Saturday, March 09, 2013

Live and Let Die (1973)

Woo.  The 70’s have well and truly arrived.  Roger Moore has arrived.  I always think I like this movie better than I do.  The sum of my memories is better than the movie itself.  In general, I’m only okay with the Moore Bond films.  They’re a little too silly and cutesy for me.  You can ask how I can rank Diamonds are Forever a 5/5, but not find that a silly movie.  I find it a funny movie.  There’s a difference.  I think it’s mostly that they start doing things specifically for humor in Moore’s Bond, which usually fails on me, whereas Diamonds is played straight, the humor more natural.  But humor is one of those tricky things that works differently for each person. 

Live and Let Die... even having just watched this movie, I can't say I really know what this one’s really about.  Drugs, sure, but I never really get much past that.  I do love Kananga, mostly because I love Yaphet Kotto.  He must have the largest network of people working for him of any Bond villain.  Just about everybody seems to be working for him!  And boy, do they get around.  Kananga would make me very paranoid because of how easily he controls so many.

I really do like Roger Moore as Bond, despite the fact that I’m not overly fond of his films.  He’s a very different Bond from Connery, and that works in his favor.  He is also my first theatrical Bond, so he gets sentimental points for that.  He also actually succeeds with the silly/cuteness factor.  I don't think any of the other Bond actors could pull off the lines that Moore makes seem natural, so more points for being able to pull off the silliness.  He’s good-looking, and also has that right physical and arrogant component that I like in my Bonds.

I might like this movie better if it had a good score, but it does not.  No John Barry this outing, and the music in this one makes me cringe.  It’s not the worst of the scores, but it’s very very low on the totem pole.  I like various parts of this movie quite a bit, but there's a lot of dead weight in this film.  And I have to admit, I love a good chase scene... but the boat chase in this one?  Goes on forever with no real purpose... and introduces one of the absolute most annoying characters not just in a Bond film but in any film anywhere -- Sheriff Pepper.  He makes me want to bang my head against a wall.  Though his final line after he finds out who Bond is, "Secret agent? On whose side?!" does make me laugh.

But I do love Jane Seymour as Solitaire, Kanaga's psychic tarot card reader.  Could she be any prettier?  I always get a bit frowny at Bond for his easy manipulation of her, just to get info on Kanaga.  (Moore's Bond always seems colder and less emotional than Connery's Bond, which I find interesting.)  But then he does come back to rescue her in the end.

I also really like Kanaga's henchmen:  Tee Hee and Whisper.  And my favorite character in the whole film has to be Baron Samedi, played by Geoffrey Holder, who used to be in the 7-Up commercials.  He has a great voice and a fabulous laugh.  He very nearly makes the whole movie in his small amount of screen time.  And I love that the movie ends on him.

Oddly, despite the fact that I love David Hedison, I am not fond of his Felix in this film.  I like him much better in his second outing as Felix.  I can't actually put my finger on why, but his acting seems really bad in this film.  Now, that's ironic coming from me, who loves Rik Nutter's Felix, and he can't act for beans.  It might be because I know Hedison from all sorts of other things, so I expect better from him?  Whereas I've never seen Mr. Nutter in anything but Thunderball.  Might be because the script gives Felix lousy dialogue here?  I don't know, but sadly, I just can't appreciate this Felix.

Favorite parts:  "Whose funeral is it?" "Yours." -- Not once, but twice.  Moneypenny covering for Bond in the beginning.  Alligators and crocodiles!  Everything from Bond rescuing Solitaire to the end credits, which is the strongest section of the movie.  Roger Moore should wear black more often.  The way Bond clenches his fists right before Kanaga cuts his arm.  End fight on train!  "Just being disarming."  Baron Samedi laughing as the train pulls away.

Music:  Lousy
Theme song:  Okay.  I've gotten used to this song over the years, and I like the middle section, but I am not particularly a fan of Paul McCartney's later work.
Credit sequence:  Meh
Bond girl:  I love Solitaire, love the way she's caught between the bad guys and good guys.
Bad guys: I like them... worthy adversaries, but I still have no idea what Kanaga's trying to do.
Overall personal rating:  3 out of 5 stars


  1. Anonymous8:35 AM

    I always had a feeling that Moore's somewhat comic Bond persona could have been utilised better - as there are times when he suddenly switches to cold, merciless Bond (e.g. a notable scene in For Your Eyes Only), and the contrast is startling.

    I am really enjoying this series of Bond reviews, and I am especially looking forward to reading your comments on the Moore films. They are mostly disregarded nowdays, but I feel a couple of them remain quite effective, and most of them have something interesting.

    1. Thanks. Yes, I know what you mean about the various aspects of Moore's Bond. He seems much more merciless than Connery... or more cruel? But only sometimes. He's an interesting mix.

  2. I've told you before that the only Bond films I've seen are the Moore ones, but I'm not sure this is one of them. It doesn't sound familiar.

    I remember the name David Hedison from a Sunday night TV show in the 60's..."Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" maybe? I thought he was cute.

    I agree with you about musical scores. They really add to a film...or, in this case, detract from it.

    Hope all is well in your little corner of the world. I miss our more regular correspondence.

    Oh, I've got a "new to me" Holden movie arriving in the mail tomorrow or Friday. It's an early 40's romantic comedy, also starring Frances Dee...called "Meet the Stewarts." I'm excited to see something of his I haven't seen before. I'm missing him a lot...and I know he has grown weary of all the Garfield love. He wants some attention for himself.

    Talk to you soon,

    1. I've been having computer trouble, frustrating! I owe you a couple emails!

      Yep, Hedison was in Voyage. Definitely a good-looking man!

      I can't wait to hear about "Meet the Stewarts" -- a "new" Holden movie is always a good thing.

  3. I've definitely seen this, as I remember Jane Seymour really well. But the whole plot has escaped me. Again. I can only remember the plots to about 6 James Bond movies, isn't that weird?