★★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). Running time: 121 minutes.
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. 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.
|James Bond.||Roger Moore|
|Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big||Yaphet Kotto|
|Sheriff J. W. Pepper||Clifton James|
|Tee Hee||Julius Harris|
|Baron Samedi||Geoffrey Holder|
|Felix Leiter||David Hedison|
|Rosie Carver||Gloria Hendry|
|Miss Moneypenny||Lois Maxwell|
|Whisper||Earl Jolly Brown|
|Quarrel, Jr.||Roy Stewart|
|Mrs. Bell||Ruth Kempf|
|Miss Caruso||Madeline Smith|
|Screenplay by||Tom Mankiewicz|
|Producers||Albert R. Broccoli|
|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|
|Title Designer||Maurice Binder|
|Special Effects||Derek Meddings|