FILM (1974)


Rewind film: The Man With the Golden Gun, directed by Guy Hamilton

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 3:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 3:47pm

The Man With the Golden Gun
Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland
Director: Guy Hamilton

Some early films from the Bond franchise are better off consigned to the movie guidebooks, along with the pinching of women's bottoms on live television and racist jokes in stand-up comedy routines.

While the previous decade's Daniel Craig-led movies may well be accused of being too violent or unrelentingly serious (or both), culturally or sexually insensitive they certainly are not. The times have changed, and for the best.

Guy Hamilton's last film in the director's chair is packed with the elements many people want in their Bonds: the dim-witted, big-eyed, blonde sidekick (played here by Britt Ekland with unparalleled vacuity), the mad villain (Christopher Lee), and the suave, suited secret agent played with high camp. Roger Moore is a master of that art form, and in this film he excels. "You really do have a magnificent abdomen," he purrs at a Lebanese belly dancer in one scene.

With a plot about an emerging energy crisis (thereby tapping into the zeitgeist), Hamilton's film takes our hero on a journey from dreary London to the exotic Far East, from the gambling dens of Macau and the strip clubs and fancy hotels of Hong Kong, to the mountains and islands of Thailand and the waterways of Bangkok. This is a visually entertaining vehicle if nothing else.

The jokes fall flat almost every time. Where Sean Connery delivered his lines with a wry nod and a wink, Moore offered his without a hint of irony and with an earnestness that would give any casting director sleepless nights. But who cares about dialogue when the world is running out of renewable energy, and a mysterious man by the name of Francisco Scaramanga (he of three nipples) is on the hunt for the all-important "Solex agitator", a small device that can turn the sun's rays into energy.

Scaramanga - accompanied by a small, sweaty sidekick called Nick Nack and armed with a golden gun (replete with golden bullets) - and Bond do their customary dance of death, even dining together on the villain's private paradise island, an opportunity that offers us the immortal line: "Come, come Mr Bond, you disappoint me. You get as much fulfilment out of killing as I do."

For Hongkongers, it's certainly fun to see the city of the early 1970s depicted on the big screen (how refined the strip clubs looked back then), but unfortunately big set pieces and exciting locations aren't enough to save a frankly dated and poorly scripted film.

Out of all the Bonds with "gold" in the title, this is the one to avoid.

Oliver Clasper