LIVE AND LET DIE (United Artists, 1973)

Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

★★1/2  The eighth James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. US release date: June 27, 1973. Budget: $7 million. Worldwide box office gross: $161.8 million (US gross: $35.4 million; international gross: $126.4 million).[1] Running time: 121 minutes.

The Setup

British agents are being systematically murdered in New York City, New Orleans, and fictional San Monique in the Caribbean. James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to New York to investigate, where he contacts CIA spymaster Felix Leiter (David Hedison) and begins to follow the activities of San Monique’s primary diplomat, Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto). He also tracks Mr. Big, a Harlem drug kingpin who may also be connected to the murders. We soon discover that Kananga and Mr. Big are one and the same—a prodigious heroin trafficker with huge poppy fields on his native island, a throng of colorful bodyguards and thugs, and an expert tarot card reader named Solitaire (Jane Seymour).

Behind the Scenes

Continuing their series in 1972 with another James Bond—their third in three films—producers Broccoli and Saltzman turned to Roger Moore, a successful television actor who was respected for his work in such series as Maverick, The Persuaders!, and especially The Saint. He could play a hero with a very light touch. Broccoli and Saltzman had considered him in 1962, but Moore was termed too much of a “pretty boy” in those days.[2] A decade later, he had matured, and considering that the series was going in the Goldfinger direction of outlandish plots, plenty of sexy women, and impossible stunts, Moore was considered the perfect 007 for the time.

Witty screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who had collaborated with Richard Maibaum on Diamonds Are Forever, returned as the sole writer on Live and Let Die, his sensibilities perfectly matching Moore’s own approach to the character. Live and Let Die plays like a Marvel comic book version of a James Bond film. Its plot is superfluous (something about drug smuggling that is never properly explained or dealt with), its characters are fantasy types (Whisper, Baron Samedi, Tee Hee), and its direction is uninspired. It does, however, have some good motorboat action sequences, a mysterious heroine in Jane Seymour’s Solitaire, and a slam-bang title tune from Paul and Linda McCartney. A new era was about to begin.

The Cast
James Bond. Roger Moore
Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big Yaphet Kotto
Solitaire Jane Seymour
Sheriff J. W. Pepper Clifton James
Tee Hee Julius Harris
Baron Samedi Geoffrey Holder
Felix Leiter David Hedison
Rosie Carver Gloria Hendry
M Bernard Lee
Miss Moneypenny Lois Maxwell
Adam Tommy Lane
Whisper Earl Jolly Brown
Quarrel, Jr. Roy Stewart
Strutter Lon Satton
Mrs. Bell Ruth Kempf
Miss Caruso Madeline Smith
Charlie Joie Chitwood

The Crew
Crew Member
Director Guy Hamilton
Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz
Producers Albert R. Broccoli
Harry Saltzman
Director of Photography Ted Moore, B.S.C.
Music by George Martin
Title song composed by Paul and Linda McCartney
Supervising Art Director Syd Cain
Costume Designer Julie Harris
Production Supervisor Claude Hudson
Assistant Director Derek Cracknell
Stunts Coordinated by Bob Simmons
Jerry Comeaux
Ross Kananga
Bill Bennot
Eddie Smith
Joie Chitwood
Choreographer Geoffrey Holder
Title Designer Maurice Binder
Special Effects Derek Meddings
Editors Bert Bates
Raymond Poulton
John Shirley

[1] “Live and Let Die (1973),” The Numbers, accessed June 8, 2020,

[2] Albert R. Broccoli, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, Los Angeles, April 10, 1977.


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