MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, THE
(director: Guy Hamilton; screenwriters: Richard Maibaum/Tom Mankiewicz/based on the novel by Ian Fleming; cinematographers: Ted Moore/Oswald Morris; editors: Raymond Poulton/John Shirley; music: John Barry; cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Christopher Lee (Francisco Scaramanga), Brit Ekland (Mary Goodnight), Maud Adams (Andrea Anders), Herve Villechaize (Nick Nack), Bernard Lee (M), Soon Taik Oh (Lieutenant Hip), Clifton James (Sheriff J.W. Pepper), Richard Loo (Hai Fat), Desmond Llewellyn (Q), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny), Marne Maitland (Lazar), Gordon Everett (Gibson), Qiu Yuen (Nara, Hip’s Niece #1), Joie Pacharintraporn (Cha, Hip’s Niece #2), Sonny Caldinez (Kra); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Albert R. Broccoli/Harry Saltzman; United Artists; 1974-UK)
“Even the theme song sung by Lulu is a real lulu.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The ninth James Bond is a stiff, one of the really bad Bond films in the series. The bland Roger Moore takes his second crack at playing Bond after Live and Let Die (1973), and is far from convincing as an action hero. The script by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz is trite, dull, humorless–as the film comes close to being a self-parody as it trots out so many unfunny gags (the worst routine being the attempt at a redneck humor through a bigoted southern sheriff played by Clifton James), poorly paced, unclearly plotted (it has something to do with the world energy crisis, if that really matters) and is filled with cheap double entendres you would expect on the Benny Hill show. It relies on the usual set piece chases, over-the-top fight scenes (this time with a heavy dose of karate), exotic Far Eastern locations (Hong Kong, Bangkok and Macao), a gimmicky car plane used in an escape by the villain and sexy chicks in bikinis hungering to bed down with Bond.
The novelist of the source material Ian Fleming died in 1964, before he could complete the book. It was finished for him in 1965, which might explain why the story line doesn’t seem to always jell. Guy Hamilton (“Goldfinger”/”Evil Under The Sun”/”Funeral In Berlin”) directs as if he were searching for a golden parachute to bail out of this dismal assignment. Everything about this Bond venture is badly botched. Even the theme song sung by Lulu is a real lulu.
It has Bond (Roger Moore) searching for both a powerful solar energy device called a “Solex Agitator,” a device that will harness the sun’s radiation and give immense power to whomever possesses it, and a dangerous high paid assassin (his fee is $1 million per victim) named Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) who uses a golden gun with custom made golden bullets. Conveniently for the plot, Scaramanga will soon be in possession of the device after he assassinates the solar expert scientist named Gibson.
When Bond learns that Scaramanga has him targeted with a golden bullet, he treks to the Portuguese island of Macao in pursuit of the freakish killer knowing the bullets are made there. Scaramanga was born in a circus, is an expert trick shot artist, was trained by the KGB, has a third nipple, works independently now and there’s no photo of him. But Bond has no problem finding him. After some killings and gun play, Bond ends up in Hong Kong and with the assistance of the inept sexy local Brit operative Mary Goodnight (Brit Ekland) and Scaramanga’s disenchanted girlfriend Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), he makes contact with the client of his enemy, a Thai tycoon looking to be the key player in the energy crisis, a chap named Hai Fat (Richard Loo), and then with the enemy himself. It leads to the less than golden climax, where Bond and Scaramanga fight a Fun House staged pistol duel (the villain’s golden gun against Bond’s Walther PPK) in the Fu Manchu-like villain’s remote hideout on an unnamed island in the Red China Sea. That’s where the villain demonstrates how easily his laser can destroy Bond’s sea plane and shows off his high-tech lab. Also, the villain’s dangerous midget servant and right hand man Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) runs around the island like a child on a school holiday trying to make some lethal mischief for all the grown ups. It ends on a fiery note, with Bond sailing happily away on a slow boat from China and making some sack time for Goodnight with his enemy vanquished and Nick Nack safely stowed away as cargo.
REVIEWED ON 2/15/2009 GRADE: C