Live and Let Die (1973)
After all the physical stuff with Sean Connery, Roger Moore will always be the true James Bond to me. Understated humour and a lot of Britishness. I love it. And, needless to say, Jane Seymour is positively enchanting.
The great and cool Roger Moore has left us and to pay homage, french TV changed programs to offer his 1st appearance as 007 ... and that one was indeed among his 2 007 movies i haven't seen so far (the last one is now Mooraker !). But honestly this one offers a really poor story for a 007 movie ! If the spy is expected to go in exotic locations, here, 007 goes to US ! Not really incredible ! Next, if he is the last hope against world threat, here, he deals with coke traffic ! The action sequences are pretty boring : the bus, then the boat, the crocodiles then the sharks The only value of this movie is the franchise trademark that is to say its ability to vacuum and recycle trends: in other words, all 007 movies are deeply shaped by the time of production and as this one has more than 40 years, it has a great historical value: first, the narcotic traffic had just started in the movies: from my history, the oldest one about it is Pacino's Needle Park in 1971.. And for sure, the movie is just mesmerized by the blaxploitation era : all characters are blacks and we have all their classic items : music, car, Harlem, jewelry, fashion and also a very charming tiny sidekick At the end, it's not Moore's best but it's no its worst (for your eyes only )
Say what you want about James Bond movies, that they are traditional or clichéd or predictable, but if you look at them in the spirit of their age you'll notice that there is often a lot of clever market research and marketeering involved. Bond's interstellar adventure "Moonraker", for example, got released around the same time as the immensely popular "Star Wars" films and thus at the height of the Sci-Fi cinema revival. Well, "Live and let Die" also cashes in on a contemporary very profitable movie trend, namely the rise of the so- called "Blaxploitation" cinema. These are films with an ensemble cast existing almost entirely of black actors/actresses and often dealing with organized crime and gang wars in New York City. Of course James Bond himself is still white and typically British, but for the first time in eight films his opponents are Afro-Americans with heavily pimped cars. 007 is sent to the United Stated in order to find the connection between the murders of three British secret agents in New York, New Orleans and a small Caribbean island named San Monique. He quickly finds out that all heroin sales in Harlem are being controlled by a certain Mr. Big, and he gets his deliveries straight from President Kananga of San Monique. Kananga is surrounded by large henchmen with arms of steel, petrifying high Voodoo priest and sexy virgin Tarot Card readers. "Live and let Die" is a hit 'n miss Bond classic, in my humble opinion. Some vital aspects are disappointingly weak, like the predictable plot twists or the awful attempts to insert redneck humor, while other aspects are very unique and even downright genius, like spectacularly staged action sequence and an overall fantastic cast of characters. Yaphet Kotto is terrific as the evil but superstitious Kananga, but his accomplices are even cooler, most notably Julius Harris as the humongous Tee Hee and Geoffrey Holder as the spooky Baron Samedi. Jane Seymour, in one of her very first on-screen appearances, depicts one of the most breathtaking Bond girls ever and her character – Solitaire the vulnerable card reader in custody of President Kananga – is also quite absorbing. Highlights in "Live and Let Die" undoubtedly include the (fake) funeral rite in the famous streets of New Orleans, the chase with the typically British double- decker bus and the rather tense execution attempt at the crocodile/alligator farm. The famous speedboat chase through Louisiana is far too overlong and over- stuffed with lame comical interludes (although hillbilly Sheriff J.W. Pepper was apparently popular enough to re-appear in next year's "The Man with the Golden Gun"), but the voodoo rituals and artifacts are effectively scary. None other than Paul McCartney wrote and sang the beautiful title song and Roger Moore does an adequate job in his very first Bond performance. He was already 45-years-old in this film and by the time of his seventh and last Bond film in 1985 – "A View to a Kill" – he was embarrassingly overaged.
It was Roger Moore's chance to step into the shadow of Bond after the likes of Connery and Lazenby had played their part. Moore's comedic approach never sat well with me and his outings cannot be taken seriously. He is undoubtedly good fun in the role, but he is also the last person that springs to mind when I think of Bond.This is the first Bond film where we do not see the organisation of SPECTRE for a lengthy period. Bond instead goes up against a heroin manufacturer who uses the threat of Voodoo dolls and black magic as a front to disguise his true business and intentions.Live and Let Die feels like a product of its times. It is a wacky Bond entry that was made in the 70s. Yet it is embarrassing in its treatment of the material. The voodoo elements ring false on several occasions and make it likewise hard to buy into. For me personally Roger Moore is the weakest Bond. So why was he granted seven separate entries? Seems a bit much considering that Sean Connery had six.No one can deny that the racial slurs used throughout the film make you feel uncomfortable and awkward. Mentions of the word "honkie" and jokes regarding the Ku Klux Klan make the film more of a chore than a pleasure to sit through. You can rest assured that no other Bond film would be this unwise. Although I have many issues with the treatment of the story, Live and Let Die is not a total loss, just impossible to recommend to the casual viewer. The villains; Mr Big and Kanaga make for an excellent pair coming across as egotistical, twisted and mad. The girl Solitaire is a favourite for many and it's easy to pinpoint why. Her fragile nature, natural beauty and virginity make her a heavenly creature. The set pieces are inventive using many elements that provide sufficient thrills, such as sequences involving crocodiles, speedboats and a bus! It is certainly not Bond, but by all accounts it is a hard film to dislike.Live and Let Die would prove the limit for most Bond fans. Can you stomach racial slurs and stereotypes? If you can overlook these factors and regard the film as a product of its time then you are bound to gain more joy watching it than I did. As for myself I have no desire to ever return again to Live and Let Die. But as a strange peculiarity it demands one viewing at the very least.