After making his first appearance as James Bond in Live and Let Die, Roger Moore returned in The Man With the Golden Gun.
A hired killer arrives on an island owned by Francisco Scaramanga. Nick Nack, a man who works for Scaramanga, gives the killer instructions. Eventually the two men end up in a weird funhouse where they have a confrontation while Nick Nack watches thanks to surveillance cameras.
A gold bullet with 007 etched on it arrives at MI6 in London. It is believed to be a message to James Bond that Scaramanga is coming after him. M puts James on leave because of the threat, but James decides to look for Scaramanga himself. He starts to track down where the bullet came from and he eventually meets Andrea Anders, Scaramanga's mistress, forcing her to tell him about Scaramanga. James is put back on a mission once Scaramanga kills someone else. It is discovered that Scaramanga plans to use solar energy for his own purposes. James manages to reunite with Mary Goodnight, a woman from MI6 while working to track down Scaramanga.
The Man With the Golden Gun is the ninth movie in the James Bond series and the second to feature Roger Moore as James. The movie was based on one of Ian Fleming's books. I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure what was changed for the movie. The movie stands alone well, though there is a closer connection to Live and Let Die since Sheriff Pepper, a character from that movie, turns up again in this one. I really could have done without that part. Even having seen Live and Let Die first, I still wondered why Pepper was back since the character is pointless, out of place and adds absolutely nothing. People shouldn't have any problems following everything if they haven't seen the movies in order.
For the second movie in a row, James isn't actually involved in the sequence before the title. This one starts off showing a man arriving at Scaramanga's island and ending up in the bizarre funhouse where the two men have a shootout. It seems that if Scaramanga is killed, Nick Nack will get everything, so he keeps bringing in men, hoping one of them will succeed. Once Scaramanga and the other man are in the funhouse, Nick Nack takes over in a control room, trying to manipulate things. At the end of the scene, something is done that makes it clear that Scaramanga is already planning to go after Bond. The idea of having a killer after James does make for an interesting plot, especially once some complications start to pop up. Scaramanga's ultimate plan is a bit extreme, but that fits with Bond overall.
There is a good amount of action throughout The Man With the Golden Gun like there has been in the previous movies. Some of that starts in the opening sequence with the confrontation between Scaramanga and the other man. James ends up in more than one fight and always manages to come out ahead. It seems like a few of those scenes were shot further away to help hide the fact that a stunt man took the place of James. The violence that turns up is rather mild, so it should offend anyone. The action scenes were done well overall and helped to keep things interesting. During one scene later in the movie, there is a boat chase. It is right before that part that Sheriff Pepper turns up again. Pepper adds nothing to the chase and it seems like he was added for some sort of comic relief that just doesn't work at all.
James continues to have his way with women throughout The Man With the Golden Gun. He doesn't trust Andrea when they met since he knows that she is Scaramanga's mistress. That doesn't stop him from having sex with her though. Something just seems off about their interactions. In order to continue going after Andrea, James treats Mary horribly, even forcing her to hide in a closet while he takes Andrea to bed. Then once Andrea is gone, James just expects Mary to fall in place. I really didn't care for the relationships in this movie. It isn't the first time James has been more forceful at times, but I didn't like it.
James is basically the same as he's been and there isn't anything new added to his character. I do still like Roger Moore in the part, though he does seem a tad old for the part, especially when he's paired with much younger women. M, Q, and Miss Moneypenny all turn up briefly without having a much to do. It is still nice to see them around though. Mary Goodnight also works for MI6 and she knew James before they started working together. She is mostly able to handle the situations she is in, but she also has some air head moments as well. Britt Ekland is fine in the part.
Scaramanga is an assassin who has a reputation for being very good at his job. He isn't a nice guy and not someone most people want to cross in any way. He doesn't have much of a sense of loyalty either and is only looking out for himself. Christopher Lee is really good in the part and made a good villain. Nick Nack has been working for Scaramanga for a while and seems devoted to his boss, though he's also willing to try to have him killed so he can inherit everything. Nick Nack is very devious and concerned with looking out for himself. Herve Villechaize is fine in the part, though not the most effective bad guy. I kept expecting him to start point up in the sky and saying that the plane was arriving.
There are several other characters who turn up once in a while for one or two scenes. Most of them didn't stand out that much to me, including the few other contacts that James had in Hong Kong. Sheriff J.W. Pepper is the only one who stood out, and it wasn't for a good reason. The bumbling idiot sheriff from Live and Let Die just happens to be on vacation with his wife where James is in the middle of another mission. The two pass each other a few times and then end up going on a car chase together, with Pepper acting like a redneck hick the entire time. His character adds nothing to the movie and is pointless. I'm don't understand why he was brought back. I'm just glad they didn't decide to bring him back for any more of the future movies.
Maud Adams - Andrea Anders
Britt Ekland - Mary Goodnight
Clifton James - Sheriff J.W. Pepper
Bernard Lee - M
Christopher Lee - Scaramanga
Desmond Llewelyn - Q
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny
Roger Moore - James Bond
Herve Villechaize - Nick Nack
Guy Hamilton - Director
The Man With the Golden Gun has been released on DVD a few different times. I have the two disc version that is part of the Ultimate James Bond DVD collection. There is a newly recorded audio commentary with Roger Moore as well as one that features the director and members of the cast and crew. Roger Moore and Herve Villechaize - The Russell Harty Show has a few minutes from Moore and Villechaize's appearance on the show. Most of it features Moore talking. On Location With The Man With the Golden Gun features one of the producers talking about finding locations for the movie while some footage plays.
Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks is a short featurette that has the director talking about his work with the Bond movies. Girls Fighting is focused on the filming of the scene that involves two girls fighting. The producer said that this is basically the only footage that they have been able to find. American Thrill Show Stunt Film The Road to Bond: Stunt Co-ordinator W.J. Miligan Jr. shows a car stunt being done for a show. The stunt ultimately ends up in the movie. The Interactive Guide Into the World of The Man With the Golden Gun has several icons that would case different short scenes of the movie to play.
Inside the Man With the Golden Gun is a documentary on the making of the movie that features members of the cast and crew talking about the making of the movie. The filming of a few things was shared as was some of the casting choices. Several of the cast talked about Herve Villechaize and how he was hitting on women and going out partying a lot while filming. It was also mentioned how some of the cast and crew teased Lee about Dracula. The documentary is interesting. Double-O Stuntmen: A Look at the Greatest Stunts and Stunt Performers in the Bond Films shared information about some of the stunt performers for the Bond movies. Some of the filming of certain scenes is shown while explanations for how things were done were given. It was interesting and entertaining. At least one stunt from every movie up to Tomorrow Never Dies was focused on.
The Man With the Golden Gun is another entertaining movie in the Bond series. Fans of the series should give it a chance.
I would have gone with three and a half stars for this one if I had the option. Since I don't, I decided to round up to four.
James Bond Movies
Dr. No ~ From Russia With Love ~ Goldfinger ~ Thunderball ~ You Only Live Twice ~ On Her Majesty's Secret Service ~ Diamonds are Forever ~ Live and Let Die ~ The Man With the Golden Gun ~ The Spy Who Loved Me ~ Moonraker ~ For Your Eyes Only ~ Octopussy ~ A View to a Kill ~ The Living Daylights ~ Licence to Kill ~ Goldeneye ~ Tomorrow Never Dies ~ The World is Not Enough ~ Die Another Day ~ Casino Royale ~ Quantum of Solace ~ James Bond: The Secret Life of 007 ~ Never Say Never Again ~
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