a Bond villain, but Lee brought a charm and menace to an underwritten role.

While not in the top tier of Bond films, The Man With the Golden Gun is more than good enough to pass a slow night. Unlike his predecessor Sean Connery, who played the character with little emotion whatsoever, Moore offered a more humane take on the character and a simple grace to the action sequences – making it all look easy.



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