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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 and is a loose adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel of same name.

The Man with the Golden Gun is the twelfth novel (and thirteenth book) of Ian Fleming's James Bond series. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in the UK on April 1st 1965, eight months after the author's death. The novel was not as detailed or polished as the others in the series, leading to poor but polite reviews. Despite that, the book was a best-seller. The novel centres on the fictional British Secret Service operative James Bond, who had been posted missing, presumed dead, after his last mission in Japan. Bond returns to England via the Soviet Union, where he had been brainwashed to attempt to assassinate his superior, M. After being "cured" by the MI6 doctors, Bond is sent to the Caribbean to find and kill Francisco Scaramanga, the titular "Man with the Golden Gun".

The first draft and part of the editing process was completed before Fleming's death and the manuscript had passed through the hands of his copy editor, William Plomer, but it was not as polished as other Bond stories. Much of the detail contained in the previous novels was missing, as this was often added by Fleming in the second draft. Publishers Jonathan Cape passed the manuscript to Kingsley Amis for his thoughts and advice on the story, although his suggestions were not subsequently used. The novel was serialised in 1965, firstly in the Daily Express and then in Playboy; in 1966 a daily comic strip adaptation was also published in the Daily Express. The film adaption with Roger Moore playing Bond and Fleming's cousin, Christopher Lee, as Scaramanga, has Bond sent after the Solex Agitator, a device that 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 directed by Guy Hamilton. The script was written by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz and involves Bond as he tries to stop assassin Francisco Scaramanga, (Christopher Lee pictured right) known as "The Man With The Golden Gun", who has stolen a device which will allow him to control solar power for criminal purposes. The film was set in the face of the 1973 energy crisis, a dominant theme in the script and Britain had still not yet fully overcome the crisis when the film was released in December 1974. While Live and Let Die had borrowed heavily from the blaxploitation genre, The Man with the Golden Gun borrowed from the martial arts genre that was popular in the 1970s through films such as Fist of Fury (1972) and Enter the Dragon (1973). However, the use of the martial arts for a fight scene in the film "lapses into incredibility" when Lt Hip and his two nieces defeat an entire dojo.

Mankiewicz wrote a first draft for the script in 1973, delivering a script that was a battle of wills between Bond and Scaramanga, whom he saw as Bond's alter ego, "a super-villain of the stature of Bond himself." Tensions between Mankiewicz and Guy Hamilton led to the introduction of Richard Maibaum. Maibaum, who had worked on six Bond films previously, delivered his own draft based on Mankiewicz's work. Much of the plot involving Scaramanga being Bond's equal was sidelined in later drafts. The film saw mixed reviews, with Christopher Lee's performance as Scaramanga being praised; but reviewers criticised the film as a whole, particularly the comedic approach, and some critics described it as the lowest point in the canon. Although the film was profitable, it is the fourth-lowest-grossing Bond film in the series.

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman intended to follow You Only Live Twice with The Man with the Golden Gun, inviting Roger Moore to the Bond role. However, filming was planned in Cambodia, and the Samlaut Uprising made filming impractical, leading to the production being cancelled. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was produced instead with George Lazenby as Bond. Lazenby's next Bond film, Saltzman told a reporter, would be either The Man with the Golden Gun or Diamonds Are Forever. The producers chose the latter title, with Sean Connery returning as Bond.

Broccoli and Saltzman then decided to start production on The Man with the Golden Gun after Live and Let Die. This was the final Bond film to be co-produced by Saltzman as his partnership with Broccoli was dissolved after the film's release. Saltzman sold his 50% stake in Eon Productions's parent company, Danjaq, LLC, to United Artists to alleviate his financial problems. The resulting legalities over the Bond property delayed production of the next Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, for three years.

The novel is mostly set in Jamaica, a location which had been already used in the earlier films, Dr. No and Live and Let Die; The Man with the Golden Gun saw a change in location to put Bond in the Far East for the second time. After considering Beirut, where part of the film is set, Iran, where the location scouting was done but eventually discarded because of the Yom Kippur War, and Vietnam, the production team chose Thailand as a primary location, following a suggestion of production designer Peter Murton after he saw pictures of the Phuket bay in a magazine. Saltzman was happy with the choice of the Far East for the setting as he had always wanted to go on location in Thailand and Hong Kong. During the reconnaissance of locations in Hong Kong, Broccoli saw the wreckage of the former RMS Queen Elizabeth and came up with the idea of using it as the base for MI6's Far East operations.


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This is the original trailer of for The Man With The Golden Gun. Buy it here.




Originally, the role of Scaramanga was offered to Jack Palance, but he turned the opportunity down. Christopher Lee, who was eventually chosen to portray Scaramanga, was Ian Fleming's step-cousin and Fleming had suggested Lee for the role of Dr. Julius No in the 1962 series opener Dr. No. Lee noted that Fleming was a forgetful man and by the time he mentioned this to Broccoli and Saltzman they had cast Joseph Wiseman in the part. Due to filming on location in Bangkok, his role in the film affected Lee's work the following year, as director Ken Russell was unable to sign Lee to play Specialist in the 1975 film Tommy, a part eventually given to Jack Nicholson.

Two Swedish models were cast as the Bond girls, Britt Ekland and Maud Adams. Ekland had been interested in playing a Bond girl since she had seen Dr. No, and contacted the producers about the main role of Mary Goodnight. Hamilton met Adams in New York, and cast her because "she was elegant and beautiful that it seemed to me she was the perfect Bond girl". When Ekland read the news that Adams had been cast for The Man with the Golden Gun, she became upset, thinking Adams had been selected to play Goodnight. Broccoli then called Ekland to invite her for the main role, as after seeing her in a film, Broccoli thought Ekland's "generous looks" made her a good contrast to Adams. Hamilton decided to put Marc Lawrence, whom he had worked with on Diamonds Are Forever, to play a gangster shot dead by Scaramanga at the start of the film, because he found it an interesting idea to "put sort of a Chicago gangster in the middle of Thailand".

French actor Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize, would achieve worldwide recognition for his role as Scaramanga's evil henchman Nick Nack. Prior to being signed up by Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, he made ends meet by working as a rat catcher's assistant near his South Central home and at one time Villechaize had become so poor he was living out of his car in Los Angeles. From what his co-actor Christopher Lee saw, The Man with the Golden Gun filming was possibly the happiest time of Hervé's life: Lee likened it to honey in the sandwich between an insecure past and an uncertain future. In addition to being an actor, Villechaize was also an acclaimed painter and became an active member of a movement in 1970s and 1980s California to deal with child abuse and neglect. He would later go onto TV stardom as Mr. Roarke's assistant, Tattoo, in the television series Fantasy Island (1978-1984). Though popular with the public, Villechaize proved a difficult actor on Fantasy Island, where he continually propositioned women and quarrelled with the producers. He was eventually fired after demanding a salary on par with that of co-star Ricardo Montalbán. The show's popularity waned after this move, and it was soon cancelled. In 1993, despondent over longtime health problem, Villechaize ended his own life at his residence in Los Angeles, California.

On November 6th 1973 filming commenced at the partly submerged wreck of the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which acted as a top-secret MI6 base grounded in Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. The crew was small, and a stunt double was used for James Bond. The major part of principal photography started on April 18th 1974 in Thailand. Scenes featuring Scaramanga's hideout were filmed on the local islands of Ko Khao Phing Kan, and Ko Tapu and are often now referred to as James Bond Island both by locals and in tourist guidebooks. In late April, production returned to Hong Kong, and also shot in Macau, as the island is famous for its casinos, which Hong Kong does not have. Later production moved on to studio work in Pinewood Studios which included sets such as Scaramanga's solar energy plant and island interior. Academy Award winner Oswald Morris was hired to finish the job after cinematographer Ted Moore became ill and production wrapped in Pinewood in August 1974.

One of the main stunts in the film consisted of stunt driver "Bumps" Willard (as James Bond) driving an AMC Hornet leaping a broken bridge and spinning around 360 degrees in mid-air about the longitudinal axis, doing an "aerial twist"; Willard successfully completed the jump on the first take. The stunt was shown in slow motion as the scene was too fast. Composer John Barry added a slide whistle sound effect over the stunt, which Broccoli kept in despite thinking that it "undercouped the stunt". Barry later regretted his decision, thinking the whistle "broke the golden rule" as the stunt was "for what it was all worth, a truly dangerous moment, ... true James Bond style". The sound effect was described as "simply crass", with one writer, Jim Smith, suggesting that the stunt "brings into focus the lack of excitement in the rest of the film and is spoilt by the use of 'comedy' sound effects." Eon Productions had licensed the stunt, which had been designed by Raymond McHenry; the stunt was initially conceived at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL) in Buffalo, New York as a test for their powerful vehicle simulation software. After development in simulation, ramps were built and the stunt was tested at CAL's proving ground. It toured as part of the All American Thrill Show as the Astro Spiral before it was picked up for the film. The British show Top Gear attempted to repeat the stunt in June 2008, but failed. The scene where Scaramanga's car flies was done at Bovington Camp, with a model inspired by an actual car plane prototype. Bond's duel with Scaramanga, which Mankewicz said was inspired by the climactic faceoff in Shane, had its length shortened as the producers felt it was causing pacing problems. The trailers featured some of the cut scenes.

Hamilton adapted an idea of his involving Bond in Disneyland for Scaramanga's funhouse. The funhouse was designed to be a place where Scaramanga could get the upper hand by distracting the adversary with obstacles, and was described by Murton as a "melting pot of ideas" which made it "both a funhouse and a horror house". While an actual wax figure of Roger Moore was used, Moore's stunt double Les Crawford was the cowboy figure, and Ray Marione played the Al Capone figure. The canted sets such as the funhouse and the Queen Elizabeth had inspiration from German Expressionism films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. For Scaramanga's solar power plant, Hamilton used both the Pinewood set and a miniature projected by Derek Meddings, often cutting between each other to show there was no discernible difference. The destruction of the facility was a combination of practical effects on the set and a destruction of the miniature. Meddings based the island blowing up on footage of the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Three Golden Gun props were made; a solid piece, one that could be fired with a cap and one that could be assembled and disassembled, although Christopher Lee said that the process "was extremely difficult." The gun was "one of the more memorable props in the Bond series" and consisted of an interlocking fountain pen (the barrel), cigarette lighter (the bullet chamber), cigarette case (the handle) and cuff link (the trigger) with the bullet secured in Scaramanga's belt buckle. The gun was to take a single 23-carat gold bullet produced by the Macau-based gunsmith, Lazar. On 10 October 2008, it was discovered that one of the golden guns used in the film, which is estimated to be worth around £80,000, was missing (suspected stolen) from Elstree Props, a company based at Hertfordshire studios.

Tony Bramwell, who worked for Harry Saltzman's music-publishing company "Hilary Music", wanted Elton John or Cat Stevens to sing the title song. However by this time the producers were taking turns producing the films; Albert Broccoli - whose turn it was to produce - rejected Bramwell's suggestions. Bramwell subsequently dismissed the Barry-Lulu tune as "mundane".

The theme tune to The Man with the Golden Gun, released in 1974, was performed by Scottish singer Lulu and composed by John Barry. The lyrics to the song were written by Don Black and have been described variously as "ludicrous", "inane" and "one long stream of smut", because of its sexual innuendo. Alice Cooper wrote a song titled "The Man with the Golden Gun" to be used by the producers of the film, but they opted for Lulu's song instead. Cooper released his song in his album Muscle of Love.

Barry had only three weeks to score The Man with the Golden Gun and the theme tune and score are generally considered by critics to be among the weakest of Barry's contributions to the series, an opinion shared by Barry himself: "It's the one I hate most ... it just never happened for me." The Man with the Golden Gun was also the first to drop the distinctive plucked guitar from the theme heard over the gun barrel opening.

The Man with the Golden Gun was premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on December 19th 1974, with general release in the United Kingdom the same day. The film was made with an estimated budget of $7 million; despite initial good returns from the box office, The Man with the Golden Gun grossed a total of $97.6 million at the worldwide box office, with $21 million earned in the USA, making it the fourth lowest-grossing Bond film in the series.

The promotion of the film had "one of the more anaemic advertising campaigns of the series" and there were few products available, apart from the soundtrack and paperback book, although Lone Star Toys produced a "James Bond 007 pistol" in gold; this differed from the weapon used by Scaramanga in the film as it was little more than a Walther P38 with a silencer fitted.

The Man with the Golden Gun met with mixed reviews upon its release and opinions have not changed with the passing of time. Some critics saw the film as uninspired, tired and boring. Roger Moore was also criticised for playing Bond against type, in a style more reminiscent of Sean Connery, although Lee's performance received acclaim. Film critic Danny Peary wrote that The Man with the Golden Gun "lacks invention, is one of the least interesting Bond films" and "a very laboured movie, with Bond a stiff bore, Adams and Britt Ekland uninspired leading ladies". Peary believes that the shootout between Bond and Scaramanga in the funhouse "is the one good scene in the movie, and even it has an unsatisfying finish" and also bemoaned the presence of Clifton James, "unfortunately reprising his unfunny redneck sheriff from Live and Let Die."


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