Combustible Celluloid
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With: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize, Clifton James, Richard Loo, Oh Soon-Tek, Marc Lawrence, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Marne Maitland, Desmond Llewelyn
Written by: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz, based on a novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 125
Date: 12/14/1974

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bright the Bullet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Guy Hamilton, of Goldfinger, returned to direct this ninth James Bond adventure. It was Hamilton's fourth and final time out on the series, and it was Roger Moore's second time in the lead role. He hadn't yet sunk into the silliness of his later films, although this movie does contain the unfortunate return of the comical redneck sheriff Pepper (Clifton James) from the previous film, Live and Let Die. (This time the sheriff is on an unlikely vacation in Thailand.)

James Bond (Moore) receives what looks to be a death threat: a golden bullet with "007" engraved on it. It can only have come from the legendary assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), who uses a golden gun and charges $1 million per job. Bond decides to go after him, even though Scaramanga is a ghost; no one knows where he is or what he looks like. The plot grows more complicated when Scaramanga's sidekick Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) steals a key piece of a solar power station. Bond must get it back while defeating the villains. Unfortunately, Bond and his MI6 helper Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland) wind up imprisoned on Scaramanga's island, and the hunter is on the hunt.

That aside, though it's not one of the very best, The Man with the Golden Gun is still an enjoyable thrill ride, thanks in part to its top-notch cast. The suave Christopher Lee is a snaky, silky low-key bad guy, and future "Fantasy Island" star Herve Villechaize is his polite, but vicious sidekick. Britt Ekland and Maud Adams are fine Bond girls, though they don't have the chance to show much strength. Throughout, Hamilton keeps up the pace and includes a number of solid chase scenes, fights, and exotic locations.

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