Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison, Gloria Hendry, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
Film matched beverage: Voodoo cocktail
Synopsis: After three British agents are murdered, M suspects a connection. Bond is sent on the trail of what they were investigating, stumbling upon a drug trafficking ring that is shrouded in mystery and overtones of voodoo. He also meets Solitaire, whom uses cards to accurately predict the future for one Mr. Kananga. After the disappointment that was Diamonds are Forever, the smart choice was made to hire a younger Bond. So successful was this transition that the new Bond, Roger Moore, is to this day the longest-serving Bond of all. Whether or not he should have been is up for debate. For me, he served a function but was definitely there too long. I appreciate that he was the right Bond for the time, certainly more comic than his predecessors. In the 70s, I can see how this was vital for the franchise. In an era when Cold War was a very real threat, and people did live in fear of nuclear apocalypse, a franchise confirming this threat would hardly have lasting success. Moore’s more comedic approach to dark material provided a necessary balance. Indeed, as a child growing up in part of the Moore era, I myself could not get enough of Bond. Since then though, I have been exposed to many more examples of cinema of a wide variety of quality. In comparison to other Bond films, with my modern perspective, there is little weight to Roger Moore’s Bond, with a few notable examples which I will note in future reviews. In comparison to not even this wide variety of cinema, but just to other Bond films, the Moore era in general lacks substance.
Live and Let Die, though, being the first Moore film and so closely connected to the Connery era, has not quite yet gone down this more whimsical path. Indeed, choosing to embed the film in three different locations which are connected by the threat of voodoo led to a fascinating story. It departs from Fleming’s original, true, but not so much as to distract. It is a film that somehow treads the line between breaking the mysticism of voodoo, while respecting it at the same time. There are also many action sequences for Moore, which at this point he pulls off admirably.
The extraneous players also tend to come off pretty well. Kotto is a fantastic villain, whom is surprisingly layered and intelligent for a Bond villain. Seymour may be early in her career here, and at times does appear unseasoned, but all the elements are exhibited that led her to become the lead in an exceptionally successful series in her later career, as well as some golden cameos. Wedding Crashers comes to mind quite readily. This film also features more than one interesting henchman. I would say the sole let-down is Hendry, as Rosie Carver, a fellow agent. While suitably attractive as the “initial” Bond girl, her role is nothing if not over-acted.
As with the previous films we are entering an era where the Blu-Ray upgrade is nothing if not glorious. It is only now though that I am starting to notice a slight incongruity. While the majority of the film looks pristine and clearly high-definition, the opening gun barrel sequence in each does not seem to have been given the same level of care. I can appreciate that in both Dr. No and From Russia with love, as the man in question was not Connery, but stunt double Bob Simmons, but when the actor is unequivocally Moore, could they not have given us a bit more?? Ok, yes, I used that pun, sue me. But to be fair, I have now gotten it out of my system, and with still another six Roger Moore films to review!
This is certainly one of the better Moore Bonds, but my objectivity cannot reach much further. At least this is still most definitely a Bond film. My praise will certainly not reach that far when I get to Moonraker!!!!
3.5 stars out of 5
Voodoo cocktail recipe
1 part Kahlua
1 part butterscotch schnapps
2 parts milk
Pour ingredients over ice in an Old Fashioned (whiskey) glass, stir and serve.