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The Man with the Golden Gun is the ninth film in the James Bond saga and the second one to star Roger Moore. It was based on the last Ian Fleming Bond novel of the same name.
It was the fourth and final Bond film to be directed by Guy Hamilton and also the last one to be produced by both Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. It featured a more comedic tone than the previous entries, fitting Roger Moore’s more lighthearted performance of the character.
Scaramanga enjoying his private ilsand
In the pre-title sequence the Assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) leads a pleasant life in a paradise island. Without realizing it, his servant Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) pays a gangster named Rodney to kill Scaramanga and the gangster, fooled by Nick Nack falls on a firing range where there are replicas of cowboys and even Al Capone, in a swift maneuver Scaramanga kills the gangster and shoots a 007 replica.
Bond receiving orders
A golden bullet with the number 007 engraved on it arrive at the MI6 headquarters in London. This means that the Assassin Scaramanga wishes to kill 007 (Roger Moore), who tells M (Bernard Lee) how little he knows of Scaramanga: son of a Cuban circus director and a German knife thrower became expert marksman at age 10, hired temporarily by the KGB and later became a professional murderer who charges a million dollars for a kill, his trademark characteristic is a third nipple. M concerned about Bond asks him to hide. Bond asks Moneypenny for information about 002 who had probably been killed by a bullet from Scaramanga in a cabaret.
Bond visits the cabaret in Beirut where he sees a beautiful woman named Saida (Carmen du Sautoy) characterized by a strange amulet in her navel, Bond's visits her dressing room where she tells her that she had a relationship with 002 and the bullet that had killed him became her amulet. When Bond seduces Saida to take the bullet from her several bullies attack him. He beats them and in confusion manages to steal the "amulet." Bond goes to Q’s (Desmond Llewelyn) laboratory where he and his assistant Colthorpe discover that it was made by a gunsmith living in Macao named Lazar. Bond travels to Macao, where he questions Lazar (Marne Maitland) who tells him he has never personally met Scaramanga but sells the bullets to a stranger in the casino. Later in the casino Lazar leaves the bullets in a table and later a woman (Maud Adams) picks them up. Bond's watches and follows her to Hong Kong and where he meets another MI6 agent named Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland). Both follow the woman to a hotel where Bond gets into the Woman’s room, she reveals herself as Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s girlfriend and threats with his pistol but he quickly controls the situation and interrogates her. She tells him that Scaramanga always goes to a strip club called Bottoms Up wearing a white suit with black tie.
Bond and Hip on the Queen Elizabeth
That night Bond goes to the place and notes that Scaramanga has decided not to go to the club without knowing that the Assassin was in a rooftop in front of the club and kills Gibson (Everett Gordon) who has a device known as The Solex Agitator, Bond tries to find Scaramanga but is stopped by Lieutenant Hip (Soon-Tek Oh). But realizing that he is not being taken to jail, Bond escapes to the shipwrecked Queen Elizabeth and discovers a small MI6 headquarters inside it where he meets M, Q and Frazier (Gerald James), Hip reveals himself as an MI6 agent working in Hong Kong and M tells Bond that may have been hired by Hai Fat, a Thai businessman who probably would have paid a million dollars to kill Gibson, the inventor of the Solex Agitator, a device capable of converting sunlight in energy, designed to end the energy crisis. To infiltrate Hai fat’s mansion and get information Bond asks Q for an artificial third nipple.
Bond's fake third nipple
Bond travels to Thailand with Hip and gains access to Hai Fat's house posing as Scaramanga and when he is tempted to swim with a beautiful woman named Chew Mee (Francoise Therry) he is stopped by Hai Fat (Richard Loo) who thinks Bond is Scaramanga. Bond warns Hai Fat that the MI6 is involved in the trail of Solex and asks a million more to "kill” Bond, Hai Fat decides to think about it and invites Bond to dinner. Bond accepts to the invitation without knowing that real Scaramanga who was hiding in Hai Fat’s office is watching him.
Accompanied by Hip and his nieces and Nara (Yuen Qiu) and Cha (Joie Vejjajiva) Bond goes to Hai Fat’s house for dinner, only to be captured by Nick Nack and two sumos and when the first intends to kill him, Hai Fat orders that they let him live for the time being. The next day Bond wakes up in a martial arts school where he first observes a fight to the death with swords and then faces two students. After a difficult fight Bond defeats him and flees, being helped by Hip and his nieces who also fight against the other students. The other students follow Bond to a river of Bangkok where the agent uses a boat to escape beginning a high speed boat chase.
Bond and Scaramanga
Hai Fat learns that Bond has escaped and blames Scaramanga for it; Scaramanga kills Hai Fat and steals the Solex Agitator. That Anders admits to have sent the bullet with Bond’s number in it so Bond kills Scaramanga and frees her. Bond asks her for the Solex Agitator in exchange for her freedom and the death of Scaramanga. The next day Bond meets Anders in a boxing stadium to receive the Solex but discovers she was killed by Scaramanga who sits next to Bond while Nick Nack threatens him with a gun. Bond, pretending to buy peanuts from a disguised Hip, gives him the Solex who in turn gives it to Goodnight. Scaramanga leaves the place and kidnaps Goodnight. Bond jumps into a car that had the Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James)and both pursue Scaramanga's car. Pepper and Bond and are able to follow Scaramanga to small barn where the Sheriff is arrested by police while Bond and Scaramanga turns his car into a small plane to escape. Later M informs Bond that Scaramanga had escaped to Puckett Island taking the Solex and Goodnight with him.
Bond and Scaramanga dueling
Bond flies a seaplane and lands at Scaramanga's island. Upon arriving, he is welcomed by Scaramanga and shown his high-tech solar power plant. Scaramanga intends to show off technology to the superpowers of the world, and sell it to the highest bidder. That bidder will be Able to build hundreds of solar energy plants as well as sell franchises. As a result there will be a monopoly on solar energy and the oil producing countries will be forced to pay Scaramanga to keep it off the market. During lunch Scaramanga compares himself to Bond but he denies this as he kills to save the world while Scaraanga kills for money. Scaramanga then offers the agent a duel: Bond’s Walther PPK vs. Scaramanga’s Golden Gun. At the start of the duel Scaramanga disappears and Bond is forced to search for him inside his “fun house”. Bond sneaks into the house, evading the cameras and tricks Scaramanga with replicates of him and then kills him. He then retrieves the solex and escapes from the island.
With the success of Live and Let Die and the mass acceptance of Roger Moore as James Bond production on The Man with the Golden Gun began immediately. The original novel was once again set in Jamaica so the producers looked at other locations the film could take place in including Iran, Beirut and even Vietnam. The decision was finally made when the location scouters found the island mountains of Thialand.
Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Roger Moore
With the decision to make the film in Thialand and Hong Kong previous Bond writer Tom Mankiewicz was brought on to write the script. In less than five months of the release of Live and Let Die Guy Hamilton begins shooting the newest Bond film in Hong Kong. During shooting Mankiewicz dropped out of the project feeling that he was burnt out on writing Bond films. The producers turned to long time Bond writer Richard Maibaum to finish the script.
For the first time in quite some time the producers had their James Bond and now they needed a villain for the assassin Scaramanga. The role was first offered to Jack Palance but he turned it down. Second choice was Ian Flemings cousin and long time friend of Roger Moore’s Christopher Lee.
With the rest of the cast set and shooting about to start back up again the producers once again turned back to Mankiewicz to do another rewrite of the script. The final version of the script gives Bond an associate Lt. Hip and brings the return of Sheriff Pepper from Live and Let Die.
Guy Hamilton directing
In early April, less than a year from the release of Live and Let Die full production of The Man with the Golden Gun begins with the exterior shoots of Scaramanga’s private home. The island was near a very small remote village that the production company had to refurnish themselves to make livable for the actors. Taking the local brothel Guy Hamilton sent the working women on vacation and replaced the wood floors with granite.
Spending only ten days in the remote location the production team moved to Hong Kong were they lived in the lap of luxury. Filming at the garden estate Christopher Lee had much trouble assembling his signature prop. By the end of May the team turned their attentions to the boat chase in Bangkok's floating market.
The computer rendering of the stunt
However the real dangers came when shooting the flipping car stunt in the film. Stunt driver Milligan Jr. who had been hired because of the flipping stunt he performed in the Astro Dome. The mathematics of the stunt was actually worked out on a computer that was used by automobile manufactures to simulate car crashs and a rough animation of the stunt was created to work out all the necassities of performing the dangerous jump. Driver “Bumps” Willard was hired to do the actual stunt for the film which had the producers very worried that something may go wrong. The danger was that Willard would have to wear a three point harness to keep him stationary during the flip which took place over a body of water. A crane and divers were hired for safety. If something were to go wrong the divers would hook the car to the crane which would then be lifted above water. The reasoning was that it was faster to get the car out of the water with the driver then it would be to save just the driver who had to lay flat on his back to drive in between dummy versions of Bond and Sheriff Pepper.
Returning to Pinewood studios in June Cubby Broccoli quickly replaced the director of photographer Ted Moore after he fell ill. On a tight schedule this was a big gamble but thankfully the new photographer Oswald Morris was able to start right up without any delay.
John Stears returned and built Scaramanga’s flying car. There was a real flying car but the creator crashed it and died leaving Stears to build a new one. All the flying shot were actually of a remote control version of the full version.
The Man with the Golden Gun was released on December 3, 1974. A little over a year after Live and Let Die. Though it recouped its $7 million budget, earning a total of $97,600,000 worldwide it is the sixth lowest-grossing Bond film. The film was met with mixed reviews. The most common points of critisim are Moore’s performance, the rip-off of the kung-fu craze of the time by setting it in Asia and having an unnecessary Kung-fu scene and the overall goofy tone of the movie. Though Christopher Lee’s performance was praised and Scaramanga is often considered one of the best villains in the series.
The Man With the Golden Gun often ranks as one of the worst Bond films.