The Man With the Golden Gun appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While it showed some signs of age, the movie often looked quite good.
Sharpness seemed fine much of the time. Occasional light softness marred the picture at times, but for the most part, the film appeared nicely crisp and clear. I didn’t notice any jagged edges, but a little shimmering crept into the presentation, and I also noticed mild edge enhancement. Source flaws were a more consistent problem. The print suffered from a mix of specks, marks, nicks, scratches, and blotches. It wasn’t horribly dirty, but the defects popped up much more frequently than I’d like.
Colors tended to appear quite bold and vivid. The Asian setting provided lots of opulent costumes, and the DVD rendered the hues accurately and brightly. Some colored lighting had a few problems, but these are mild. Black levels looked deep and rich, while shadow detail was fine. A few shots looked just a smidgen dense, but the majority were clear and visible. Due to the source defects, this one ended up with a “B-“, but a cleaner presentation would have earned a significantly higher grade.
I found a pleasant surprise via the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Gun. It's unclear to
me whether or not this mix was originally a surround job in theaters or if Gun was remastered. IMDB indicates that the film was mono, but they're not always correct. Whatever the case, this track sounded surprisingly good for an old film. The forward soundstage still tended to stick pretty closely to the center channel, but quite a lot of audio spread out the image through much of the film. The localizing of sound seemed a bit inconsistent; for example, some dialogue moved to the appropriate side of the soundstage and some didn't.
The surrounds were essentially neglected. They provided some gentle reinforcement of the main music and effects but did little to bolster the mix. Nonetheless, the additional spatiality added to the life of the track. It definitely seemed more involving than the previous films that used mono.
Quality seemed appropriate for the era. Speech tended to be somewhat flat and stiff, but it's clear and always intelligible. Effects could be a bit harsh and overly sharp, but they appeared acceptably realistic and lacked overt distortion. The music sounded clean and smooth, and the track offered some tasty low-end response when appropriate. I felt pretty pleased with this track.
Once again, I must provide my standard MGM audio warning: don't turn up the volume on your receiver until after the extremely loud – and annoyingly unskippable - MGM promo that appears right after you start the DVD. This thing has scared many an unwary viewer - and probably blown a speaker or two - so be warned. Message to MGM: turn down the volume and let us skip these stupid things!
If you've seen any of the previous Bonds - or even just read my other reviews - you probably already know pretty much what kind of supplements we'll find. Predictable, yes, but happily so, since all of these DVDs provide such fine extras, and Gun offers no exception.
First up is an audio commentary. This non-screen-specific track is pieced together from a series of interviews with principals such as director Guy Hamilton, actors Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Clifton James, and Soon-Taik Oh, continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck, co-writer Tom Mankiewicz, stunt coordinator WJ Milligan, composer John Barry, consultant Michael Wilson, production designer Peter Murton, miniatures supervisor Derek Meddings, and cinematographer Ozzie Morris. All of this is linked by narration from Bond historian David Naylor, who introduces the participants and adds plenty of valuable details himself.
The track discusses cast and crew, locations, sets and production design, story issues, changes from the original script and the adaptation of the novel, stunts, various effects, and other topics from the shoot. Like the other Bond commentaries, this one often remains anecdotal in nature. This means lots of stories but not a ton of the usual nuts and bolts details. Still, these tales give us a good impression of the production, and there’s enough concrete material about the film’s creation to satisfy. The piece adds up to an enjoyable and reasonably informative track.
Next we find the standard documentary. Called Inside The Man With the Golden Gun, the program runs for a shorter-than-usual 31 minutes and change – not the 35 minutes listed on the DVD menu - but it packs a lot of good information into that time. We find the usual conglomeration of contemporary interviews combined with archival footage from the set and other period stills and materials. Admittedly, I wish they'd focussed at least a little on the film's negative reputation, but I can't blame them too much for avoiding the topic. After all, it's not like the movie's stench compares to more famous examples such as Ishtar or Heaven's Gate, films that would really have to discuss that aspect of their fame. All in all, the documentary works well and presents a nice assortment of details.
A second program appears as well. Double-O Stuntmen lasts 28 and a half minutes and provides a nice tribute to all of the stuntmen who have made the Bond series such a success. Various "big ticket" events from the entire series are surveyed through great behind the scenes footage, and plenty of interviews with the stuntmen and those with whom they worked appears as well. The piece gave me an even greater appreciation for the work that these folks do, and it came across as very entertaining as well.
Gun features the standard package of promotional materials. We get a teaser trailer and theatrical preview for the film - neither of which is anything special - plus two similarly-ordinary TV ads. Three mildly interesting radio spots appear as well. Usually at least some of the Bond promos are worth note, but this batch seems rather unexceptional. Oh well.
Another Bond DVD staple is the photo gallery. This one includes approximately 110 pictures spread across 10 different sections. I found the galleries for Dr. No and On Her Majesty's Secret Service unusually compelling, but these are simply good and not great. Still, a number of fun photos appear, so the program deserves a look.
Finally, I have to issue my usual commendation to MGM for the excellent booklet that accompanies this DVD, as well as the similarly strong packages that come with the other Bonds. It includes a lot of good notes.
Despite its poor reputation, I found The Man With the Golden Gun to offer a generally enjoyable experience. The film certainly displays flaws, but my overall opinion remains favorable. The DVD itself provides acceptable picture and sound plus the usual assortment of fine supplemental features. The Man With the Golden Gun will never reside terribly high on my list of Bond favorites, but I'm happy I own it, and other Bond fans will likely feel the same.
To rate this film visit the Ultimate Edition review of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN