Live And Let Die - 1973 (Bond movie/Gadgets/Breasts/Underground base
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz, from the Ian Fleming
Starring Roger Moore
as Bond, Jane Seymour
as Solitaire, and Yaphet Kotto
It's a Bond movie.
Okay, that's not fair - sure, it's a Bond movie, but it departs from the formula sufficiently to make it more interesting. Several British spies have died mysteriously, and Bond is sent to investigate. He finds links between Kananga (owner of a Caribbean island) and Mr Big (New York gangster), and travels down to San Monique to investigate. However, Solitaire, Kananga's squeeze, is reading the tarot cards and knows exactly where Bond is at all times...
Why You Should Watch/Rent/Buy This:
Yes, all the Bond staples are there - except for Q, sadly, who is missed - but there's something special about this film. Parts of it feel more like a blaxploitation flick than a Bond movie, especially Mr Big and his flunkies. Roger Moore is very good as Bond, and while Connery is commonly held to be the best, Moore has his own distinct style that serves the part equally well. The whole Solitaire thing adds a touch of mystery too - can she really see where Bond is with the cards?
And it has the best speedboat chase ever filmed - although I'm torn, as now I can't decide which chase I like better, this one or the one in The World Is Not Enough. This is probably my favourite Bond film though. Plus it's got Sheriff JW Pepper in some hilarious scenes which really make the chase sequence special - this is a classic chase which obeys all the standard car chase rules. You've got your grinning bad guys, an underground base, crocodiles, a man with a claw, and plenty of cheesy one-liners. The only bad thing is the appalling music score by George Martin.
Most Excellent Movie Trivia:
Rick Baker helped out with the special effects, but isn't mentioned in the credits.
It's Moore's first Bond, but Sean Connery was offered $5.5 million to come back - he turned it down. (I remember hearing that Moore was Fleming's preferred choice as Bond, but I can't find any info to back this up - tdent reckons he wanted David Niven in the part, which is corroborated by various Bond sites). United Artists tried to push some American stars into the role, including Burt Reynolds, but Cubby Broccoli was determined to keep the part British, and Moore got the job. Connery got the part originally because Moore couldn't get out of his TV show contract (The Saint) - Pierce Brosnan found himself in a similar situation with Remington Steele, which is why Timothy Dalton was forced upon us until Pierce rescued the franchise. Moore again nearly lost out because he was making the superbly cheesy The Persuaders series - but the series died in America, and he was released from his contract.
Roger Moore's movie contract states that he is entitled to an unlimited supply of hand rolled Monte Cristo cigars. Update: I have since found out that this isn't actually true. But it sounds like it should be. And if I had a movie contract, I'd make sure that was in it - they really are the finest cigars in the world...
The speedboat jump over the road set a new world record - 110 feet. The second boat wasn't supposed to hit the police car, but it happened accidentally - it looked good, so they rewrote the script and left it in.
David Hedison is the only actor to play Felix Leiter more than once. He was also in the original version of The Fly (1958). Heeeeeeelp meeeeeeeee!
If you look closely at the back of the Tarot cards, you can see a blue "007" pattern.
From the IMDB: Ross Kananga (credited as "stunt co-ordinator") was the owner of the crocodile farm in which Bond escapes some hungry reptiles (RalphyNote: several crocodiles lie side by side, and Bond runs across them to escape). Kananga did this stunt by himself wearing Roger Moore's clothes and shoes made of crocodile skin (!). It took five attempts to complete the stunt. During the fourth attempt, one of the crocodiles snapped at one of the shoes as it went by! The producers liked Ross Kananga so much that the movie's villain was named after him. - Ralphy again: if you ever get a chance to watch the making of this movie (I think it's on the DVD), check it out. They have the test footage of the stuntman trying the crocodile run. After the first run, the crocodiles were wise to it - the last crocodile opens its mouth in readiness as soon as the stuntman starts running, and it all gets a bit scary very suddenly...
Previous Bond: Diamonds Are Forever - Next Bond: The Man With The Golden Gun