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
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
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
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes