It’s movie time today, over on The Movie Channel, and time for “Bank Holiday Bond” and The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s unusual (possibly unique – I haven’t checked) in that the pre-title sequence doesn’t feature James Bond at all. It’s all about the villain of the movie, Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee.
His manservant, Nick Nack, is played by Herve Villechaise – He was the Verne Troyer of the 70s. He greets an arrival to Scaramanga’s island who couldn’t be more of a cartoon mobster if he tried. The gun-shaped case he’s carrying might as well be a violin case.
Nick Nack pays the mobster a wad of cash to kill Scaramanga, and sends him into what appears to be a rather dull funhouse to hunt and kill his prey. Scaramanga doesn’t appear to be expecting this, so we get a rather tepid scene of each of them stalking the other with various lighting effects and dummies.
Nick Nack is controlling everything from his control room. He’s certainly not giving Scaramanga any advantages. After Scaramanga kills the mobster with his golden gun, there’s an exchange which implies that Nick Nack will inherit all his money if Scaramanga is killed, which gives him a strong motive to get the best possible killers, and presumably means Scaramanga gets to practice against the best.
I did say that Bond doesn’t appear in this sequence, but Scaramanga does have a mannequin of Bond in his hall of mirrors, and shoots off the fingers just before the titles start. And it’s far too good a likeness to be an actual wax dummy, so I’m assuming Roger Moore had to stand still for a while when they shot this. But it’s still not really Bond.
Cue the titles, as always by Maurice Binder. The title song is sung by Lulu, and is a bit boppier than most Bond songs, but I’ve always quite liked it. And it does start with the words “He’s got a powerful weapon” so they’re not waiting a single second before deploying the outrageous double entendres.
Bond is summoned to see M, who shows him a golden bullet just delivered to them, almost literally a bullet with his name on it. Moore gets to drop a huge amount of exposition in this scene. First about the ‘Energy Crisis’ and his current mission to protect a scientist researching solar power, then to say everything they know about Scaramanga. His biography is incredibly detailed, in that he’s the son of Circus folk, and was a master marksman at age ten. There’s no photographs of him anywhere, so nobody knows what he looks like, but it’s commonly known that he has a third nipple (which we got a close-up of in the opening). M tells Bond that, since the bullet means Scaramanga is coming after Bond, Bond is taken off his current mission and is to either resign or take a sabbatical, since he can’t work usefully if he’s going to be killed at any time.
Bond decides to try to find one of Scaramanga’s golden bullets, one that killed another agent, 002, but which was never recovered from the scene. The trail takes him to a cabaret, because of course it does, that’s the rule. The dancer who was with 002 when he was killed is wearing the flattened gold bullet in her belly button, and Bond needs to get it. He accidentally swallows it when he’s struck by a goon, and after the fight, he rushes for a taxi. “Hotel sir?” “No, the nearest pharmacy.”
The hope is that they can trace who made the bullet. But as a custom calibre round, that’s tricky. “You’ve no idea what it went through to get here” complains Bond. But the nickel content (which somehow Q and the scientist can determine by looking through a microscope) suggests a man named Lazar, working in Macau. It’s never Croydon, is it?
This trail leads to the person picking up the custom bullets, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams).
Arriving at destination, Bond is met by another agent, Holly Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland. You just know she’s going to be a bit rubbish, and desperately swoony over Bond.
In his hotel room, he discovers Andrea in his shower. She’s got a gun, but he’s able to rough her up a bit. Not a pleasant scene.
Andrea tells Bond he has to go to another strip club. It’s all work work work for Bond in this. We see Scaramanga there, aiming his gun, so there’s some tension, but it’s not Bond he’s there for, it’s Gibson, the Solar Engineer, and Nick Nack steals the macguffin from Gibson’s body – the Solex.
Bond is arrested at the scene, but instead of going to the local police station he’s taken to a secret British base in an old ship that’s in the harbour almost on its side, leading to some really interesting production design.
Bond thinks that a businessman, Hai Fat, was responsible for the hit, and decides, because nobody knows what Scaramanga looks like, to visit Hai Fat and pretend to be Scaramanga to get more information. The first person he meets is a girl swimming, and when he asks her name, she replies “Chew Mee”. “Really?” replies Bond. Shameless.
He meets Hai Fat, who sees the extra Nipple Bond got Q to make, and Bond talks about his favourite subject – himself, and how Hai Fat should put out a contract on him too. Hai Fat invites him for dinner. Unknown to Bond, though, Scaramanga has already made contact. It’s a Trap!
Arriving for his dinner date, Bond is attacked by two Sumo wrestlers, one of which he foils by giving him a wedgie.
But Bond is subdued, then taken to Hai Fat’s training school where we presume he’ll get beaten up by all the martial artists. This is all feeling like a bit of warmed over Bruce Lee. But the kick in the face while his opponent was bowing is funny.
Bond tries to escape, helped by Inspector Hip and his two schoolgirl daughters, until they are faced by a large number of enemies. “Stand back, girls” says Bond, at which point they push past him and start taking out all the bad guys with their martial arts prowess.
There’s a river chase. A young boy selling tourist stuff jumps on Bond’s rather slow boat trying to sell him something. “I’ll tell you what, sonny, I’ll give you 20,000 Baht if you can make this heap go any faster.” The kid turns a valve and the boat starts accelerating. “20,000 baht” he says. And Bond rather cruelly pushes him overboard saying “I’ll have to owe you.” “Bloody tourist.”
It’s at this stage that we see a character who appeared in Live and Let Die, Clifton James as Sheriff Pepper. Why the producers thought this character was worth bringing back escapes me, especially since almost every line that he has in this is basically racist.
Scaramanga kills Hai Fat with his Golden Gun. I remember thinking the gun was cool because it was made out of different bits, like a pen and a lighter. To be honest it looks a bit underwhelming to my old eyes now.
Andrea makes contact with Bond again, and he learns that it was she who sent the 007 marked bullet to MI-5. She arranges a meeting to hand over the Solex, but when he gets there she’s already been shot by Scaramanga. They meet for the first time. Bond manages to get the Solex device to Inspector Hip without Scaramanga seeing.
There’s a car chase and Bond just happens to commandeer that car the Sheriff Pepper was going to test drive.
This chase has a stunt with Bond’s car jumping a river while spinning that was so amazing, the producers decided to undercut it by putting a slide whistle on the soundtrack as it jumps.
The final stand-off is a repeat of the opening sequence, except with Bond vs Scaramanga, and Bond uses the dummy in the funhouse to fake out Scaramanga and shoot him.
This feels like an anaemic ending, so we then get more jeopardy as Goodnight clobbers the solar technician, who falls into a supercooled chamber.
This means that the chamber isn’t at absolute zero – which it couldn’t have been anyway since its contents were liquid. I’m beginning to think that these movies might not all be 100% scientifically accurate.
So there’s more tension as Bond and Goodnight have to do something or other, then escape before the shole island blows up, because solar energy acts just like a huge tank of gas or something.
The thrills aren’t over, as Nick Nack is on the Junk that Bond and Goodnight escape on. So there’s a funny fight, then a smooch, and the obligatory telephonus interruptus call from M. “Where’s Goodnight?” “She’s just coming.”
After this, recording switches to Channel 4, and an episode of Film Night. Presented by Janice Forsyth.
The first item is “Are there too many blockbusters opening in the summer?” Which feels like the same piece that all the film programmes do every year. Admittedly, Speed 2, Batman and Robin and The Fifth Element (which I love but many hated) weren’t the greatest, and even The Lost World is a disappointment after the original. There’s the obligatory Hollywood Reporter writer to tell us what blockbusters are and why that’s bad if there’s too many of them. It’s Jeff Kaye in this case.
In the Movie News, there’s the story that a studio has paid $1m just for a pitch – it was Cowboys and Aliens, which was eventually made in 2011.
Marianne Jean-Baptiste talks about her favourite film, the French film La Haine.
There’s a profile of film-making poet Tony Harrison. His was not a long career in film, if iMDb is to be believed.
And there’s 2-minute film school, looking at the surrealists. Laugh a minute.
After this programme, the recording continues, with a fair chunk of Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo. But the tape ends before the film finishes.
- trail: The Net
- Norwich Union Share Offer
- BT EasyReach Pager
- First Direct – Bob Mortimer
- Ford Escort
- trail: A Very British Coup
- Kronenbourg 1664
- Listerine – Keith Allen
- The Singles Network
- trail: The Jewel in the Crown
- Norwich Union Share Offer
- Carling Premier
- trail: Last Seduction
- Renault Megane Scenic
- Bacardi Spice
- Walker’s Crisps
- Norwich Union Share Offer
- Nestle/Planet Hollywood
- Ford Escort
- Gordon’s & Tonic
- Cheltenham & Gloucester
- Party Time