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Live and Let Die

April 4, 2013

Live and Let Die (1973)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Actors: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour

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Synopsis: James Bond (Roger Moore) heads to the US and Caribbean to unpick a sinister heroine trade that would seem to implicate the head of state of a small nation, Dr Kananga (Yaphet Kotto).

Review: This is a truly bizarre addition to the Bond series, and stands as proof to my own maxim that James Bond and the 1970s simply didn’t mix. The blaxploitation riffing and totally clumsy way that the supposedly ‘Caribbean’ themes of voodoo and superstition were shoe-horned into the plot is laughable really. Looking back, its evident that the input of the screenwriter, Tom Mankiewicz, was major reason for the film’s diabolical plot and dramatic integrity. Following on from the jokey Diamonds are Forever and leading into the equally light-hearted The Man with the Golden Gun, Mankiewicz seemed genuinely proud and conceited about the supposed wit of his terribly cheesy and smarmy puns (he’s actually quoted on this in many Bond series guides).

Particularly poor in this film is how quickly the villain is outed (i.e. almost immediately, without the least bit of build-up or ambiguity), and this is the only entrant to the Bond series where Bond has to endure efforts to kill him by the most ‘Austin Powers’ of ways: snakes, crocodiles and sharks. Of the three, the only one I like is the crocodile scene – in fact, it’s probably the most exciting moment of the entire film – as Bond has to find a way of escaping an island where he has been left to perish amid a river of crocs. (April 2013)

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