By Marc S. Sanders
Bond. James Bond going Mano y Mano against Francisco Scaramenga, also known as The Man With The Golden Gun.
Regarded as one of the least successful films in the franchise, Roger Moore’s second outing as 007, with Guy Hamilton directing his fourth installment, is really fun and devious.
Scaramenga (Christopher Lee) is former KGB who lives on his own island where he takes pleasure in carrying out gun duels with anyone up to the challenge. Professionally though, he works independently charging a million dollars to anyone requesting an assassination by means of his golden gun with accompanying golden bullets. Though it seems now the expert marksman is reaching out to Bond as a worthy competitor.
Bond doesn’t even know what Scaramenga looks like. So he jets off to Beirut, then Thailand, Hong Kong and eventually the villain’s own private island located in the seas off the coast of China. Also there is Scaramenga’s latest toy, consisting of unlimited solar energy, a device he could sell to world powers globally for the highest bid while also bankrupting the oil industry.
Bond has encounters with a quirky henchman again. This time it’s a deadly midget named Nick Nack (Herve Villacaize, Fantasy Island). He’s a lot of fun as he teases both Bond and his boss, Scaramenga, in a fun house obstacle course as they carry out their best efforts to survive.
Two Bond girls (Maud Adams and Britt Eckland) allow Moore to balance the ladies in a hiding game within his hotel room while trying to keep them from running into each other. It’s light farce.
The Man With The Golden Gun also features one of the greatest automobile stunts ever captured on film, an alleyoop flip over a ravine with a broken bridge. Needs to be seen to be believed.
What keeps this film from highest of regard though is the return of Clifton Davis as Louisiana Sheriff JW Pepper for some cheap laughs that didn’t work when we saw him the first time in Live And Let Die. He’s a pest who’s contrived to show up in Hong Kong of all places and coincidentally run into Bond again. Really? Seriously? There’s no reason for this annoyance to be here.
Still there’s lots of good moments including Bond vs two sumo wrestlers as well as fighting his way out of a deadly dojo with the assistance of some karate skilled school girls. Then there’s Scaramenga’s flying car which is extra cool.
007 embarks on an adventure that still holds up. Christopher Lee is loving his villainy and Roger Moore continues with the part well. He’s a sharp guy.
The Man With The Golden Gun is a film worth revisiting.