My bond with… Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

By Christian DiMartino

I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed this on this page, but for the last 15 years, I have been a big fan of the James Bond series. I started watching them as a nine year old and even though some aren’t so great, they are usually at least pretty entertaining. I remember how proud I was of myself when I memorized each of the movies in chronological order… again, I’m a dork. So with the arrival of Bond’s next outing, No Time to Die, finally hitting theatres next month (as a Bond-aholic, November is a more fitting month, but it’s whatever), it seemed like an ample time to stroll down memory lane.

Roger Moore’s second Bond outing, The Man with the Golden Gun, is part of what people are talking about when they claim that Moore’s Bond films are campy. It is campy and silly, from beginning to end. Its villains are over the top; the central Bond girl is a ditsy idiot. As I see it though, there is something of merit to them. The sequences and characters in The Man with the Golden Gun might be goofy- from the villains to the sidekicks, but I can at least remember them. Truth is, until this week, I hadn’t seen this movie in probably 10 years or so, but certain elements about it stood out. Even as I sit here typing, while it isn’t a great Bond film, certain elements of it still stand out.

The film opens on a gorgeous island, with our two villains- one Francisco Scaramanga (the late great Christopher Lee) and his sidekick Knick-Knack (the late Herve Villechaize, of Fantasy Island). See, I didn’t even have to retreat to IMDb to find any of that information, because I remember them. Scaramanga himself is known as “the man with the golden gun,” because he (you guessed it) owns a golden gun. Yet that’s not the detail that stands out the most about him, no no. Scaramanga also happens to have three nipples… that’s right. He was a former member of the circus and even has his own kooky funhouse, to which he lures people in and kills them, as he does in the opening scene. As for Knick Knack, well, if you know anything about Herve Villechaize, it’s easy to see why he might stand out.

The film then leads to its title song, “The Man with the Golden Gun,” by a musician named Lulu. It would probably be hard to make a song around this title, so this song sounds about as good as it can. It doesn’t stand out as well as “Live and Let Die” (“When you were youuuung and your heaaaart, was an open book…”) or even “Thunderball” (“And so he strikes… like thun-der-ball!), but it serves its purpose. Anyways, after this we get the man of the hour, JB (Moore), and he discovers that Scaramanga, who also happens to be a well known hitman (quite the resume), supposedly wants him dead. So M (Bernard Lee) relieves him of his duties.

Nonetheless, Bond feels the urge to go search for Scaramanga himself, so he travels to Taiwan (I think). As it turns out though, Scaramanga kills another man instead. The man who Scaramanga was actually targeting is a scientist working on a device known as the “Solex Agitator” (this part I did need IMDb for), which can harvest the sun’s energy. So Bond must get the device before Scaramanga and Co. Bond is joined by one Holly Goodnight (Britt Eklund), the ditsy Bond girl in question. At one point, in the climax of the film, her ass pushes up against a button that brings them into further potential peril. He is also reunited with Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) from the previous film, Live and Let Die, who just happens to be on vacation.

Interesting fact: the film stars Maud Adams. Why is this interesting? Well here she plays Andrea Anders, but she would go on to play the title role in the Bond outing Octopussy, and apparently even cameos in A View to a Kill. They like her, they really like her. They must also really like J.W. Pepper, because what the hell is he doing in Taiwan? Some might see this character as a Jar-Jar Binks type, but I don’t know, he has sort of a cartoonish charm to him. That, and he gets to take part in one of the coolest stunts in any of these movies- one that pretty much speaks for itself. I do like the way that Moore plays off of James though, and the way that he plays off of Eklund. Moore isn’t quite a Connery, but he gets the job done.

The Man with the Golden Gun isn’t among the best Bond films, because it does play like a screwball comedy at times. Yet I can also sort of see that as a strength too. Some of the kung-fu stuff is a bit ridiculous too, but the movie has a goofy spirit that does sort of work to its advantage. This was one of the lower grossing Bond films, which is surprising because it feels wholly, purely Bond. Were people not sold on Roger Moore yet? Well, people still aren’t, but I like the guy. As for the movie, has color, it has flash. It has lurid action sequences, gorgeous locales, pretty women, a big, over-the-top Goldfinger-type villain played by the legendary Christopher Lee who has three nipples… it isn’t great entertainment, but it’s all good fun, and as a Bond movie, it checks off its boxes.

James Bond, and I, will return with The Spy Who Loved Me.

One thought on “My bond with… Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

  1. From watching this movie, I can see why it didn’t do that well in 1974. It’s not terrible but for a Bond movie it doesn’t feel all that memorable. As always, I liked the action, the scenery, and the innuendos but it doesn’t rise to classic status for me as a Bond movie. It feels like The Man With The Golden Gun was capitalizing off of the kung-fu movies popular in the ‘70s like how Live and Let Die was capitalizing off of the blaxploitation trend. And the theme song from Lulu is fine but like the movie certainly doesn’t rise to classic status. In America, Lulu is mainly known for her 1967 title theme to the movie To Sir With Love which was a big #1 hit even being named by Billboard as the biggest song of 1967. That song was pretty good but here it’s just OK for what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

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