Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
Bangkok, Thailand, Spring 1974
Film: The Man with the Golden Gun
Release Date: December 20, 1974
Director: Guy Hamilton
Tailor: Cyril Castle
Clothes by: Jimmy Chen
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Today marks the momentous 20th anniversary of the first time I’d ever seen a James Bond movie. June 19, 1999, was the first Saturday of my summer vacation after 4th grade, and my friend Nate was hosting a dozen friends for his 10th birthday party. Among the pizza, pop, and festivities was a rented copy of The Man with the Golden Gun on VHS… and thus Roger Moore was my introduction to agent 007.
Arguably one of the most iconic outfits—for better or worse—from Moore’s sophomore outing is the green safari shirt-jacket and cream trousers that the agent wears when he arrives to meet Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) at a Muay Thai match to take possession of the film’s MacGuffin, a solex agitator.
Unfortunately, Andrea’s dead—shot in the chest—with the solex agitator initially nowhere to be found. Bond finds himself sitting next to the sinister yet sophisticated Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), who prides himself on the “difficult… but most gratifying” shot that ended Andrea’s life before introducing his peanut-munching pal Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) who has a derringer aimed at Bond, prompting the agent to quip: “A gun in a bag of peanuts, how original. What will they think of next?”
As Scaramanga pontificates, Bond spies the solex agitator among the trash at Andrea’s feet and slides it under his loafer, smoothly smuggling it to his ally Lieutenant Hip (Soon-Tek Oh)—undercover as a waiter—by pretending to purchase a bag of peanuts from him. Unaware of Bond’s maneuver, Scaramanga surprisingly departs after a brief chat—hoping that he and Bond shall never meet again—and the whole movie might have ended there with Bond’s mission relatively accomplished… until the MacGuffin ends up with the bumbling but beautiful MI6 agent Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), who finds herself in the trunk of Scaramanga’s AMC Matador.
With vacationing Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) riding shotgun, Bond gives chase in an AMC Hornet stolen from a Bangkok dealership (gee, I wonder if AMC paid for all of this product placement?) with considerable impressive stunts to follow, beginning with a “J-turn” from reverse that would be popularized on The Rockford Files, which premiered the same year.
In a truly impressive stunt ruined by a truly awful slide whistle, Bond—in actuality, stunt driver Loren “Bumps” Willard—performed a groundbreaking “aerial twist” as the red Hornet drove off the elevated broken end of a bridge and rotated counter-clockwise a full 360° before making a smooth landing on the other side of the bridge.
Despite the impressive stunt, it’s not enough for Bond and Sheriff Pepper to catch the assassin whose Matador transforms into a plane that flies away.
What’d He Wear?
The inclusion of this distinctive shirt-jacket in Orlebar Brown’s official 007-inspired collection this season makes this the perfect time to take another look at Sir Roger’s outfit. Perhaps more than any other actor who would strap on James Bond’s Walther PPK, Roger Moore stepped into the role with a well-informed and strongly developed sense of style, a sartorial savvy that permitted him to take more risks than Sean Connery who often reverted to safe but stylish classic pieces like the navy blazer, brown tweed jacket, and gray business suit with “cocktail cuff” shirts and navy grenadine ties.
Armed with English clothing experts like Cyril Castle and Frank Foster as well as his own experience as a natty dresser in The Saint and The Persuaders!, Moore had no need for such a safe “uniform”, introducing a style for James Bond that effectively balanced the trends of the ’70s with timeless style. Yet, there has been much unfair dismissal of Moore as “the leisure suit Bond” from those who overlook his beautifully tailored suits and sport jackets crafted by such hands as Mr. Castle, Angelo Roma, and Douglas Hayward.
While safari-inspired clothing was indeed a 1970s trend that many men wore at the wrong time and wrong place—look no further than episodes of classic city-set sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show for evidence—Sir Roger’s 007 wore only well-cut, well-made safari clothing and only when appropriate, such as in warm, tropical environments. Even Ian Fleming did not shy away from dressing the literary James Bond in safari clothing, describing the “faded khaki bush shirt” that Bond borrowed for the final chapter of Diamonds are Forever.
Thus, the warm southeast Asian setting of The Man with the Golden Gun provides an appropriate setting for Roger Moore’s James Bond to step out in safari garb like this green safari-style shirt worn with light slacks and loafers.
In its auction listing, the Prop Store confirms that Moore’s bespoke green safari shirt was “a custom-made garment by Hong Kong tailor Jimmy Chen,” made from lightweight cotton in a light shade of sage green similar to the Class A uniform dress shirts worn by the U.S. Army at the time.
Fitted with a half-belted back and double side vents, the shirt-jacket has a wide camp collar and the usual safari-inspired detailing of epaulettes (shoulder straps) and four patch pockets, all box-pleated with pointed flaps that close with a single button.
Bond’s green long-sleeved shirt has four widely spaced buttons in “pearlescent green”, as described by the Prop Store auction, and Moore wears the top button undone for extra breeziness.
The cuffs also close with a button, but Moore wears them unbuttoned and rolls up his sleeves through the entire sequence.
Using the exact original shirt that they purchased at auction in 2014, EON Productions coordinated directly with Orlebar Brown on their version of the “Bond Safari Jacket”, which is again available on their site in most sizes for $595 after initially selling out within a week of the line’s release on May 15, 2019.
Orlebar Brown’s unlined shirt-jacket in a breathable blend of 51% cotton and 49% linen takes its cues from The Man with the Golden Gun, right down to the “tonal imitation mother of pearl buttons” and “military pockets and epaulette detailing.” The most notable differences appear to be:
- the color, which OB also calls “sage” but more resembles the darker, earthier tone of green used to make the U.S. Army’s OG-107 and OG-507 fatigues popularized by M*A*S*H, and
- the modernized details, including slimmer pocket flaps and collar than what would have been fashionable in the 1970s.
For firsthand feedback about the OB collection, including this particular piece, I refer you to Matt Spaiser of The Suits of James Bond and a review by my friend Shawn Michael Bongiorno. (You can also read a thoughtful and detailed analysis of the original outfit from The Suits of James Bond here.)
If the OB price tag is a little high, Iconic Alternatives again saves the day with its characteristically thorough research that finds affordable updates for all of Moore’s safari-influenced shirts and jackets as James Bond, including a nice alternative in a pale “marine green” cotton/linen twill by Massimo Dutti.
Bond wears the safari shirt untucked with the hem covering the waistband of his trousers, a pair of cream-colored flat front slacks in a lightweight slubbed material almost certain to be linen. The trousers appear to have vertical pockets cut along the side seams and the plain-hemmed bottoms are fashionably flared.
Given the lack of layers preventing him from comfortably holstering his sidearm, he appears to keep his Walther PPK tucked into the left side of his waistband, secured by his belt. Moore’s black leather belt, briefly seen as he pulls the PPK from his waistband, has a large semi-oval gold buckle and is likely among the Salvatore Ferragamo leatherware that the actor began wearing wearing after his then-neighbor, who was married to Salvatore Ferragamo’s eldest son, expressed concern that 007 had worn Gucci belts and shoes in Live and Let Die.
While some strict menswear purists would advocate that wearing a black belt means a gent should be sporting black shoes, Moore’s Bond skirts that “rule” by wearing a pair of more contextually appropriate plain-toe loafers in a rich brown leather, albeit accented with black contrast leather including the woven tassels and side lacing as well as the black hard leather soles.
Despite the conspicuous Gucci branding throughout The Man with the Golden Gun, these shoes are likely also a product of Ferragamo. Moore’s beige ribbed socks neatly continue the trouser leg line into the shoes.
Bond wears his signature Rolex Submariner, a reference 5513 Oyster Perpetual dive watch with a stainless steel 40mm case, black rotating bezel, black dial, and stainless Oyster-style bracelet.
The Man with the Golden Gun marks the last time that Roger Moore’s 007 wears the character’s usual Rolex Submariner as he would switch to Seiko watches from The Spy Who Loved Me through his final appearance in A View to a Kill. In fact, the Rolex would only appear once more on Bond’s wrist, worn in 1989 by Timothy Dalton in Licence to Kill.
It’s not officially #CarWeek yet, but how would we not talk about the red 1974 AMC Hornet X that James Bond “borrows” from an AMC dealership… complete with Sheriff J.W. Pepper already riding shotgun. (Also… why was J.W. Pepper spending his vacation in Thailand test-driving American cars?)
In retrospect, the car itself is nothing too spectacular—representative of the under-designed, underpowered state of the American automotive industry in the mid-1970s—but the impressive feat designed and performed in an AMC Hornet X in The Man with the Golden Gun earns it a notable place among 007’s gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 or amphibious Lotus Esprit.
American Motors Corporation (AMC) formed in 1954 during the largest American corporate merger to that point in history when Nash-Kelvinator and the Hudson Motor Car Company combined forces to take on the Big Three—Chrysler, Ford, and GM—lasting more than three decades before it was absorbed and bought out by Chrysler in the late ’80s.
However, AMC proved to be a force on the marketplace during the disco decade, consolidating its passenger car offerings in the ’70s and introducing the compact Hornet range in 1970, coinciding with the American demand for smaller cars as the looming gas crisis threatened the once-enduring supremacy of increasing power or prestigious size.
The compact Hornet replaced the Rambler for a seven-year production run of sedans, hatchbacks, and eventually wagons. By 1973, AMC neatly adapted the Hornet to incorporate new emissions controls with two six-cylinder and two eight-cylinder engines, with the two-barrel 360 cubic-inch V8 providing the most power at 175 horsepower, still underpowered when compared to the American muscle heyday of only three years earlier but considered “a mildly spirited performer” by Matt Stone and Preston Lerner in History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed.
1974 AMC Hornet X
Body Style: 2-door hatchback coupe
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 360 cu. in. (5.9 L) AMC V8 with 2-barrel carburetor
Power: 175 hp (130.5 kW; 177 PS) @ 4000 RPM
Torque: 285 lb·ft (387 N·m) @ 2400 RPM
Transmission: 3-speed “TorqueFlite” automatic
Wheelbase: 108 inches (2743 mm)
Length: 187 inches (4750 mm)
Width: 71.1 inches (1807 mm)
Height: 52.5 inches (1334 mm)
The filmmakers envisioned a stunt adapted from Jay Milligan’s Astro Spiral Javelin show cars that thrilled audiences across the United States, but in order to ensure that the roll could be carried out safely, the stunt team created what became the first computer-modeled car stunt in movie history, utilizing resources at the Cornell Aeronautical Labratory (CAL) to calculate the stunt that would call for a 3,219-pound weight (including the car and driver), a launch speed of 40 miles per hour, and a distance of 52 feet between ramps which would be disguised as a broken bridge.
At a curb weight of 3,236 pounds, the AMC Hornet was the ideal car of the era’s offerings that could make the intended barrel roll jump work on screen. A 1974 Hornet X in “matador red” with dealer-installed 14×6 Cragar S/S wheels, a floor-mounted three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, and the top-of-the-line 360 V8 engine was supplied to the production (according to IMCDB) and modified with a redesigned chassis, center-positioned steering wheel, and larger wheel wheels. You can read more about the actual Hornet hatchback used on screen at James Bond Lifestyle.
For the safety of stunt driver Loren “Bumps” Willard (who went tragically uncredited in the film), seven tests were performed in advance before the actual manned jump, with emergency personnel on standby should anything go wrong. In a testament to both the driver’s skill and the precision of the filmmakers’ pre-jump testing, only a single take was needed as Willard completed the roll in one attempt, a stunt that would be lauded by Guinness World Records as “revolutionary”. Read more about this impressive, innovative stunt in Jason Torchinsky’s June 2015 article for Jalopnik.
How to Get the Look
“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” goes the old adage, and I have to think it’s particularly appropriate for Roger Moore’s oft-aligned safari attire as James Bond.
Personally, this outfit from The Man with the Golden Gun is my favorite of 007’s safari outfits, helped by the contrast between the shirt and trousers that makes it more of a casual outfit than a straight safari costume.
- Light sage green cotton safari shirt-jacket with large camp collar, epaulettes, four-button front, four box-pleated pockets with button-down flaps, and button cuffs
- Cream linen flat front trousers with wide belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, and slightly flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black Italian leather Salvatore Ferragamo belt with gold semi-oval buckle
- Brown leather plain-toe tassel loafers with black woven leather tassels and side lacing
- Beige ribbed socks
- Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual stainless wristwatch with black bezel, black dial, and stainless link bracelet
On the other hand, if you’re interested in dressing like J.W. Pepper… don’t.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Well, we, er… all get our jollies one way or another.