Fan Reviews - The Man With The Golden Gun

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"The Man With The Golden Gun" by Overkill

During the Broccoli/Saltzman years, one thing you could never accuse them of was missing an opportunity. Until 1974.

Following the great success of Live and Let Die in 1973 it was decided to cash in on the debut of Roger Moore as quickly as possible. As a result, for the fist time since 1965, the public would get two Bond movies in consecutive years.

Initial story ideas (by this point, the novel plotlines were effectively ignored) suggested by Tom Mankiewicz included a ‘Shane-style’ face off between Bond and the evil Scaramanga, and suggested Jack Palance take the villain’s role.

The idea was rejected, and Ian Fleming’s cousin, and one of Roger Moore’s best friends, Christopher Lee was cast as the triple-nippled hit man. Some elements of Mankiewicz’s idea were retained (the concept of Bond and Scaramanga being the good/evil sides of the same coin) but were blurred and muddled into a contemporary story of the Energy Crisis, and Bond chasing down a missing ‘Solex Agitator’. How we get to here from Bond receiving a golden bullet in the post is never fully explained and far from satisfactory. The plot just doesn’t hang together , and relies too much on coincidence, people behaving in stupid and out-of-character ways for the plot to advance (rather like all those Friday 13th movies). This is just one of the movies failings.

Following LALD’s success at aping Blaxploitation movies, TMWTGG would follow suit with Kung Fu movies. Bruce Lee was, at the time, the biggest star in the world, so TMWTGG is crammed with pointless kung-fu moments and an Asian location, for no reason other than to copy a successful format.

This is quite sad. Throughout the sixties, it was Bond who was the trendsetter. There are countless Bond copies and spoofs, but it seemed when that market dried up, Broccoli/Saltzman seemed to think that if no one wants to copy them, they’ll copy everyone else (this has continued to be the case ever since with MR, LTK, GE, TND and DAD all, to some extent, taking their lead from other genres).

The cast are fairly good. Moore is still finding his feet, but does his best with the poor material he has. Hervé Villechaize does a fair job as NicNac without being anything special and Maud Adams is great as Scaramanga’s mistress (again with little to do). The same cannot be said for Britt Ekland. How this woman ever was as famous as she was is beyond me. But in 1974 she was Britain’s favourite glamorous actress (a bit like Liz Hurley). She had tried, and failed, to show her range in Get carter and The Wicker Man (two of my all time favourite movies), but in both cases she was a peripheral character. Here there is much more emphasis on her and she seems to be there just to make up the numbers. I feel the film could have been improved enormously by doing away with Goodnight and just having Andrea Anders (Adams) as a sole love interest. And the least said about the return of Sheriff J W Pepper (of the Louisiana State Po-lice) the better.

The highpoint though, is Lee. One the finest, and underrated actors Britain has ever produced, he was here given a chance to shine in a role that was perfect for him… and the writers give him nothing to do. All he does is skulk in shadows pointing his gun at people.

OK, to be fair he is given a couple of scenes. His final meeting with Hai Fat, where he constructs his gun whilst holding a conversation is superb (and his delivery of the pay off is fantastic).
And his face to face with Bond over dinner is a highpoint of the series. But those two scenes amount to about seven minutes of screen time. Scandalous.

The other scandal is the lack of action. There’s the famous, and superbly dangerous, barrel jump over the broken bridge, but this is compromised by the bizarre addition of a comedy sound effect.
Scaramanga is given a huge (and expensive looking) lair that appears only to be blown up with little or no fanfare. His funhouse looks great though.

It’s hard to know who to blame though. Tom Mankiewicz received a co-writing credit with the normally reliable Richard Maibaum, and the combination of Tom Mankiewicz and director Guy Hamilton had worked so well for LALD.
My thoughts are that the project was simply too rushed. Releasing Bond in consecutive years was a gamble that didn’t really pay off. The final product seems too disjointed and hurried. More time to hone the story and develop some decent action could have really turned this around.

As it stands, TMWTGG is a missed opportunity. And whilst that may be common in the Bond-iverse now, in those days it was unthinkable. Despite the promise of the end credits, the world would have to wait 3 years before finding out if Scaramanga really was the villain that finally killed Bond…


"The Man With The Golden Gun" by NicNac

If ever Harry and Cubby could be accused of taking their audience for granted, this was the moment.

Poorly thought out and weakly executed, TMWTGG stands up as the weakest (although not the worst) Bond movie in its 40 year history. And we can assume the worsening relations between the two producers was one of the reasons for this happening.

After LALD was splattered with endless chase sequences in an attempt to draw attention away from the fact there was no real plot, TMWTGG came along with just the one (not counting the water pursuit with Sheriff Pepper): a car chase of dubious merit. Otherwise, the action consisted of a couple of so-so punch ups and a pretty limp conclusion on Scaramanga's island.

The film had it's moments. Sparkling dialogue for Christopher Lee (as villain Scaramanga), and Roger Moore to get their teeth into. At times as witty and wise as any dialogue in the heralded early Connery movies. But not consistently brilliant enough to carry the film through to a satisfactory conclusion.

Visually, it had some witty moments, especially Lee's silent, scary assembling of the golden gun. And poor Hai Fat was too busy sounding off to notice his fate! Brilliant. Britt Ekland, the sexy Swedish star managed some how to be completely devoid of sex appeal in this film. Better was Maud Adams as Lee's doomed mistress.

Watching TMWTGG is frustrating because you sit through endless void scenes, waiting for the great one-liners, and wishing for something, anything to spark it into life. And oddly enough, it happens.

We've suffered Sheriff pepper, and his wife, we've grimaced at Mary Goodnight's total incompetence, we've flinched at Roger Moore slapping Maud Adams, which is so against character, and we've put up silently with 2 school girls saving Bond's behind. Now we need a true, great Bond moment.

And it came with the 360 degree car spin on the broken bridge. A once only stunt that made Bond even more famous. A moment to savour, and a moment that modern Bond films could never emulate with or without CGI. And if John Barry should be rebuked for the theme song performed by LuLu, he should be slapped soundly across the face for adding the loop-di-loop sound effect that spoiled the stunt completely.

Typical TMWTGG. Give us one terrific moment, then dump it more soundly than the elephant dumped Pepper in the river!


"The Man With The Golden Gun" by Tubes

The Man With The Golden Gun is a steaming pile of mediocrity.

What could cause such poor quality? Well, for one, Mary Goodnight is far and away the worst Bond girl to ever grace the screen. Most have at least some redeeming value. She stretches any credibility that MI6 had to begin with. She is worthless in the field and inept off it. She tries to act tough, but that is completely ridiculous. To top it off, she isn't all that attractive.

Andrea Anders does a slightly better job, but still is lacking. She is more believable, yet is more of a side character than the main plot device we are meant to think. She is almost invisible when on screen, a character hardly worth mentioning. One must wonder, though, how she got Scaramanga's prints on her letter...

You would think that Roger would be more conformable in his role as Bond, but he falls to the sophomore jinx. Most of his screen time is spent either chasing after Goodnight or trying to act tough. Roger looks uncomfortable and not all that interested.

Both the production design and musical score are big letdowns. The sets are bland and uninteresting. Even the Queen Elizabeth, which should be amazing, is vastly under whelming. Not only that, but John Barry seemed to score the picture on an off day with the deadline the next day. Nothing creative is put in the music and most of the themes are chipper rehashes of the title song.

The action here is non existent. There is nothing interesting here, as opposed to the grand boat chase of the previous and the big shootout of the next one. All that's here is some mediocre kung-fu, a lame car chase, and a very predictable end duel.

If there is a bright spot, it the performance of Christopher Lee and the return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper. Lee turns his character into a true menace, dominating the screen whenever he is on. Pepper brings in some well needed laughs in a films that lacks them. His presence alone makes the car chase watchable.

A nice, lighthearted Bond movie can be a good thing, but The Man With The Golden Gun is not funny at all. It's boring and very painful to watch. The darker story that Tom Mankiewicz wrote gets mixed up in Richard Maibaum's story and it all goes down the toilet.

In Conclusion: Two hours of sheer torture. Watch only when wanting to complete the series or wanting to drive unwanted guests out of the house.


"The Man With The Golden Gun" by James Clark

It's 1974 and time for Moore' second outing as Bond. The Man with the Golden Gun, originally set for release as the follow up to You only live twice, would eventually be filmed in 1974 after complications in location scouting. The film itself is considered by many as one of the weakest in the series for its overt humour and fairly lazy story. The seventies were slowly becoming a decade of excess for James Bond and this would prove the last time that producers Broccoli and Saltzman would work in partnership on the series.

There are some good moments in Golden Gun and Moore keeps the pace of the film from flagging too much by being at home with the one liners and providing just enough charm to bypass some fairly banal acting and dialogue. The moments that stand out are any featuring Bond and the ill fated Andrea, a pleasant surprise of a Bond girl when you consider how poor Ekland's Mary Goodnight is. It is a great shame when Andrea is killed off two thirds of the way through the picture.

It is Christopher Lee, Fleming's cousin, who provides the best entertainment in the film as the mysterious Fransisco Scaramanga. Though his fun house and his henchman are both completely over the top, Lee's interpretation of the contract killer is sophisticated and to the point and never over done. The moment at the dining table between 007 and Scaramanga is one of few fine moments in the film.

Essentially Golden Gun is a whimsical entry in the series. After Diamonds are Forever and Live and Let Die played Bond for laughs, it would have been naive to think that this idea would dissipate in Moore's second outing. There would still be more outrageous Moore moments to come in some of his later entries but thankfully there would now be two and half years for the Bond team to re-assess where Britain's secret agent was actually going and bring it back to classic Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me. The humour may be a trademark of the Bond pictures but at least we no longer have to put up with Sheriff J W Pepper or Nick Nack.


"The Man With The Golden Gun" by Louis Armstrong

The Man With the Golden Gun is a good example of the 'half-way there' Bond film. About half of it rates with the best the series has to offer; but the other half is a more likely contender for the denomination of least satisfying Bond business yet. Roger Moore is a magnificently miserable mofo in this. It's a welcome change of pace to see Moore play Bond straighter, as more of a romantic and more of a professional, and his performance provides a nice balance to the low-brow humour. Scenes like Bond's interrogation of Lazar and his intrusion on Andrea Anders are well acted by the other players as well. There are a few bits such as Q's evaluation of the gold bullet that are simply, word for word, well-written. Numerous sequences of intrigue feature, such as Bond spying on Anders in the casino or villain Scaramanga sniping a man who's standing near Bond outside a sleazy night-club. Without a doubt, the concept of 007's equal - the million-dollar hitman - holds a lot of water and Christopher Lee is perfectly menacing.

But then we get to where the film falters. Some parts seem downright lazy, such as when Bond spouts tons of info on Scaramanga for the audience right when prompted, or when Scaramanga's hefty monologue about his disturbing past is immediately forgotten when Bond dismisses the story with a comedic insult. I do enjoy some of the groaner moments, like Nick Nack and Bond's fight. It's hilarious when the midget, locked in a suitcase, yells 'Let me out of here, or I'll kill you!' Bond's one-liners are more bearable, as well, because he projects a degree of danger throughout. The role is just more fun to watch this way. However...the film goes overboard in its attempts at humour. Much of it is a case of too little material being spread out over too long a time (eg. the ending, which has at least two mediocre epilogues). Sheriff JW Pepper shows up in two action sequences and manages to ruin the pacing both times. The sumo and karate school fights are bothersome, especially considering the relatively youthful Moore seems capable of doing proper action. Since when was James Bond played for bargain-bin laughs, anyway?

The golden gun concept is set aside near the end of the film to deal with Bond's real mission, which is to recover some stolen solar-power technology. There is some interest maintained when Nick Nack steals the Solex from a corpse without anyone noticing, but once Bond finally catches up with it, the subplot has become uninteresting. It basically ends with Bond explaining to Scaramanga exactly how the device can solve the 70s energy crisis, the villain admitting he has no clue how it works, and Bond's cohort Mary Goodnight accidentally demolishing Scaramanga's entire operation. Turns out Bond was never marked for death by Scaramanga, either - what a letdown. Essentially, the villain just lets Bond bumble around, never really caring what 007 is up to, until his plans are disrupted.

In summary: not awful, but not very good, either. A weak sub-plot and too many light-hearted moments, which plagued the series at the time, bog down a concept and a couple performances which were on par with the 60s films. Golden Gun is definitely a missed opportunity, but still the home of many titillating scenes and some swell Bond cheese. Enjoyable for what it is.


"The Man With The Golden Gun" by Sir Henry Lee Cha-Ching

"You get as much fulfillment out of killing as I do, so why don't you admit it?"

"I admit killing you would be a pleasure"

The year is 1974, and yours truly was almost a teenager. Following on the heels of the series' most commercially successful entry since 1965's Thunderball, United Artists asks Broccoli and Saltzman to immediately begin production on what turns out to be their final collaboration, Ian Fleming's posthumously released final novel, The Man With The Golden Gun.

The PTS introduces the actual man with the golden gun, one Francisco Scaramanga, gunning down a refugee from Diamonds Are Forever in his exotic and secluded island home near the coast of Red China. His reputation as an assassin who is so good that he charges a million dollars for one shot, guaranteed to kill, is so fearsome that when MI6 receives a letter that leaves them to believe Bond is his next target, our hero is pulled from his current assignment consisting of finding a missing scientist who possesses a device that harnesses the power of the sun itself, and given a simple choice- find Scaramanga before the assassin finds him.

BOND- Sir Roger Moore's sophomore performance falls under the more serious category, which to me was an upgrade from both his first and Sir Sean Connery's final effort. When he is hunting Scaramanga, and from the time he lands on his island, he is all that I expect from the character. After For Your Eyes Only, my favorite performance of Sir Roger's in the role.

BABES- Really only one matters, and that is supporting lady Maud Adams as Scaramanga's girlfriend, Andrea Anders. She is smart enough to get Bond involved in her man's business, because she knows Bond is the only man alive who can kill Scaramanga and give her freedom from certain death should she leave or displease him. All points listed below go to Ms. Adams. The lead female role of MI6 operative Mary Goodnight is played by fellow Swede Britt Ekland (and the ensuing mess isn't her fault), and the part is a complete disaster. Much to my regret, the film version bears little resemblance to the literary character. This Goodnight would be an incompetent embarrassment who does nothing but flirt with and try to shag Bond again while fouling up even his simplest instructions. The minor role of Beirut belly dancer Zaida is almost as bad. Despite her truly having a "magnificent abdomen", she is one of the ugliest women I've ever seen. As a red-blooded male and a fan of the Bond ladies, this was a very disappointing crew.

VILLAINS- Sir Christopher Lee, a cousin of Ian Fleming's, gets a break from his usual tiresome role as Dracula to play Scaramanga. It is more scary than Dracula too how well he fits the role, and I can't imagine anyone other than this truly underrated actor doing the part. Scaramanga fancies himself as the same kind of man as Bond- a classy kind of "gentleman killer" who enjoys the finer things in life and admires Bond's skill to the point that he feels there is a kindred relationship of sorts there. Bond, of course, doesn't quite see himself as a man who kills for the same motivation and with the assassin in the way of fulfilling his mission, a showdown to the death is inevitable. Unlike Goodnight, I prefer the cinematic character to the basic thug in Fleming's book. Scaramanga's pint sized sidekick Nick Nack, played by the late Fantasy Island star Herve Villechaize, is mostly appealing to children. Generally, Nick Nack is a paid servant who manages Scaramanga's home and also assists him during "business trips", but he has an added motivation- he has an arrangement with the boss to supply him with the best hit men he can find to keep Scaramanga's skills as sharp as possible- and should one of them manage to kill him, he'll inherit everything. Richard Loo appears in a few scenes as Scaramanga's current business partner Hi Fat, and is fine for what he does.

HUMOR- When the movie isn't serious, I enjoy what is here. Clifton James is once again a riot reprising his Live And Let Die role as Sheriff J.W Pepper, except this time he is innocently on vacation in Thailand with Mrs. Pepper when he encounters Bond once again. The Goodnight character provides plenty more unintentionally, and of course there's Moore's timely one-liners and of course "The Karate Girls".

SADISM- Nothing much to talk about, unless you consider Bond's twisting of Andrea's arm as such.

SNOBBERY- I see lots of it here. Rolls Royces, fine hotels, champagne, wines, Scaramanga's home, and of course Nick Nack is a Cordon Bleu.

ACTION- Fun car and boat chases, the Beirut brawl, the hilarious karate school fight, and of course the fantastic ending in the fun house. Bravo!

LOCATIONS- The Far East locales are beautiful, especially the ones in Thailand that serve as Scaramanga's home base. Unfortunately, they are limited to here and Hong Kong/Macao.

GADGETS- Most of them belong to Scaramanga between his gun and his car plane, plus Goodnight's dress homer button. Not your typical Bond movie in this respect.

MUSIC- The usual fantastic Barry score, slide whistle aside during the awesome car stunt. I have always been particularly fond myself of "Return To Scaramanga's Fun House", "Goodnight, Goodnight'", and 'In Search Of Scaramanga's Island", and the entire soundtrack is very enjoyable to these ears.