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Liva and Let Die was Roger Moore's first appearance as James Bond and
is one of my favourite Bond movies.
In this one, Bond is sent on an assignment to investigate why three agents have been killed. This takes him to, amongst other places New York, the Caribbean and New Orleans. Here, he gets involved with voodoo, witch doctors and tarot cards.
Highlights of this movie include the bus chase where Bond does a "bridge bash", taking the roof off, the aeroplane sequence, taking the wings off the plane, the speedboat chase in the Everglades where he is being chased by police cars at the same time and several of these are destroyed and that mad Sheriff, J W Pepper.
Joining Roger Moore in the cast are Jane Seymour as the main love interest, Yaphet Kotto, Clifton James as Pepper, David Hedison (The Fly, Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea) and Bond regulars Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell. Unfortunately, Desmond Llewelyn didn't appear as Q in this one.
The excellent Live and Let Die title song is sung by ex Beatle Paul MaCartney.
This is James Bond at its best. Excellent.
Rating: 4 and a half stars out of 5.
Although I have always regarded Sean Connery as the best of the actors
to play Bond, I have never (unlike some Connery diehards) regarded the
casting of Roger Moore as his successor as a mistake. Moore brought a
different interpretation to the role, one which owed something to parts
he had played in two adventure series on television, Simon Templar in
"The Saint" and Brett Sinclair in "The Persuaders". Whereas Connery's
tough, gritty Bond allowed something of the hard man below the surface
to show through, Moore played the character much more as a suave,
sophisticated English gentleman. (Connery's Bond, like the actor
himself, was definitely Scottish).
The villain of "Live and Let Die" is Kananga, the leader of the small Caribbean island of San Monique. (Shouldn't that be Sainte Monique?) For a Bond villain, Kananga's ambitions are surprisingly limited, with no scheme for world domination. He has, however, close links to the New York underworld, and has hatched a plot to flood the American market with heroin. Kananga is deeply superstitious, and employs the services of Solitaire, a beautiful young woman with the power to foretell the future through the use of tarot cards. As with a number of the other films, much of the plot of this one revolves around Bond's ability to win over the villain's female accomplice.
The Bond films, of course, are all dependent upon a stylised formula involving adventure (especially chase sequences), exotic locations, beautiful women, evil villains, memorable music and a generous (but preferably not too generous) helping of humour. When all the elements of the formula come together, the result can be a highly enjoyable piece of entertainment. "Live and Let Die" has, by and large, got most of the elements right. Its main asset is the lovely Jane Seymour, one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most talented of the Bond Girls, as Solitaire. She was one of the youngest of the Bond Girls, being only 22 a the time the film was made (Honor Blackman and Maud Adams, for example, were both in their late thirties when they starred in a Bond film), but despite her lack of experience turns in a very good performance. Her Solitaire is not a strong action heroine like Pussy Galore or Anya Amasova, but a passive figure, melancholy and fatalistic, troubled by her psychic powers but at the same time frightened of losing them. As such she has rather more depth than the average Bond heroine.
Roger Moore is also good in this film; in 1973 he was still clearly youthful enough to be convincing in the role and makes the most of it. As the villainous Kananga Yaphet Kotto is adequate, but he does rather suffer the fate of being outshone by the two secondary villains, his henchman Tee Hee (the man with the metal arm and claw for a hand ) and Baron Samedi with his demonic peals of laughter. (Curt Jurgens suffered a similar fate in "The Spy who Loved Me", where Richard Kiel's Jaws turned out to be more memorable than his own Stromberg). There are some exciting chase sequences, particularly the one in the old bus across San Monique, and the waterborne one through the Louisiana bayous. I didn't much care for the character of J W Pepper, a rather stupid redneck Louisiana sheriff with a thick Deep South accent who was obviously intended as the film's main comic relief. (He makes another appearance in "The Man with the Golden Gun"). Nevertheless, there was some successful use of sardonic humour, such as the scene where a man, watching a traditional New Orleans jazz funereal, asks "Whose funeral is it?" and is told "Yours" immediately before being stabbed to death. The music was also good, especially Paul McCartney's brilliant theme song. My overall view is that this is, together with "For Your Eyes Only", the best of the Roger Moore Bond films. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Welcome to the year 1973, the decade of Vietnam war, the rise of equity
for black people in US and Watergate affair. And also the year, where
the 007 series lost it's best actor Sean Connery, who chooses rather to
play golf instead of going into dangerous 007 missions. Overall, a hard
job for producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, to find a
truthful substitute. Did they succeed in this task?
Well, they did okay...They knew that it will be hard to replace the charm of Connery, but they solved this problem with some minor changes . The new James Bond, Roger Moore, cover that deficiency by being just the way he is in real life. A true English gentlemen, with a touch of wittiness. Enough to make him convenient for 007 role.
Opening scene offers us some questions, surprisingly not showing the new bond, but as we follow the movie with a nice Paul McCartney song, they finally reveal him in the cool, funny London scene. The path leads us towards New York city, offering us a great seventies look in this metropolitan city including a short tour in Harlem (plus introducing us the beautiful "soon to be" Bond woman). but the finest scenes are kept for New Orleans (unforgetable plane airport scene, the car and boat chase, crocodiles...you just can't ask for more) and the exotic location of San Monique.
-END OF SPOILERS-
The producers and director decided, that by introducing the new Bond, there will be more humor (which is good), but sadly, they've lost that 007 Connery roughness and smoothness. Connery was simply just more believable when facing the villains and seducing women. That's the reason, that I just can give this movie better grade than in Connery ones, but hey, it's the first one for Moore and the better ones are still to come:)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Live and Let Die" seems to have become better with age. Certainly,
compared to some of the other films in Roger Moore's history of Bond
films - "The Man With The Golden Gun" for example, or the god-awful
"Moonraker" - it is a much better film than you may first think.
The story is very well written in fact, taking some of the elements that made up Ian Fleming's second James Bond novel and updating it with more relevant issues as per usual in the Bond series - in this case the topic of heroin smuggling. Where the difficulty comes is the matter of racism. Some critics on this website have condemned the film, claiming that it provokes racism by all the villains being black. This is not the case at all - the original story is quite racist, certainly, but this film has African-Americans on Bond's side, fighting against the villain.
To be honest, I think we should forget these critics claims and just enjoy the fact that "Live And Let Die" has a very good selection of villains, all perfectly acted by very good actors. Yaphet Kotto is superb as Kananga, typically refined but deadly at some very tense moments. He very rarely lets his anger show as Kananga, leaving that to his alter ego, Mr Big. But when Kanaga does get angry it's unsettling. In the final scenes with Kananga we see the true insanity of the character as a whole. His death is rather humorous, but interesting, and I love interesting deaths for a good bad guy! Kanaga's lackeys are a good mixture as well, from the Bondesque Tee-Hee (played by Julius Harris), to the wonderful Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder), who fits in very well with the voodoo elements of the story.
Roger Moore starts off his reign as 007 quite well in this film. With a good sense of the Moore charm and humour with his portrayal, there is also something rather cold and militaristic about it. Take for example the scene where he confronts the treacherous Rosie Carver (not a very well written character played by Gloria Hendry).
A lot of criticism has also come for Jane Seymore's Bond Girl, Solitaire. Although she does nothing really to help Bond in his mission, the idea of her being a weak, defenceless woman is rather absurd. She starts off very well, with the tarot cards adding to a very mysterious presence. She is also attractive in many very nice gowns that the costume department has cooked up for her. Yes, she does need rescuing, but only at the end, and towards this we see a good portrayal of a woman in the power of Koto's vicious Kananga. It is at the end, however, where the script lets her down. Also, after losing her virginity, she seems to suddenly become rather amorous!
Some of the scenes in the film are superb. The crocodile farm is very well done, and the stunt is fantastic to watch, especially knowing that it took around five takes to film it, and that the stuntman - the real life owner of the farm whose name was actually Ross Kananga - almost lost his life several times. He deserved the honour of having the villain named after him. The boat chase, however, does not work for me. I feel that it is too long overall, and it is not helped by George Martin's rather weak score where large parts of the film have no music whatsoever. Paul McCartney's title song, however, is a brilliant Bond song, bringing the sense of rock and roll truly into the Bond series along with that great orchestral instrumental part in the middle. A shame about the title sequence.
Overall, "Live And Let Die" is not as bad as some might say. There are problems, certainly, one of them being the introduction of Sheriff JW Pepper (has Clifton James ever done Shakespeare?), but then, what Bond film doesn't have problems. And even JW sums the character of Bond up pretty good:
"What are you? Some kind of doomsday machine, boy?"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My personal favourite Bond Movie, and along with Moonraker, the most
bizarre outing for the secret agent. Bond is sent to America to
investigate the deaths of several British Agents, and his search leads
him to Mr Big, a Harlem crime lord. With further investigation, Bond
finds a drug-smuggling link between Mr Big, and Dr. Kananga, a
mysterious man from a Caribbean island. Bond flies to Kananga's island
to stop the massive Heroin dealing. There he meets the beautiful
Solitaire played with great power by Jane Seymour, a virgin who has
been enslaved by Kananga as her mystical powers bring him success. Bond
soon finds himself entwined in voodoo forces he can barely fight, and
struggles to complete his mission.
Plenty of stunts and action sequences, chases and humour make this an instant Bond classic, but the characters and performances of Yaphet Kotto and his various goons make it one of the best. Tee Hee is mysterious, Whisper is memorable, and Baron Samedi is a strong Villain as he seems to be immortal. This marks the appearance of Sheriif GW, and his comic escapades which are either annoying or very funny depending on your point of view. Moore gives a good performance, bringing the series in a different direction, and Seymour is one of the most beautiful Bond girls. There are many memorable moments, including the famous train fight, and Kanaga's explosive end. Probably the most scary Bond film so far, in fact there has not been another one like it, and when i was a kid it was always the one i most looked forward to seeing. 9 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After the master has finished as Bond (Connery), and his only
replacement thus far had failed (Lazenby) in steps Roger Moore. With a
completely different approach to Connery, Moore made a good impression
as the new Bond (although i don't believe he had the same sex appeal,
not according to my mum anyway.) What helped Roger Moore was as he took
over the Bond role, our favourite Secret agent's gadgets got better as
Live and Let Die, is still one of my favourite Bond outings (it has my favourite stunt in it - you know the one i mean), and Roger Moore's new tongue-in-cheek humour was born here, to bad he out lived his sell by date by a couple of films.
Great Bond movie 8/10
Plot: James Bond is called upon to investigate the accidental (?)
deaths of three MI-7 agents. The deaths took place on three different
places of the world and they seem however to be connected in some way.
Bond's path is crossed by witchcraft, voodoo, tarot, drug dealers, men
with metallic body parts (in a Dr. Strangelove fashion!) and the
gangsters (not angels) of Harlem.
Roger Moore's first outing as Agent 007 emerges not as an action flick but rather as a comic one. While most Bond movies have a darker tone, this one relies on light comedy, with Moore getting close to slapstick á la Blake Edwards. I like it, and I give it 8 stars outta 10.
The best Bond for me is Sir Roger Moore. His first outing, Live And Let Die, is a remarkable production...especially the soundtrack. I liked the score here by George Martin, and the story itself was good---it was the first time in the series that a villain had two characters credited to him....and I liked Jane Seymour's acting...she really portrayed here that she is an innocent fortune-teller. And the villains themselves...they make me really angry, which is their primary goal...to make the audience angry. Although this film is not as glamorous as Moonraker or The Spy Who loved Me (where Bond has to save the world) here he needs just to stop Kananga from spreading heroin. An original work. Four stars out of five.
People who describe this movie as 'racist' are clearly deluded. Ok,the
entire set of villains are black, but this in fact is a positive. In
previous Bonds, there were few noticable black characters, and those that
did appear were mainly stereotyped as simple and superstitous.
This time, although some of the minor baddies seem very blaxploitation, some of the most memorable villains were spawned here, including Yaphet Kotto's Dr Kanaga, steel clawed giant Tee Hee, and the mystical Baron Samedi. For the first time, black people are considered to be worthy of a serious feature in James Bond, as serious opponents.
This is also the first Roger Moore film of the series, which makes it more watchable. The mood is lighter and there is a trace of comedy, which helps things immesurably since the wooden and colourless Sean Connery years, which although they set Bond on the way, were surpassed by Moore in the 70s and 80s. Moore gave the series a real flavour, and that begins here with some of the most memorable sequences of the whole Bond era.
The plot may not be totally cohesive or even coherent, but some of the images and performances in this film will live in movie history, and rightly so.
I guess the fights will never stop about wether Roger Moore was a worthy
successor to Sean Connery.
Funny, though, because the solution is ever so simple:
Moore's Bond was extremely different to Connery's.
Why not take it as that and rate the Moore Bonds in their own
Ok, now that I've stated my position as a fan of both Bonds, we can proceed.
LALD is a truly worthy introduction of the new Bond. It is lighter, more ironic, rather than cynical, and it gives Roger Moore the opportunity to show what he's best at: Playing himself. That's far better than it may sound. Moore is taken like a duck to water. This is 'his' Bond - for better or for worse. I, for one, like him. He's got style, impeccable timing and a real presence - virtues not to be underestimated, if you please. LALD gives us a slick push into the 70's - into the Moore era. I didn't forget Connery's Bond - not even poor George Lazenby's - but I didn't begrudge Roger Moore his excellent introduction nonetheless.
And LALD has its unique merits as well. The 'Voodoo' atmosphere. Wonderful photography fitting the subject. A good script. And one of the best title songs ever, written and performed by Paul McCartney's Wings.
Ah... I admit it... I like the 'new' Bond. I still do..., even though I deem Pierce Brosnan's incarnation as good as the original... the REAL Bond: Sean Connery.
Roger Moore will still keep his place as the definitive 'light' Bond, and anyone thinking that's not much of an accomplishment - think again.
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