James Bond — The Man with the Golden Gun (Guy Hamilton, 1974) 🇺🇸
James Bond always comes up with ideas that sparkle and shine. The year when the price of black gold kept climbing, he was presented with the ultimate gadget – in solid gold, appropriately enough! It could well be seen as a poisoned Christmas gift, since it takes the form of a pistol designed to “assassinate James Bond”, as the slogan tells us. Poor Roger Moore!
We don’t need any instructions as the poster tells us how it works. The gun is easy to assemble using four gold accessories: a fountain pen, lighter, cigarette case and cuff link, which all slot into each other and cleverly turn into a barrel, cartridge clip, grip and trigger. And let’s not forget the bullet – also made of gold, of course – engraved with the 007 code number.
The golden gun is, however, more than just a killing machine. It is also imbued with erotic power. As the opening sequence unfolds, it dictates the movements of a young nymph as she enjoys a lascivious swim. It then gets close up and personal as it brushes Andrea’s face; while she doesn’t seem totally reassured, she then strokes it. In the middle of a boxing match, she is shot in the heart by a golden bullet, so sensual that the dead woman continues to look like she’s alive.
“The man with the golden gun” possesses another, highly significant gadget: the Solex Agitator, which has the power to solve the petrol crisis by converting solar energy into electricity. James Bond really is a man of his time! The baddy carries out his evil experiments on his enchanting island in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay (nicknamed “James Bond’s island”), home to various bikini-clad nymphets and a seriously high-tech laboratory, in the same spirit as Dr. No’s lair. He also entertains himself by killing visiting enemies in his funhouse, a macabre maze strewn with mirrors, pitfalls and laughing skeletons. His midget manservant, Nick-Nack, a prankster with fine sideburns and his finger on the trigger, takes malicious pleasure in playing with the funhouse controls. He sends visitors into a panic by bringing to life wax cowboy mannequins and toppling the dead against a background of crazy dancehall piano music. His favourite target? A cardboard James Bond who turns about to be very useful to the real secret agent during the final duel when he combats the golden gun with his famous Walther PPK.
Christopher Lee, who was also a cousin of Ian Fleming’s, swaps his Dracula fangs for a third nipple as he takes on the role of the mysterious assassin who goes by the name of Scaramanga. He gives 007 a real run for his money as the agent hunts him down all over Asia, from Beirut to Phang Nga, with visits to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Macao.
The game of hide-and-seeks opens in dramatic fashion when Bond pulls a golden bullet out of the navel of a Lebanese belly dancer. The “lucky charm” takes him to Macao and the shop of a Portuguese gun maker who designed the golden gun and its bullets. As if by magic, they land on the casino tables of the city where Andrea, Scaramanga’s mistress, picks them up. She jumps on a hydrofoil and escapes to Hong Kong, where James Bond surprises her in the shower. When the Peninsula Hotel’s champagne doesn’t work, he brutally twists her arm to get the address of a topless bar where the inventor of the Solex, after eyeing up the women, gets a golden bullet to the brain. Bond is then taken for the murderer and arrested by a bogus policeman who whisks him off to a strange sort of police station: the half-sunk wreck of the Queen Elisabeth where Q, M and other associates have taken up headquarters and are waiting for him. Bond appears totally at home in the surreal surroundings where the furniture is tailored to the slanting walls and floors. He is less at ease in Hai Fat’s garden, teeming with what seem to be Buddhist demons who are keen to exterminate him. After being attacked by sumo wrestlers, neutralised by a below-the-belt move, he has to fight for his life in a martial arts school. He is saved by two girls who happen to be karate champions before taking off on a high-speed chase across the Bangkok klongs. As if that wasn’t enough, he continues the chase in a car, an AMC Hornet that comes fully equipped with a passenger: a bumbling American sheriff who didn’t choose to embark on the adventure with him and is dumb-founded as he watches Bond’s corkscrew jump! 007 is not going to let Scaramanga get away now that he has Goodbye imprisoned in the trunk of his car. Especially since she hasn’t had a chance to get anywhere with her “darling” James Bond, having been shut up in a wardrobe while he made love to Andrea! But it’s too late, and Scaramanga has sprouted wings and flown away, carrying the precious Solex off to his island.
Will the villain once again pop champagne corks using his golden bullet? Will he be able to make use of his “masterpiece” by assassinating Bond? In any case, he won’t be ousted by Nick-Nack who we see hanging in a basket from the mast of a junk in the final sequence. After all, James Bond does need some time off occasionally, ideally in the company of a blond.
While it’s true that the story is not at all restful, its poster will delight fans of gadgets, jokes and beautiful women – which they’ll be able to enjoy once more in The Spy Who Loved Me!
Check out the French version of this article.