Live and Let Die (1973)
July 16, 2015 4:00 AM - Subscribe

007 is sent to stop a diabolically brilliant heroin magnate armed with a complex organization and a reliable psychic tarot card reader.

This is the 8th James Bond film adventure.

The Wikipedia entry. reviews Live and Let Die.
The James Bonding podcast (Matt Mira, Matt Gourley and guest Paul F. Tompkins) covers Live and Let Die.

Some Top Critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader: "Guy Hamilton's direction lacks enthusiasm and pace, while even the art direction -- long the Bond films' real secret weapon -- seems to have fallen to a shrunken budget."

Variety: "The comic book plot meanders through a series of hardware production numbers."

Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine: "Setting aside an allright speedboat spectacular over land and water, the film is both perfunctory and predictable -- leaving the mind free to wander into the question of its overall taste. Or lack of it."

Time Out: "Two hours long and anti-climactic, but Bond fans won't be disappointed."

Roger Greenspun, New York Times: "Live and Let Die has been especially well photographed and edited, and it makes clever and extensive use of its good title song, by Paul and Linda McCartney."

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "It doesn't have the wit and it doesn't have the style of the best Bond movies."
posted by doctornecessiter (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been trying to think ahead to the first Bond film that doesn't contain anything terribly racist and/or homophobic and/or sexist. (Hint: it's not this one.)

This was one of my favorites as a kid, I think mainly because a) some of the San Monique scenes remind me of a Hammer horror movie, and b) some of the Louisiana scenes remind me of north Florida where I grew up. Of course some of the Louisiana scenes also remind me of Smokey and the Bandit, which -- other than the stunt work -- isn't a great avenue for the Bond series to explore. Ditto for the blaxploitation aspects, in this context. Though Yaphet Kotto is great. And Geoffrey Holder, while given very little to actually do, is a wonderful presence.

Can you imagine Yaphet Kotto and Clifton "Sheriff J.W. Pepper" James hanging out at the premiere of this movie? Oh, to be a fly on the wall for all of that awkward silence.
posted by doctornecessiter at 4:23 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

" a white pimpmobile..."

/thanks Jack Lord for delivering that line.
posted by longbaugh at 4:31 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

So it's been quite a while since I've watched this, but my main memory is that they were so excited by the theme tune that they inserted it in practically ever scene, often incredibly inappropriately.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 4:46 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

a reliable psychic tarot card reader

Well, until an MI6 operative tricks her into bed and shags the mystical mojo right out of her. Classic espionage move, straight out of the manual.
posted by sobarel at 6:13 AM on July 16, 2015

...they were so excited by the theme tune that they inserted it in practically ever scene, often incredibly inappropriately.

The score is by George Martin, who to the best of my knowledge is more of a producer/arranger than a composer...So I guess that's exactly what the producers wanted, not so much an original standalone score, more of a set of adaptations of the theme song with small variations.

Fun factoid: Roger Moore did 7 Bond movies, only 4 of which were scored by John Barry. Until Barry scored Octopussy and A View to a Kill back-to-back at the end of the Moore run, every other movie was scored by someone else.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2015

I've been trying to think ahead to the first Bond film that doesn't contain anything terribly racist and/or homophobic and/or sexist. (Hint: it's not this one.)

Yeah, don't read the book. Just don't.

Of course a Bond film in the 1970s was not exactly going to do a sensitive and nuanced approach to race. Especially since pretty much the theme of the story was for the exotic world Bond explores this time around to be the strange and threatening secret world of the mysterious dark people. It's sort of a fake blaxploitation movie by and for white people, with all that that entails. There is a LOT you have to just give them a pass on to get through this movie.

But as someone who really doesn't like the Moore films in general, and despite its racial clumsiness, and even despite the existence of Sheriff Waldo Pepper, this actually isn't so bad as a Bond film. Of the Moore films I'd actually rank it second behind For Your Eyes Only. Moore looks suitably young and athletic, and somehow the touch of the supernatural fits, even though it shouldn't. Yaphet Kotto and Geoffrey Holder are indeed great presences. Stunt work is impressive, even if it does indeed feel like a Burt Reynolds movie sometimes.

The next film would be The Man With the Golden Gun - arguably the worst of the entire series. So don't come down too hard on this one.
posted by Naberius at 8:10 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I really had a thing for Jane Seymour in this as a kid, but as I've gotten older it's been dawning on me that she really looks and acts like she's a teenager here. I think it's a good performance, it's not surprising that she's continued to have a fairly strong career to this day, but she's only 22 and playing a naif...Maybe a little too fresh-faced for 46-year-old Roger Moore...

...Who, by the way, is older than Sean Connery (Moore was born in 1927, Connery in 1930). That tends to get forgotten when considering the trajectory of this series...I myself always think of this young upstart Moore taking over for over-the-hill old bald Connery...Nope, not actually so! Except for the hair thing, Moore does have more hair.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:51 AM on July 16, 2015

I recently binge-watched most of the Moore Bond movies, and read Film Crit Hulk's mega-Bond thing, and, wow, does he hate LaLD.

(Also, that alligator farm looks like something at Disneyworld, and I just realized that James Bond hops on alligators just like Pitfall Harry (I guess it's vice-versa).)
posted by box at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Live and Let Die - Paul McCartney and Wings. (alternative version)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:29 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

All I remember about this movie is rolling my eyes really hard at the tarot deck "mysteriously" being substituted by an entire deck of nothing but the Lovers!
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:50 AM on July 16, 2015

Eddie Smith, co-founder of the Black Stuntmen's Association, was one of the stunt coordinators on this film, and—I think I'm remembering this right but can't find a cite—was proud that the production employed every single African-American stuntman with a union card in the United States.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2015

You can buy a set (though apparently not an entire deck) of licensed 007 tarot cards.

"Features 22 different Tarot cards with 7 additional duplicate lovers cards"

I wonder if any PUA sites sell all-lovers tarot decks.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:20 AM on July 16, 2015

Blaxploitation Bond is the best Bond.

Whose funeral is this?

Secret AGENT? On WHOSE side?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh god how that McCartney song bugs me. "...this ever-changing world in which we live in"? Really?
posted by mubba at 3:10 PM on July 25, 2015

"Ever-changing world in which we're livin'" I think?
posted by capricorn at 5:27 AM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow, thanks, capricorn, I stand corrected. Henceforth, my annoyance with the song will not be compounded by spurious grammar nazi rage.
posted by mubba at 7:23 PM on August 5, 2015

Oh wow, I always thought it was 'world in which we live in' and it also drove me nuts every single time I heard it. Now I feel a bit guilty for vigorously maligning McCartney for so long...
posted by widdershins at 12:24 PM on October 23, 2015

I'm watching it now and I really do love this film as terrible as it may be by many valid metrics.

It's pretty racist but 70's Harlem is pretty amazing. And killing a killer snake with a can of aerosol cologne - none more 70's.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2015

But man, everytime I watch a Bond movie he becomes more of a sociopath.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on December 9, 2015

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