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Bond: Live and Let Die

11.03.2008

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, who’d 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?

LIVE AND LET DIE

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 don’t understand why so many people have a problem with him. Sure- he’s 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, it’s also probably the single most dated film. In 1973, it was probably considered quite risqué to make all of the villains in the film black- but nowadays it seems a little, shall we say, racially insensitive. I don’t 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 couldn’t set a film in the south without including that stock character- and Pepper is funny, but he belongs in a Burt Reynolds’ good ol’ boy flick, not in Bond! The film also has the single worst death scene I’ve ever seen in a film, which involves a villain seemingly turning into a balloon!

BOND

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. He’s not awful, but nowhere near as good as he’d be in his best films.

VILLAIN

Yaphet Kotto is one of the few really memorable things about the film, as his Dr. Kananga is a truly menacing character. Kotto is actually quite believable as a super-villain.

BOND GIRL

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. It’s also the only theme song I can think of that’s really had a life outside the series, and isn’t 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 doesn’t 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, he’s 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 Moore’s continued involvement with the series.

GRADE: 6/10- not one of the better Bond’s, but still entertaining in its own way.

Previous reviews: DR. NO

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

GOLDFINGER

THUNDERBALL

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Source: JoBlo.com

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