Ian Fleming's last novel, "The Man With the Golden Gun," featured one of 007's most interesting adversaries, an assassin who kills with the title weapon for a fee of $1 million. It was a fine role for Christopher Lee who hung up his Dracula cape to face Roger Moore in this 1974 thriller, the ninth film in the long running series.
The critics may have been ambivalent concerning Moore's debut as James Bond in the previous year's "Live and Let Die," but the film was a box-office hit, earning more than Sean Connery's swan song, "Diamonds Are Forever." But "The Man With the Golden Gun" was a comparative failure, earning more than "Dr. No," "From Russia With Love," and George Lazenby's sole outing, but falling far short of expectations. Poster art that too closely resembled the advertising campaign for "Live and Let Die" may have made this entry look like a re-issue, but the film itself was stale and unimaginative, failing to capitalize on the effective casting of the charismatic Lee.
Fleming's simple story was unnecessarily padded out with ambitious nonsense concerning a plot to monopolize solar energy, and, worst of all, the bumbling redneck sheriff who made an inappropriate appearance in "Live and Let Die" is revived in an unfunny sequence. Moore is fine as 007, as is Herve Villacheze as Knick-Knack, Scaramanga's Oddjob, but Britt Ekland is one of the dullest Bondgirls of all.
John Barry's score is okay, but the title song, belted out by Lulu of "To Sir With Love" fame, is a disaster, an obnoxious bombast that brings to mind the theme for "The Liquidator," one of the many spy films that emerged in the wake of 007's phenomenal success in the Sixties.
"The Man With the Golden Gun" is a satisfactory time-killer, and Lee is impressive, but this is one of the Bond's dreariest adventures.