Review: 'The Man With The Golden Gun' (1975) Dir. Guy Hamilton
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
The final film for producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman working together would signal the end of one era for 007 and the start of another...
When a golden bullet arrives at MI6 branded with the number 007, M (Bernard Lee) and James Bond (Moore) come to the conclusion he is in the sights of deadly assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Lee), also known as the man with the golden gun.
Travelling from Beirut to Bangkok, Bond works with MI6 agent Mary Goodnight (Ekland) and contact Hip (Oh) to deduce that Scaramanga is actually working to steal the Solex agitator, a device capable of harnessing solar power,
Bond tracks Scaramanga down via his mistress, Andrea (Adams). But Scaramanga and henchman Nick Nack (Villechaize) stay one step ahead, forcing 007 to a life or death duel that will have only one man left alive…
From sleazy nightclubs in the exotic city of Hong Kong to a hidden hideaway in Red Chinese water, this espionage-cum-action film is laced with more humour than most Bond films, sometimes a little annoying and over-the-top, but other times welcoming. It's clear there is some misdirection here due to the growing conflicting ideas between producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli which was at breaking point.
At times it retains a sense of espionage and investigation to what most spies do, but it also increases the fantastical action and stunt-work that would soon become one of the more famous aspects.
Roger Moore never fails to delight as 007 with a successful balance of humour and charm that sees him make the role his own with the right amount of cold brutality Bond needs as he slaps around women and shows little mercy to the enemy. He’s a joy to watch and helps carry the film with a story that is not the most exciting, but one that is saved with a great villain in the guise of the late Sir Christopher Lee, almost a “Bond gone rogue” character who is wonderfully grounded and nothing more than a clever and cunning hitman.
Lee is just as effective as this darker 007-esque character, charming and deadly, and he shares some great moments on screen.
Maud Adams is also on form as our tragic Bond girl, looking ever so the part and evoking a real sense of desperation and helplessness that is refreshing to see rather than just a usual damsel in distress or eye candy in a bikini.
However the down side comes in the form of Britt Ekland as ditzy agent Mary Goodnight and Clifton James back as JW Pepper. Ekland is used as the comic relief against Maud Adams with Bond, but never comes across amusing, just irritating.
James returns from his memorable role in ‘Live And Let Die’ only to take the film into daft comedy – bordering on the racist – and being nothing more than an attempt to build on something, initially, quite amusing, to now becoming annoying and pointless.
With a fine selection of exotic locations, this side of the Bond coin doesn’t disappoint. Along with a haunting and exciting soundtrack by John Barry to really set the mood and tone, it is a very pleasant and picturesque film to watch.
And with some good action scenes, car chases and the iconic 360 degree barrel roll (minus slide whistle), it’s clear half of the Bond team want to take the series bigger and better and more escapist, while the other half seem to want more humour and international espionage. The balance doesn’t work and this film is the one that looks most dis-jointed, but it had to happen for the series to evolve.
Memorable for many good reasons, but also for the bad, this is a mediocre Bond offering with the team at the end of one creative journey, but ready for the next.
'The Man With The Golden Gun' is an EON Productions production