Roger Moore’s second outing as super spy James Bond, The Man With the Golden Gun, opens on a strange foot chase through a fun house filled with wax figures, mirrors, and full sets. With little explanation as to why, an assassin with a terrible shot follows Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), an ex-KGB baddie with three nipples, through this house as Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) goads both men on over an intercom. Eventually, Scaramanga comes across his signature golden gun, which he uses to shoot his pursuer dead.
Let me recap: a tri-nippled Christopher Lee is our villain. He kills people in his fun house lair with his henchman, Tattoo from Fantasy Island. If it sounds strange, that’s because it is.
It comes to Bond’s attention that Scaramanga is targeting him. A golden bullet with a “007” etching on it arrives at MI6. Bond decides to do some unofficial research on his intimidator, tracking Scaramanga’s golden bullets to Macau.
What becomes evident quickly as the movie progresses is the high amount of exposition that the story requires. The first 45 minutes depicts Bond tracking down Scaramanga, which calls for multiple rendezvouses with MI6 and local officials, but it doesn’t call for much action.
When we do get action, it is generally effective. Karate style hand-to-hand combat scenes are well choreographed. Although, the following boat chase scene is rather slow and tedious. The extended car chase later on somewhat makes up for this, even though it features that unfortunate slide whistle on the river jump.
Moore appears more comfortable in his role as Bond. His acting, aside from moments where he is trying to play angry, is on point. He is no longer acting in the shadow of his predecessor, and, with this film, he begins to establish himself as his own brand of Bond.
It is hard to be engaged with the first half of the film. With little action and only cursory access to Christopher Lee, there is simply less to marvel at. In the second half there is more to enjoy, even though the whole film paces slowly. The second half also prominently features the return of Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), one of the most grating characters in the James Bond oeuvre.
Some of the more obnoxious elements of this film, such as a solar-powered laser and a flying car, hinder its ultimate success. But The Man With the Golden Gun is still a solid outing for Roger Moore, as well as a strong platform to highlight Christoper Lee’s slimy evil persona. Given a better script and a less exposition-heavy plot, this film could have been a memorable Bond movie.
As a final note, I love the score to this film, but every time it plays it reminds me of the Superego podcast.
The Man With the Golden Gun: C+
As always, thanks for reading!
The Man With the Golden Gun is currently available to rent/buy on Amazon Video here.
- The Man With the Golden Gun: C+
- Live and Let Die: C+
- Diamonds Are Forever: C-
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: B+
- Casino Royale (1967): D+
- You Only Live Twice: C+
- Thunderball: C-
- Goldfinger: A-
- From Russia With Love: A-
- Dr. No: B
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)