Mission Dossier: The Man with the Golden Gun
The Year: 1974
The Director: Guy Hamilton
The Bond: Roger Moore
The Girl: Britt Ekland as Goodnight
The Baddie: The world’s greatest assassin Francisco Scaramanga and his small offsider Nick Nack
Opening with a close-up of a third nipple, as you do, The Man with the Golden Gun is a globetrotting Bond adventure flying around between Thailand, Macau, Hong Kong, Britain and more. Thankfully this film is far more respectful of Asian cultures when compared with the horrific effort of You Only Live Twice, incorporating some cool martial arts sequences and providing some handy local allies for our hero. The film was critically derided upon its release; however I recall quite liking it on my first viewing, so let’s check out if that verdict remains accurate.
The film continues the upward swing of the series with Moore at the helm, with the interesting story and a nice man to man battle between James Bond and the film’s main villain Francisco Scaramanga. Whilst the film does expand out the narrative as it goes on, it remains essentially a battle between Bond, and the world’s greatest assassin, the titular man with the golden gun. Having Christopher Lee play the role of Scaramanga is a great boon for the film. He really is a fantastic actor and brings a calm menace to his role, an excellent and worthy adversary foil for James Bond. Lee perfectly conveys an egotistical man who happily toasts “To us, for we are the best”. Roger Moore continues to grow into the role of Bond decently if not spectacularly. It is great to see a really amusing scene between he and M early in the film, with M happily providing a list of parties who would be willing to pay for Bond’s assassination. No other Bond would ever have the rapport with Bernard Lee’s M that Connery had, but Moore does a pretty good job working with him.
One of the other strengths for me is the supporting characters, who add a lot to the overall experience. Despite her rather bumbling manner, Britt Ekland’s Goodnight is a pretty good Bond girl who adds a spark to proceedings throughout. Nick Nack, played by Herve Villechaize, is Scaramanga’s midget offsider. Whilst it would have been easy for the character to descend into a figure of ridicule and endless midget jokes, he manages to be a serviceable henchman mainly due to Villechaize’s excellent performance. Undoing a lot of this good work is the inexplicable return of the most annoying character in Bond history, Louisiana Sherriff JW Pepper as played by Clifton James, who finds himself on holidays in Thailand spending most of his time spouting racist epithets at the locals. When he is “deputised” to assist Bond, the audience is on a hiding to nothing. He only features for 10 or 15 odd minutes, but I simply cannot comprehend what the makers of the film were thinking when they decided to bring JW back for a second time round.
The Man with the Golden Gun gets by on the strength of its core villain, supporting cast and a storyline that pits Bond off against a cracking enemy. Like its predecessor, the film is not in the league of the series’ first four efforts, but is definitely an enjoyable enough watch.
Verdict: Stubby of Reschs
- Thunderball (1965)
- Goldfinger (1964)
- Dr No (1962)
- From Russia with Love (1963)
- The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- Live and Let Die (1973)
- Diamonds are Forever (1971)
- You Only Live Twice (1967)
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
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