James Bond Movie Review: The Man With The Golden Gun

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In honor of the 60th anniversary of James Bond, I’m revisiting and reviewing all the movies. Next up, The Man With The Golden Gun! Read on for my thoughts on this interesting entry in the James Bond film franchise.

The Story

James Bond receives a gold bullet inscribed with “007,” signifying he has been targeted by high-class professional assassin Francisco Scaramanga known as “The Man with the Golden Gun.” 007 is relieved of his current assignment, the search for scientist Gibson and his solex agitator, the solution to the global energy crisis, and determines to find Scaramanga. The trail leads to a specialist armorer Lazar in Macau, then to Scaramanga’s contact Andrea and industrialist Hai Fat in Hong Kong. After killing Gibson, Scaramanga steals the solex agitator and kidnaps MI6 liaison office Mary Goodnight. A homing device leads Bond to Scaramanga’s lair, an isolated island in Chinese waters. Bond travels there by seaplane, kills Scaramanga in a duel, retrieves the solex agitator, and escapes with Goodnight in Scaramanga’s junk.

Double-O Insights

This was Ian Fleming’s last 007 novel before he died

For the famous corkscrew jump, the car had to be completely stabilised, so the steering wheel was relocated to the middle of the car

Loren “Bumps” Willert performed the corkscrew stunt in one take. Director Guy Hamilton was worried the car stunt looked ‘too perfect’, and that audiences would think it was unrealistic

The kick boxing match was a real fight and many of the spectators were not aware there would be a Bond movie filming there that day

This was the last Bond film produced by Harry Saltzman

My Thoughts

The Man With The Golden Gun was the second Roger Moore James Bond film, and it is one that doesn’t get a whole lot of love. It is the last time that Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman worked together on a Bond movie, and it didn’t make nearly as much money as the film that preceded it: Live And Let Die. All of this led to Cubby putting his all into The Spy Who Loved Me and hitting a home run. But is The Man With The Golden Gun that bad? Let’s discuss.

The best part of The Man With The Golden Gun is Christopher Lee. He was perfectly suited to play the Bond villain Scaramanga. And as the cousin of Ian Fleming, it was as if his casting was kismet. Christopher Lee shines in this role and is a delight to watch every time he is on screen. Nick Nack is also a memorable character, deftly performed by Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize.

Khao Phing Kan, the island in Thailand where Scaramanga’s evil lair is based, is beautiful. Apparently, this movie made this formerly desolate destination a tourist attraction and understandably so; it’s stunning!

Roger Moore is excellent as James Bond, except for one scene where he’s directed to smack Maud Adams around, as if he’s Sean Connery. It doesn’t ring true for this newer, more suave version of Bond, and it shows in the awkward delivery. Aside from this one misstep, Moore fully embraces the character and does so masterfully.

The Man With The Golden Gun is as campy as can be. I’m assuming this is why many don’t like it. For example, when they do the amazing barrel roll stunt with the car, a slide whistle sound plays over the scene. Why would Guy Hamilton feel it necessary to make an awe inspiring visual hokey? I have no idea. It was a poor choice. Speaking of camp, Sheriff J.W. Pepper makes his second appearance in a James Bond movie; however, he’s entertaining, so I didn’t mind his presence at all because his exchanges with James Bond were fun to watch.

The fun house scene and the face-off leading up to it are the best parts of The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s a solid conclusion to an uneven film that is often overlooked because of the one that followed it: The Spy Who Loved Me. I enjoyed The Man With The Golden Gun for what it is, and I think it is a solid entry in the series. Roger Moore became even more confident in his role, which set him up for greatness moving forward. And Christopher Lee as Scaramanga was a case of perfect casting. The Man With The Golden Gun may not be 007’s best mission, but it is one worth taking.

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