A city in Thailand that was the jumping-off point for the 007 filmmakers to discover the unusual islands featured in The Man with the Golden Gun. On a scouting trip near Phuket in 1974, the film’s recon team discovered a chain of tiny islands so extraordinary in appearance that production designer Peter Murton thought they had crossed the time barrier and were back in the prehistoric age.
Covered with jungle foliage, shaped like overturned boulders, and appearing from the air like a series of giant stepping-stones, each island was a photographer’s delight. One of these strange pieces of Thai geography was to become Scaramanga’s island. It was called Khao Phing Kan, and it featured a lovely sandy beach fronting a grotto that would accommodate the seaplane flown by James Bond (Roger Moore), as well as be the site of the beach duel between Bond and Scaramanga (Christopher Lee).
In the background were smaller, unusually shaped islands that lent the entire scene a sense of exotic mystique far removed from anything the crew, let alone film audiences, had ever imagined. Coincidentally, the remote chain of islands was not far from the Mergui Archipelago (just up the coast a few hundred miles), which in Thunderball was designated as SPECTRE’s drop zone for the diamond ransom.