Live and Let Die
Makes you give in and cry…
Not just the fantastic Paul McCartney theme song will make you reminiscent.
It’s 1973, and midtown Manhattan certainly looks a little different; and thanks to a few hurricanes in the interim, so does New Orleans. In an old-fashioned mix of music and the ‘Oh Cult,’ Live and Let Die made for a spectacular debut of Roger Moore as agent James Bond. Sly, slender and charming, Moore is a tad more upper-crust than Sean Connery, but just as adept on the resourceful, quick-thinking womanizer front. Similarly youthful: Bond’s CIA counterpart Felix Leiter, a sympathetic and patient David Hedison, who turns up with a meatier reprise sixteen years later in License to Kill.
A delightful blend of voodoo and carousing, L&LD features a young, bewitching Jane Seymour, long before her days as the wise and trusty Dr. Quinn. Indentured for her tarot card-reading powers, the seductive ‘Solitaire’ appears at once innocent and mysterious. This Bond babe is not only an obedient servant to a tortuous ‘Mr. Big’ (and you thought Sex and the City was original?!), but also goes weak for the dashing 007. A pre-‘Homicide’ Yaphet Kotto is both beguiling and evil as the captivating villain.
Uniquely American — juxtaposing busy, bustling New York with Louisiana back country and an island in the Caribbean, the plot is also universal: Deep in the jungle, ‘Dr. Kananga’ (Kotto) is running a heroin empire. Estimated to be worth $2 billion – that’s in 1973 – it makes one gasp at the prospect of present operations. When British agents are killed in each of these locations, it is up to Bond to untangle the drug-smuggling web.
The established Bond film standards are all here, like the classic chase scenes: one in a truck, and one in a dilapidated double-decker bus. And for added excitement: a bayou boat chase through the murky inland mangroves.
There’s plenty of intrigue on land too, along with that always-welcoming Southern tourist attraction: an alligator & crocodile farm! Another American treat, the feisty (somewhat stereotypical) Sheriff, J.W. Pepper, played to down-home perfection by Clifton James. He too, returns, in The Man with the Golden Gun.
In addition to the underworld deception are elements seen in previous and future Bond adventures: the private shark pond of Thunderball, and a Moonraker monorail. But far from formulaic, this spooky script was also groundbreaking; Gloria Hendry was the first African American to share a romantic scene with James Bond.
A nostalgic return to the laid-back 70s, the story offers a hazy glimpse at the days of cartel crime before airport scanners and futuristic high-tech weapons. Bond’s biggest worry here — deadly snakes.
Grab a lemonade, revel in the languid, Southern tropical ambiance, and enjoy two hours of super spy and supernatural.
by Caren Ostrow
Next up in the ‘James Bond Originals’ series at the Colony Theatre: “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
|Roger Moore||…||James Bond|
|Yaphet Kotto||…||Kananga / Mr. Big|
|Jane Seymour||…||Solitaire / Simone Latrelle|
Directed by Guy Hamilton
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