Flickering Myth’s writing team count down to the release of Skyfall by discussing their favourite James Bond films; next up is Jeffrey Aidoo with The Man with the Golden Gun…
The Man with the Golden Gun marks Roger Moore’s second outing as the British secret agent James Bond and while there will always be an endless debate as to which Bond actor reigns supreme; his performance in this film for me certainly cements Moore as one of my favourites. The premise of the film sees Bond’s life being threatened by the world’s greatest assassin, Francisco Scaramanga, played by veteran Hammer Horror star Christopher Lee, whose performance as Bond’s arch rival is without a doubt the highlight of the entire film and an example of superb casting. Lee delivers a fantastically cool and calm yet menacing performance as the three-nippled assassin, who is looking to deposit one of his famously engraved golden bullets firmly into 007’s head!
The Man with the Golden Gun for me is a film of dichotomy; on the one hand the film has a very comedic undertone running throughout it, from Scaramanga’s dwarf accomplice Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize of Fantansy Island fame) to bumbling red neck American sheriff JW Pepper (Clifton James) who reprises his role from Live and Let Die, even down to Scaramanga’s infamous tongue-in-cheek third nipple. However on the other hand this is also quite a dark Bond, with Moore delivering not only the usual suave, charismatic performance that we all have grown accustomed to, but also showing touches of the darker more broody Bond from the Ian Fleming novels; in particular, a scene where instead of trying to seduce one of the Bond women (Maud Adams) and charm the information that he needs out of her, 007 opts to dish out several uncompromising slaps to the unsuspecting beauty in order to persuade her to reveal that she’s working for Scaramanga – a scene that would certainly raise a few eyebrows in today’s modern cinema. The dark, sinister undertone of the film continues with the chilling manner in which Scaramanga lures a number of his victims to his remote island and kills them in his lair of mirrors, with spooky running commentary from his miniature sidekick Nick Nack.
Like other James Bond films, The Man with the Golden Gun represents popular culture and the trends of its time, as it features Bond throwing down some Kung-Fu moves following the martial arts phenomenon of the 70s. While the film doesn’t have the big budget feel or fancy gadgetry of other Bond favourites such as Moonraker to capture our imaginations, it’s the “Face-Off” style, cat-and-mouse psychological battle culminating in the final physical battle between Scaramanga and Bond which really keeps the audience captivated throughout the film. Surprisingly, it is Scaramanga who is in possession of a gadget that even Q would be envious of in the form of his notorious Golden Gun, which is assembled from an interlocking fountain pen (the barrel), cigarette lighter (the chamber), cigarette case (the handle) and cuff link (the trigger), with the bullet secured in his belt buckle.
As with any classic Bond film there are the usual suspects such as the glamorous Bond ladies played by Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man, Get Carter), who takes on the role of a rather dim-witted British agent, and Maud Adams (Rollerball), who plays the ill-fated mistress of Scaramanga with great ease and realism. (interestingly Adams has appeared in three Bond films, as she also starred as the main villain in Octopussy as well as an extra in A View to a Kill). There are also some timeless interchanges of dialogue which keep you entertained, such as the moment Bond finds out he has a million dollar assassin on his trail and innocently ponders the reason why anybody would want to pay a million dollars to have him killed, followed a quick reply by MI6 boss M: “Jealous husbands! Outraged chefs! Humiliated tailors! The list is endless!”
The Man with the Golden Gun may not be the most popular Bond movie in the franchise and was widely panned by most critics when it was released, but for me it’s still a fine Bond movie and Roger Moore delivers a great effortless performance as the secret agent. The chemistry alone between Lee – arguably one of the finest Bond Villains – and Moore makes The Man with The Golden Gun a must see for all Bond fans.