Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Double O Countdown: Live and Let Die

Enter Roger Moore for a long stay as 007. The Moore films are remembered as being light, full of humor and self depreciation, as well as being over the top. The only people for whom Moore was the best Bond are kids who first saw 007 in the 70s and fondly recall how much they enjoyed the films. Sir Roger has his moments and I think he managed to fit well with the films given their styles from that period. This is his first one, and in my opinion it was one of his best.

001   The Best Poster From any Bond Film

I did a write up a couple of years ago on the Bond Posters, and I named this as my favorite. A couple of other people shared their opinions but I'm sticking by my guns. If you want to read the whole post, click on the beautiful image below.


002   One of the Stupidest Things I Ever Did as a Kid

I had a couple of friends as a kid who were far and away crazier than I was, but I happily followed them down the path of madness. We took the shaft of pen cartridges and cleaned them out, crimped one end, put them between a bobby pin and stuffed them with sulfur from matches, creating little canons that would shoot rock salt. James Bond never did that, but... he did do this...and so did we. I'm lucky I'm not blind.

003 The Film's Motif.

I'm going to cheat here to get in some extra elements that I like about the movie. It is full of blaxploitation, voodoo, Southern Gothic, fortune telling crazy stuff.

A guy with a claw for a hand.

Tee Hee is a big guy as well, towering over Bond. He inspires one of my favorite quips from Bond. When Bond is a prisoner and Mr. Big orders Tee Hee to take his watch so he can use the serial number to test Solitare, the henchmen fumbles with it and Bond mutters "Butterhook".

Solitaire, the Bond Girl of the film, played by the beautiful Jane Seymour, reads the future for Mr. Big and Dr. Kananga. The voice over while Bond is traveling to the U.S. is full of foreboding fun.

I gave my daughter who is also a Bond fanatic, a deck of these cards as a Christmas gifts four or five years ago. The imagery on the cards is used in the poster and it was cleverly used by Bond to infiltrate the Mr. Big organization. He was Solitaire's destiny by  design.

The Funeral in New Orleans as the CIA man is disposed of with a coffin made for clean up duty on the streets.

One of the themes that was kept from the original story was the way Mr. Big controls a lot of his followers through the superstitions around Voodoo. Bond's treacherous partner Rosie, freaks out at the hat with the chicken feathers, Bond trails his suspect "Whisper" to a retail outlet specializing in the occult, and on the island that Kanaga controls, his enemies are murdered in a voodoo ritual featuring the King of the Dead Baron Samedi himself, sometimes a nightclub performer, sometimes a robot and sometimes an actual specter of doom.

004   An Amazing and Entertaining Boat Chase through the delta lands.

While it does introduce a comic supporting character that is unwisely included in a second Bond film, the boat chase should not be diminished by the presence of  Sheriff Pepper.

003 Yaphet Kotto as the Villain Mr.Big/Dr. Kananga

This wonderful actor with a distinctive pronunciation and voice, is one of the best villains in the Moore years. He has a real part and gets to play it up duringthe story, he is not some vague megalomaniac millionaire trying to destroy the world, he is simply a clever gangster who dreams big and knows how to get what he wants.

When he and Bond have their climatic fight at the end of the movie, he wields a knife like he knows how to use it. Trapped underwater (In a shark tank of course) Bond forces an anti-shark pellet down his throat.

The result is explosive.A funny and fitting end to the bad guy.

006  If They Hadn't Done it for Real, you'd hoot at the idea.

Bond is trapped by Tee Hee on an island in the alligator farm where the heroin is manufactured. He has run out of chicken pieces to distract the gators with and must figure a way out that avoids being the main course. The exit the writers cooked up is preposterous, but the stunt was really performed on camera, live. It was dramatic, silly and a laugh that earns it an honored place on my list.

007  The Opening Titles and the Title Song

The best theme of the 007 Rock era, is played over naked women in silhouette, with fire and exploding skulls. Paul McCartney proves that post Beatles, he had the best ear for a catchy tune of all the fab four.

That's all for now,

James Bond will Return in:
 "The Man With The Golden Gun".


SJHoneywell said...

This is my favorite of Moore's run in the role. I like the plot, I like the bad guys, I love Geoffrey Holder...and the theme song is absolutely one of the best.

Richard Kirkham said...

It is my daughter's favorite as well. It is my number 2 from the Moore years. It comes pretty close because of all those secondary characters an the whole Tarot card design of the film.