Live and Let Die (1973)

live and let die poster 1973 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, grittier look


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Live and Let Die

Studio:  Danjaq/Eon Productions

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Blaxploitation

Release Date(s):  June 27, 1973

MPAA Rating:  PG

live and let die rosie carver gloria hendry roger more

See…I’m a progressive man. I slept with you then called you out as a double-agent!

A massive heroin smuggling syndicate is growing, and when British agents trying to take it down are targeted, James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent in to try to uncover it.  Run by a man calling himself Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), Bond’s adventure takes him to New York City, New Orleans, and a small island San Monique where Big makes his base of operations.  Big and his allies are targeting Bond, but Bond’s interest in Big’s fortune teller Solitaire (Jane Seymour) could be the key to Bond getting the upper hand.  Can Solitaire see her and Bond’s future, or will Mr. Big seal their fate?

Directed by Guy Hamilton, Live and Let Die is the eighth James Bond film and the first Bond outing by Roger Moore. Following Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, the title is taken from 1954 Ian Fleming novel of the same name and borrows aspects of the plot. Live and Let Die’s popular theme song “Live and Let Die” was performed by Paul McCartney and Wings and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

live and let die baron samedi geoffrey holder

I’m Baron Samedi…I’m a dangerous man! Unless you have a coffin full of snakes nearby….then I’m literally a pushover

Moore was originally considered for James Bond in 1962 when Sean Connery played Bond in Dr. No.  The fact that he was still a contender for Bond ten years later shows one of the pluses and failings of Bond.  Actors can play him for a long time since he isn’t necessarily about muscle and youth…but in choosing Moore (who was three years older than Connery) for Bond, you’ve sacrificed both in a way.

The plot for this outing isn’t the strongest Bond.  The movie plays into the popular Blaxploitation genre of the time and pretty much just has Bond trying to keep up with Mr. Big (who isn’t doing much of a job in hiding).  The movie oddly becomes more about Solitaire and who will control her than it does about the drugs (which are easily dispatched).  It would have been good for Moore to have a better first outing.

live and let die sheriff jw pepper clifton james

I’m like the low-rent version of Sheriff Buford T. Justice

What does work is that the movie is full of good characters to a fault.  Moore plays a slightly goofier Bond that seems to relish even more in his punch lines that pack less punch than Connery’s.  Yaphet Kotto is a different Bond villain that previous villains, but it feels like he isn’t utilized to his biggest extent because the movie has two great “henchmen” that crowd the movie in Baron Samedi played by Geoffrey Holder (who is cool but goes out like a chump) and Tee Hee played by Julius W. Harris who brings his bionic arm to play.  Jane Seymour isn’t very compelling as Solitaire and I wish that Gloria Hendry (who played Rosie Carver) was the main Bond girl…but she is a bit too “scream-y” (and the time period might not have loved an interracial romance for Bond).  Returning is Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny and Bernard Lee as M, but missing is Q played by Desmond Llewelyn who had a filming conflict.  The film brings in David Hedison as Felix Leiter who returned to the role in License to Kill.  The worst addition has to be Clifton James as the annoying Sheriff J.W. Pepper who also randomly shows up in Asia in Bond’s next film.

live and let die mr big yaphet kotto

What would have been really exciting was if Mr. Big pulled his face off and he was actually Blofeld…or Baron Samedi

The movie is a Bond movie, but it feels like it takes a while to get going.  The pre-credit sequence doesn’t have the explosive nature that it normal does and the showpiece of the movie is the Louisiana boat chase (which is pretty good).  The film also has the classic run over the alligators that would make Pitfall Harry jealous.  It seems like there needed to be more danger for Bond (though the goofy exploding pill at the end is both genius and cheesy).

James Bond’s Live and Let Die is a bit of a rocky first movie for Moore, but it is still fun.  By not taking Bond as seriously (Moore actually played him earlier in a TV comedy), it adds a different dimension to the character and the movie that didn’t exist with Connery or Lazenby (who is a bit closer to Moore in his portrayal).  One thing is certain, Bond endures and Moore proved that the man makes the character, and the character makes the man.  Live and Let Die was followed by The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974.

Preceded By:

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Followed By:

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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