Gold (1974): Roger Moore mining Bond

21 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (8):


  • Starring Roger Moore (James Bond, 1973 – 1985) as Rod Slater.
  • Featuring Bernard Horsfall (Campbell in OHMSS) as Dave Kowalski.
  • Featuring (briefly) Andre Maranne (uncredited as SPECTRE No. 10 in Thunderball) as a syndicate member.


  • Directed by Peter Hunt (Bond editor 1962 – 1967, Director OHMSS).
  • Production designed by Syd Cain (From Russia with Love, OHMSS & Live and Let Die).
  • Edited & 2nd unit directed by John Glen (Bond editor / 2nd unit, various 1969 – 1979; Bond Director 1981 – 1989).
  • Titles designed by Maurice Binder (Bond titles, various 1962 – 1989).
  • Camera operated by Alec Mills (Camera crew, 1969, 1981 – 1989).

The classic South Africa-set action thriller Gold was Roger Moore’s first film following his highly successful debut as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973). It set the template for Moore’s non-EON career in the 1970s and 80s when, more than any other James Bond actor, he seemed happy to capitalise on his star persona by portraying a succession of smooth and sophisticated heroes straight from the 007 mould. Many EON regulars would join Moore for his non-Bond ventures. Indeed, one reason for the fact Gold is arguably the best of them is the fact the credits include more EON crew members than any Roger Moore movie outside of James Bond.

Co-adapted (with writer Stanley Price) by author Wilbur Smith from his 1969 bestseller Goldmine, the plot of Gold is filled with Bond elements. During a SPECTRE-style board meeting early in the film (ironically featuring Andre Maranne, SPECTRE Number 10 in Thunderball, second from right above), a syndicate of crooked international businessmen discuss a Goldfinger-inspired scheme to deliberately flood a gold mine in South Africa and profit from the resulting economic chaos. English theatre legend John Gielgud plays Blofeld-style paymaster Farrell (above, third from right), an icily menacing London-based financier masterminding the plot. In rather chilling scenes, Farrell orders the death of a board member daring to deviate from his plan. American actor Bradford Dillman makes a great “number 2” as the cold-hearted (and amusingly germ-phobic) Manfred Steyner who as Managing Director of the mine executes the plan. Any physical dirty work is performed by Steyner’s deadly henchman Stephen Marais, well played by English actor Tony Beckley with a nice mix of sinister and camp.

Roger Moore gives an excellent star performance as Rod Slater, the smooth and heroic General Manager of the mine. His character becomes an unwitting participant in the plot when he’s ordered to dig the new seam which he doesn’t realise will be used to burst a deadly underground lake. Sharing with 007 a love of luxury and beautiful women, Slater is also particularly Bond-like in showing no guilt when he starts an affair with Steyner’s wife Terry, an arrangement Steyner soon uncovers. However, Steyner coldly decides to use his wife to distract Slater from what is really going on at the mine. In other aspects the role provides Moore with a departure from 007, especially when he is revealed as a divorced man with children who shows some bitterness about his past. Moore adjusts his usual screen persona to well convey a strong sense of vulnerability at certain moments in the film – something only seen fleetingly in his ever-confident Bond.

English leading lady Susannah York has great fun as bored wife Terry Steyner (above, with Moore). Very much a modern Bond leading lady, she is strong willed, confident and an accomplished pilot to boot. York would have made an excellent 70s Bond girl given her depths as an actress, obvious beauty, and superb chemistry with Moore. Unlike several actresses from the early 70s, York is given considerable screen time and is key to the plot. Refreshingly, she doesn’t instantly jump into bed with Moore, especially after identifying Slater as an obvious womaniser. York also has some good scenes with Hollywood star Ray Milland. He lends the film some old school star class playing Terry’s mine owning grandfather who is unaware of the deadly scheme his grandson-in-law is engaged in.


As noted, several EON regulars helped produce the film and this inevitably enhances the Bond feel. In addition to a stylish opening title sequence courtesy of Maurice Binder, Gold provides Bond fans with the chance to see director Peter Hunt, production designer Syd Cain and editor / second unit head John Glen recreate at least some of the excitement they brought to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). Hunt expertly builds events to a spectacular climax, where Slater leads a rescue mission down into the flooded mine in scenes anticipating the finale of A View to a Kill (1985). Of course, Syd Cain’s impressive sets mix seamlessly with location work filmed in a real mine. As his scheme disintegrates, Steyner finds himself desperately trying to outrun a pursuing car in a sequence spectacularly edited by John Glen with a similar style to the fast-cut action scenes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

In his autobiography, Roger Moore explains how during production the cast and crew were criticised for working in apartheid South Africa. However, to the filmmakers credit the horrors of apartheid are not ignored. Several crowd scenes show how the black and white populations were socially separated. Actor Bernard Horsfall, playing the repellent mine supervisor Kowalski (above), spends much of his screen time racially abusing several black mine workers. It is no surprise he turns out to be in league with the villains and his eventual death provides a cathartic moment. Modern audiences may take issue with the climax where a black man (loyal mine worker Big King) sacrifices his life to save what is a white man’s mine. Whilst a different chain of events would probably be constructed if the film were made today, South African actor Simon Sabela’s strong performance ensures Big King’s death is a heroic and affecting moment.

Gold could be the film featuring the greatest number of Bond connections and the EON-dominated crew deliver 007-standard production values throughout. Indeed, Gold is a must-see film for any Roger Moore-era Bond fan. As with his earlier thriller Crossplot (1969), Moore effectively modulates his star persona to play a heroic civilian, this time convincingly displaying far more vulnerability than usual. However, Moore remains every bit the hero in a film featuring spectacular action scenes, stunning locations, and several Bond-style elements. Highly recommended.

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