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007: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Man with the Golden Gun Ultimate Edition cover
The weakest of the Bond films to date, The Man with the Golden Gun represents the series at an artistic nadir. Perhaps because the relationship between Broccoli and Saltzman had reached breaking point (this would be their last film as partners), almost every aspect of the film seems uninspired. The emphasis on overt humour reaches its peak here, with the movie often resembling a slapstick comedy. The screenplay is also tepid and filled with inconsistencies and absurd situations. All of the characters are ill-tempered and there is little affection displayed even among the regulars. The heroine, Mary Goodnight, is an immature high school-type girl who strains all credibility as a seasoned MI6 agent, and Bond's constant irritation with being in her presence is fully understandable. No Bond film is without merit, however, and Golden Gun ironically features one of the best villains of the series: Scaramange, who is played with such skill and charm by Christopher Lee that we almost end up cheering him on!
Mission Assignment (may contain spoilers)
The world energy crisis results in the superpowers vying to possess the Solex Agitator, a device which can convert radiation from the sun into electricity. James Bond is assigned to recover the device, but has a slight distraction: there are indications that he has been marked for death by notorious assassin Francisco Scaramanga, known as 'The Man with the Golden Gun'. However, both men are being used as pawns by Scaramanga's mistress Andrea Anders who hopes that Bond will kill her lover, thus freeing her from virtual captivity. Bond is assigned to work with beautiful but bumbling MI6 agent Mary Goodnight to recoverthe Agitator, which has fallen into Scaramanga's possession. he has a face-to-face confrontation with Scaramanga on his private island and learns that the charismatic assassin intends to sell the Agitator to the highest-bidding nation, thus garunteeing a virtual monopoly on the sun's power. Scaramanga, who respects Bond as a rival, arranges an elaborate duel inside his deadly funhouse. Bond manages to best him, but barely, and has to resort to his wits to outgun his rival. Agent 007 ultimately recoveres the Agitator and embarks on a long-delayed romantic journey with Mary.
Golden Gun featured a number of exotic locations, including Macau, Hong Kong and Thailand. Extensive use was made of site in Bangkok and on Thailand's exotic island of Phuket, where Scaramanga's hideaway is located.
Marketing & Merchandising
Golden Gun featured one of the more anaemic advertising campaigns of the series. Even the poster art seemed like a rehashed version of the campaign for Live and Let Die, although a rarely seen poster depicting Scaramanga and previous villains is today considered to be a valuable collector's item. A teaset poster showing the disassembled golden gun was far more impressive in its impact than the main advertising campaign.
As usual, there were numerous product tie-ins. In the UK they included Faberge toiletries (which Roger Moore had ties with at the time), Supont carpets, Nikon cameras and Colibri cigarette lighters - the company assisted in the design of the Golden Gun. In the USA, the American Motor Company promoted their vehicles' imvolvement with the movie.
On the merchandising front, licensed products were few. in addition to the standard paperback and soundtrack album, British fans could buy a souvenir poster magazine and Lone Star Toys re-issued their generic 007 pistol (now in gold) which a caption indicating the product was inspired by the new film. In recent years, a gold-plated replica of Scaramanga's gun was produced (complete with engraved '007' bullet) and marketed to serious collectors for $700.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writers: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz & Ian Fleming
Starring: Roger Moore, Britt Ekland, Christopher Lee
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Release date: 19 December 1974 UK
Film number: 09
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Roger Moore - James Bond
Britt Ekland - Mary Goodnight
Maud Adams - Andrea Anders
Christopher Lee - Francisco Scaramanga
Herve Villechaize - Nick Nack
Richard Loo - Hai Fat
Chan Yiu Lam - Chula
Soon-Taik Oh - Lieutenant Hip
Clifton James - Sheriff J W Pepper
Bernard Lee - M
Desmond Llewelyn - Q
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny
Top Secret dossiers
The Man with the Golden Gun Vehicle article
The Man with the Golden Gun Gadget article
The Man with the Golden Gun Music article
The Man with the Golden Gun Character article
The Man with the Golden Gun Trailer
The Man with the Golden Gun Opening titles
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: It is said during the duel that the Golden Gun can fire only one bullet, yet at the beginning of the movie Scaramanga shoots the fingers off of the Bond dummy using multiple bullets. That's because he's using his dead opponent's gun.
Revealing mistakes: Right before the man is hit with the chair in the belly dancer's dressing room, we can see the pad on his back to absorb the impact.
Factual errors: Absolute zero cannot be "maintained" since it has never been "reached". Even if that was permissible in the movie, it wouldn't require a man's body temperature to raise it, as the temperature of the surrounding air would already have done the trick.
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The Box Office
While international box-office grosses for Golden Gun ($98 million) would have been considered huge by most standards, they reflected a precipitous drop compared with those of previous Bond films. In the USA the film grossed a disappointing $21 million - a forty percent drop on Live and Let Die. Neither critics nor fans were impressed with or enthused by the film, and those reactions - combined with the forthcoming break-up of Broccoli and Saltzman - left many wondering if Agent 007 had finally met his most lethal enemy - audience apathy.
Date Published: 03 November 2010 Last Updated: 17 June 2011