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The Man with the Golden Gun


The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) is the ninth spy film in the James Bond series and the second to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. A loose adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel of same name, the film has Bond sent after the Solex Agitator, a device which can harness the power of the sun, while facing the assassin Francisco Scaramanga, the “Man with the Golden Gun”. The action culminates in a duel between them that settles the fate of the Solex.

The Man with the Golden Gun was the fourth and final film in the series to be directed by Guy Hamilton. The script was written by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz. The film was set in the face of the 1973 energy crisis, a dominant theme in the script—Britain had still not yet fully overcome the crisis when the film was released in December 1974. The film also reflects the then popular martial arts film craze, with several kung-fu scenes and a predominantly Asian location, being shot in Thailand, Hong Kong and Macao.

The film saw mixed reviews, with Christopher Lee’s performance as Scaramanga, intended to be a villain of similar skill and ability to Bond, being praised; but reviewers criticized the film as a whole, particularly the comedic approach. Although the film was profitable, it is the fourth lowest-grossing Bond film in the series and has been described as the lowest point in the canon. It was also the final film to be co-produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, with Saltzman selling his 50% stake in Eon Productions’s parent company, Danjaq, LLC after the release of the film.

Plot

In London, a golden bullet with James Bond’s code “007” etched into its surface is received by MI6. It is believed that it was sent by famed assassin Francisco Scaramanga, who uses a golden gun, to intimidate the agent. Because of the perceived threat to the agent’s life, M relieves Bond of a mission revolving around the work of a scientist named Gibson, thought to be in possession of information crucial to solving the energy crisis with solar power. Bond sets out unofficially to find Scaramanga.

After retrieving a spent golden bullet from a belly dancer in Beirut and tracking its manufacturer to Macau, Bond sees Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s mistress, collecting golden bullets at a casino. Bond follows her to Hong Kong and in her Peninsula Hotel room pressures her to tell him about Scaramanga, his appearance and his plans; she directs him to the Bottoms Up Club. The club proves to be the location of Scaramanga’s next ‘hit’, Gibson, from which Scaramanga’s dwarf henchman Nick Nack steals the “Solex agitator”, a key component of a solar power station. Before Bond can assert his innocence, however, Lieutenant Hip escorts him away from the scene, taking him to meet M and Q in a hidden headquarters in the wreck of the RMS Queen Elizabeth in the harbour, who assign 007 to retrieve the Solex agitator and assassinate Scaramanga.

Bond then travels to Bangkok to meet a Thai entrepreneur suspected of arranging Gibson’s murder, Hai Fat. Bond poses as Scaramanga, but his plan backfires because Scaramanga himself is being hosted at Hai Fat’s estate. Bond is captured and placed in Fat’s dojo, where the fighters are instructed to kill him. After escaping with the aid of Lt. Hip and his nieces, Bond speeds away on a khlong along the river and reunites with his British assistant Mary Goodnight. Hai Fat is subsequently killed by Scaramanga, who replaces Fat as the “new Chairman of the board” and takes the Solex.

Anders visits Bond, revealing that she had sent the bullet to London and wants Bond to kill Scaramanga. In payment, she promises to hand the Solex over to him at a boxing venue the next day. At the match, Bond discovers Anders dead and meets Scaramanga. Bond spots the Solex on the floor and is able to smuggle it away to Hip, who passes it to Goodnight. Attempting to place a homing device on Scaramanga’s car, she is locked into the vehicle’s boot. Bond sees Scaramanga driving away and steals a showroom car to give chase, coincidentally with Sheriff J.W. Pepper seated within it. Bond and Pepper follow Scaramanga in a car chase across Bangkok, which concludes when Scaramanga’s car transforms into a plane, which flies him, Nick Nack and Goodnight to his private island.

Picking up Goodnight’s tracking device, Bond flies a seaplane into Red Chinese waters, under the Chinese radar, and lands at Scaramanga’s island. On arriving, Bond is welcomed by Scaramanga, who shows him the high-tech solar power plant he has taken over, the technology for which he intends to sell to the highest bidder. Whilst demonstrating the equipment, Scaramanga uses a powerful solar beam to destroy Bond’s plane.

Scaramanga then proposes a pistol duel with Bond on the beach; the two men later stand back to back and are ordered by Nick Nack to take twenty paces, but when Bond turns and fires, Scaramanga has vanished. Nick Nack leads Bond into Scaramanga’s Funhouse where Bond poses as a mannequin of himself while Scaramanga walks by, taking him by surprise and killing him. Goodnight, in waylaying a henchman into a pool of liquid helium, upsets the balance of the solar plant, which begins to go out of control. Bond retrieves the Solex unit just before the island explodes, and they escape unharmed in Scaramanga’s Chinese junk, later subduing Nick Nack who challenges them having smuggled himself aboard.

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