Sir Sean Connery turned down the then astronomical sum of five and a half million dollars to play James Bond. Connery gave Sir Roger Moore his personal seal of approval for inheriting his role, calling him "an ideal Bond".
The producers offered Clint Eastwood the role of James Bond, fresh from his success with Dirty Harry (1971). He was flattered, but declined, saying that Bond should be played by an English actor. Notably, Bond uses a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum in this film, the gun made hugely popular by the Dirty Harry film franchise.
Ross Kananga (credited as "Stunt Coordinator") was the owner of the alligator and crocodile farm, in which Bond escapes some hungry reptiles. Kananga did this stunt by himself wearing Sir Roger Moore's clothes and shoes made of crocodile skin. The crocodile shoes were a fun idea of Sir Roger Moore. It took five attempts to complete the stunt. During the fourth attempt, one of the crocodiles snapped at one of the shoes as it went by. The producers (while scouting locations) first took notice of Ross Kananga's farm from the sign out front, which read: "WARNING: TRESPASSERS WILL BE EATEN." This sign can be seen in the finished film. They liked Ross Kananga so much, that the movie's villain, Dr. Kananga, was named after him.
Sir Roger Moore suffered an injury during the boat chase. The engine cut out, and the momentum carried him into a boathouse. He cracked some of his front teeth, and twisted his knee. He had to walk on a cane for several days afterward, but he was still able to complete the scene, because all he had to do was sit in the boat.
According to Yaphet Kotto, he was not allowed to to do any press for the film, nor was he allowed to attend the premiere. Kotto states that the producers told him that they were afraid of the public's reaction to the villain being black.
Geoffrey Holder hated working with snakes. As he was playing Baron Samedi, he was called upon to handle lots of them. He was particularly against having to play the scene where his character falls into a coffin full of them. However, he was obligated to perform the scene without raising too much of a complaint, because Princess Alexandra was visiting the set the day the scene was being filmed, and he didn't want to lose face in front of royalty.
According to Sir Paul McCartney, after Director Guy Hamilton heard the title song, complete with orchestra and all, he said, "Yeah, that's good for a demo, but when are you going to do the real record?"
The first Bond film in which 007 has a liaison with an "African black" woman, Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry). When the film was released in South Africa, all of Hendry's love scenes were removed, because of the Apartheid policies of the South African government.
The producers made a conscious decision to make Sir Roger Moore's Bond significantly different from Sir Sean Connery's. For example, Bond never orders a vodka martini, but drinks bourbon whiskey instead. The mission briefing occurs in his flat, not the office (only the second time Bond's apartment is featured in the films after an appearance in Dr. No (1962)). Bond does not wear a hat. He smokes cigars, instead of cigarettes.
The boat chase through the bayous was originally written in the script as just "Scene 156 - The most terrific boat chase you've ever seen". Bond's speedboat jump made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for its distance of one hundred ten feet (thirty-three and a half meters), a record that stood for three years. Clifton James' spontaneous reaction in that scene was kept in the final print. Bond's stunt boat used to make the high jump over Sheriff Pepper's car, was specially designed with redistributed weight, so it would fly through the air with more stability. The second boat was not scripted to collide with the police car, but after this happened while shooting the stunt, the script was changed to accommodate it.
Sir Paul McCartney's iconic theme song for the film almost wasn't used. After McCartney submitted the song, Producer Harry Saltzman said he liked it, but wanted it to be sung by someone else, preferably a black female artist. McCartney told producers he'd only sell the song for the movie, if he and his band were allowed to perform it for the film. Salzman had passed on producing A Hard Day's Night (1964), and came to quip that he didn't want to turn down McCartney a second time. However, Saltzman would subsequently say that he much preferred Brenda Arnau's version of the song, also heard during the movie.
Madeline Smith, who played Miss Caruso, said that additional awkwardness of a bedroom scene was created by Sir Roger Moore's overprotective wife, who was on the set during the filming. In order to establish the effect of Bond unzipping Miss Caruso's blue dress with his magnetic watch, a thin wire was attached to the zipper from the watch. A stagehand lay on the floor underneath Smith's body to pull the wire down, while Moore pretended to unzip the dress with his watch. According to Moore, it took twenty-nine takes to get it right.
Sir Roger Moore wrote a production diary during filming, which was simply titled "Roger Moore as James Bond 007: Live and Let Die". It was published as a paperback novel by Pan in 1973, and features a complete dossier of filming from the first to last day. It is accompanied by several pages of color stills, many taken by Moore's then-wife Luisa Mattioli. The book was never re-issued, and is today quite rare. In the book, Moore uses the same self-deprecating humor, for which he became infamous, and details numerous otherwise-unknown incidents, squabbles, milestones, and production notes.
Only James Bond movie with Sir Roger Moore, in which Felix Leiter appears. David Hedison, who played Felix, played the role again in Licence to Kill (1989), becoming the first actor to reprise the part.
Though this is the first film in which Q does not appear, the book was actually the first in the series to make reference to Q branch. The book follows directly from Casino Royale, in which Bond's hand is knife-scarred with a Russian character identifying him as a spy. Q (or Q branch) performs surgery on the hand to conceal the scars.
Sir Roger Moore had a fear of snakes, just like his co-star Geoffrey Holder, who had to fall into a box full of them. As a result, they hated shooting that scene. In addition, the Script Supervisor was so afraid, that she refused to be on-set with them, an actor fainted while filming a scene, where he is killed by a snake, and Jane Seymour became terrified as a reptile got closer.
Jamaica, part-time home of James Bond Creator Ian Fleming, was used as the filming location for the fictitious country of San Monique. It was not called Jamaica, as that country had already been used as a setting for Dr. No (1962). Jamaica is also a setting in the James Bond novel "The Man With the Golden Gun", and the short stories "For Your Eyes Only" and "Octopussy".
Sir Roger Moore's mother was a great fan of silent star Richard Dix. Moore was able to get Dix's son a small part in this movie. Robert Dix played the agent who was murdered at his own New Orleans funeral in the pre-credits teaser. His voice was dubbed by Shane Rimmer.
We see Bond's apartment for the second time until Spectre (2015). Amongst the fixtures, is a machine for making coffee that is treated as a gadget. Today's audiences will easily recognize it as either an espresso or cappuccino machine, which were uncommon in 1973.
Desmond Llewelyn didn't appear in the film as Q, because Llewellyn was appearing on the television show Follyfoot (1971). Furthermore, the producers decided not to include the character, feeling that "too much was being made of the films' gadgets", and decided to downplay this aspect of the franchise, much to Llewelyn's annoyance.
This is the first time in the Bond series that a rock song was used as a main title song. The Sir Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney song charted in the U.S. on July 7, 1973, and peaked at the number two spot, where it stayed for three weeks. In the UK, it debuted on July 9, 1973, and went to number nine. McCartney paid for the orchestra used for the song from his own pocket. Rolling Stone Magazine accused McCartney of selling out to the establishment when it was announced that he would be providing the theme song to this film. As it transpired, McCartney became the first artist to be nominated for a Best Song Academy Award for his title track. The soundtrack album charted in the U.S on July 28, 1973, and topped at number seventeen.
Several scenes and lines in Tom Mankiewicz's screenplay were dropped from the film: The most noticeable loss was of an opening scene, in which James Bond was to have met an old man in a garden at night. The man was to have handed over a pair of special contact lenses. They are disturbed by the approach of enemy Agents, and Bond tries to help the man escape by assisting him over a high wall that surrounds the garden. But too late, Bond discovers that the garden is in fact on the top of a very high building, and his contact falls to his death. Michael Sheard was cast as the man, but the scene was never filmed. Quarrel, Jr. demonstrates the gas pellet gun that Bond will eventually use to kill Kananga while he and Bond are out shark fishing. A dialogue reference to Quarrel's father, and his encounter with Bond ("His father and I locked horns with a doctor named No several years ago") was omitted. A scene in which Kananga threatens to cut off Tee Hee's arms and feed them to the crocodiles, when he harms Solitaire, was also removed.
Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz dabbled with tarot cards to familiarize himself with the art. He took them to a party and performed tarot readings on the guests. At that party, Sir Michael Caine and his then-girlfriend attended, and he used his tarot cards to predict the two would be married. The two married and Mankiewicz said in his autobiography that for years afterward, Michael's wife, Shakira Caine, was convinced he had special powers.
The first Bond film which does not feature Q, the head of Special Ordnance Branch. The character did appear in Dr. No (1962), but under his real name of Major Boothroyd (he wasn't played by Desmond Llewelyn in that film either). Fans demanded Llewelyn's return, and he appeared in eleven more Bond films from 1974 to 1999.
The tarot cards used by Solitaire are the "Tarot of the Witches" deck and was created specifically for this movie by Fergus Hall. Their reverse side, which has the 007 numbering on a red background, cannot be seen in the "James Bond 007 Tarot Book". The tarot card "The High Priestess" was in the likeness of Jane Seymour, who played Solitaire. Legal information on the cards reads "Courtesy of the Portal Gallery Limited, London, England". A duplicate set was published in Switzerland by Agmueller and Cie, distributed worldwide by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. New York. The cards in the film had a red, patterned background featuring the "007" emblem, but the commercial set is blue instead (same pattern).
The character of Quarrel, Jr. is a direct reference to the first Bond film, Dr. No (1962) which also featured a character named Quarrel. The original novel takes place before Dr. No (1962) (in which, as in the movie version, Quarrel is killed) and features the first appearance of the character. At one stage, the Bond girl character of Honey Rider from Dr. No (1962) was considered returning in this movie, but this idea was withdrawn.
"Live And Let Die" was the second James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming. It was first published in 1954. Its working title was "The Undertaker's Wind" which also provided the name of the seventeenth chapter. Story elements from the novel have also been used for the James Bond films For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Licence to Kill (1989).
The white "pimpmobile" is actually a Chevrolet Corvette fitted with the fiberglass molding of a Cadillac Eldorado. The vehicle was marketed as the "Corvorado" by Dunham Coach of Boonton, New Jersey. Other Dunham conversions featured in the film included a Cadillac Fleetwood and Eldorado (seen parked in front of the Fillet of Soul restaurant), along with two Lincoln Continentals (a 1969 Mark III and 1973 Mark IV, with the Dunham conversion down to the custom wire hubcaps). Les Dunham stated that he kept possession of the Corvorado after the film was completed. It has been modified several times for appearances in other films and/or car shows. He claimed that the car was used in Super Fly (1972).
Maurice Patchett, the stunt driver who drove the double-decker bus (doubling for Sir Roger Moore as James Bond) in the sequence where the upper level of the bus is sheared off by a low bridge, was a London bus driver in real life. Double-decker bus drivers in London go thru a rigorous training program, where they're required to swerve the bus on wet ground and keep it upright, much like is shown in the film.
Tom Mankiewicz originally wrote the main Bond girl to be African-American (with an eye on Diana Ross for the part) but one of the producers told him it couldn't be done, on account of some of their markets (primarily Japan and South Africa) banning all films with interracial romances. It was, until Die Another Day (2002) featured the lead Bond girl as an African-American.
This marks only the second of three times in the film franchise, that the pre-titles sequence does not feature James Bond (with From Russia with Love (1963) being the first, as it featured an Agent impersonating Bond, and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) being the third, as it featured a waxwork model of Bond, and not Bond himself).
Dr. Kananga, a.k.a. Mr. Big, is at least partially based on Dr. Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, dictator of Haiti, who used Voodoo as the basis of his personality cult, and even claimed that he was Baron Samedi.
This film is only partially based on Ian Fleming's original novel. The characters, locations, sequence of some events, and even clothes in the book are present in the film. Many major plot elements were left out of this film, only be recycled in later films. The novel's climax involved Bond and Solitaire being dragged behind a speeding boat, as bait for sharks and Baracudas. This was later used in For Your Eyes Only (1981). The novel also included a scene where Felix Leiter is wounded by a shark, and Bond goes to fight in a warehouse as a result. This was later used in Licence to Kill (1989). Appropriately, David Hedison, who played Leiter in this film, became the first actor to ever return to the role, essentially playing out his character's original fate from this film.
A running theme in the official trailers was whenever a new Bond is introduced, the trailers for their first Bond-movie includes music from their predecessors first movie. Music from On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) can be heard in the trailers for this movie, and music from this movie can be heard in the trailers for The Living Daylights (1987).
"The James Bond 007 Tarot Book" was released to coincide with the movie. It included most of the tarot cards seen in the film, these being the Major Arcana Cards. The tagline on the book's dust jacket read: "The only complete and authentic illustrated guide to the spreading and interpretation of the popular James Bond 007 tarot fortune-telling deck with card designs based upon Fergus Hall's unique paintings."
This is the first 007 score not to involve John Barry; former Beatles Producer George Martin did the job instead. The musical crash into the main title music echoes his slide crescendo arrangement from The Beatles' track "A Day in the Life".
Since Guy Hamilton was a jazz fan, Tom Mankiewicz suggested to him to film in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hamilton did not want to use Mardi Gras, since Thunderball (1965) featured Junkanoo, a similar festivity, so after more discussions with the writer, and location scouting with helicopters, he decided to use two well-known features of the city, the jazz funerals and the canals.
In the novel, the real name of Mr. Big was "Buonaparte Ignace Gallia". In the film, The real name of Mr. Big was changed to "Dr. Kananga" after Stuntman Ross Kananga. Dr. No (1962) and this movie filmed in Jamaica, and as such, both had villains with the title of "Dr." - Dr. No and Dr. Kananga, respectively.
While filming Diamonds Are Forever (1971), this was chosen as the next novel to be adapted, because Tom Mankiewicz thought it would be daring to use black villains, as the Black Panthers and other racial movements were active at this time. This was inclusive with the box-office success of the early Blaxploitation films, like Shaft (1971), Super Fly (1972), and Across 110th Street (which United Artists released when this movie was filming).
The tarot cards seen on the movie's main poster were "the Devil", "Death", "the Lovers" and "Fortune". There is actually a fifth card on the poster but James Bond's torso blocks any possible name of the card. There is also actually no tarot card called "Fortune" in the set of cards used for the film. This title of the "Fortune" card is the product of a bit of artistic license. The title is basically an abridgment of the actual "Wheel of Fortune" tarot card.
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins for this movie include Pan American World Airways; Rolex watches, particularly the Rolex Submariner 5513 watch; Bell Helicopters; Panasonic; Bollinger Champagne, beginning its relationship with the franchise; Pulsar watches, particularly the Pulsar LED watch; General Motors Corporation (GMC) and its Chevrolet and Cadillac Divisions; Jim Beam Bourbon; Arcana Cards/Agmueller and Cie/Games Systems; Budget Rent-A-Car; AMF Inc.; the Harley-Davidson Motor Company; the Glastron Boat Company, and a video game, Live and Let Die (1988), that was later published by Mindscape.
When Dr. Kananga says to Solitaire "These growing signs of impertinence are beginning to disturb me, even as they did with your mother before you. She had the power, and lost it, and became useless to me", it suggests that the characters were older than the actor and actress portraying them. Yaphet Kotto (Dr. Kananga) was thirty-three during filming, while Jane Seymour (Solitaire) was twenty-two. If the characters were the same age as the actor and actress, then Dr. Kananga would have been ten-years-old (or younger) when Solitaire's mother lost her power (and virginity), and became useless to Dr. Kananga.
The attempted assassination by snake while Bond is bathing was filmed in an unheated London set in mid-winter. The temperature was near 10 degrees Celsius, chilly enough to keep the snake sluggish. At a tropical temperature, the snake would have moved too swiftly for easy filming.
In addition to Quarrel, the character of Strangways was originally introduced in the novel "Live and Let Die". Like Quarrel, Strangways is later killed in the novel "Dr. No", as well as the movie, Dr. No (1962).
The Boeing 747-121, seen when Solitaire is flipping Tarot cards, is the second 747 produced at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, delivered to Pan American World Airways (the launch customer of the 747) carrying the registry number N747PA. Prior to December 30, 1969, N747PA was used by Boeing, as a test aircraft for velocity minimum takeoffs and rejected takeoffs (Boeing engineers refer to this as locking the brakes until the brakes catch fire) prior to the F.A.A. minting the aircraft's type certificate. The aircraft was named Clipper Juan T. Trippe, where it served as Pan Am's flagship airplane, until it was sold off and operated by several owners. The 747 was later dismantled and reassembled in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, painted in the livery of Air Force One (VC-25) and converted into a restaurant. The restaurant was closed in 2009, and the aircraft was scrapped in 2010.
Stuntman Joie Chitwood (seen in the film as Charlie, who was Bond's driver) also drove one of the speedboats (dark blue with white streaks) during the boat chase, which included the jump over a paved highway (scene where the Louisiana State Police cruisers were totalled).
First of two times that James Bond has been seen hang gliding in the EON Productions official James Bond franchise. Very popular as a new activity in the 1970s, Sir Roger Moore is the only actor to play James Bond, and be seen hang gliding. The second time was in Moonraker (1979).
Tony Bonner was considered for the role of James Bond, but lost out to Sir Roger Moore, who was his co-star at the time on The Persuaders! (1971). In an interview, Bonner said, "The producers were thinking of changing the Bond look, from the dark, exotic looks of Sir Sean Connery, to a fairer kind of look, because Robert Redford was real hot back then. So Roger and I were asked to go up to London from Pinewood, where we were filming, and it got close."
The film was not Sir Roger Moore's first time playing James Bond. He had played Bond once before in the short-lived sketch comedy show Mainly Millicent (1964), episode dated July 17, 1964. Which that sketch, James Bond, while on vacation, encounters Russian spy Sonia Sekova (Millicent Martin) who also happens to be on vacation.
The part on the bridge of the crocodile farm was extremely dangerous to film, since crocodiles are able to jump up from the water and attack, which the crew found out relatively shortly before filming.
The first line of the novel read: "There are moments of great luxury in the life of a secret agent." The last lines read: "There was open sensuality in Solitaire's eyes as she looked up at him. She smiled innocently. 'What about my back?' she said."
First James Bond movie to feature the word "die" (or a variation of it) in the title. Later films in the franchise would be called Die Another Day (2002) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). The theme song for Quantum of Solace (2008), by Alicia Keys and Jack White, was called "Another Way To Die", while Licence to Kill (1989) referenced death, as did the title of Ian Fleming's short story ""From a View to a Kill" (1960). Many post-Fleming James Bond novels have had titles that have referenced fatality. These include "Win, Lose or Die" (1989), "High Time to Kill" (1999), "The Facts of Death" (1998), "Trigger Mortis" (2015), "Nobody Lives for Ever" (1986), and "Never Dream of Dying" (2001). Moreover, "Double or Die" (2007) and "A Hard Man to Kill" (2009) are the names of a Young James Bond novel and short story respectively.
The chase involving the double-decker bus, was filmed with a secondhand London bus, adapted by having the top section removed, and then put back in place, running on ball bearings, to allow it to slide off on impact.
During the car and boat chase in Louisiana, the road, on which they travel, shows the newly introduced full yellow road striping. Although still pretty rare at the time to see full yellow striping (M.U.D.C.T. introduced it in late 1971), you'll notice that there are no white lines underneath.
Vehicles included a green, blue, yellow, and white London AEC Regent III RT type double-decker bus, pursued by two 1973 Chevrolet Novas; police motorbikes; a Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter; white Coronado; a Mini Moke; Ford Galaxie Custom police sedans; yellow New York City taxis; a 1963 Chevrolet Impala convertible; a brown 1972 Chevrolet Impala sedan; many 1973 Chevrolet passenger cars, including Impala fastback "Sport Coupes", and two-door hardtop "Custom Coupes", Caprices and base model, taxi, police package Bel Airs; a blue 1973 Chevrolet C-10 pickup truck; a Cessna 172 and Cessna 140 N77029 light aircraft; a monorail in the underground lair; Quarrel, Jr.'s boat; Bond commandeers a Glastron GT-150 speedboat, then a Glastron Carlson CV19 Jet Boat, and is pursued by Glastron V-156 Sportster, Glastron V-184 Crestflite, Glastron V-162 Futura, Glastron V-145 Fireflite, and Billy-Bobs Glastron-Carlson CV21 Jet speedboats; 1972 Dunham converted Cadillac El Dorado coupe; white 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood "pimpmobile", and a Les Dunham Coach Corvorado (a Chevrolet Corvette with Cadillac Eldorado body panels, and fiberglass molding). Most of the vehicles used throughout the movie were brand new 1973 Chevrolet full-size passenger cars, with a few other models sprinkled in, like Novas and Malibus. Many were damaged and destroyed.
The Royal World Premiere of this movie was held on July 6, 1973, at the Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square, London, England, in the presence of Princess Anne. The movie was released in the U.S. on June 27, 1973.
Sir Roger Moore was a director of the Brut Company's film production arm, and was due to do a spy spoof for them. Titled "Mr. Straker", it was to be directed by Melvin Frank, and to co-star Lee Remick, Orson Welles, Terry-Thomas, and David Hedison. However, the Bond producers did not want their leading man parodying the spy genre, and so it was cancelled.
Cubby Broccoli had brief conversations with Eric Braeden about playing Bond. Upon learning that the U.S.-based actor held a German passport, Broccoli informed Braeden's agent that no actor from outside the British Islands would be eligible to play the part.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include: The Dead Slave / It Is Them To Die (Japan); Live And Leave To Die (France); Allow To Leave Alone To Die (Poland); To Live And Let Die (Norway); With 007 You Live And Let It Die (Brazil); Agent 007, Live and Let Die (Italy); Live and Let Others Die (Finland).
The speedboat chase was originally meant to feature a sequence wherein Bond and his pursuers run through a water skiing display team, causing their carefully balanced human pyramid to collapse and fall.
Kananga tells Bond about his plans to dominate the entire drug trade in America. He says, "Heroin will be very expensive, indeed, leaving myself and the phone company the only two growing monopolies in the nation for years to come." At that time, AT & T was a huge interstate corporation that owned and operated most of the telephone systems in the U.S. It was massive, indeed. The federal government filed an antitrust suit in 1984 that led to the breakup of AT&T. that led to the rise of many separate phone systems and companies that compete since then.
The film's CD Soundtrack sleeve notes state that the title song debuted in the U.S. Charts on July 7, 1973, where it peaked at the number two spot. It debuted in the UK Charts on July 9, 1973, and peaked at the number nine spot. The soundtrack album debuted on the U.S. Charts on July 28, 1973, and peaked at the number seventeen spot.
A twin engine Lake aircraft can be see in at the airport before Bond escapes and commandeers the small airplane with the student inside. Bond used a single engine Lake aircraft in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
Eddie Smith: Black Stuntmen Association founder is seen driving the speedboat which crashes during the wedding ceremony during the boat chase. He also had a brief screen presence in Truck Turner (1974).
David Hedison guest stared with a Sir Roger Moore in an episode of "The Saint". The episode name was "Luella". At the end, a woman looking for a flat for Hedison's character says she found a flat and has the key. "Miss Hill" tells Simon that she is ready for her next assignment after getting "the FBI" agent a flat. "I just can't wait for my next assignment... me...me, working for 'James Bond'". "I'm really excited," she continues. "You weren't Just teasing me were you? You really are 'James Bond'." Simon shakes his head 'no', looks up, and his halo appears. Miss Hill smiles with understanding. Fade to black.