The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Easily one of the best sagas of the Roger Moore reign, The Man with the Golden Gun features one of Bond’s most dangerous villains, a bevy of spectacular stunts and enough suspense to keep you glued to the screen for the entire movie. Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) is a world class assassin, and a man whose price comes at one million dollars a head. His reputation lies on his usage of golden bullets fired from a golden gun, killing his hapless victims with a single, solitary shot. This reputation alone is enough to force MI6 to pull James Bond off of an important mission when a golden bullet is sent to his headquarters with “007” written on it’s head. The message is clear and James decides to take the matter into his own hands and pursue his would-be assassin Scaramanga before he can find him.
Before going into it I will mention the single, solitary gripe I had with this movie – the fighting scenes. Roger Moore isn’t a fighter and for a trained fighter like myself it was brutal to watch the slow double ax handles, hay-makers and knee high side-kicks that the supposed super spy used against his attackers. Watching this made me appreciate Daniel Craig’s gritty ferocity a lot more, being that his fights really look like fights unlike the slow dance that was choreographed for this and other Roger Moore movies. This is however a miniature gripe in a long series of great things that is The Man with the Golden Gun, so never mind me, it just annoyed me to see James try to fight.
Many things stand out in The Man with the Golden Gun, the villain Scaramanga, his sidekick Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) and of course the ugly, detachable golden gun. What really stands out however is Roger Moore and his commanding of this role unlike any other movie I have seen him in. Moore is all business and the way he carries out his spy-work in this is not the normal, aloof, sexual misadventure that we know him for. No I would say Moore channeled Sean Connery from Dr. No in his focus this time. It felt as if Bond took the supposed threat seriously and gives us a chance to see him work like a true professional. While there were lots of women readily available to give it up, James dodged them coyly the entire way through, including his beautiful fellow she-spy Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland).
The Man with the Golden Gun also has one of the most spectacular stunts ever performed in a James Bond movie. 007 drives a car unto a twisted ramp, spiralling it mid-air to land unto the other twisted end across a stream. This stunt was actually performed by a real person, using a real car and no camera tricks, CGI or anything else. This is evidenced by the wide-angle lens used to shoot the jump in it’s entirety. It is an amazing stunt and simply added bonus points to an already awesome James Bond movie.
A few familiar faces from the Roger Moore, James Bond dynasty are in this one, including actress Maud Adams who will play the lovely Octopussy in a later movie, and Clifton James who was the redneck police chief J.W. Pepper in Live and Let Die. This being Moore’s second Bond movie after an arguably goofy and modernistic camp of a lead-in probably earned him respect as the new James Bond by the older Sean Connery fans. Unfortunately we all know how that went and Moore’s career was written less like this wonderful movie and more like Live and Let Die with him chasing tail, cracking bad jokes and drinking himself into a stupor.
Bond-o-meter Score (ranges from 1-10)
James Bond(10): Bond was on and although I wished Sir Roger Moore had taken some self-defense classes to sell his fights better, he was perfect.
Story(7): A bit far fetched for 007 but it was still a lot of fun to watch.
Bond Girl(5): Another dumb Blond James? Are you serious?
The Villain(10): A cklever assassin to thwart another, Scaramanga was a great villain for 007. He and his golden gun are legendary.
Spicy Rating (9): Moneypenny, Q and M are involved, the movie has spectacular stunts and even a flying car! Sheesh outside of the idiocy of the Bond girl, this movie was James Bond perfection.