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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Live and Let Die (1973)


Plot Summary: When Bond (for the first time, played by Roger Moore) investigates the murders of three fellow agents, he finds himself a target, evading vicious assassins as he pursues the connected plans of the Black American Gangster known on the streets as Mr. Big and the Head of State for the fictional San Monique, Dr. Kananga.


Bond after turning the beautiful Solitaire against Kananga, uncovers Kananga's plot to monopolize the heroin trade in the U.S., and races to stop Kananga before his assassins can get to Bond.


Cast:

  • Roger Moore as James Bond - 007

  • Yaphet Kotto as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big

  • Jane Seymour as Solitaire

  • Clifton James as Sheriff J.W. Pepper

  • Julius W. Harris as Tee Hee Johnson

  • Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi

  • David Hedison as Felix Leiter

  • Gloria Hendry as Rosie Carver

*Recognition:

  • Nominated for Best Original Song (Paul and Linda McCartney)

  • Nominated for the Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture

  • In 2004, the American Film Institute nominated the song "Live and Let Die" for AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.

Did You Know:

  • Sean Connery turned down the then astronomical sum of $5.5 million (close to $32 million in 2019 dollars) to play James Bond for a seventh time. Connery gave 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 Bond should be portrayed by an English actor.

  • Roger Moore was 45 when he made his debut as 007, making him the oldest actor to portray the iconic character. The youngest was George Lazenby, who was 29 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

  • The producers made a conscious decision to make Roger Moore's Bond significantly different from Sean Connery's. In this film, Bond never orders a vodka martini, but drinks bourbon whiskey, "neat" (no ice) instead. The mission briefing occurs in his flat, not the office (only the second time Bond's apartment is featured in the movies after an appearance in Dr. No (1962)). Bond does not wear a hat. He smokes cigars instead of cigarettes.

  • 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, 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 afterwards, Michael's wife, Shakira Caine, was convinced he had special powers.

  • It took crocodile wrangler and stuntman Ross Kananga (the villain in the movie was named after him) 6 takes to complete the scene were he doubles for Roger Moore when Bond flees the bad guys by running across the backs of 3 crocodiles in a swamp. Kananga received $60,000 for the stunt, filmed at Swamp Safaris, his 350 acres of mangrove swamp on Jamaica's north coast, where he kept a herd of over 1000 crocodiles. In a 1973 interview, he explained; "something like that is almost impossible to do. So, I had to do it six times before I got it right. I fell five times. The film company kept sending to London for more clothes. The crocs were chewing off everything when I hit the water, including shoes. I received one hundred ninety-three stitches on my leg and face."

  • 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 was still able to complete the scene, because all he had to do was sit in the boat.

  • 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.

  • Roger Moore had a fear of snakes, just like his co-star Geoffrey Holder, who had to fall into a coffin full of them. As a result, they hated shooting that scene. In addition, the script supervisor was so afraid, she refused to be on-set with them, an actor fainted while filming a scene where he's killed by a snake, and Jane Seymour became terrified as a reptile got closer.

  • According to Yaphet Kotto, he was not allowed to do any press for this movie, nor was he allowed to attend the premiere. Kotto states the producers told him they were afraid of the public's reaction to the villain being black.

  • The first Bond film in which 007 has a liaison with a black woman, Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry). When this movie was released in South Africa, all of Hendry's love scenes were removed, due of the Apartheid policies of the government.

  • Tom Mankiewicz originally wrote the main Bond girl to be black(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 movies with interracial romances. It was, until Die Another Day (2002) featured the lead Bond girl as an African-American.

  • Roger Moore wrote a production diary during filming, which was simply titled Roger Moore as James Bond 007: Live and Let Die (1973). It was published as a paperback by Pan in 1973 and features a complete dossier of filming from the first to last day. Accompanying it are several pages of colour 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 famous, and details numerous otherwise-unknown incidents, squabbles, milestones, and production notes. It was re-released in June 2018.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: First successful recasting of a primary franchise character; British Secret Agent foils drug smuggling while dodging peril from Caribbean dignitary and a Black Gangster.


Best Performance: Roger Moore (Bond)/Yaphet Kotto (Kananga/Mr. Big)

Best Secondary Performance: Paul & Linda McCartney (Composers)/Yaphet Kotto (Kananga/Mr. Big)

Most Charismatic Award: Jane Seymour (Solitaire)

Best Scene:

  • New Orleans Funeral

  • Bond Goes to Harlem

  • Bond Meets Rosie

  • Bond Confronts Rosie

  • Bus Chase

  • Airplane Chase

  • Kananga Tests Solitaire

  • Croc Farm

  • Boat Chase

Favorite Scene: Croc Farm

Most Indelible Moment: Escaping the Croc Farm


In Memorium:

  • N/A

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Solitaire: What happened to Kananqa? James Bond: I think he had a rather inflated opinion of himself.


Rosie: You don't understand, see. They'll kill me if I do.

James Bond: And I'll kill you if you don't.

Rosie: But you couldn't. You wouldn't. Not after what we've just done!

James Bond: I certainly wouldn't have killed you before.


Tee-Hee: There are two ways to disable a croc, you know.

James Bond: I don't suppose you'd care to tell me what they are.

Tee-Hee: One way is to take a pencil and stick it in the pressure area above its eye.

James Bond: And the other way?

Tee-Hee: Oh, the other way is twice as simple. You just stick your hand in its mouth and pull its teeth out. Heh, heh.


[Bond has just explained the first two Lover's Lessons to Solitaire]

Solitaire: Is there time before we leave, for Lesson number 3?

James Bond: [undressing] Of course. There's no sense going out half-cocked.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 7.25

Impact/Significance: 7.25

Novelty: 3

Classic-ness: 4.75

Rewatchability: 7

Audience Score: 7.5 (86% Google, 64% RT)

Total: 36.75


Remaining Questions:

  • Why couldn't Kananga have spit out the cartridge after Bond stopped holding his mouth?

  • What happens to Solitaire?

  • How would flooding market with free drugs eventually lead to a monopoly?

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