THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974, d. Guy Hamilton)
Christopher Lee famously challenged Hervé Villechaize to a hot dog eating contest on THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN’s first day of production.
Lee was chosen for the titular role as, like the character in Fleming’s novel, he had a superfluous third nipple (which he named “Fergus”).
Scaramanga’s funhouse set was purchased at auction by the Westboro Baptist Church in 1977 for a lowball bid of $27,000. it was relocated piece by piece to Topeka, KS, and turned into an anti-abortion “Hell House”.
Roger Moore got off to a lousy start in his second outing as 007, when Lee actually shot off all of his fingers in the pre-credits scene.
Maud Adams was thrilled, however, as she’d tired quite quickly of Moore’s “busy hands”. Moore countered that she was “frigid”.
Moore was keen to film in the Far East, particularly Bangkok, which he described as “a gentleman’s delight”.
Lee made himself quite a bit of fun betting that Roger Moore could not distinguish between female prostitutes and the fabled “Ladyboys”.
“Christopher was a funny chap,” said the very experienced Moore of the friendly wager. “I let him have his fun, but I’m hardly a man who turns down a buffet, if you take my meaning.” he continued with a twinkle.
Britt Ekland loathed Moore, so her then-husband Peter Sellers (who played 007 in CASINO ROYALE) played Goodnight in their scenes together.
fully functioning brass copies of Scaramanga’s multi-piece gun were manufactured by Remington in time for Christmas 1974. unfortunately, the bullets exploded when the cigarette lighter was used, maiming 16 people (two of them children, all on Christmas Day).
M’s headquarters in the sunken RMS Queen Elizabeth was not a set; it was Bond super-producer Cubby Broccoli’s personal offices.
despite sharing no scenes, Desmond Llewelyn & Villechaize made fast on-set friends due to a shared love of plum wine & cheap Thai opium.
Once the production moved to Hong Kong, Lee, mired in gambling debt, successfully sold Villechaize to a local triad to pay off his marker.
Cubby was livid. With 35 days left to shoot, he was forced to sell partner Harry Saltzman’s rights to 007 to the gangsters & get Hervé back. this would be Harry Saltzman’s final 007 production.
Fu Yuck is an actual brand of Hong Kong champagne; Moore preferred it to Dom or Bollinger, saying it “tastes as yellow as the local ladies.”
Maud Adams recalls “Roger Moore was the most unrepentant racist I have ever met.”
Moore makes no defense of himself. “My distaste for foreigners is matched only by my love of an open sex trade.”
in fact, Moore demanded Clifton James’ return to the franchise; he delighted in the actor’s casual racism & voracious sexual appetite.
“That boy was a goddamn pre-vert,” James later recalled. “Me an’ Rog fucked our way through every pyjama-wearin’ pointy-head we could find.”
(a side note: the elephant that unceremoniously shoves Sheriff J.W. Pepper into a river was actually Bernard Lee’s third wife Louise.)
Peter Sellers was nearly killed in an aborted attempt to film Mary Goodnight’s “death” by train, a crucial scene from Fleming’s novel.
Maud Adams’ calamitous love scene with Moore nearly shut down the entire production. It was to be filmed on the Scaramanga’s Junk set.
Not only did Adams get monstrously seasick, she’d had no food all day from sheer nerves & began to dry heave at Moore’s slightest touch.
Roger, ever the unflappable pro, shouted with aplomb “I do enjoy a bit of foreplay!” and privately confided to Cubby: “I think she’s gay.”
the scene was moved to a generic hotel room. Cubby now insisted it be done in 1 take to make up for lost shoot time. Director Guy Hamilton: “By this point Maud had taken so many yellowjackets, just to stop shaking, that she could only lie down, immobile.”
They shot the scene anyway, Adams stiff as a board on the bed. “Nothing I’m not used to!” quipped Moore. “The show must go on,” he later remarked in his 1991 007-themed memoir “Bondage”. “If you can’t stand my heat, stay out of this kitchen.”
production decamped to Ko Khao Phing Kan island, Ian Fleming’s secret mercenary training camp & location for Scaramanga’s funhouse hideout. even in the isolated location, Christopher Lee’s pursuit of chance games continued; he lost a crucial thumb-wrestling match with Saltzman.
the consequences were severe. Herschel “Harry” Saltzman, himself a former CIA man, was still furious with Cubby for selling him out. Saltzman ordered his star to live up to his character: murder Cubby Broccoli or pay the full 8.7million pounds he owed the producer.
“Apparently I was confused about what ‘Double or Nothing’ means.” said a regretful Lee.
Hervé stilled owed Cubby a significant sum for his rescue; basically he was an indentured servant. Cubby legally renamed him “Knick-Knack”. Lee used this to his advantage, scheduling a private dinner with Cubby, which Hervé would of course be expected to serve.
Villechaize, passed out in the crook of Desmond Llewelyn’s arm after an opium bender, did not even notice Lee planting the bomb on him.
Lee was however an inexperienced bombmaker, as Cubby’s luck would have it. He had foolishly attached crude molotov cocktails with tape. Hervé drank them. the plot was foiled. Cubby, furious, had Villechaize set adrift, locked in a trunk on the Chinese Junk set until 1978.
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN opened on 12/19/74, and grossed nearly $100M. “Personally I thought it was shit,” said Roger Moore. “But it’s a sweet deal. I’m hip deep in poon and we go places with no extradition.”