Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

A technological wonder introduced in The Man with the Golden Gun, it’s a solar cell that can convert solar radiation into electricity with 95 percent efficiency. The British have it, a sinister industrialist named Hai Fat (Richard Loo) wants it, assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) kills for it, and it’s up to James Bond (Roger Moore) to recover it. As with plot elements in many James Bond films, the solex was inspired by current events. The year The Man with the Golden Gun was released, 1974, the United States was in the midst of an oil crisis, with many people forced to wait in long lines for gasoline. As Americans looked toward alternative forms of energy, the filmmakers decided to explore the promise of solar power.

The solex agitator plot point was added to the story by cowriter Richard Maibaum. It replaced a running duel between Bond and Scaramanga that was the center of earlier drafts by screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. Said Maibaum, “As usual, we were looking for a world threat, and in the end it came down to either solar power or weather control. Harry Saltzman felt that weather control was not a good idea. He felt that it would just be a lot of special effects and stock footage showing hurricanes and tropical storms. He was right at the time.” But just a few years after the film’s release, when effects-driven sci-fi films surged to the top of the box office charts, Maibaum began to wonder how a weather-contol threat in a 007 movie would be received.[1]

Now, decades later, the Bond series still hasn’t tapped the weather-control idea, but it has continued to draw inspiration from the headlines of the day—including the space shuttle missions in Moonraker, the international drug trade in Licence to Kill, and the international quest for safe drinking water in Quantum of Solace.

[1] Richard Maibaum, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, Los Angeles, April 30, 1977.


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