Countdown to ‘Skyfall’: Day 008 – ‘Live and Let Die’

Beginning with ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, 1973’s ‘Live and Let Die’ marks the third Bond film in a row with a different actor playing 007.

The distributors of the film, United Artists, wanted an American to play 007 in ‘LALD’. Hollywood heavyweights Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford were considered for the part. Common sense prevailed, and an Englishman was selected.

In ‘LALD’, Roger Moore begins his 12-year reign as James Bond. Moore was chosen for his previous work on the TV show, ‘The Saint’, and was also considered for the part during casting for both ‘Dr. No’ and ‘OHMSS’.

Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz adjusted the screenplay of ‘LALD’ to better suit Moore’s lighthearted demeanor. Comedy became a bit more prevalent in this and the rest of Moore’s entries into the series. For example, the character of Sheriff J.W. Pepper was created simply for added comic relief.

In the film, 007 is sent to investigate the deaths of three British agents. The further Bond gets into the investigation, the deeper into the world of drug trafficking, voodoo and organized crime he gets.

The movie is heavily influenced by the contemporary popularity of blaxploitation films, including many cliches that were common in that style. In fact, ‘LALD’ was the first Bond film to have the main character become romantically involved with an African American woman.

The two memorable aspects of ‘LALD’ for me are Jane Seymour as Bond Girl Solitare and the theme song by Paul McCartney and Wings. As far as Bond Girls and themes go, ‘LALD’ had two of the best in the entire franchise.

‘LALD’ was a departure from the typical Bond formula. There was no villain who was hellbent on taking over the world or huge action set piece that gave the movie an epic feel, as seen in ‘You Only Live Twice’ or ‘Goldfinger’. Throw in a heavy dose of racial stereotypes and you have a OK movie that now seems dated and almost offensive.

While a thrilling boat chase did keep the film moving, and the Bond Girl and theme song are classics in the series, Moore’s first turn as Bond fell a little flat and left a lot to be desired.


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