Man with the Golden Gun, The: Ultimate Edition (1974)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Credits
Interviews-Character-The Russell Harty Show 1974
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On Location With The Man With The Golden Gun
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Girls Fighting
Featurette-American Thrill Show - Stunt Film And Audio Commentary
Featurette-007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual
Featurette-Exotic Locations
Theatrical Trailer-Archive
TV Spots-Broadcasts
Radio Spots-Communications
Gallery-Photo-Experience The World Of James Bond in 1974
Featurette-Making Of-The Road To Bond - Stunt Co-ordinator W.J Milligan
Featurette-Making Of-Inside The Man With The Golden Gun
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Double -O Stuntmen A Look At The Greatest Stunts
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Stunt Performances In Bond Films
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 119:57
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:43)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Guy Hamilton
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Roger Moore
Christopher Lee
Britt Ekland
Maud Adams
Hervé Villechaize
Clifton James
Richard Loo
Soon-Tek Oh
Marc Lawrence
Bernard Lee
Lois Maxwell
Marne Maitland
Desmond Llewelyn
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Hindi
English Text Commentary
Dutch Text Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Large electronics manufacturer
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Roger Moore's second outing as Bond is a perfunctory adventure with little to really stamp the Bond mystique upon it. The opening sequence sees professional hitman Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) matching his wits against a dark-suited hood (Marc Lawrence) in a funhouse on Scaramanga's island. The action is observed by Scaramanga's diminutive and extremely irritating manservant Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize). In the opening scenes Scaramanga reveals why the film could have been titled The Man With The Triple Nipples.

    Back in London M tells Bond that they have received a golden bullet - Scaramanga's trademark - with 007 engraved on it. An apparent indication that the mysterious hitman of whom there is no photograph or description, other than his mammary surplus, has Bond next on his list. Bond decides that the best form of offence is attack, and quickly proceeds to Pinewood Studios, umm, Beirut, to locate the golden bullet which killed 002. He has been forced to drop a case over a missing energy expert with a highly efficient solar energy converter, but as we see later this case is intertwined with the Scaramanga case.

    From Pinewood, sorry, Beirut he travels to Hong Kong where he catches up with Scaramanga's accomplice Andrea Anders (Maud Adams). With her assistance and that of local cop Hip (Soon Taik Oh) and resident agent Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland) he discovers that Scaramanga had been hired by mob boss Hai Fat (Richard Loo). Pretty soon Bond is in Thailand and hot on the trail of the extra-glanded assassin.

    This film is a strange stew of various elements which don't quite mix. It is as if the screenwriters and director were just tired of the whole Bond thing and decided to go through the motions just for the sake of doing so, though the truth seems to be that the film was made in a hurry after the success of the previous outing. There are some terrible bits of innuendo (a nude girl in a swimming pool reveals her name is Chew Mee) strewn throughout the film, lacking the wit of the earlier Connery scripts. The rednecked Southern Sheriff Pepper character from Live and Let Die, played by Clifton James, mysteriously appears on holiday in Thailand, spouts embarrassing racial epithets at the natives and then disappears just as quickly and mysteriously as he appeared.

    There are a few good things in the film, with an okay car chase in the middle which is by turns exciting and poorly directed. The insertion during one stunt of a terrible sound effect tends to ruin the whole effect though. The scenery is often spectacular but there are several obvious studio sets. The one positive thing is the performance of Christopher Lee, who plays the self-confident super-bad guy role to the hilt, and he is one of the best villains in the whole series. Only Scaramanga's own hubris defeats him in the end. Interestingly Lee was, by marriage, Bond creator Ian Fleming's cousin, and Fleming reportedly wanted Lee to play the titular villain in the first of the screen adventures. However the producers had already signed Joseph Wiseman. The Scaramanga role was initially offered to Jack Palance, who turned it down. The previous year Palance had played Dracula in a TV movie!

    Unusually for the Moore series there is some of the sadism of the original books, with Bond tormenting a weapons maker (Marne Maitland) with one of his own weapons and then later being quite vigorous when he "interrogates" Andrea. Moore just doesn't look comfortable being anything but a saint. He was already 46 when he assumed the role but he managed to stick around longer than any other 007. Three years older than Connery, he aged more slowly than his predecessor and continued to play the role into his late fifties. The films in which he appeared, aside from the first and third, seemed to tire more quickly than he did.

    Even the sets are not as impressive as in the earlier films, apart from an indoor set on the capsized Queen Elizabeth where the furniture is set on an angle. In the scenes in this set you can quite clearly see the effects of Bernard Lee's drinking, with his puffy, pimply nose and rheumy eyes as well as an uncharacteristically tired performance. Lois Maxwell appears only briefly as Moneypenny, while Q returns after a hiatus but fails to produce any gadgets. This time he has a colleague played by James Cossins, and there is also an uncredited role for Michael Goodliffe in the initial scene in M's London office.

    For a film set mainly in Asia there are only two actors of Asian decent in major roles, both of whom made their careers in Hollywood. Richard Loo appeared in several Frank Capra films in the 1930s and had retired to his native Hawaii by the time he made this, his last feature film. Soon Taik Oh was Japanese-born and Korean-raised but his acting career has seen him playing entirely in Hollywood, mainly on TV.

    As to the Bond women, Britt Ekland plays perhaps the dumbest heroine in any of the twenty official films thus far, and this is in keeping with the inordinate amount of comedy in the movie. Maud Adams on the other hand plays a more tragic figure, which is not so much in keeping with the overall tone. She obviously impressed the producers as would be recalled to again play a Bond girl some years later.

    While this is probably not the worst Bond film (Moonraker anyone?) it is not very good at all. It's worth seeing for Christopher Lee's performance but not a great deal else.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in what appears to be the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I do not have a copy of the previous Region 4 DVD release to hand to compare it with this one, but I understand that it was in 1.66:1. I seem to recall reading that some of the Bonds were shot in 1.37:1 and then matted to various aspect ratios to suit different markets, the wider ratio being the preferred American standard and the narrower ratio being used in Europe. In any case it does not look like we are missing any action through cropping, and everything seems to be well composed for this aspect ratio.

    If I was still reviewing this disc on a CRT device I would give it higher marks than I now feel inclined to do. On a CRT, which I used to review the commentaries, the image appears quite sharp and the overall video is clear with plenty of detail and stable colour. On the larger projected image it is somewhat less sharp, and there is some noticeable edge enhancement. There is lots of posterisation, and often dark splotches of brown in the shadowy parts of faces, which I found quite distracting. The posterisation is also noticeable on the CRT but only if you look carefully.

    Colour is quite good. Primary colours are clean and bright. There is a brownish look to the sequences in Thailand. I don't know whether it reflects the actors getting suntans, but their skin colour tends to fluctuate from scene to scene.

    The restorers have done an excellent job in removing all film artefacts. They also appear to have introduced some digital noise in the backgrounds of scenes.

    Optional subtitles are provided in the usual umpteen languages, including English hard of hearing. The subtitles are in a clear white font and cover all of the dialogue.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted and the layer change is noticeable at 62:43, but is not disruptive to the flow of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, with the alternative being DTS 5.1. I listened to the latter in full and sampled the former. There is no substantial difference between them that I could discern. The producers of this DVD have done the equivalent of pan-and-scan with the audio in not providing the original mono soundtrack.

    Dialogue is clear throughout. The effects are well done, generally sounding quite believable. The use of the rear channels for directional sound effects is rare but well handled when it does occur. There is plenty of work for the LFE channel, giving emphasis to explosions and the sound of motors for example, while also being used to give the music some weight.

    Audio sync is good, with only some ADR work having noticeable sync issues. Some of the Hong Kong shooting was done in front of a large crowd at the Bottoms Up club, but you'd never know it, so that sequence must have had the soundtrack added in the studio.

    This is possibly John Barry's worst Bond score. The title song is belted out by Lulu, and it has some terrible lines ("He has a powerful weapon"). The score has little in the way of memorable music apart from the Bond theme, and sounds like it was done in a hurry like the rest of the movie. And Barry admits on the audio commentary that the use of a sound effect during the famous car stunt was a mistake on his part.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A lot of extras, some of which will be familiar from the previous Region 4 DVD, or the laserdisc version if you had it in that format. All have subtitles, and unless stated otherwise all are 1.33:1. All bar the audio commentaries and credits are on Disc Two of this two-disc set.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    An 87 second skippable restoration promo precedes the menus. The menus are done in Bond credit sequence style, with images and music from the film.

Audio Commentary - Director Guy Hamilton, cast and crew

    David Naylor hosts this commentary which features the reminiscences of many of the crew, including Guy Hamilton, John Barry, Maud Adams, Britt Ekland, Christopher Lee, Oswald Morris and many others.

Audio Commentary - Sir Roger Moore

    In a recently recorded commentary the star reminisces about the film, which he hasn't seen since the premiere, and the various actors and crew. There are some interesting stories and a few dead spots. Overall this was a better listen than I had expected, with Moore turning out not to have one of those Hollywood-sized egos and to have a good sense of humour.

Credits

    DVD credits.

Interviews-Character-The Russell Harty Show 1974 (2:51)

    Some choppy highlights from a chat show in 1974, with Moore and Villechaize promoting the film. This is really just a few grabs and is not all that worthwhile.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On Location With The Man With The Golden Gun (1:27)

    This is a short film that looks like it was a news story from Hong Kong, with some behind the scenes footage and interviews with a couple of cast members. It is narrated by Bond producer Michael Wilson.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Girls Fighting (3:29)

    The dailies of the scene of the two girls fighting a group of martial arts students, with music and voice-over introduction by Michael Wilson. This is widescreen and 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-American Thrill Show - Stunt Film (5:03)

    The famous car stunt in the film was based on the pièce de résistance of a travelling auto stunt show. This film is the promotional film made by the stunt show, and is available as is and with a commentary by Jay Milligan, president of the company behind the stunt.

Featurette-007 Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, Q Branch, Exotic Locations

    Categorised under the above headings are clips from the film, so you can see selected footage related to a character or situation.

Featurette-Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks (5:04)

    The director talks about the film and his career over animated still photographs.

Featurette-The Road to Bond: Stunt Co-ordinator W.J Milligan (8:01)

    Milligan discusses how his background, how he was approached by the producers and his work on the film. This is audio only, with a static graphic similar to the menus displayed on screen throughout.

Featurette-Inside The Man With the Golden Gun (30:57)

    An interesting documentary about the production, with interviews and behind the scenes footage. Made in 2000 for the initial DVD release and narrated by Patrick Macnee.

Featurette-Double-O Stuntmen: A look at the Greatest Stunts and Stunt Performers in the Bond Films (28:37)

    As the title suggests, this covers the best stunts over 40 years of Bond films and includes highlights of the stunts, interviews with the stunt men and tales of some of the injuries and close calls.

Theatrical Trailer-Archive (4:56)

    Two trailers, only the second of which is widescreen and 16x9 enhanced. Both show some degradation in the colour.

TV Spots-Broadcasts (1:54)

    Two television commercials.

Radio Spots-Communications (2:02)

    Three radio commercials.

Gallery-Photo-Experience The World Of James Bond in 1974

    Lots of photos in various categories, including publicity stills, behind the scenes pictures and some publicity stills of the cast. The Select button allows you to view text about some of the pictures.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    These new Ultimate Editions are getting released around the world. As far as I can tell the video quality of the new Region 4s is superior to the old Region 4 releases.

Summary

    One of the most disappointing films in the series, though not the worst.

    The video quality is very good but there are problems for viewers with large displays.

    The audio quality is also very good.

    A lot of extras and some are quite good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using DVI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
aspect ratio - penguin (there is no bio)
Car Stunt - Anonymous
Well Dirty Harry said it... - TK421