Roger Moore’s debut as James Bond was welcomed by fans and critics alike, and he returned the following year to reprise the role. Sadly, this would be the last Bond film produced by both Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli as Saltzman announced his departure from Eon Productions after the film was completed.
Where Live and Let Die used a lot of trends from the popular blaxploitation films of the 70s, The Man with the Golden Gun employed similarly popular film genres in the movie, namely, martial arts. It was becoming evident that this era of Bond films would not shape cinema trends; rather it would be shaped by cinema trends.
The Man with the Golden Gun made its debut on December 19, 1974, at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. The film was met with mixed reviews upon its release, prompting audiences to wonder if this were truly the right direction for Bond to go.
The story starts out with a scene that introduces the villain of the film, one Mr. Scaramanga, played exceptionally well by Christopher Lee. We discover that he’s an assassin-for-hire who is evidently the best at what he does. He charges $1 million per hit and never misses. He also has a trademark handgun made of gold that is assembled from various harmless items that someone might carry around ordinarily: a pen, a cigarette lighter, etc.
Bond receives a golden bullet with his designation “007” inscribed on it that appears to have been sent from Scaramanga. Bond then follows Scaramanga’s trail and hunts him down, stopping for some casual sex, a car chase, and a boat chase along the way.
Eventually Bond reaches Scaramanga’s lair and battles him in a duel, besting him by pretending to be his own wax statue.
All in all, the film was pretty weak. Aside from Christopher Lee’s performance, there’s not a whole lot going for this movie. It wasn’t terrible, but it was far from enjoyable. Roger Moore was okay in his portrayal as Bond, and Maud Adams wasn’t too bad either. Mary Goodnight (played by Britt Ekland), another British agent who partners up with Bond for this adventure, was a rather stupid character who didn’t really serve much of a purpose other than to get Bond into trouble.
The plot was entirely too simple and ended up being drawn out over way too much film. The movie was tiresome and boring, with the exception of the last few scenes. Bond’s duel with Scaramanga was filled with a good amount of tension, and as predictable as its conclusion was, Bond’s victory still satisfied. The escape from Scaramanga’s lair and Bond’s attempt to retrieve the Solex agitator from its housing (yes, that’s a part of the plot I didn’t describe, but believe me, it’s not worth going over) were also very exciting moments, despite Goodnight’s blundering about.
It’s unfortunate that Roger Moore’s first two outings as Bond were less than stellar. I find myself really enjoying his portrayal of the character (oddly enough, even more so than Sean Connery), but so far his films have been somewhat disappointing. Live and Let Die was slightly better than The Man with the Golden Gun, but not by much. Here’s to hoping Moore can land a better film next time around…