The Man With The Golden Gun was surely one among the low points of the Bond franchise. It had a very strong plot in the beginning, but then muddled it up with two characteristic traits of Roger Moore Bond films – incorporating contemporary cultural and socio-political trends and motifs in the films and presence of a riot of silly jokes and puns, making his movies never to be taken as serious spy films. Maybe The Man With The Golden Gun was not the worst movie of the series, but it certainly was the silliest.
JAMES BOND – ROGER MOORE (Second Appearance)
|Directed By: Guy Hamilton
|Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman
|Screenplay by: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz
|Based On: The Man with the Golden Gun by
|Theme Song performed by: Lulu
|Release date: 19 December 1974
|Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
|Bond Series: 17/23
|Distributed by: United Artists
|Budget: $7 million
|Gross Revenue: $97.6 million
|Preceded by: Live and Let Die (1973)
|Succeeded by: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
MAUD ADAMS as Andrea Anders – Adams’ role as Scaramanga’s submissive mistress who gets knocked around by him was one of the most important characters as far as the plot was concerned. She rebels against Scaramanga and pays the price for it. She also receives the ignominy as the Bond girl who gets beaten up the most by Bond. Much more memorable would her role 9 years later as the feisty Octopussy.
BRITT EKLAND as Mary Goodnight – Ekland plays the dumb bimbo who to the hilt. Goodnight pops in unnecessarily at times upsetting Bond’s plans and God knows what the writers were thinking when they included her in the script, supposedly as comic relief. Goodnight was one of those factors which made this movie such a riot of silliness. But she did look awesome in her Bikini scenes, one of the saving graces.
VILLAIN – FRANCISCO SCARAMANGA (Christopher Lee) – Evil in appearance, speech, walk and manner, Lee epitomizes Scaramanga as the ultimate villain. An assassin, he lives with his Henchman Nick Nack on a exotic island in the South China Sea. He charges a million for a kill and uses his golden gun made out of personal belongings like a pen and a cuff link for it. Hence he is known as the man with the golden gun. Before killing someone, he sends them a golden bullet with their name etched on it. His island has a ‘funhouse’ where he duels with other gunmen in fights to the finish.
VILLAIN HENCHMAN – NICK NACK (Herve “Tatoo” Villechaize) – Nick Nack is a midget, presumably French. His name is inspired probably by “Knick Knack”, which means “A dainty little trinket or ornament” as per The Phrase Finder. A good Bond villain-henchman, he takes care of everything in Scaramanga’s lair, including cooking. But he has made a wager with Scaramanga that he will one day find a person who will kill him.
VILLAIN SCHEME – Steal the Solex Agitator which can solve the World’s energy crisis and sell it to the highest bidder. Also, Scaramanga wants to meet Bond in a gunfight and kill him after a chase through his funhouse.
MEANS – Kill the scientist who invented the device and the Chinese gangster who hired him to kill the scientist. Also, lure Bond to his lair using his signature Golden bullet lure.
CARS – No Official Bond Car. AMC Hornet (Driven by Bond for a chase) AMC Matador (Scaramanga)
GADGETS – A third nipple made of rubber(?) that really does not do anything. Homing Device
LOCATIONS – London UK, Beirut, Macau, Hong Kong, Bangkok Thailand, South China Sea
MOVIE 007 STATISTICS
Bond, James Bond: B, Direct Kills: 1, Vodka Martinis: 0, Captured: 1, Tight Spot Escapes: 2, Romps: 2, Chases: 2, Fights: 2
VERY PUNNY, MR.BOND! (James Bond Quotes)
Saida: I’ve lost my charm!
Bond: Not from where I’m standing.
Bond: Miss Anders! I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.
Lazar: Mr. Bond, bullets do not kill. It is the finger that pulls the trigger.
Bond: Exactly. I am now aiming precisely at your groin. So speak, or forever hold your piece.
Bond: I’ve never killed a midget before, but there can always be a first time.
Bond: Did you see who shot Fairbanks?
Saida: No, I was in his arms. My eyes were closed.
Bond: Well, at least he died happy!
Bond: There is a useful four letter word, and you’re full of it!
Bond: Do you always take a shower with a pistol?
James Bond: Who’d pay a million dollars to have me killed?
M: Jealous husbands! Outraged chefs! Humiliated tailors! The list is endless!
Bond: What you might call a Mexican screw-up, gentlemen!
Goodnight: I’ll keep the wine properly chilled.
Bond: And everything else warm, I trust?
Bond: [Of Hai Fait] He must have found me quite titillating.
Goodnight: What’s the matter? (Lying in bed, Bond and Goodnight are kissing when a phone rises up next to them)
Bond: Something came up!
M: Bond…Bond, are you there? … Goodnight…?
Bond: She’s just coming, Sir!
STORYLINE (Caution, Spoilers!)
Nick Nack has made Francisco Scaramanga a wager that he will find a person who will kill Scaramanga after a chase through his own funhouse located on his getaway, a tropical island in the South China Sea. After killing a gangster after a chase, they plan to lure James Bond there as the next target. At MI6 HQ in London, M shows James Bond a golden bullet with “007” etched onto it and Bond decides to find out why he wants him dead. Bond goes to Beirut, where 002 Bill Fairbanks was once killed by Scaramanga. He confiscates the smashed golden killer bullet from (the navel of) a belly dancer who was Bill’s girlfriend. Q informs Bond that the bullet was manufactured by a person named Lazar. Through Lazar Bond finds Andres picking up a delivery of golden bullets from Lazar and follows her to Hong Kong where he loses her thanks to the intervention of Mary Goodnight. They locate her hotel and Bond confronts her, who reveals details about Scaramanga, his plans and about his next hit at a club. Bond reaches there when Scaramanga kills Gibson and Nick Nack secures the “Solex Agitator” device from him. Bond is taken away by Lt. Hip to the half-submerged wreck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Hong Kong harbor and finds that it is the HQ of MI6. M tells Bond that a Chinese gangster Hai Fat had hired Scaramanga to assassinate Gibson and steal his invention. He assigns Bond to get the Solex Agitator back and kill Scaramanga.
Bond goes to Bangkok and meets Fat impersonating Scaramanga, but Fat already had met Scaramanga in person and arranges to kill Bond. He escapes with the help of Hip and his Kung-Fu nieces and a high-powered boat chase. Scaramanga meanwhile kills Fat and takes over his assets. Anders turns up in Bond’s hotel room and agrees get the Agitator back at a boxing match the next day. But Bond finds her dead there, killed by Scaramanga who was sitting nearby. He sees the Agitator on the floor among the spilled belongings from Andres’ belongings and smuggles it to Hip who passes it to Goodnight, who gets clumsily locked inside Scaramanga’s car boot while trying to plant a homing device. Bond chases Scaramanga’s car in a “borrowed” showroom car through Bangkok, at the end of which Scaramanga’s car gets attached with wings and flies away with Goodnight and the Agitator still in the trunk. Following the homing signal, Bond reaches Scaramanga’s island. He meets Scaramanga, Nick Nack and Goodnight. where he is given a tour of the facility by Scaramanga who tells that he will sell the Agitator to whoever pays him the best money. Bond also accepts his invitation to a duel to see who is the better gunslinger. The fight extends through the funhouse with Nick Nack controlling, at the end of which Bond shoots Scaramanga dead. Meanwhile couple of goofups by Goodnight result in the facility starting to blow up. Bond grabs the Agitator and they escape in Scaramanga’s Chinese Junk. Nick Nack who had stowed away tries to kill them but Bond locks him in a suitcase and ties him to the mast, while he and Goodnight make love in the boat.
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN TRIVIA
- Second Bond film after “Live and Let Die” to have the real Bond himself not appear in the pre-credits sequence.
- Both Bond girls were Swedish, Maud Adams later played the Bond Girl in Octopussy with two other Swedish actresses
- Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming’s real-life cousin.
- The movie was released in Thailand under the name “The Man With Three Nipples”.
- Fourth and final Bond movie to be directed by Guy Hamilton
- Lowest grossing film in the entire series.
- Scaramanga’s island hideout are the Khao Phing Kan islands, 0ff the coast of Thailand in the Malacca Strait in the Andaman sea and the pair of Islands is popularly called the “James Bond Island” (location). It is 735 km from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The “Pillar Island” is called Koh Tapu, A geological wonder.
SHAKEN AND STIRRED! (Review)
The Man With The Golden Gun is definitely one of the low points of the series. The movie has a fantastic plot that had so much potential to be used, but ends up going haywire halfway through. As with most weak Bond movies the plot gets divided into two, diluting the essence of the movie and confusing viewers. We start off with the villain planning an assassination attempt on Bond, which is exciting enough and Bond does proper investigative work to find out what was happening. Till the moment Bond gets on the sunken ship the film was going at a rapid clip, well rounded and intriguing. Then comes the mid-movie appearance of M and Q and Bond starts chasing Scaramanga for some vague electronic device which can turn sunlight into electricity or something. The movie then starts to unravel and gets reduced to a facepalm fest whose sole intention seems to be to be to ruin the very essence of what Bond was. To be true, the film had good promise, Bond does some solid spying-work which leads him from one clue to the other and helps him to save the day, but the writers were somehow bent on making this movie a goofy slapstick show by inserting silly scenes and characters. By not giving Bond a car or gadgets, I guess they wanted experiment with a lighter side of Bond. But that resulted in making it impossible to take this movie seriously. In his capacity, Roger Moore seemed to have shed his Bond-baby-fat and is well-entrenched in his role, though I still cannot find him as glamorous or cool or dressed to kill as Bonds usually are. The chases were however, quite good except for Bond throwing the Boy into the water. Also something very un-Bondlike was his knocking around and beating up Andres, maybe the first time he beat a woman since “From Russia With Love”.
Special mention has to be given for the single most defining scene of the film: When Bond drives his AMC Hornet over a conveniently crooked bridge in that famous corkscrew turn. The scene was executed in one single take without any graphic addons in what could’ve gone down as the most awesomest stunt in movie history. And then they decided to ruin it by adding a kooky tin slide whistle to the jump: Toing!! What is this, James Bond or Looney Tunes? Bond hiding Goodnight under the blanked while Andres arrives and later locking her in the cabinet while he sleeps with him, Bond trying to protect Kip’s nieces while they go ahead and beat up the villains while Bond looks on amused doing nothing – all add to the silly instances the movie comes up with. With its run-a-minute gags and laughable double-entendres, starting off with Scaramanga’s third nipple, Bond’s tweed coats, racist Southern American Sheriffs test-driving automobiles in Bangkok, goofy blonde secret agents, Kung-Fu, cars that sprout wings and extremely cringe-worthy puns, this movie goes down in Bond history as the lamest one ever. Filled with facepalm-inducing screen gags rather than cool Bond-isms makes the movie look more Bean than Bond. With all his forced puns and eye-rolling Moore tried hard to look like Bean too.
James Bond meets Dracula! Oh what could be more awesome? But they bungled it up and in the end, The Man With The Golden Gun will be remembered for the man with the golden gun – Francisco Scaramanga, for one of Christopher Lee’s most memorable performances ever. But for the rest, the movie will be remembered for the gag-a-minute show that it put up along with Ekland’s bikini and the irritating racist sheriff. But that is not all. This movie sort of established the tone of Roger Moore’s Bond movies – That they are meant to be slapstick, goofy comedy and not to be taken seriously. Except for his third (next) movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”, all Moore-Bonds are kind of the same. It also confirmed the trend of including current socio-political themes in Moore movies; as it was Blaxpolitation in the previous “Live and Let Die”, it was the Energy Crisis and the recent Kung-Fu craze that sprang up in the West in this one. But Moore will be remembered for making Bond fun in a 1970s kind of way.
The Good: Solid start, Locales, Cinematography, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland in a Bikini, Action
The Bad: The overall silliness of the movie, JW Pepper, Goodnight, Bond’s dressing etc