Review: The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)


Director: Guy Hamilton

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland

Release Date: December 19th 1974 (UK)

Going into this, it must be mentioned that the top of the cast list is an absolute dream come true. Roger Moore did not have the best start in his first turn as Bond in Live and Let Die, but none of the actors gave their best performance their first time around the block (some came close, but so far no one has ever gotten to that Brass Ring) and has bags of potential left to utilise.

Meanwhile, the man who was almost cast as 007 instead of Sean Connery in Dr. No, Christopher Lee, cousin of Ian Fleming himself plays opposite him as bad guy Fransisco Scaramanga, the titular man with the golden gun. Lee is practically acting royalty and when I heard of his passing a few months ago, the first thing I did was put on the blu ray of this deeply flawed film and marvel at his trademark flawless performance.

The same however cannot be said for the rest of this film’s cast.

I cannot get over the fact characters like Q and M do nothing except be short with each other. I get that not everyone gets on, but what are the chances that they also become two-dimensional cardboard cut-out pastiches of characters? None. None is the answer. Behind the scenes with Live and Let Die (1973), the relationship between Albert Broccolli and Harry Saltzman was stretched to breaking point and I think that even though Christopher Lee and Roger Moore give us fantastic performances (including a part in the pre credits sequence when Christopher Lee fires his gun at a waxwork Roger Moore’s erm … gentleman’s area), it does not mask the fact that this movie is arguably the weakest in the entire series.

It is perhaps for the best that this is the final movie ever to be co-produced by Broccolli and Saltzman as its souring had been felt in the worsening quality of the last few films (I would either date this to You Only Live Twice in 1967 or even just following Thunderball in 1965). As I will hopefully show in my review of the next in the series, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, perhaps keeping the Bond franchise strictly a family affair was to its best.

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