Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
Thailand, Spring 1974
Film: The Man with the Golden Gun
Release Date: December 20, 1974
Director: Guy Hamilton
Tailor: Cyril Castle
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
The Man with the Golden Gun was the first Bond movie I ever saw. Given that my first Connery Bond was Diamonds are Forever and my first theater-seen Bond was Die Another Day, it’s a miracle at all that I became the Bond enthusiast I am today after starting with these three. (Britt Ekland in a bikini in The Man with the Golden Gun may have helped keep me enthused, though.)
The film’s plot ditches the majority of Ian Fleming’s mostly-ghostwritten finale to the Bond canon, keeping only the primary villain – golden gun-wielding assassin Francisco Scaramanga – intact. The simple story of Bond infiltrating Scaramanga’s organization is replaced with a current events story that weaves in the then-contemporary energy crisis and finds Bond and Scaramanga to be instant enemies.
After some cheeky cat-and-mouse (made rendered by corny jokes, the return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper, and a slide whistle), Bond finally catches up to Scaramanga for the film’s climax on Khao Phing Kan, an island off the coast of Thailand now known as “James Bond Island” for this reason alone.
The Man with the Golden Gun isn’t a Bond film to take very seriously, but it’s especially fun to see Roger Moore and his real-life buddy Christopher Lee chew up each other’s scenery as they play hero vs. villain.
What’d He Wear?
When Bond touches down on Scaramanga’s island in his single-engine plane, he puts a plaid sport coat on over his shirt, tie, and holster. This sport coat is one of the wilder garments worn by England’s favorite spy throughout the series, and it is very polarizing for fans. Some find it too garish and too indicative of its decade while others – including yours truly – have come to appreciate the jacket.
The pattern of the jacket, described as “Texas check” in Dressed to Kill: James Bond: The Suited Hero and more specifically described as “a plaid made from worsted wool or a silk blend in black, white, and red” by Matt Spaiser on his definitive blog, resembles a typical black and white glen plaid with a red windowpane overcheck. At Clothes on Film, Chris Laverty describes it as:
Grey, black and red plaid single breasted jacket in worsted with high double vents; two button fastening with a single functional contrast button on the sleeve, claret silk lining, sloping side pockets and wide notched lapels.
No matter what words are used to describe it, the open-weave wool sport coat is clearly black, white, and red plaid.
The single-breasted sport coat closes in the front with two gray buttons. The single link-button on each flared cuff also matches the gray front buttons. The jacket has a welted breast pocket and hip pockets that slant backward and close with large flaps.
The jacket is certainly a relic of ’70s British styling with its narrow shoulders matched with the wide, full chest then tapering again through the darted front for a pulled waist. The burgundy silk lining calls out the red overcheck on the outside. As the trousers were part of a Cyril Castle suit and the link-button cuffs are also Castle, it’s a likely assumption that Cyril Castle constructed this somewhat flamboyant jacket for Moore in the film.
Moore’s shirt is warm ecru poplin with a front placket and squared 2-button turnback cuffs that nod to Frank Foster as the shirtmaker. This was the last appearance of turnback cuffs in Bond films after a long run that had begun in 1962 when Turnbull & Asser outfitted Sean Connery in turnback cuff shirts for Dr. No.
Bond’s shirt has a large ’70s-style collar with a moderate spread and a front placket. He keeps the shirt buttoned to his throat when he wears the tie, but all bets are off when the tie is removed and Moore goes all-out Hasselhoff once the duel begins.
Bond wears a black silk textured tie for the beginning part of the scene, tightening it up after wearing it loose for the plane ride in. It’s appropriately wide for 1974, and Bond seems to wear a black tie again after he finds the charcoal suit in Scaramanga’s funhouse. However, the second tie looks more like a knit; as it doesn’t last long, it’s not worth mentioning or exploring further.
Bond continues his prep for living out his retirement in Miami Beach with a pair of black horsebit Gucci loafers with a silver horsebit detail. The shoes are still available on Gucci’s site for $595.
His dress socks are dark; likely black.
The shoes are a perfect match for Bond’s black leather belt, also made by Gucci as shown with the prominent gold “G” buckle.
The belt holds up Bond’s dark charcoal darted-front mohair trousers which rise high on his waist. Although they have no front pockets, as Moore evidently preferred a cleaner look with his ’70s suits, there are two rear jetted pockets that close with buttons. A production photo of Moore with a bikini-clad Britt Ekland shows him slinging his thumb through the left rear pocket.
The darts allow the trousers to wear fully around the waist, tapering slightly throughout the leg, then flaring out past the knee to the plain-hemmed bottoms.
The trousers are revealed to be part of a dark charcoal Cyril Castle-designed suit that Scaramanga keeps on his mannequin of Bond in the funhouse. (Good thing Scaramanga didn’t invest in a George Lazenby mannequin.) I originally assumed that the suit was wool, but the trousers’ sheen in certain light suggests mohair, an elegant fabric that is very fitting for Bond.
The suit jacket has the same details as the sport coat – single-breasted, 2-button front, natural shoulders, link-button cuffs, long double vents, welted breast pocket, slanted hip pockets, and even the dark red lining.
The full suit was auctioned for £7,500 at Christie’s in November 2009, although the photo accompanying the suit instead showed a charcoal herringbone suit that Bond wears on his date with Goodnight earlier in the film. The auction house describes:
A two piece suit in black, the single-breasted jacket lined in claret coloured art silk, labelled on the inside pocket Cyril A Castle, Roger Moore, March ’74, ESQ, the trousers with similar costume label to waist band — made for Roger Moore as James Bond in the 1974 United Artists/Eon production The Man With The Golden Gun, with corresponding still and letter regarding the provenance.
While it does look black ins some lighting, it is decidedly a very dark charcoal. Black trousers would be a reasonable choice for this outfit, but black suits are only appropriate for certain occasions; a sunny Southeast Asian gunfight isn’t one of them.
Far less controversy surrounds the identification of Bond’s watch, a stainless Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual with a black dial and stainless bracelet. Like the turnback cuff, this would be the last afternoon in the sun for Rolex, another Bond institution since Dr. No.
Timothy Dalton’s Bond would wear a Rolex again in Licence to Kill in 1989 – a Submariner, no less – but the brand’s involvement with the series ended there… aside from a quick mention in Casino Royale when Vesper Lynd misidentifies his Omega. Roger Moore would wear Seiko watches through the remainder of his time as Bond.
Bond also wears his shoulder holster, receiving more prominent screentime than usual as Bond emerges from his plane jacket-less. The holster itself is black leather, secured by a wide blue cloth strap over his left shoulder. A thinner off-white canvas strap secures the blue cloth to a black leather strap slung over his right shoulder. It’s a generally uncomplicated rig.
Go Big or Go Home
Even when in relative captivity on Scaramanga’s island, Bond enjoys the comforts of the luxurious “007 Lifestyle”. Nick Nack almost immediately presents him with a bottle of Dom Pérignon, although Bond sniffs his nose at it, preferring the ’62 to Scaramanga’s far inferior ’64 vintage.
And, of course, the most identifiable aspect of the “007 Lifestyle” is a scantily-clad woman desperate for his help and attention. While visually stunning, Britt Ekland’s Mary Goodnight was one of the worst Bond girls due to her total incompetence and endless sex drive, even for a man that twice kicks her out of bed to sleep with other women. The concept of feminism in the Bond series would be a long three years away.
In a strange non-coincidence, there’s always a very worthwhile photo – like the one above – worth posting anytime Britt Ekland shows up in a BAMF Style-worthy movie (see Get Carter if you need further evidence).
How to Get the Look
An outfit like this would be hard to find and hard to make good when found off-the-rack. If you’re interested in emulating Moore, call up some talented guys like Cyril Castle and Frank Foster. You’ll be in good hands… although likely unable to afford lunch.
- Black, white, and red plaid open-weave single-breasted 2-button sports coat with large notch lapels, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets, single link-button cuffs, and long double rear vents
- Dark charcoal gray darted-front mohair suit trousers with belt loops, jetted button-through rear pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Ecru poplin dress shirt with large collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback cuffs
- Black textured silk necktie
- Black horsebit Gucci loafers with silver horsebit detail
- Black dress socks
- Black leather Gucci belt with gold “G” belt buckle
- Black leather shoulder holster (RHD) on wide blue cloth strap, for Walther PPK pistol
- Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual stainless wristwatch with black bezel, black dial, and stainless link bracelet
Lucky enough for Bond, the trousers were an exact match for the very suit that Scaramanga keeps on his Bond mannequin! Why, the mannequin is even wearing an ecru shirt and a black tie! What a coincidence!*
I’ve heard some theories that Nick Nack told Bond to wear this shirt, tie, and trousers so that he could match the look in the funhouse. A loud, contrasting sport coat would keep Scaramanga from suspecting anything… Unfortunately, Bond shows nothing but true animosity toward Nick Nack, even when the latter offers Bond his “assistance”. His surprise at seeing the mannequin also squashes this theory. Sorry, Bond/Nick Nack fanfic writers.
Bond carries his faithful blued Walther PPK again, although he notably only fires it once in the whole film. He also lends some mystery to the PPK’s canon with his response to Scaramanga’s challenge.
Scaramanga: A duel between titans… my golden gun against your Walther PPK.
Bond: One bullet against my six?
As some attentive Bond fans are undoubtedly aware, Bond’s PPK was clearly stated to be chambered for 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) ammunition from Dr. No onward. A PPK chambered in 7.65 mm can carry seven rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. It is the 9 mm Kurz (.380 ACP) model that only carries six in the magazine.
It’s unsure if this was intended to be a 9 mm PPK, if Bond carried his magazine partially empty for some reason, or if this was a script error.
My best guess is that the screenwriter assumed that most revolvers carry six rounds and simply input this number into the script. This wouldn’t be the first time a Bond screenwriter made an “all-handguns-carry-six-rounds” flub; Bond notably told Professor Dent in Dr. No that his he’d already “had [his] six” in his “Smith & Wesson”. That error was the more grievous as Dent clearly carried a full-size 1911, which:
a) Never was chambered for less than seven round magazines, and
b) Had not been manufactured by Smith & Wesson in 1962.
As The Man with the Golden Gun‘s “six bullets” lined can be excused with several different explanations, my self-proclaimed expert ruling is that the film’s “error” should be forgiven.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, or – if you’re trying to emulate my first ever Bond experience – rent the VHS from Blockbuster and watch it in your friend’s basement during his 10th birthday party. Good luck finding a Blockbuster, though. (And it would be somewhat creepy if you have 10-year-old friends.)
Bond: Pistols at dawn? It’s a little old-fashioned, isn’t it?
Scaramanga: That it is. But it remains the only true test for gentlemen.
Bond: On that score, I doubt you qualify. However, I accept.
To read Matt Spaiser’s expert analyses on The Suits of James Bond, check out his posts about the sport coat here and the charcoal suit here. Chris Laverty’s excellent article at Clothes on Film can be found here.