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Guy Hamilton
Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize, Clifton James, Richard Loo, Soon-Tek Oh, Marc Lawrence, Bernard Lee
Writing Credits:
Ian Fleming (novel), Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz

He never misses his target, and now his target is 007.

This time agent James Bond (Roger Moore) travels to Asia in search of sinister hit man Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), who is gunning for Bond and is competing with the British government for a necessary component for a solar energy converter. When he discovers Scaramanga on a heavily protected island, he has to get past his evil henchman Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) and thwart the mastermind's plan for destruction.

Box Office:
$13 million.
Domestic Gross
$21.000 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Surround 2.0

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/16/2000

• Audio Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton, Actors Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, and Soon-Taik Oh, Production Designer Peter Murton , Cinematographer Ozzie Morris, Continuity Supervisor Elaine Schreyeck, Co-Writer Tom Mankiewicz, Stunt Coordinator WJ Milligan, Composer John Barry, Consultant Michael Wilson, Production Designer Peter Murton, and Miniatures Supervisor Derek Meddings
• “Inside The Man With the Golden Gun” Documentary
• “Double-O-Stuntmen” Documentary
• Photo Gallery
• Collectible Making-Of Booklet
• Original Theatrical Trailers
• Television Spots


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 5, 2006)

To indicate that 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun possesses anything other than a terrible reputation among Bond fans would be incorrect. Here are some quotes from Bond authorities: Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall's The Essential Bond calls it "the weakest of the Bond films to date” (through 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies). They also indicate that “Gun represents the series at an artistic nadir" and go from there. In The Complete James Bond Encyclopedia, Steven Jay Rubin states simply that "This film is a turkey".

Ouch! Similar comments abound when opinions of other Bond aficionados appear. Not all may agree that Gun stands as the worst of the bunch, but it's difficult to find many who think it anything other than poor.

Far be it for me to disagree with so many authorities, but to be frank, I kind of liked the movie. Maybe it's just my perverse subconscious need to be different, but I found the film to offer a surprisingly entertaining and snappy offering. If nothing else, it's a good sight stronger than its predecessor, the tepid and silly Live and Let Die.

This doesn’t mean that Gun comes without a number of flaws. It's a generally silly affair that relies too much on slapstick humor, which includes an infamous penny whistle sound effect that mars the movie's best stunt. This bent towards jokiness leads to a repeat of Live and Let Die's worst component: Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James). His entire appearance seems awfully improbable - why is this redneck visiting the Far East? – and becomes more absurd by the second, especially when a key portion of the movie keys off of Pepper's apparent consideration of the purchase of an AMC vehicle. No one in the US wanted to buy one - why would he get one in Hong Kong and import it here? (The car was needed for the aforementioned stunt.)

One other oft-cited flaw of Gun stems from the abrasiveness seen in the picture. It's true that our usual crew do appear grumpier than normal, and Bond himself (Roger Moore) comes across as a rather nasty jerk much of the time. He slaps around a woman (Maud Adams) in one scene, and pushes a young boy off a speedboat in another; the latter is compounded by the fact he so rudely does so to evade a bargain he made! These kinds of scenes were marginal when played by the much tougher Sean Connery, but they appear radically out of place when depicted by softie Moore. Connery could pull them off as part of his arrogance, but Moore just looks like a prick.

One of the worst aspects of the movie comes from its leading lady, Britt Ekland. She plays Mary Goodnight, Bond's liaison in Hong Kong, a woman who should be capable and assertive but does nothing other than make one mistake after another and who constantly finds herself causing goofy predicaments. Much of the problem with Goodnight emanates from the script, but Ekland's performance, in which she plays Goodnight as nothing more than a prissy and petulant schoolgirl. Ekland was attractive but makes for one of the worst Bond women ever.

Add to that some additional racial offensiveness from Pepper - who always goes on about the "little brown pointy-heads", comments that shouldn't have been funny then and definitely aren't now - and Gun should be the complete disaster others describe it to be. Maybe it was just the lowered expectations that accompanied my knowledge of these opinions, but I still got a minor kick out of it. The movie definitely goes downhill in the second half - not coincidentally, the film's latter hour features all of Pepper's involvement and most of Goodnight's scenes - but I still thought it offered enough action and excitement to be worth the time.

Christopher Lee's turn as villain Scaramanga helps. He's completely professional and believable as this hired assassin. Even if Bond's pursuit of the killer makes little sense after a while, Lee creates a full-bodied baddie who actually seems more human than most. Ironically, Scaramanga can appear more sympathetic than some of the heroes! That's not necessarily a good thing - another reason why the second half of the film falters, since it depends on Bond's more active confrontation with Scaramanga - but Lee provides a robust performance that helps make the film watchable.

It's much easier for me to complain about The Man With the Golden Gun than to praise it, because its faults are more obvious than its strengths. (Oops - almost forget the horrifically screechy theme song from Lulu!) However, sometimes a film's whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I'll never claim that this is one of the better Bonds, but for someone who generally dislikes the "Moore Years", I found it to be a pleasant surprise.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

The Man With the Golden Gun appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While it showed some signs of age, the movie often looked quite good.

Sharpness seemed fine much of the time. Occasional light softness marred the picture at times, but for the most part, the film appeared nicely crisp and clear. I didn’t notice any jagged edges, but a little shimmering crept into the presentation, and I also noticed mild edge enhancement. Source flaws were a more consistent problem. The print suffered from a mix of specks, marks, nicks, scratches, and blotches. It wasn’t horribly dirty, but the defects popped up much more frequently than I’d like.

Colors tended to appear quite bold and vivid. The Asian setting provided lots of opulent costumes, and the DVD rendered the hues accurately and brightly. Some colored lighting had a few problems, but these are mild. Black levels looked deep and rich, while shadow detail was fine. A few shots looked just a smidgen dense, but the majority were clear and visible. Due to the source defects, this one ended up with a “B-“, but a cleaner presentation would have earned a significantly higher grade.

I found a pleasant surprise via the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Gun. It's unclear to me whether or not this mix was originally a surround job in theaters or if Gun was remastered. IMDB indicates that the film was mono, but they're not always correct. Whatever the case, this track sounded surprisingly good for an old film. The forward soundstage still tended to stick pretty closely to the center channel, but quite a lot of audio spread out the image through much of the film. The localizing of sound seemed a bit inconsistent; for example, some dialogue moved to the appropriate side of the soundstage and some didn't.

The surrounds were essentially neglected. They provided some gentle reinforcement of the main music and effects but did little to bolster the mix. Nonetheless, the additional spatiality added to the life of the track. It definitely seemed more involving than the previous films that used mono.

Quality seemed appropriate for the era. Speech tended to be somewhat flat and stiff, but it's clear and always intelligible. Effects could be a bit harsh and overly sharp, but they appeared acceptably realistic and lacked overt distortion. The music sounded clean and smooth, and the track offered some tasty low-end response when appropriate. I felt pretty pleased with this track.

Once again, I must provide my standard MGM audio warning: don't turn up the volume on your receiver until after the extremely loud – and annoyingly unskippable - MGM promo that appears right after you start the DVD. This thing has scared many an unwary viewer - and probably blown a speaker or two - so be warned. Message to MGM: turn down the volume and let us skip these stupid things!

If you've seen any of the previous Bonds - or even just read my other reviews - you probably already know pretty much what kind of supplements we'll find. Predictable, yes, but happily so, since all of these DVDs provide such fine extras, and Gun offers no exception.

First up is an audio commentary. This non-screen-specific track is pieced together from a series of interviews with principals such as director Guy Hamilton, actors Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Clifton James, and Soon-Taik Oh, continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck, co-writer Tom Mankiewicz, stunt coordinator WJ Milligan, composer John Barry, consultant Michael Wilson, production designer Peter Murton, miniatures supervisor Derek Meddings, and cinematographer Ozzie Morris. All of this is linked by narration from Bond historian David Naylor, who introduces the participants and adds plenty of valuable details himself.

The track discusses cast and crew, locations, sets and production design, story issues, changes from the original script and the adaptation of the novel, stunts, various effects, and other topics from the shoot. Like the other Bond commentaries, this one often remains anecdotal in nature. This means lots of stories but not a ton of the usual nuts and bolts details. Still, these tales give us a good impression of the production, and there’s enough concrete material about the film’s creation to satisfy. The piece adds up to an enjoyable and reasonably informative track.

Next we find the standard documentary. Called Inside The Man With the Golden Gun, the program runs for a shorter-than-usual 31 minutes and change – not the 35 minutes listed on the DVD menu - but it packs a lot of good information into that time. We find the usual conglomeration of contemporary interviews combined with archival footage from the set and other period stills and materials. Admittedly, I wish they'd focussed at least a little on the film's negative reputation, but I can't blame them too much for avoiding the topic. After all, it's not like the movie's stench compares to more famous examples such as Ishtar or Heaven's Gate, films that would really have to discuss that aspect of their fame. All in all, the documentary works well and presents a nice assortment of details.

A second program appears as well. Double-O Stuntmen lasts 28 and a half minutes and provides a nice tribute to all of the stuntmen who have made the Bond series such a success. Various "big ticket" events from the entire series are surveyed through great behind the scenes footage, and plenty of interviews with the stuntmen and those with whom they worked appears as well. The piece gave me an even greater appreciation for the work that these folks do, and it came across as very entertaining as well.

Gun features the standard package of promotional materials. We get a teaser trailer and theatrical preview for the film - neither of which is anything special - plus two similarly-ordinary TV ads. Three mildly interesting radio spots appear as well. Usually at least some of the Bond promos are worth note, but this batch seems rather unexceptional. Oh well.

Another Bond DVD staple is the photo gallery. This one includes approximately 110 pictures spread across 10 different sections. I found the galleries for Dr. No and On Her Majesty's Secret Service unusually compelling, but these are simply good and not great. Still, a number of fun photos appear, so the program deserves a look.

Finally, I have to issue my usual commendation to MGM for the excellent booklet that accompanies this DVD, as well as the similarly strong packages that come with the other Bonds. It includes a lot of good notes.

Despite its poor reputation, I found The Man With the Golden Gun to offer a generally enjoyable experience. The film certainly displays flaws, but my overall opinion remains favorable. The DVD itself provides acceptable picture and sound plus the usual assortment of fine supplemental features. The Man With the Golden Gun will never reside terribly high on my list of Bond favorites, but I'm happy I own it, and other Bond fans will likely feel the same.

To rate this film visit the Ultimate Edition review of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main