Back when $1 million actually meant something, an assassin who charged this for a confidential “custom” hit, was a big deal. And in 1974, Francisco Scaramanga, (a tall, limber and stately Christopher Lee) was the best: always armed, and worthy of his steep fee an international reputation. As the title song promises: “If you wish to get rid of someone, the man with the golden gun will get it done.”
Never one to waste words or bullets, the elusive, all-business killer could take out a target from 100 meters, retrieve his solid gold ammo, and never break a sweat. All, while in a perfectly pressed dinner jacket. Sort of like a certain British Secret Service agent himself. Almost. Power-hungry in every sense of the word, Scaramanga is cool, disciplined and frighteningly focused on his global energy-control mission.
In his second spy outing, Roger Moore appears suave, wily, and relaxed to the point of carefree—despite the knowledge there’s an expensive contract on his head. Hoping to find Scaramanga before Scaramanga finds him, agent 007 travels throughout China and Thailand. Given there are few major characters and even fewer plot twists, the attention grabber here is the spectacular, unspoiled scenery: the islands off Thailand (which, just like New Orleans in the previous Bond film, now look a tad different thanks to assorted cyclones and hurricanes). The most eye-catching, mouth-dropping visual: a car leap, which to this day, despite leaps in technology, has yet to be surpassed. Another novel stunt: the car-to-plane transformation — part “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” part “E.T.”
Scaramanga’s sumptuous island compound – complete with solar panels and an elaborate energy laboratory — is counter-balanced by bloody battles, intense martial arts and ancient sumo wrestlers. For comic relief, there’s a double touch of human novelty: Scaramanga’s three nipples and his enterprising and nimble midget-servant, Nick Nack, a beguiling Herve Villechaize.
In an international visual feast, this simple story line is enhanced by the appearance of some repeat Bond standouts: a sexy, alluring and diffident Maud Adams, who turned up prickly and way more confident some ten years later in the grating “Octopussy,” and an encore by the bumbling, ultra-tourist Sheriff J.W. Pepper (a hilarious Clifton James). A slightly goofy, yet beautiful Britt Ekland serves as Bond’s warm and reliable backup: British staff intelligence agent, Mary Goodnight. Delightfully easygoing and obedient, ‘Goodnight’ provides a welcome break from the bullets and brawls.
Just last week, President Obama assured us that clean energy “technologies aren’t science fiction anymore.” No; just good movie fiction. Sadly, at once ahead of its time and still not fully realized, the potential of converting solar energy into electricity … for “a monopoly on the sun,” remains tantalizing— for both ruthless megalomaniacs and government leaders alike.
by Caren Ostrow
|Roger Moore||James Bond|
|Christopher Lee||Francisco Scaramanga|
|Britt Ekland||Mary Goodnight|
|Maud Adams||Andrea Anders|
|Hervé Villechaize||Nick Nack|
|Directed by Guy Hamilton.|
Next up in the ‘James Bond Originals’ series: “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
Visit The Colony Theatre for movie schedule.