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Published on October 22nd, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart

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The Man With The Golden Gun: Au No

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Christopher Lee is The Man With The Golden Gun as Roger Moore returns for his second performance as James Bond.

The Story

A golden bullet is received at MI6 with ‘007’ engraved on it; a threat against James Bond’s life from The Man With The Golden Gun: assassin Francisco Scaramanga. Relieved of duty due to the threat, in typical fashion Bond sets off to face it on his own. Tracing the assassin by his unique signature golden bullets Bond finds him in Hong Kong in the process of stealing the Solex Agitator and murdering its inventor. The object is the vital part of a solar power station that MI6 hopes will solve the international energy crisis. Now officially on the case, Bond follows Scaramanga to Bangkok where he spectacularly fails at impersonating the assassin using a disguise consisting entirely of a fake nipple. After an extended kungfu sequence Bond is able to escape. He discovers that the threat was actually sent to MI6 by Scaramanga’s unhappy captive mistress and whilst she gets killed he manages to retrieve the Solex. Unfortunately his female assistant (played by Britt Ekland) becomes trapped in Scaramanga’s car. After a painfully ‘comic’ car chase through Bangkok, Scaramanga is able to escape because his car can also fly. Because of course it can. Fortunately Bond’s assistant had a tracking device so he is able to follow them both to Scaramanga’s island hideaway. There he discovers that Scaramanga has the rest of the machine to make the Solar Agitator into both an energy source and a laser cannon. He also has a funhouse built into his lair to practice his assassination techniques and it is there that Bond finally, and rather disappointingly, defeats him. The power plant inevitably goes out of control as Bond escapes with his lady friend in the nick of time, before facing off against Scaramanga’s diminutive henchman in one last comedy moment.

The Title Sequence And Bond Theme

Visually speaking The Man With The Golden Gun titles are really heavy handed on the watery special effects used on both the dancers and the credit text. Otherwise it’s not that memorable. However whilst the title sequences for Bond films have always been know for the sexy dancers, this is the first with wall-to-wall innuendo in the lyrics. Who will Scaramanga “bang” with his “powerful weapon”, with his need for love that “comes just before the kill”? I don’t know, the cast of the Carry On films perhaps? Lulu has a great voice but this song is just awful. This is the first of only two Bond films where no song from the soundtrack charted at all (the other is Moonraker) and it’s not surprising. What is more depressing is knowing that Alice Cooper recorded a theme song as well but it was never used. Given Christopher Lee’s later love of heavy metal that’s a collaboration that I would have dearly loved to see.

The Villain And Their Plan

Francisco Scaramanga was played by film legend Christopher Lee – a relative of Bond creator Ian Fleming – who was genuinely involved in intelligence operations during World War II. As such it’s not surprising that Scaramanga is one of the most well characterised of the classic Bond villains. An assassin with skills comparable to those of 007 but without the pesky dedication to Queen and country, Scaramanga is fully aware of his own brilliance. Of course that is ultimately his downfall. His lifestyle as very successful and expensive assassin for hire seems to be pretty successful for him though, so the plan of stealing an overpowered weapon and selling it to the highest bidder seems a bit redundant.

scaramangacreepy

The Locations

Filmed mostly in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Macau; Man With The Golden Gun has some of the most beautiful scenery shots in the classic Bond films. Scaramanga’s karst island hideaway is perhaps one of the most striking and memorable Bond lairs, perhaps even more so because it is a natural phenomenon rather than one of the unconvincing set pieces that characterise other villains homes. This effect is slightly ruined by the weird funhouse that Scaramanga keeps inside his base, but he wouldn’t be a proper Bond villain without some kind of terrible decor choice.

The Gadgets

The most memorable gadget from this movie has to be the titular Golden Gun. A single-shot weapon it can be disassembled into the everyday objects to avoid detection (cigarette lighter & case, pen and cufflink). Although it is a neat idea, I don’t feel that the prop has aged all that well and is very 70s looking to modern audiences. It also adds an extra element of limitation for Scaramanga, he shows off about only needing one bullet but occasionally an assassin might need to shoot more than one person in quick succession. Personally I think he’d be better off with the ordinary gold-plated Colt from the original novels but I know the movie prop is dear to the hearts of many proper Bond fans. Bond lacks any real gadgets in this film beyond a standard issue tracking device and a really creepy stick-on fake nipple. The macguffin that’s actually at stake in the movie, the Solex Agitator, is pretty much just a box with some wires, that fits into a ridiculously complicated machine combining solar energy collection with a vast amount of firepower. Scaramanga makes a point of not understanding how it actually works which is refreshing change given the pseudoscience that so often accompanies such devices. Someone in the art department had fun building the thing, it’s extraordinarily silly, just enjoy it.

Most Inappropriate/Politically Incorrect Moment

Alas this is a Bond film at it’s most uncomfortable. There are so many off moments. Some do have a purpose as far as character building and motivation, like the deeply creepy golden gun ‘foreplay’ moment with Christopher Lee at his most menacing. But then there’s Bond violently threatening Scaramanga’s girlfriend in a way that’s viciously out of character even for 007. Plus the later sequence where he threatens then sleeps with her in a horrible transactional fashion, whist his other love interest is *hiding in the same room*. She started off hiding in the actual bed for crying out loud and when he had the chance the get her out of the room she ends up stuck in the closet. Urgh.

JWPepperWHY

Weirdest Moment

In a film constructed entirely from inexplicable concepts the weirdest thing in Man With A Golden Gun, other than the fake superfluous nipple, has to be the unwelcome return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper. You may have blocked it from your memory but J.W. first appeared in Roger Moore’s previous Bond film Live and Let Die. Now a racist bumbling Louisiana Sheriff makes some kind of sense as a comedy element in a film set in Louisiana itself, it’s not good sense but there is at least some kind of justification for the character. Why anyone would bother writing this deeply unfunny character in as comic relief when the film is set in Thailand is completely beyond me. Bond has always had his quips and dry cool wit under pressure but it never needed extended humorous sequences.

A dishonourable mention should also go to a moment in the same sequence which spoils one of the best car stunts ever to grace a Bond film- a corkscrew jump over a broken bridge- by adding a slide whistle sound effect.

Best One Liner

James Bond in response to Scaramanga’s monologuing: “There’s a useful four letter word, and you’re full of it.”

How Good Is It Really?

This film is a mess. Christopher Lee is excellent and completely wasted in this sad mishmash of ill advised comedy and poorly gauged bawdiness. It doesn’t know what it wants to be or what to do with most of it’s characters. After Live and Let Die got away with it’s blaxploitation style someone decided that putting in random kung fu sequences would be a good idea. Bond isn’t really the kind of hero that works with martial arts when he could just shoot people, and Roger Moore is especially unconvincing in that area. Scaramanga’s henchman Nick Nack just feels like a rehash of Oddjob from Goldfinger. Britt Ekland’s character Mary Goodnight is beyond useless and Bond’s own characterisation is all over the place. Then there’s the repeated attempts at comedy that just fall completely flat. They interrupt the flow of the movie and actually highlight how little action there really is in the film as a whole. Given the quality of the villain this could have been a great Bond movie with 007 facing off against his equal. Instead it’s just sad.

Vyctoria Hart

Vyctoria Hart

Steampunk illustrator, disabled cosplayer, cat wrangler, maker of terrible puns. I draw under the name of Phantoms Siren.
Vyctoria Hart

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