It’s Roger Moore’s second go as British super-spy James Bond; this time he’s being hunted by Christopher Lee’s master assassin Scaramanga while on the case of a missing scientist.
As the longest serving Bond, with a tenure of twelve years and seven films, Roger Moore made an indelible mark on the character of James Bond. However the most perfect encapsulation of his take on the character occurs about three quarters of the way through his second outing as the super spy: The Man with the Golden Gun.
Separated by a murky river, suave secret agent James Bond is in hot pursuit of maniacal villain Francisco Scaramanga, a master assassin and owner of the world’s most blinged up pistol. The only way of catching up with Scaramanga on the other side of the river is a gnarled, twisted bridge that’s collapsed midway across, and with the fate of the world (and a beautiful woman) in the balance 007 has no choice but to floor it. The car rides up and along the bridge, launches into a perfectly executed corkscrew twist in midair and then lands neatly on the other side. It’s a remarkable stunt, the first in cinema history to use computer modelling in its conception and pulled off at such breakneck speed that it had to be shown in slow motion for audiences to even take it in properly.
Naturally then, this astonishing feat of engineering, driving and sheer moxie is underscored by the sound of a slide whistle; a noise best suited to the sight of a clown’s trousers falling down. In the space of just four seconds the baffling cocktail of crazy stunts and schoolboy humour that characterises Moore-era Bond is there crystallised in its purest form.
Riding alongside Bond for this car chase is the shrieking obese racist and exhausting Southern caricature JW Pepper, last seen being a shrieking obese racist in Bond’s previous film Live and Let Die. Somehow the filmmakers have managed to make him even more racist (I know) and it’s baffling that such an annoying, unlikeable character was shoehorned so egregiously into a film that didn’t need him. The film feels piecemeal even without the presence of ol’ Jay Dubya; things just seem to happen with little regard to logic.
Bond is inexplicably imprisoned in a Dojo where martial artists are queuing up to karate him to death for no reason other than to cash in on the martial arts craze that was sweeping the West at the time. Bond’s allies stage an elaborate rescue, only to then leave him behind as they get away just so he can get back in a speed boat and ape the boat chase in Live and Let Die. Characters bumble about oafishly in order to cue up the next big set-piece or throwaway gag giving the story a lurching, drunken quality as it staggers from one thing to the next.
In fact the only thing keeping The Man with the Golden Gun from toppling over into a smirking, incoherent mess is the diabolical villain speeding away from Bond on the other side of that river. Christopher Lee is excellent as the three-nippled marksman and all round bad egg Scaramanga, a dark reflection of our hero with similar tastes but no sense of morality or duty. Darkly charismatic and wonderfully sinister, things liven up considerably whenever he’s onscreen and his verbal and physical battles with Bond are captivating to watch. Unfortunately the film seems to be too interested in introducing yet another wacky character or elaborate stunt to utilise him properly.
Bond theme: The theme song by Scottish singer Lulu is an incongruously perky, bouncy affair filled with lots of energy and plenty of smutty innuendo. Seriously, the lyrics seem to be all about how magnificent Christopher Lee’s cock is. It’s weird.
Best one liner: Finding his interrogation of an artisanal gunsmith to be going nowhere, Bond pulls a gun and warns finds him that ‘I’m now aiming directly at your groin, so speak or forever hod your piece.’
Glamorous locations: Bond is largely in Asia for this one, with brief stopovers in Hong Kong and Macau, and a more prolonged stay in Thailand where he finally manages to track down Scaramanga.
Girls: The Man with the Golden Gun may well contain some of the worst Bond girls seen thus far. Scaramanga’s mistress/sex slave Andrea Anders is probably the best of the two but she’s treated utterly abysmally by both the hero and villain of the film. She’s a damn sight better than Bond’s fellow MI6 agent Mary Goodnight though. A simpering, useless fool, that is forever messing up (at one point she almost blows Bond’s head off when she accidentally hits a button with her arse) she’s indicative of the ugly, patronising disdain Moore’s Bond has for pretty much every woman he encounters.
Gadgets: Most of the gadgets actually belong to the villain here; the titular golden gun is assembled from a cigarette lighter and fountain pen and he also has a big laser gun thingy that harnesses the power of the sun to blast planes out of the sky. As for Bond, his main gadget is probably the fake third nipple he wears to disguise himself as Scaramanga.
Classic moment: The final showdown between Scaramanga and Bond in a weird 70s fun house type setting, with a hall of mirrors and robot cowboys is pretty fun, but the sparks really fly just before that when Bond and Scaramanga spar verbally when they share a testy dinner together.
TELSTAR’S BIG BOND COUNTDOWN WILL RETURN WITH… THE SPY WHO LOVED ME