Bond villains of the '70s: The Man with the Golden Gun

Bond villains of the '70s: The Man with the Golden Gun

The Man with the Golden Gun was the last film to be made under the partnership of Albert R. Broccoli and Hary Saltzman. The plot involved the oil crisis and the obtaining of the Solex Agitator. This device made solar power a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

The producers picked someone to play the villain who had initially been in the running to portray Dr No. He also had the advantage of being related by marriage to Ian Fleming. The tall and elegant polyglot who had created a niche in horror: Christopher Lee.

In real life, Christopher Lee had worked for SOE in WWII but had never discussed his activities. The character Lee played was Francisco Scaramanga: a hitman whose price was $1m per shot. His specialism was that no one knew what he looked like as he worked via his middle-man: Nick Nack. More about him later.

When Bond visits Scaramanga's island, he is treated like a guest and given a tour of the facilities, including an advanced power station based on the Solex. Scaramanga outlines that he wants to go against Bond as a duel — a competition to see who is the better man. Bond is taken to a massive maze of various threatening targets designed to disorientate.

The ensuing denouement ends when Scaramanga fails to realise his mannequin of Bond has magically grown back two fingers, and the assassin is despatched.

Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee could have had multiple careers. He spoke over seven languages, had an operatic singing voice, and had an impressive war record working on many operations that are still classified.

He found going back to working in an office after the war as unfulfilling. He took up acting, starting with the British film company, Two Cities. After his first screen appearance in 1947, Lee went on to appear in many films in the early 1950s — playing small roles in Captain Horatio Hornblower, The Crimson Pirate, and Moulin Rouge.

When he started working for Hammer Film Productions, he truly hit his stride, culminating in his portrayal of Dracula, that he commenced in 1959 and continued until the early 1970s.

In the twilight of this career, he starred in the Star Wars franchise, Lord of the Rings. and The Hobbit. His energetic fight with Yoda was a real highlight. The year before he died at the age of 93, he got a single into the German charts.

Scaramanga's minion, Nick Nack, was portrayed by the French dwarf actor, Hervé Villechaize. His portrayal was that of an impish, venal, amoral, greedy and frustrated amanuensis, willing to do anything his employer told him to do — on the grounds that if his employer died, he would inherit everything.

The first time he is seen, he is bringing an old Chicago gangster in to kill Scaramanga, to Scaramanga's enjoyment and amusement.

The first time Bond sees Nick Nack, he is eating a snack and looking at himself on a TV screen. When Bond sees his quarry has been shot, he notices Nick Nack over the body — unaware that Nick Nick has extracted the golden bullet.

When Bond lands on Scaramanga's island, Nick Nack is there to greet him with a bottle of champagne. Scaramanga then humiliates Nick Nack by shooting the cork off — thereby spraying him with champagne.

When Scaramanga has been killed and the power facility has been set into an explosive chain reaction thereby destroying the island, Nick Nack hides on Scaramanga's junk to exact his revenge on Bond. As the fight ensues, Bond manages to disarm and capture Nick Nack and stows him in the crows' nest for the final shot.

Golden Gun represented Hervé Villechaize big break, although he had been working in low budget films since 1966. For six years — from 1977 to 1983 — he also worked on Fantasy Island with Ricardo Montalban.

He continued to make appearances and cameos until shortly before his death from suicide. He had been suffering severe chronic pain from his internal organs being compressed inside his body due to his small stature.

Martin Wright

Martin's love affair with James Bond started when he went to see On Her Majesty's Secret Service upon its release in 1969. He is trained in photography, Photoshop, and video editing.

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