Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Quick Look: LIVE AND LET DIE (1973 - color)

R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore. You were iconic, and leave behind a legacy of tremendous fun and good humor. God bless you, sir, and thanks for everything.

In light of Mr. Moore's passing, allow me to post over the next week or so my thoughts on his tenure as the world's most famous secret agent...

   Following his return to the role of 007 for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, Sean Connery again vowed he was done with the franchise (although he would play James Bond once more in Kevin McClory's 1983 film NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN). LIVE AND LET DIE introduced a new James Bond, and Roger Moore would go on to define the 70's Bond as much as Connery had the 60's Bond. This adventure finds 007 investigating the connection between a Harlem drug lord and the cultured leader of a tropical island nation. Although the film has it's strong points, it also has some weaknesses -the main one being Clifton James' hick Sheriff J.W. Pepper. This cartoonish parody of redneck lawmen monopolizes a good stretch of the movie's middle, but the character was such a hit with audiences that he would be brought back for the next Bond film! Roger Moore effortlessly breezes through his initial mission as 007, in a film that tosses in some supernatural elements to the usual espionage and intrigue. This might sound like a strange direction, but it should be noted that by this time the spy genre had been experimenting with elements of the fantastic to stay distinctive. DIMENSION 5, for example, included a working form of time travel amid it's gadgets. The Japanese film ESPY involved secret agents with paranormal talents. Here, Jane Seymour plays a voodoo priestess with a knack for telling the future. She's employed by the commanding Yaphet Kotto (sp?) but she quickly finds herself siding with Bond -although this means the loss of her powers. The Wings perform the title tune, which remains mysteriously popular despite being the weakest Bond theme until the dreary "Die Another Day" came along at the turn of the century. By the time of LIVE AND LET DIE, the spy craze had largely played itself out (by the 70's, detectives were again the heroes of choice). Only Bond would really survive the craze he started, his series still operating today. Despite the spy craze being over by this time, Roger Moore's initial showing as Bond was a hit. EON quickly turned around and produced the better-but-not-as-solid-financially THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, cementing Moore as the new 007.

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