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Live and Let Die (1973 - pg)
This time around "Live and Let Die" sees Bond romping through Louisiana swamps, Caribbean jungles, and the streets of New York in search of answers as to why three British agents were suddenly murdered within a 2 weeks span. Along the way a beautiful Tarot gypsy virgin by the name of Solitaire will play both sides to her vantage while an evil, drug magnate stops at nothing to see Bond dead before his secret is exposed.
Written by: Ian Fleming (novel) and Tom Mankiewicz.
Directed by: Guy Hamilton.
Tagline: It’s in the cards…
Genre: Action, Adventure
The film commences at a UN meeting in New York where a British agent is killed in a most peculiar way. Following his untimely death, another British agent is killed as part of an even stranger ritualistic sacrifice on a small Caribbean island known as San Monique. Yet a third agent meets his ill fate when he becomes part of a “Jazz funeral” on the precarious streets of New Orleans. Three agents dead in less than two weeks- very peculiar in deed.
Of course head of secret service, M (Bernard Lee), rings his top agent 007, James Bond (Roger Moore) early in the morning with news of the recent misfortunes. Following his instructions, Bond gets fitted for his trip and heads out to New York to investigate any alleged clue linking the three murders. While in New York Bond immediately begins his correspondence with Police agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) after a precarious white “pimpmobile” targets and kills his chauffeur (with him in the car!). After identifying the vehicle, Bond sets out to investigate, while an innumerable posse of men track his every move. Making his way into downtown Harlem, and trouble, Bond precedes to enter a local Voodoo shop where he runs into the beautiful medium Solitaire (Jane Seymour) whose gifts for the Tarot cards renders Bond in a tough pinch. After a narrow escape Bond learns that a notorious Harlem crime boss, Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto) is allegedly behind his near death, and likely those of the three dead agents. When Felix drops word of an alleged connection between Mr. Big and a Caribbean diplomat, Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), Bond gets on the first plane to San Monique to investigate.
While in San Monique strange happenings begin to occur around all things Voodoo. Between Bond’s alleged “Mrs. Bond”, the beautiful but precarious Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) who seems to know more about Kananga than she should, and the omen surrounding Bond and Solitaire, it seems both Bond and Kananga have their hands full trying to piece together each other’s next move. After a sudden mishap during a romantic picnic Bond is left to go solo as Rosie ill-fatedly exposes her connections to the notorious Kananga. Meanwhile Bon and Solitaire get close, very close. To the dismay of Kananga, a brief interlude between agent and medium results in the loss of the latter’s powers. While the tyrannical Kananga begins to threaten Solitaire, Bond makes successful plans to help the innocent slave girl escape. One quick boat trip and a plane ride to New Orleans later and Solitaire is back in the possession of Kananga and his clan.
Not long thereafter Bond is wrestling alligators and crocodiles, driving beat up two-story buses under/through low bridges, racing speed boats across the bayou waters, all the while evading Kanaga’s interminable and relentless posse, and the unsuccessful tactics of slow-Jo Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James). In addition to all his wily action affairs, Bond has to once again fly back to San Monique and rescue the beautiful Solitaire from her tribal Voodoo execution, and destroy the 1 billion+ tons of Kananga’s self-farmed heroin (which he’s planning to use to flood the American drug market via (lots of) free samples) all within a thirty minutes time frame. Of course nothing is ever quite that easy in a Bond film: just when Bond thinks he’s got the girl and ruined Kananga’s drug market he finds himself suspended above a pool of some hungry Great Whites with Kananga standing by watching quite eagerly. Can Bond pull yet another trick out of his hat in time to save himself and his precious Solitaire? And what about Kananga? And where’s all of Bond’s cool gadgets compliments of techy guru “Q?” …
As a whole, LIV E AND LET DIE, is a pretty peculiar Bond film. Its characters and settings are rather unusual for a James Bond movie, not to mention the trifling with voodoo culture. However, the result is not bad.
Spiced with the awful 70s fashion, LIV E AND LET DIE, is fun to watch. Of course the film has also intentional stylishness that shows particularly in the clever pre-credit sequence, which contains the murders of three British agents.
Yaphet Kotto gives a strong performance as the infamous main villain, Dr. Kananga. Kananga has many colorful henchmen, like the grinning Tee Hee, who does a very handy job opening a tin. Jane Seymour's Solitaire is a truly graceful Bond girl, but the useless role of Rosie Carver should have been deleted, or recast, at least. And where's Q?
LIV E AND LET DIE isn't Roger Moore's best Bond outing, but not his worst, either. It's definitely better than his next one, the thoroughly tiresome THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN..
LIV E AND LET DIE was nominated for the 1974 Oscar for Best Music, Original Song “Live and Let Die” (Paul and Linda McCartney). The film was also recognized with 2 critical film nominations: 1974 Grammy for Album of Best Original Score (Paul & Linda McCartney and George Martin) and the 2004 Satellite Award’s Golden Satellite Award for Best Classic DVD release. “Live and Let Die” also received 2 other critical film awards: Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Film (Guy Hamilton) and Germany’s Golden Screen Award, 1974.
Roger Moore plays James Bond: British Secret Service agent 007.
Jane Seymour plays Solitaire, the virgin psychic.
Yaphet Kotto plays Kananga/Mr. Big the heroin dealing nemesis.
Julius W. Harris plays Tee Hee, Kanaga’s partner in crime.
Clifton James plays Sheriff J.W. Pepper, the local Louisiana fool.
Gloria Hendry plays Rosie Carver.
David Hedison plays Feliz Leiter, Bond’s New York intelligence.