In Bond’s 9th official outing, Roger Moore returns to battle “The Man with the Golden Gun“.
While attempting to recover a “Solex Agitator” (a device that can harness the suns radiation to make a powerful weapon) MI6 receive a golden bullet with “007” engraved into it. Believing Bond is the next target for the renown super assassin and triple nippled, Francisco Scaramanga, M wants Bond off the case. Bond thinks differently though, the only way to beat the assassin is to beat the assassin first. Cleverly, Scaramanaga isn’t initially after Bond, he regards him highly, but Scaramanga never misses; and when an attempt on Bond’s life is seemingly failed, Bond soon realises the bullet wasn’t meant for him (this time anyway), it was meant for the person it hit, the scientist working on the “Solex Agitator”. Bond now must kill Scaramanga, before he kills Bond.
This is Moore’s second outing as Bond and is a marked improvement on “007: Live and Let Die” (1973). For me, he is a lot better here, more assured albeit still tongue in cheek with his approach and quips. Christopher Lee plays Scaramanga and is one of the best and most memorable Bond villains. In fact, he is the evil mirror image of what Bond is. While Moore plays Bond as welcoming and charming, Lee plays Scaramanga as menacingly confident and direct – straight to the point. It is understandable then that the ‘World’s most expensive assassin’ needs one shot of his golden gun to take down his targets, and he never misses. Scaramanga even compares himself to Bond in one particular monologue, claiming that “ours is the loneliest profession“. What is more menacing than somebody who needs one sight of his target to finish the job, even from the shadows. It is also this simplistic approach that brings some normality to the film, previous outings had started to become to camp and over the top, taking the Bond film franchise in a direction that the books never did. Now I do know that the book to this film and the film are miles apart, but this film worked because at the heart of it, it was simple, a few complications and twists were thrown in to make it look less simple, but once you get to the heart of it, it’s two (almost) equals facing off against each other.
In terms of side kicks or henchemen, Herve Villechieze (“Fantasy Island“) appears as Knick-Knack. I do not actually think the film needed him. This felt like it was part of the formulaic aspects that previous films called for. Villechieze does well in his role, he is malevolent and mischievous and even get’s away with shushing Bond. He nearly steals every scene he is in, if not certainly demanding attention form the audience when he appears. Britt Ekland and Maud Adams are cast as the Bond girls, Adams actually acts as a temporary vehicle to progress the film. She may be wooden at times, but she has a beauty in the sadness she portrays too. I will refrain from going into detail about Ekland, I do not think she was added to give much to the story in terms of brains. Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn return to their usual roles which makes the film feel like home. On the downside of the casting, Sheriff Pepper (Clifton James) reappears, which for me is a mistake – it feels like a forced casting to give some American humour to the film. Sure, there are other moments of comedy scattered in the film, but adding the Sheriff again felt like the biggest forced part.
Style wise, the cinematography in this film is brilliant. The colours, the scenery, in fact the whole cinematography is great and as far away from “007: Live and Let Die” (1973) as it is possible to get. Everything just feels cleaner, slicker, more colourful and a lot cleaner. I cannot say Iiked the hall of mirrors much in the later part of the film, this was too much like “Enter the Dragon” (1973), but to be fair, films borrow and lend from one and other. There is a part in the karate school during the film where Bond goes for knock out blow instead of messing around, much like was used in “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) some years later.
This film sees the return of a more spy like hero, rather than a comic superhero he was becoming. Something that could be truer than super villains in hollowed out volcanoes, or with giant lasers. It is a quieter and more subtle film than the others and then a lot of people expected or remember. It is still cheesy at times, but it is not super cheesy. While Moore is not my favourite Bond, in this film he does exceptionally well, and the film really tried to get the franchise back on a good track. In Lee’s Scaramanga you have one of the best Bond villains in the franchise. A great iconic theme tune (sung by Lulu) starts off what is a great film in my opinion, one I certainly enjoy more than others. It bridges the gap between Connery’s dark Bond and the comic Bond that Moore brought in his first outing. Directed by Guy Hamilton and written for screen by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz, this is a family friendly Bond with a sprinkling of darkness. Action, adventure, thrills, spills, romance, comedy and tensions await you in the 125 min film.
Title Song: The Man with the Golden Gun – Lulu
In terms of Bond films this is an 8 out of 10.
In terms of movies in the long and illustrious history of film I would give this a 7 out of 10.
Bond, James Bond, 007 – Ranking
|1||007: Goldfinger (1964) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|2||007: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Dr. No (1962) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: From Russia with Love (1963) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|3||007: Thunderball (1965) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|4||007: You only live twice (1967) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Diamonds are Forever (1971) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|5||007: Live and Let Die (1973) ⭐⭐⭐⭐|