During his twelve year stint as James Bond 007, Roger Moore wore some exceedingly contemporary costumes, perhaps none more so than his shocking plaid jacket from The Man with the Golden Gun. Think Lulu’s theme song is the loudest thing in the movie? Think again.
The Man with the Golden Gun arrived in cinemas Christmas, 1974, a year after the release of Live and Let Die. Audiences and critics gave the film a lukewarm response. Its muddled plot and over-reliance on situation comedy was grating and despite the imposing presence of Christopher Lee as Bond’s nemesis Francisco Scaramanga a.k.a. The Man with the Golden Gun, it felt a particularly limp entry in the franchise. History has been somewhat kinder and regular TV showings have ensured an enthusiastic if sporadic following among fans.
The Man with the Golden Gun remains beautiful to look at, partly because of the exotic and (then) unspoilt locations (the film practically invented tourism in Phuket), partly because of the two Swedish Bond girls Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight and Maud Adams as Andrea Anders, both decked out in pretty and, in Maud’s case certainly, sophisticated fashions of the day; partly because of Moore, here as trim and tanned as OO7 as he would ever be, his now customary kick flare in every scene and jacket lapels cut generously enough to take flight.
Yet amid his exotic suits and double breasted blazers, one item of clothing still stands out as, depending on your point of view, the most interesting or hideous costume in the movie – the wild plaid jacket Bond wears for his showdown with Scaramanga on the decadent villain’s private island:
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. Worn with charcoal black high-waisted flared trousers and brown leather belt with gold buckle design by Gucci, ecru silk shirt with two button turnback cuff by Frank Foster, black (possibly) knitted necktie and brown leather loafers.
Moore’s jacket has the distinctive 1970s silhouette; narrow shoulders though still quite wide across the chest. This is definitely a jacket too, not a blazer, as there are no gilded brass buttons. Americans may call this a ‘sports jacket’, though this term has less application across the pond. However the two hip pockets are cut on the slant, so it does adopt the traditional British style.
The plaid is broad and in your face, described in the book Dressed to Kill: James Bond: The Suited Hero as ‘Texas check’. It may be loud, but Bond looks immediately more comfortable in this than just the shirt and necktie he wears on arrival at Scaramanga’s island. Without a jacket Bond always appears to be in a state of half-undress. Like a priest bereft a clerical collar, he is not yet ready to perform.
Precisely who made the plaid jacket is still subject to speculation. Up to 1979, Cyril Castle is credited with tailoring Roger Moore’s Bond suits and jackets before Dougie Hayward took over for the remainder of his run. However on the audio commentary for the European DVD of The Man with the Golden Gun, Moore attributes his suits to ‘Angelo’ in Italy. Furthermore he remarks on their cut and quality several times. Evidently this does not tally with Castle’s assumed contribution, especially since the black single breasted suit worn by Moore in his climatic face-off with Scaramanga is stitched with a Cyril Castle label plus has the words ‘Roger Moore Esq.’ handwritten underneath. It was recently sold by Christie’s auction house.
One possible giveaway that Castle was responsible for tailoring on TMWTGG is the distinguishing ‘flyaway’ single button cuff which is visible on most of Moore’s suit jackets. This same unusual cuff design is noticeable in Live and Let Die, filmed less than one year before and also credited to Castle. Perhaps Moore has gotten confused over time? In any case the plaid jacket with its English cut and jazzy colour scheme is given the evidence, most likely attributable to Cyril Castle.
This jacket represents probably the first and last truly lairy ensemble Moore wore as James Bond. There were wider flares and kipper ties that could double as scarves, but for sheer audacious costuming alone, The Man with the Golden Gun’s plaid jacket is in a flamboyant class of its own.
This post is in honour of The Incredible Suit’s mad ‘BlogalongaBond’ initiative, which you can read all about HERE.
You can watch Roger Moore in The Man with the Golden Gun at LOVEFiLM.com.
© 2011 – 2013, Chris Laverty.