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The Man With the Golden Gun

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Man With the Golden Gun

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee
Director: Guy Hamilton
Rated: PG
RunTime: 134 Minutes
Release Date: December 1974
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize, Clifton James, Richard Loo, Marc Lawrence, Bernard Lee

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Francisco Scaramanga, played with crisp efficiency by Christopher Lee, is an ex-KGB agent who went independent over a decade ago. Today he does million dollar hits, and for some reason he has a contract for killing James Bond. Or does he?

Although there are no known pictures of Scaramanga, his body's three nipples are well known. (This makes impersonating him unusually easy -- one fake breast, and voila). His golden gun with its golden, custom sized bullets is his trademark. The gun itself is a beautiful piece of weaponry that can be assembled on the spot from its slick, smoothly rounded pieces.

Roger Moore, in his second outing as James Bond in 1974's THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, gets his footing after a disappointing and shaky start in his first attempt playing everyone's favorite secret agent in LIVE AND LET DIE. Moore, clearly comfortable with his part this time, executes with precision albeit not with Connery's flair and charisma. Still, Moore is believable this time as Bond, something George Lazenby never was.

The story is set in and near the beautiful Hong Kong harbor. The film, especially in its nighttime sequences, handsomely photographed by Ted Moore and Oswald Morris, continues the Bond tradition of taking us to beautiful and exotic foreign locals. The movie's loveliest scene occurs when Bond pilots a small seaplane through the rocky coast and narrow inlets of a series of tiny islands near the Chinese mainland.

Ah, the Bond women. He has them queued up for him in this one. The Bond films progressively push the limits of almost displaying nudity without ever showing it clearly. This time, for example, a woman skinny-dips in a pool, and we can almost make out her body. But the Bond films prize their family-friendly ratings so technically we don't exactly see her. As Bond says to Scaramanga, "We all get our jollies one way or another." Bond films titillate, but only within carefully controlled bounds.

Britt Ekland plays Mary Goodnight, Bond's lovely, brave, but sometimes not too bright fellow agent. "I like a girl in a bikini, no concealed weapons," Scaramanga gives as one of his techniques for protecting himself. In the case of Ekland, there are other reasons why a bikini uniform is a particularly desirable clothing choice. Maud Adams, seen a decade later as Octopussy, plays Andrea Anders, Scaramanga's girlfriend and, of course, another of Bond's lovers.

I could do without Bond's image as he smokes foot long cigars. Perhaps that was considered sexy in the 1970s. And maybe there are those who still think so today

The offensive and racist southern Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) from the last movie appears again, this time as a tourist. An Ugly American, he spews racial epithets at the local Chinese that will have you wanting to cover your ears in shame. The nicest thing he is says is that they could get to work faster if they'd get out of those silly pajamas. One hopes that this character will not appear again.

In contrast to the poorly choreographed fight sequences in many of the earlier Bond films, this one has a perfectly executed and quite funny one set at the villain's martial arts school.

The film's obligatory car chase cum demolition derby is a carbon copy of a hundred other pictures. Only the great Bond theme music makes it anything special. The previous film, LIVE AND LET DIE, for example, had the same chase, better executed.

Two of the story's shoot-outs occur in a funhouse-style shooting gallery that looks like they were lifted straight out of an episode of the television series, "The Avengers." But given that they borrowed the idea, it's good to see that they stole from the best.

This time it's the other side that has the best gadget -- a wing with a jet engine that can be attached to a car to turn it into an airplane.

So what is Scaramanga's nefarious plan? Nothing less than a monopoly on solar energy, which we are told will upset the world's oil sheiks. Most of the story however is a simple series of chase scenes. We learn almost nothing about the grand strategy until the last twenty minutes of the picture so that it feels almost tacked on. The result is an entertaining film but not a very substantial one.

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN runs 2:00. It is rated PG for sexual innuendo and violence and would be fine for kids around nine and up.

My son Jeffrey, almost 9, said it was an okay movie and better than the previous one with Roger Moore. He then went on to say that recommends it and that his favorite part is Bond's duel with Scaramanga.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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