Live and Let Die (1973) - Illustrated Reference

Live and Let Die was directed by Guy Hamilton and premiered on 27th June 1973. Starring Roger Moore, Jane Seymour, Yaphet Kotto, Gloria Hendry, Clifton James and David Hedison. Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz. Music by George Martin. Theme sung by Paul McCartney and Wings. 121mins.

007 is sent to New York to investigate the death of three British agents. The trail leads to black gangster Mr. Big and his tarot expert Solitaire. Bond discovers a link between Mr. Big and Dr. Kananga, whose plan it is to distribute tons of heroin for free thus increasing the number of addicts and drive his competitors out of business. Bond is out to stop him but first has to deal with the voodoo threat of Baron Samedi.

Live and Let Die was Ian Fleming’s 2nd Bond novel and was first published in 1954, it was preceded by Casino Royale and followed by Moonraker.

Sean Connery had hung up his Walther PPK and the search was on, among the actors who tested for Bond were Michael Billington who starred in the TV series UFO, he would later appear in The Spy Who Loved Me as Soviet agent Sergei, and Jeremy Brett, who would later find fame on TV as Sherlock Holmes.

Roger Moore was 45 when he started filming Live and Let Die. Sean Connery was 31 when production began on Dr. No. The novel You Only Live Twice lists James Bond’s year of birth as 1924, so in the book adventures 007 would be in his thirties. While in the movies Bond would get younger as the decades went by resulting in his eventual reboot as a post-9/11 era, rather than Cold War era, super spy in Casino Royale (2006).

James Bond: Allow me to introduce myself. Bond. James Bond.
Solitaire: I know who you are, what you are, and why you've come. You will not succeed.

Roger Moore (1927-) / James Bond

Born in London, England, Roger Moore, unlike Sean Connery, was already a household name before nabbing the role of secret agent 007. He had starred with Tony Curtis in the TV series The Persuaders (1971-1972) and was very popular as Simon Templar in The Saint (1962-1969).

His films include - The Kings Thief (1955), Diane (1956), The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), Gold (1974), Shout at the Devil (1976), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), The Wild Geese (1978), Ffolkes (1979), Escape to Athena (1979), Moonraker (1979), The Sea Wolves (1980), The Cannonball Run (1981), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), Bullseye (1990) and The Quest (1996).

Jane Seymour (1951-) / Solitaire

Solitaire reads the tarot cards for Mr. Big and is very good at predicting events until Bond has his way with her, she loses her virginity and her powers too, infuriating Mr. Big. Solitaire’s real name is Simone Latrelle.

Born in Middlesex, England, Jane Seymour's films include - Young Winston (1972), Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), Somewhere in Time (1980), Lassiter (1984), Head Office (1985) and Wedding Crashers (2005).

Mr. Big: Is this the stupid mother who tailed you uptown?
Bond: There seems to be some mistake. My name is...
Mr. Big: Names is for tombstones, baby! Y'all take this honky out and waste him! NOW!

Yaphet Kotto (1939-) / Dr. Kananga alias Mr. Big

Mr. Big and Dr. Kananga turn out to be the same person. In the book Mr. Big tells Bond that he is the “first of the great Negro criminals.” His henchmen include Tee Hee (Julius Harris) who has a mechanical pincer for an arm and whispering fat man Whisper (Earl Jolly Brown) who isn’t menacing at all.

Born in New York City, Yaphet Kotto's films include - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Across 110th Street (1972), Drum (1976), Raid on Entebbe (1976 as Idi Amin), Alien (1979 as Parker), Brubaker (1980), The Running Man (1987), Midnight Run (1988 as Alonzo Mosely), Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) and The Puppet Masters (1994).

Gloria Hendry (1949-) / Rosie Carver

Inept CIA agent Rosie Carver is secretly working for Kananga and is this movie’s sacrificial lamb.

Born in Winter Haven, Florida, Gloria Hendry's films include - Across 110th Street (1972), Black Caesar (1972), Black Belt Jones (1974) and Doin' Time on Planet Earth (1988).

Geoffrey Holder (1930-) / Baron Samedi

Baron Samedi is described as “The Voodoo god of cemeteries, chief of the legion of the dead, the man who cannot die!”. Bond kills him by throwing him into a coffin full of poisonous snakes. But wait, he turns up alive during the end credits laughing maniacally, giving the film a supernatural edge.

Born in Trinidad, West indies, Geoffrey Holder's films include - Doctor Dolittle (1967), Krakatoa - East of Java (1969), Swashbuckler (1976), Annie (1982) and Boomerang (1992).

David Hedison (1927-) / Felix Leiter

Felix Leiter, Bonds CIA pal, appears for the 5th time in a Bond film. In the novel Live and Let Die, Felix is half eaten by a shark and lives, losing a leg and arm. This plot point was later used in Licence to Kill (1989) when Sanchez ties up Felix and feeds him to his sharks.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, David Hedison's films include - The Enemy Below (1957), The Fly (1958), The Lost World (1960), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Ffolkes (1979) and Licence to Kill (1989 as Felix Leiter). TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968).

J.W. Pepper: (To Bond) What are you? Some kinda doomsday machine boy? Well we got a cage strong enough to hold an animal like you here!

Clifton James (1921-) / Sheriff J.W. Pepper

Redneck sheriff J.W. Pepper, Louisiana State Police would reappear in the next Bond film.

Born in Spokane, Washington, Clifton James films include - The Chase (1966), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The New Centurions (1972), The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), Silver Streak (1976), Superman II (1981), The Untouchables (1987), Eight Men Out (1988), Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) and Lone Star (1996).

The film has few similarities with the novel, there is no Kananga in the book only Mr. Big, who is after pirate treasure and not a heroin smuggler. Mr. Big keelhauls Bond and Solitaire in the book, this bit of action was used in the movie For Your Eyes Only when Kristatos keelhauls Bond and Melina. Mr. Big is eaten by sharks in the novel.

Unusually M and Moneypenny come calling at Bonds abode in this movie, and there is no sign of Q. The only gadgets Bond has at his disposal are a wristwatch M gives him with built in buzzsaw and powerful magnet, and a shark gun with compressed-gas pellets, all of which comes in very useful later on.

This was the first Bond film to use profanity, the word “sh!t” is used to comic effect at one point and J.W. Pepper starts to say “What the fu…” but gets cut off.

One of the best gags in the film is the sign on the gates to the crocodile farm – Warning! Trespassers will be eaten – this was a real sign which was left in the film. The owner of the crocodile farm was Ross Kananga, the main villain was named after him.

The films action highlight is an exciting speedboat chase through the Louisiana bayou, but perhaps the most memorable scene in the film is Bond running across the backs of crocodiles to escape from a small island he was trapped on. The stunt was performed by Ross Kananga, the crocs were tied down but on one of the attempts a croc anticipated the stunt and snapped at Kananga's foot, biting his shoe and tripping him over but he survived to complete the stunt.

The music was composed by Beatles record producer George Martin and the theme song written and sung by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, with his group Wings. One of the most popular of all Bond songs, it reached #2 in the States and #9 in the UK. It was the first song in the series to receive an Oscar nomination.

Live and Let Die was one of the big hits of 1973 and the suave, debonair, unflappable Roger Moore was 007, for another six movies anyway. James Bond will return in… The Man With the Golden Gun.

The Critics Wrote -

"The adventures here are splendidly, outrageously entertaining and highly imaginative. Relax, take it easy and feel confident. The new James Bond will do very nicely, thank you." (Daily Express)

"Roger Moore is a handsome, suave, somewhat phlegmatic James Bond - with a tendency to throw away his throw-away quips as the minor embarrasment that, alas, they usually are." (New York Times)

"Killer sharks, poisonous snakes and man-eating crocodiles fail to deter Bond from his mission... plot lines have descended further to the level of the old Saturday afternoon serial." (Variety)

"From this point, the emphasis began to be towards comedy, an emphasis that benefited Moore, but which radically altered the whole Bond mystique." (Stephen Jay Rubin)

"The movie stumbles along most of the way. It’s hard to remember Moore is playing Bond at times – in fact, if he and Seymour were black, the picture could pass as one of the black exploitation films of the day." (Danny Peary)

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Comments 32 comments

manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

Thanks for the review and I love the top 20 om your profile


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks manthy, much appreciated. I've always had a soft spot for the Roger Moore Bonds and Live and Let Die was one of my favourites.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Great hub on a great movie.....growing up Roger Moore was my Bond....and I have always felt like he gets bashed too much....but the facts are he was able to keep this franchise going for 12 years ....from this movie to A View To A Kill....I am glad to see you give him some respect.

As for your hub....things I learned from this hub..

1. Felix in the book survives a shark attack.

2. The owner of the crocodile farm was Ross Kananga, the main villain was named after him.

3. The first Bond movie to use profanity.

I love all the villians in the movie, and J.W. Pepper is great as well....this movie is one of my favorites in the series....good job Steve.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Cogerson, I grew up with Moore's Bond too. Each actor brought his own flavour to the role and kept the series from getting stale. Roger Moore was very popular as Bond at the time. Of the seven films he did The Spy Who Loved Me was my favourite.

Yep this was the first Bond to use profanity and I should mention Diamonds are Forever was the first Bond to show a flash of nipple, when Bond rips the bra of a young lady in the pre-credit teaser and threatens to strangle her with it (whoa there mister Bond!), another fascinating titbit for all you Bond fans. :)


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

This was my first Bond movie experience and the Louisiana scenes were awesome(where I'm from)...I've seen this movie over 100 times on VHS.;)


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

100 times on VHS? That's impressive acer. Some of the movies I've watched 100 times on VHS are Enter the Dragon, Jaws, The Omega Man and Star Wars and probably Close Encounters too. And all in horrible pan and scan too, it would be a decade later before I got nice widescreen versions of those films. :)

Of the Bond films I've probably seen Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker the most times back in the day.


dilipchandra12 profile image

dilipchandra12 5 years ago from India

Its always Roger Moore the best of all the bonds. Thanks for this hub your illustrated reference is cool.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you dilipchandra, good to see Moore has fans in hubland.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

This was my favorite Roger Moore Bond film. It was the most grounded and least far-fetched of the Moore years. As his tenure as Bond went on, his films tended to be comical and over-the-top. This one was more like a cop film. Although even here, you could see the switch toward comedy coming, due to the presence of Sherrif J. W. Pepper. (Clifton James played a similar comedy Sherrif in "Superman 2".)

Did you know that Roger Moore replaced James Garner in 'Maverick", (1957-61) when Garner (who played Bret Maverick) quit in 1960. Moore came in as cousin Beauregard Maverick in the final season.

Rob


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Roger Moore also played Ivanhoe in a TV series back in the 50's. Busy guy.

Thanks for stopping by Rob.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Did you just add the video? Or was the video always there and I missed it the first time I read the hub? Anyway I appreciate you adding it....listening to it as I type....it makes me want to put the movie in the DVD player. It looks like Moore is getting some hub love....great job.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Cogerson, you missed it the video was there from the beginning. Great song. I've added a video to my Diamonds are Forever hub too. I may add videos to all my hubs, do they have to be relevant to the topic? [wink]


hinton1966 profile image

hinton1966 5 years ago

The best of the Roger Moore Bond movies, Connery is and always will be the man, but Moore had a couple decent Bond flicks, like this one and The Spy Who Loved Me. Great information, nice music, although I did not see it either until reading the other commetns. Keep up the good work, but you can skip Moonraker, a dreadful Bond movie, next and next with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.


hinton1966 profile image

hinton1966 5 years ago

Casino Royale I reference is to the David Niven and Peter Sellers one.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Hinton. I may stop with the videos. I think they are distracting to be frank, if they get noticed at all! :)

Moonraker was my guilty pleasure Bond, watched it countless times on VHS. But I agree it's one of the worst, though I much prefer it to the three following Moore Bonds.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

I am coming to your hub repeatedly just to here the song....don't get rid of it .....at least keep this one....it is not like I want the Guns and Roses's version....lol.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Haha I'll keep this one but you won't be hearing Lulu warbling in the next one.


Sunshinecloudyday  5 years ago

My favorite Moore Bond movie, interesting web page.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Sunshinecloudyday.

I will admit that Live and Let Die is my favourite Jane Seymour movie but it's not my favourite Yaphet Kotto movie. :)


Kananga 5 years ago

Sweet, I love this movie.


RogerFan 5 years ago

You have done Sir Roger proud Steve Lensman. Great writeup on the best Bond in his best Bond movie in my humble opinion.


Pete 5 years ago

I got this via an email. I really like the photos and information on one of the Bond movies, especially the mini reviews. It really takes one back, keep up the good work skipper.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Kananga, RogerFan, Pete thank you for the comments, much appreciated. This is my most viewed Bond hub or page or writeup or review, whatever you want to call it, so far. Where are the Connery fans? :)


delmer47 profile image

delmer47 5 years ago from Nebraska

I am a big James Bond fan, and have seen all of the character's films, and I appreciate the new information that I didn't know about this film. But I have to disagree with everyone-I really didn't like this movie at all. Plus Roger Moore is probably my least favorite of all of the men that have played JB.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for commenting delmer47. I'm assuming you're a Sean Connery fan? I liked all the Bond actors, yes even George Lazenby. But my favourite will always be Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond in Casino Royale. [wink]


delmer47 profile image

delmer47 5 years ago from Nebraska

BIG Sean Connery fan. And I have to admit I found the movie a bit slow moving. I freely admit though that my judgment has probably been affected by the current day action films. I would say that I am an "action junkie" when I watch these types of films.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

I was at my local library yesterday and one of the blu-ray movies they had was Live and Let Die...so I checked it out and watched it last night. Blu-Ray version is awesome, very impressive, after the viewing it still stands in my humble opinion as the Best Roger Moore Bond movie.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England Author

delmer47 mentions the movie being slow moving, I don't agree the film is packed with incident and each scene doesn't outstay it's welcome.

The speedboat chase is still exciting and without the fast cuts seen in today's action movies. There's a speedboat chase in Face Off and its cut so quickly what you're seeing barely registers on the mind.

Quantum of Solace is a fast moving action packed Bond movie but it doesn't have the craftsmanship, the quality of those older movies, IMO.


delmer47 profile image

delmer47 5 years ago from Nebraska

2 thumbs up for Jane Seymour and Gloria Hendry though :-)


LoveBond 5 years ago

Nothing compared to the Connery Bond movies, but Roger Moore got off to a good start with this movie. Too bad the movies got worse rather than better.


Jeffrey 5 years ago

Not sure why so many people are thinking this is a great Bond movie. His Octopussy or The Spy Who Loved Me far outshine this movie.


zipdoo 2 years ago

And as for nipple treats, Jane Seymour gives the briefest of lil flashes at the very end of the movie after Roger dispenses with the hook guy out the train window, I guess that's widescreen 1080 format for you ^^

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