James Bond Wiki
Advertisement
James Bond Wiki
Header_Tag_Spacer.png
Literary Tag


The Man With The Golden Gun (BW Small) NovelFilmSoundtrackSongRadio DramaCharactersReleases


The Man with the Golden Gun is the thirteenth and final novel written by Ian Fleming, featuring the fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond. It was published posthumously in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape in 1965. Unfortunately, this novel suffered from being stylistically different from and less detailed than Fleming's previous works, due to the author's death before he completed its final draft in 1964. Nevertheless, it was still a best-seller.

The book was adapted in 1966 as a comic strip in the Daily Express newspaper, and in 1974 as the ninth film in the EON Productions James Bond series with Roger Moore playing Bond and Christopher Lee playing Francisco Scaramanga, the titular main antagonist.

Plot[]

It has been nearly a year since James Bond disappeared, and was presumed dead during his mission to Japan. Then, out of the blue, a man claiming to be Bond appears in London and demands to see M. After much scrutinizing and interrogation, the man's identity is confirmed, but during his debriefing interview with M, Bond tries to kill his boss with a cyanide pistol. The attempt, however, thankfully fails.

Meanwhile, the British Secret Service has learned that after attacking Blofeld's castle in Japan (chronicled in You Only Live Twice), Bond suffered a head injury and subsequent amnesia. After living as a Japanese fisherman for several months, Bond headed north, into the Soviet Union, to learn his true identity. While there, he was brainwashed and programmed to kill M upon returning to England.

Now deprogrammed, Bond is eager to prove himself worthy of again being a 00 Agent. M assigns him to Jamaica, to locate and gain the confidence of Francisco (Paco) "Pistols" Scaramanga, an infamous professional assassin, known as The Man with the Golden Gun, because of his gold-plated Colt. 45 Single Action Army revolver carrying solid gold bullets with silver jackets, known as the Golden Gun, a very powerful firearm able to instantly kill targets. In order to be fully rehabilitated, Bond is ultimately tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of killing Scaramanga himself, who is responsible for the deaths of six SIS secret agents.

In Central America, Bond searches for Scaramanga. He is unable to reach the hitman a few times, until he lucks out in Kingston, on his way to Havana, when he discovers a message meant for Scaramanga. From this and an advertisement in the newspaper, Bond deduces that Scaramanga should arrive in Kingston the next day. He goes to the secret office of the SIS and meets his former secretary Mary Goodnight. She was transferred there after Bond's disappearance and her boss, Commander Ross has been missing for a few days. Commander Ross had also been looking for Scaramanga.

The next day, Bond goes to the meeting point, which turns out to be a brothel, where Scaramanga is a customer. The two meet, and through Bond's self-confident demeanor, he learns that Scaramanga wants to meet with business friends and needs a bodyguard. He hires Bond. Bond has the opportunity to shoot the expert assassin, but his scruples prevent him from doing so.

The meeting takes place inside an under-construction hotel, which belongs to Scaramanga's business partners. The partners are high-ranking members of the American Mafia, as well as Mr. Hendriks, a high-ranking KGB officer who is Scaramanga's closest confidant. They are working several schemes, including the destabilization of Western interests in the Caribbean sugar industry, running drugs into America, smuggling women from Mexico into America and launching casinos in Jamaica.

The hotel rooms are all bugged, but to Bond's surprise, Felix Leiter is disguised as the hotel's accountant, which allows him to tap into all the lines. Bond also overhears the conference and learns that Ross was murdered ten days ago and that Hendriks knows about Bond's mission. However, he hasn't yet recognized Bond. One of the gangsters, Ruby, wants to drop out of the conference due to financial difficulties, whereupon he is shot by Scaramanga.

At the evening party, Bond brags about his shooting skills and shoots a pineapple off a dancer's head with Scaramanga's Golden Gun. That night, Mary Goodnight secretly gets into Bond's room to warn him that his presence in Jamaica is known and he is targeted for death. Bond and Goodnight are caught talking by Scaramanga. They tell him a cover story, but Scaramanga is suspicious.

The next day, Hendriks receives a description from Bond over the phone, which blows his cover. The gangsters continue to play the game, but Bond was able to overhear a conversation between Hendriks and Scaramanga in which, among many other crimes, Bond's liquidation was discussed that same day. This is supposed to happen on an excursion with a narrow-gauge railway.

Scaramanga lets Bond catch a glimpse of a female body with blonde hair tied to the tracks, Bond assumes it is Mary Goodnight. The body on the tracks proves to be only a dummy, but Bond has already leaped into action, dropping any further pretense about his true identity. Felix Leiter, who was hiding on the train, comes to Bond's aid, and there is a shootout with Scaramanga and the other gangsters, some of whom are killed. Leiter had been ordered by Scaramanga, who did not know Leiter's identity, to set explosives on the nearest bridge. Scaramanga is wounded by Leiter. Bond is also wounded in the shoulder. Leiter points his gun at the remaining gangsters, and mistakenly assumes Scaramanga poses no further threat.

Bond, Leiter and Scaramanga are able to jump off the train in time before the explosion. Leiter suffers a broken leg, and Scaramanga loses his Golden Gun. Finally, a showdown between Bond and Scaramanga occurs, in which Bond again has scruples about killing a man in cold blood. As Bond is finally about to kill him, the seemingly disarmed Scaramanga suddenly draws a golden derringer with a poison-coated bullet - his backup weapon, and shoots Bond. Bond is hit and severely injured, but thanks to his quick reflexes, he fires five shots and hits Scaramanga in the heart before Scaramanga is able to finish Bond off with a knife. Bond has killed the most dangerous man alive at last. At the last moment, a policeman thankfully arrives to quickly get 007 to a hospital to get himself cured from the poison before it's too late.

Bond lies unconscious in the hospital for a week, then the incident is cleared up at a meeting with the police director. The agents are awarded the Police Medal. Later, Bond receives an encrypted telegram from M informing him that he has been recommended for the title of Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG—Bond already has CMG). But Bond refuses and explains this to Mary Goodnight by saying that he doesn't want to be called "Sir James Bond", preferring anonymity.

Characters[]

Trivia[]

  • The novel makes reference to events in the short story "The Property of a Lady", which had been published in a special Sotheby's Auction House publication the previous year, specifically the character of Maria Freudenstein. This reference would have been lost on the general public, however, who would not get to read the story until it appeared in the paperback edition of Octopussy and The Living Daylights in 1967.
  • Being the last James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, this is actually the first time M's full name, Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, is ever said. In previous novels, any reference to M's name had been censored by 'dashes'.
  • Although not a James Bond video game, the spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, contains a highly powerful weapon based on Scaramanga's golden revolver from this novel, called the DY357-LX. But rather than a Colt. 45, it is instead a Colt Python.

The controversy over the novel[]

The Man with the Golden Gun novel has been a controversial and speculative subject since its publication in 1965, the year after Ian Fleming died from a heart attack. Supposedly, since Fleming died before completing the final draft manuscript, speculation is that the novel was edited and finished by other writers before publication. Kingsley Amis often has received credit for either completing or editing The Man with the Golden Gun, but this has been denied by several sources, including Andrew Lycett in the biography Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, claiming Fleming had finished it and was subsequently read and edited only by Fleming's editor William Plomer. John Cork, co-author of James Bond, The Legacy (and producer of the documentaries included in the Special Edition DVD releases of the James Bond films) also claims that Fleming had finished it and that he, Cork, actually had seen the original un-edited typescript—although he admits Amis had read it and had offered ideas that were not implemented. The introduction to the Titan Books reprint edition of the Colonel Sun comic strip explicitly describes the Golden Gun manuscript as "unfinished" at Fleming's death, and credits Plomer with polishing it for publication; the book also supports Cork's account that Amis's involvement was restricted to unimplemented suggestions for the manuscript.

The fact that Fleming reportedly was writing another Bond novel or short story at the time of his death (excerpts from which can be found in John Pearson's The Life of Ian Fleming and the 007forever.com website) adds credence to the idea that Fleming felt the novel was finished before he died, however, these fragments may predate his writing of The Man with the Golden Gun.

In the New Statesman, after the novel's release, Amis called it "a sadly empty tale, empty of the interests and effects that for better or worse, Ian Fleming made his own."

Perhaps, due to the rumors of ghostwriters and revisions, some sources have suggested that the novel was some sort of "lost" manuscript; this is untrue.

Comic strip adaptation[]

Tmwtgg

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily James Bond comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from January 10 to September 10, 1966. The adaptation was written by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Yaroslav Horak, both of whom were starting long tenures with the comic strip. The strip was reprinted by Titan Books in the early 1990s and again in 2004 as part of The Man with the Golden Gun anthology that also includes The Living Daylights.

Film adaptation[]

Main article: The Man with the Golden Gun (film)

007TMWTGG

On December 19, 1974, the novel was loosely adapted into a film, as the ninth made by EON Productions. It was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and was the final movie to be co-produced by Saltzman after their partnership ended after its release. It stars Roger Moore as James Bond, Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga, and Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight. Like the novel, it received criticism for not being well polished, has a focus on comedy, and production suffered from the then-recent 1973 oil crisis. Despite Lee's portrayal as the Bond Villain being well-praised, the film was ultimately called the lowest point in the canon at the time. It grossed $97.6 million at the worldwide box office, making it the fourth-lowest in the James Bond's film series. The iconic Golden Gun was completely revamped for the film from the Colt .45 revolver in the novel to a custom-built single-shot pistol made from four seemingly innocuous golden everyday objects, which itself soon gained a huge cult-following among the Bond community similar to the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger.

Covers[]

Advertisement