Live and Let Die
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Live and Let Die is a 1973 British-American spy film based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The film was directed by Guy Hamilton and distributed by United Artists.
Several British agents have been murdered and James Bond is sent to New Orleans, to investigate these mysterious deaths. Mr. Big comes to his knowledge, who is self-producing heroin. Along his journeys, he meets Tee Hee who has a claw for a hand, Baron Samedi the voodoo master and Solitaire a tarot card reader. Bond must travel to New Orleans, and deep into the Bayou.
Why It Should Live and Let Die
- Good direction by Guy Hamilton.
- For the first time, the theme song was written by a band: Paul McCartney and Wings, and is considered one of the most iconic in the Bond franchise.
- Great acting, especially from Roger Moore who fits well into the role of James Bond.
- Great set designs like Mr. Big's lair. Not to mention the locations like the bayou.
- Great cinematography.
- The pacing is a bit slow in places.
- The film during the height of the blaxploitation era, and many blaxploitation archetypes and clichés are depicted in the film, including derogatory racial epithets ("honky"), black gangsters, and pimpmobiles. The plot itself departs from the former plots of the James Bond films about megalomaniac super-villains, and instead focuses on drug trafficking, a common theme of blaxploitation films of the period, and the settings for the film is in African-American cultural centres such as Harlem and New Orleans, as well as the Caribbean Islands.
- The film also pushes what elements of realism the franchise has had. This film makes it apparent that Solitaire has clairvoyance and Mr. Big is so ahead of Bond as to where he's going and how many people he has under his umbrella that it becomes cartoonish.
- Mr. Big/Kanaga is a pretty standard generic villain with nothing that really makes him standout compared to the likes of Dr. No, Goldfinger, or Blofeld.
Live and Let Die recieved positive reviews from critics, however, the audience's reception is more mixed.
On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 51 reviews with an average rating of 6.53/10. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated that Moore "has the superficial attributes for the job: The urbanity, the quizzically raised eyebrow, the calm under fire and in bed". However, he felt that Moore wasn't satisfactory in living up to the legacy left by Sean Connery in the preceding films. He rated the villains "a little banal", adding that the film "doesn't have a Bond villain worthy of the Goldfingers, Dr. Nos and Oddjobs of the past." Richard Schickel, reviewing for Time, described the film as "the most vulgar addition to a series that has long since outlived its brief historical moment — if not, alas, its profitability." He also criticized the action sequences as excessive, but noted that "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." Roger Greenspun of The New York Times praised Moore as "a handsome, suave, somewhat phlegmatic James Bond—with a tendency to throw away his throwaway quips as the minor embarrassments that, alas, they usually are." He was critical of Jane Seymour and Yaphet Kotto, the latter of whom he felt "does not project evil." In conclusion, he remarked the film was "especially well photographed and edited, and it makes clever and extensive use of its good title song, by Paul and Linda McCartney."
Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times likened Moore as "a handsome and smoothly likable successor to Sean Connery as James Bond." He further noted that the script "uses only the bare bones of Fleming's story about evil doings which link Harlem with a mysterious Caribbean island. The level of invention is high, but now and again you do sense the strain of always having to try harder because you're No. 1. If one menacing viper is good, three or a coffinful full are not inevitably better. But the action never slumps, and the series never seemed more like a real cartoon." Variety wrote that Moore was "an okay replacement for Sean Connery. The Tom Mankiewicz script, faced with a real-world crisis in the villain sector, reveals that plot lines have descended further to the level of the old Saturday afternoon serial, and the treatment is more than ever like a cartoon. Unchanged are the always-dubious moral values and the action set pieces. Guy Hamilton's direction is good."