|Bond duels the villain Scaramanga on his "fun house", a maze full of video screens, images and sound effects meant to confuse every possible challenger.|
|Movie poster artwork for The Man With The|
Golden Gun, designed by Robert McGinnis
As he showed in previous Bond adventures like Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, Hamilton makes good use of the thechnical aspects of the story and has a straightforward way of presenting the facts, with a simple storyline that leaves more space to the technical aspects such as the action sequences and the film visuals (mainly the cinematography, the music and the set design).
|Fantastic shot of the film by cinematographers Ted Moore and Oswald Morris. |
Equally fantastic set design by Peter Murton.
After the colorful main titles by Maurice Binder, playing over the catching title song by Scottish singer Lulu, Roger Moore makes his second appaerance as James Bond onscreen and reports for duty to his boss M (Bernard Lee). This time, tough, he isn't briefed about a mission. He is offered a sabbatical year or the resignation. The reason: he has been marked for death by Scaramanga - whom nobody knows where he is or how he looks like (except we, the audience, who were offered a glimpse of his million dollar hits). "The Man With The Golden Gun" has been previously responsible for the death of agent 002 in Beirut, and now he seems to have put his eye on 007.
In recent Bond films, namely Licence To Kill (1989), Die Another Day (2002), Quantum of Solace (2008) and SPECTRE (2015), we see 007 picking his own mission outside MI6. The Man With The Golden Gun could be the first film in the series where Bond isn't formally assigned to a mission and M wants him out of the picture to protect him of Scaramanga. Thus, Bond goes solo following a series of clues from Lebanon to Macau, from Hong Kong to Thailand, to find Scaramanga first. It happens in a very subtle way and Bond isn't exactly going rogue, but he isn't formally assigned to kill his nemesis.
|Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga,|
aka "The Man With the Golden Gun".
In many interviews, Christopher Lee saw his character as "the dark side of Bond", and this shows off in the aforementioned exchange: Scaramanga is an assassin and so is Bond, but the latter firmily establishes he's on the side of good. Both Moore and Lee have an unique chemistry and the contrasts between the protagonist and the antagonist are truly believable. Lee, distant cousin of Ian Fleming, didn't portray Scaramanga as the outlaw described by Fleming and the movie is much less dramatic in comparison. 1989's Licence To Kill would be even closer to Ian Fleming's The Man With The Golden Gun in concept as Edward Biddulph brilliantly described on his blog James Bond Memes.
Cinematographers Ted Moore and Oswald Morris used an eye popping palette of purple, red, yellow and green for most of the scenes, namely those taking place in Scaramanga's fun house. The Man With The Golden Gun is probably one of the most visually impacting films of the series, where reds look redder, greens look greener and blue looks bluer. Even the iconic gunbarrel sequence, for unknown reasons, got the opening dots in a light purple hue, something the Lowry team "corrected" in their DVD and BluRay transfer restorations for the film. Production designer Peter Murton, who previously worked as an art director on Goldfinger and Thunderball, was in charge of set designs that maybe weren't as extravagant as Ken Adam's pieces but do deserve some credit: besides the imaginative fun house of the villain, there is also the British Secret Service hideout rebuilt inside the sinking wreckage of the Queen Elizabeth transatlantic (pure Moore-Bond era humour!)
|After the relevance of martial arts in 1970s flicks, |
Bond (unwantedly) visits a karate school.
The music is skilfully used as Bond and his uninvited guest Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) are chasing Scaramanga and Nick Nack through the streets of Bangkok, both "teams" driving AMC cars. As Scaramanga hides his car inside a garage and turns his vehicle into a flying car, a soft version of the theme song is heard, while we get a frenetic version of the James Bond Theme as 007 and the policeman are on hot pursuit (listen to track six of the soundtrack, "Let's Go Get Them"). Given that Pepper has first appeared in the previous film, Barry allows himself to add some little irony and include a few bars of George Martin's Live And Let Die theme song.
Other suites of the album are comprised of guitars and wind instruments, with some percussion rythms too. Much like in Diamonds Are Forever, the soundtrack of The Man With The Golden Gun feels vibrant, sexy and lush.
Part of the score is also the much criticized "whistle" sound effect as Bond and Pepper's AMC Matador makes a 360 degree spin as they jump over a broken bridge. But, seriously, would that sequence be any better without this (in)famous sound effect? It added emphasis and substance to one of the most remembered and meticulosly planned stunts in the motion picture history.
Times change and James Bond is now, with Daniel Craig, closer to what Fleming had in mind: a blunt instrument. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that and Craig is the right Bond for today's world. Nevertheless, as Bond is a character of all time, Roger Moore was Bond for yesterday's world, and the world of the 1970s was much more visually flamboyant than today's.
Forty-three years after its release, the Bond film that put to an end the society between Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli is sadly overlooked when compared to other 007 flicks. But, seriously, think of The Man With The Golden Gun as a testimony of the vibrant early 1970s and you'll love it. Immerse yourself in John Barry's music, fix your eyes on the exciting cinematography, take an invite to Scaramanga's fun house, envy Roger Moore's womanizing with a blonde and a brunette in the same hotel room for the sake of Queen and Country and -seriously- you'll love it.