A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow agent's death lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
Several British agents have been murdered and James Bond is sent to New Orleans, to investigate these mysterious deaths. Mr. Big comes to his knowledge, who is self-producing heroin. Along his journeys he meets Tee Hee who has a claw for a hand, Baron Samedi the voodoo master and Solitaire and her tarot cards. Bond must travel deep inside New Orleans, through marshy grass and on water as he completes his mission. Written by
When Bond and Solitaire are tied up on the winch, Kananga cuts Bond's arm with a knife. When Whisper starts the winch, a close-up of Bond's arm shows that the long angled cut starts much lower down than previously. See more »
[translating for Hungarian delegate]
... was so ably pointed out by the Secretary General in his opening remarks. But - and I must emphasize this point - no formula can or will ever cover each case. For instance...
[audio feed is unplugged]
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The End of Live and Let Die James Bond will return in The Man with the Golden Gun See more »
Was Roger Moore channeling Austin Powers in 1973? There's a scene in this, his first go-round as 007, where Bond is tied up and his arm is cut to draw blood and attract some hungry sharks swimming below. Moore twitches his eyebrow and asks: "Perhaps we can try something in a simpler vein."
Those sharks don't need any frickin' laser beams on their heads to get you to smell the Austin. Moore gets a lot of blame for turning the Bond movies into weakly-plotted farces, ignoring that the series had been moving in that direction since "Goldfinger" and that the previous installment, Sean Connery's final EON bow "Diamonds Are Forever," was every bit as goofy. Also, Moore could deliver a more serious Bond when the script allowed, and two of the finest Bonds ever, "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "For Your Eyes Only," were his.
But there's no getting around this, "Live And Let Die" is a dumb movie. The gadgets are silly, the villain's scheme is ill-defined, the storyline is frenetic and unengaging, the action is plodding and overlong. Moore starts out not quite know how to play Bond here, while the movie requires him to play the fool sauntering through Harlem in a double-breasted suit like the Prince of Wales waiting for some natives to show him around.
But this film makes me smile, in part because I'm young enough to remember what it was all about when it came out. If this was Bond for the cheap seats, it at least delivered the goods, with some vivid supporting characters, a knockout visual style, amazing title music from Paul McCartney, and most importantly for Moore's future in the series, drop-dead quips. My favorite is when the nasty Tee Hee twists his pistol muzzle out of shape with a metal pincer arm, then giggles when he hands it back: "Funny how the least little thing amuses him."
Julius Harris is menacing but charming as Tee Hee, mostly mute except when he sticks Bond in a gator pond and suggests the best way to disarm the beasts is to try and pull out their teeth. Chief villain Yaphet Kotto has his moments, too, but with odd shifts of character. In the beginning, he's stone-cold Ron O'Neal in "Superfly," and at the end, he's plummy Charles Gray in "Diamonds Are Forever." Jane Seymour is Bond's love interest, and why she goes off with him is another of those things best not thought about long.
There are two great characters in this movie, though, bigger than just about anything seen in a Bond movie before who kind of work in tandem in overhauling any objections about this film being too "cartoony." Clifton James is redneck sheriff J.W. Pepper, who throws off one madman line after another while Bond is off on one of his long silly chase scenes. James mugs through every scene he's in, rolling his tongue around, playing off everyone and everything, and delivering every hackneyed Southern stereotype to such righteous perfection it's enough to make cotton sprout out of his ears. Bond purists who whine should just take their vodka martinis shaken not stirred and let the rest of us enjoy the craziness. The series is supposed to be fun; if you want serious espionage go watch "Smiley's People." (I grant you Pepper shouldn't have returned in the next Bond film; that was a mistake.)
The other great outsized character is Geoffrey Holder as perhaps the most mysterious figure in the whole series, Baron Samedi. Is he supernatural? Is he just crazy from the heat? He's certainly different, a guy who sides with the bad guys without quite being one of them. The always-eerie quality of his appearances, either dancing in a big hotel production number or quietly sitting in a cemetery playing a flute, make you question whether there ain't something to that voodoo after all.
It's silly bashing Pepper but praising Samedi, they are both equally so unreal, in a way that's in tune with the rest of the movie. The best thing to do is enjoy the different kinds of fun on offer. Frankly, not having these guys around might push this film on the bad side of Spinal Tap's "fine line between stupid and clever," the side where "A View To A Kill" and "Moonraker" are on.
But "Live And Let Die" is a winner. It's a fun movie that brings me back to younger days, when my heart was an open book. It's a nice transitional film for the series in that Moore managed a mostly smooth entrance to the role of Bond. And it has one of the best final shots in movie history. That's all I'll say there; you know it if you saw it.
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