Bond: Live and Let Die
After returning for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, Sean Connery once again left the franchise to seek other opportunities. Producers Albert R. Broccoli, and Harry Saltzman- not wanting a repeat of the George Lazenby debacle, decided to hire an established star to take over the franchise. They offered the role to Roger Moore, who had been on the shortlist to play Bond twice before. Moore, whoíd become a household name after his stint on THE SAINT TV show, was about as far away from Sean Connery as the producers could get, and they attempted to tailor the new film to his strengths, by toning down the violence and upping the humor quotient. Was the resulting film a success?
PLOT: Bond heads off to New Orleans to investigate the disappearance of two MI6 agents that were monitoring the activities of Dr. Kananga, the dictator of a small Caribbean island, San Monique.
REVIEW: Let me get one thing out of the way before I launch into my review. I like Roger Moore- a lot. I donít understand why so many people have a problem with him. Sure- heís no Connery, but nobody is, and to his credit, he never tried to imitate his predecessor.
That said, it took Moore a couple of films to find his groove, and LIVE AND LET DIE- his first Bond film, is not a particularly great installment of the series. Of the entire series, itís also probably the single most dated film. In 1973, it was probably considered quite risquť to make all of the villains in the film black- but nowadays it seems a little, shall we say, racially insensitive. I donít want to sound too P.C here- but let me explain. The book the film was based on had black villains, but it also had a black heroine in the form of Solitaire, the tarot card reader that Bond hooks up with.
Originally, Solitaire in the film was supposed to be played by an African American actress, but at the last minute the producers chickened out and got Jane Seymour, who was all wrong for the part, to play the role. Bond did get a minor African American love interest, in the form of the duplicitous CIA agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry), but really the roles should have been reversed.
Political correctness aside, the film has a lot of other flaws. The film is really campy at times, with the inclusion of Southern hick sheriff J.W Pepper (Clifton James- who was so popular he came back for the next film). Back then, you couldnít set a film in the south without including that stock character- and Pepper is funny, but he belongs in a Burt Reynoldsí good olí boy flick, not in Bond! The film also has the single worst death scene Iíve ever seen in a film, which involves a villain seemingly turning into a balloon!
Like I stated earlier in the article, Moore had not found his groove yet- and he comes off as way too aristocratic and well bred to be playing a bad-ass super spy. Heís not awful, but nowhere near as good as heíd be in his best films.
Jane Seymour as Solitaire. Like I wrote earlier- Seymour is totally miscast. Cute as a button though.
BOND MUSIC: The Paul McCartney & Wings theme song is a classic, and easily the best thing about the film. Itís also the only theme song I can think of thatís really had a life outside the series, and isnít too closely associated with the franchise. I also like the rock-fueled score by George Martin. This is only the second film in the series not scored by John Barry, but Martin- while different, contributes a very energetic soundtrack that drives the action along.
BODY COUNT: 8
NUMBER OF WOMEN BOND SLEEPS WITH: In an attempt to make Moore seems as studly as Connery, the producers made sure to give Bond three sexual conquests- including a deflowering.
BEST ONE- LINER: Solitaire: [Kananga has just died from the gas pellet shoved in his mouth] Where's Kananga?
Bond: He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.
BEST DOUBLE ENTENDRE: [as Bond unzips Miss Caruso's dress with the magnet in his watch]
Miss Caruso: Such a delicate touch.
James Bond: Sheer magnetism, darling.
BEST GADGET: One of the few films in which Q doesnít make an appearance, Bond nonetheless gets a handy magnetic watch from M- who, along with Moneypenny, pays an early morning call to Bond at his flat- where, or course, heís entertaining a beautiful woman.
RECEPTION: LIVE AND LET DIE was actually an extremely successful film, reportedly grossing $161,000,000 worldwide (more than DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER), with $35 million in the U.S- assuring Mooreís continued involvement with the series.
GRADE: 6/10- not one of the better Bondís, but still entertaining in its own way.