Ian Fleming’s The Man With the Golden Gun was the only posthumous release for the established actor, and the book was such a success that producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decided to try and recruit Roger Moore for the role immediately after You Only Live Twice to capitalize on the success of Fleming’s book. However, it wasn’t meant to be, and the film’s production was delayed several years while the George Lazenby era came and went, not to mention the Sean Connery era leav…ng and returning, only to leave again. When Moore came on, Live and Let Die was the first book they adapted, and The Man With the Golden Gun finally came to fruition in 1974.
In this installment, James Bond (Roger Moore) is summoned to the offices of MI6, where he finds a golden bullet delivered to his attention. The golden bullet is the signature of an assassin named Scaramanga (Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Rings) who worked for the Eastern Bloc. James follows Scaramanga to the Far East, using the help of a liaison named Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland, The Wicker Man). Scaramanga also has an evil plot in mind, and his plot is to capture a device that coverts all solar power to energy, thereby eliminating any possible energy crisis and halting the use of oil and other energy sources.
Of all the Bond films that have Roger Moore as its star, I found The Man With the Golden Gun to be a departure from what a viewer would normally expect. Moore is more focused on business, with a minimum on distractions this time around. Sure, he fraternizes with Goodnight, not to mention Andrea Anders (Maud Adams, Octopussy). He is focused on target more than usual and despite another distraction in Clifton James, who reprises his role from Live and Let Die as Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper, is probably the most appealing of the films he did during his run.
The older Bonds have a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer and this one looks OK, nothing too noticeable or substantial.
As usual, choices of Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks abound. The DTS track isn’t too bad compared to some of the older films, there is a little more panning that I was expecting. It’s certainly not reference quality, but it’s passable.
Hey, Sir Roger Moore contributes a commentary to this film. Like before, he discusses the track being more conversational than informational. He shares his recollections on the set and on a broader scale, the Broccoli/Saltzman partnership. He doesn’t hesitate to throw a joke or two in there either. There are quite a few extended gaps of silence in his track, but to have him reminisce about these even recently is a nice touch. The second track is a holdover from the Special Edition, featuring director Guy Hamilton, screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, Adams, Lee and Eklund, to name a few. As is the case in other films, Hamilton and Mankiewicz seem to possess the most detail and recollection, while others pitch in with some periphery stuff. It’s a fairly dry track, but it does help add to the film’s overall experience.
Disc Two starts off, as usual, with the “Declassified: MI6 Vault” section that houses the new material. First up is a clip featuring an interview with Moore and Villechaize on Britain’s “Russell Harty Show”. The series of hastily edited clips has Moore’s quips during the interviews before Villechaize drops in, where he discusses his experience before and during the production that’s quick and painless. After that is some location footage from the film, introduced by longtime Bond producer Michael G. Wilson. There’s also some location interview time with Moore, but at 90 seconds that is all pretty quick. A piece called “Girls Fighting” is next, but it’s daily footage surrounding the Hip girls and their fight on set that runs about three minutes. From there it’s onto an equally cryptic titled feature called “American Thrill Show Stunt Film”. It’s basically a promotional film showing the car stunt as a bit of a sales piece for the stunt company behind it, it’s a quick five minutes, which you can also play with commentary with stunt coordinator W.J. Milligan. After that, Hamilton is subject of five minutes’ worth of interviews about his beginnings and his time as the resident “old reliable” director of Bond movies in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Millgan returns to provide some recollections about his beginnings which is about the same length. “007 Mission Control” is the usual interactive guide of Bond film staples, and the “Mission Dossier” has the stuff the Special Edition did. First off, the series of Patrick Macnee narrated documentaries of the making of the films returns for this one. This one is fairly detailed and quite good, with dated interview footage with Hamilton, along with the usual cast of characters that were still alive when this was shot several years back, along with some interesting trivia (Jack Palance declined the role of Scaramanga), and Lee even appears for a moment or two! Everyone remembers Villechaize as a bit of a pimp, and some of the more memorable scenes are discussed as usual too, with fond memories of the location design, pre-production and post-production stuff to boot, resulting in another excellent examination of a Bond film’s production. There’s a separate piece on the Bond stuntmen through the years (up to The World is Not Enough it looks like) where the stunt performers recall their particular work and help to remember the stuntmen that are no longer around (by natural causes). They also talk about some of their close calls and the challenges they faced. At a half hour, it’s pretty solid. The “Ministry of Propaganda” section contains two trailers, two TV spots and three radio spots, and the “Image Database” section has the stills for the film.
Wow, after I had said that Live and Let Die was probably the best Moore movie, this one promptly takes its place. Well worth checking out for the curious, and in terms of Bond films is in the 5-8 range. And now that I’m rounding third and heading home with the last quarter of these babies, stay tuned, as there’s five more to go, each a random selection for those who have played the man, the myth, the license to kill agent named James Bond!
Special Features List
- Cast and Crew Commentary
- Roger Moore Commentary
- Interview Footage
- On Set Footage
- Stunt Test Footage
- Interactive Control
- Making of Featurette
- Trailers/TV Spots
- Radio Spots
- Still Galleries