LIVE AND LET DIE

(1973)
With Roger Moore, Jane Seymour, Yaphet Kotto, Julius Harris, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Reviewed by JL and JB

Stop or I'll raise my eyebrow!     Roger Moore's first outing as James Bond, is perhaps the most mixed bag of any film in the Bond series.  For the most part, the first half of the film is rather good, filled with some well-staged action sequences and our one and only glimpse inside Bond's elegant bachelor pad.  But it's in the second half that the film meanders, with the only real action provided by a lengthy boat chase that culminates in a silly confrontation between Bond and a redneck sheriff.  It's a scene indicative of the corny, groan-inducing humor that encroached upon the series during Moore's reign as 007.  In addition, the film's villain, Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), has some strong early scenes but is ultimately a rather under-written character, and some of the dangerous predicaments in which Bond finds himself are right out of the school of campy contrivances more appropriate to the old Batman TV series.  But LIVE AND LET DIE isn't a total waste: aside from the solid first hour, there's Jane Seymour, one of the best and loveliest of Bond girls; and a fun, if hokey, scene in which Bond must escape a gang of hungry crocodiles.  The film's mix of Bond action and '70s blaxploitation doesn't bother me as much as it does some, although I cringe at the "Chill, bro" sort of slang that was obviously written by a bunch of middle-aged white guys.  As the Moore films went, they were to do much better in the future.  Unfortunately, they were also to do much worse. 3  - JL


Unfortunately, my wife calls me Mr. Little     With all the chase scenes, LIVE AND LET DIE can't help but be a fun action film, but it is only coincidentally a decent James Bond film.  The fun in hearing Sean Connery toss off one-liners was keyed to his interpretation of Bond, a tough guy with a license to kill you knew could kick ass and not bother taking names later.  So using humor, instead of fisticuffs or bullets, was a release for Connery's 007, as well for us.  The trouble with Moore's Bond is that witty asides were about as tough as he got.  Sure, Moore-Bond punched, shot and killed as much as any Bond, but only because such moments had to be written into the script, not because of any inherent virility in Moore's screen presence.  In real life, Moore's 007 would have been dead eight ways to Sunday in this film during his first trip to Harlem.

     Nevertheless, LIVE AND LET DIE is an okay Bond adventure with some memorable locations and setpieces, as well as chases, chases and more chases.  But the film never reaches the excitement and thrill level promised in its outstanding theme song, written and performed by Paul McCartney and orchestrated, in true over-the-top Bondian style, by Beatles producer George Martin, who also wrote the score.  3 - JB

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