Of all the James Bond disagreements Jeeg and I have, this is probably the biggest. So, potentially good times ahead in the comments section.
LIVE AND LET DIE
Bond: Roger Moore – 1 tusk
Roger Moore debuts in this one for a seven film duration. Though not typically at the top of anyone’s list of favorite actors to play Bond, he is largely respected for his run with the character. I admire the approach to get away from the Connery-type as to avoid a Lazenby situation, I don’t particularly care for Roger Moore as Bond for the most part. His Bond is much more stiff, uppity and comical than what I like to see in the character. Despite that, I think this was a tough movie to begin with for a variety of reasons. He holds his own in this atypical Bond movie that breaks some ground as far as moving away from the norm a bit.
Girl: Jane Seymour as Solitaire – 0 tusks
Though I want to like Jane Seymour as a Bond girl, I find the character underdeveloped and mostly annoying. Like other Bond girls, she starts out interesting and then once she gets together with Bond, she melts into a whiny, whispy mess.
Gadgets: Magnetic Watch – 1 tusk
The magnetic watch was the big deal here. I actually liked that he tried to use it on the boat and it didn’t work for him because the boat was tied to the tree. Although, I really didn’t like the scene where he uses it to unzip the zipper.
Opening Theme: “Live and Let Die” performed by Paul McCartney and Wings – 2 tusks
Probably the only really great thing about this movie, but it almost seems out of place in the context of the story. But, this stands out as one of the best Bond theme songs ever.
Villain: Yaphet Kotto as Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big – 2 tusks
The first movie of many to get away from the typical “take over the world” mastermind and get the movies down to simpler stories dealing with things like drugs. Yaphet Kotto commands the screen when present. He’s actually an interesting villain despite the movie he’s in.
Henchman: Julius Harris as Tee Hee Johnson – 1 tusks
I have no real particular feelings about him one way or the other. I did enjoy the scene with him and Bond at the alligator farm. And mechanical arms always add a bit of fun to the menace mix.
Pre-title opening sequence – 0 tusks
I would have preferred to return to the mini-adventure concept used in Goldfinger and Thunderball and had the pre-title sequence to give Roger Moore a proper entrance into the franchise. Instead, we see three guys we don’t know and don’t care about get killed. Although, this plays into my idea that this really isn’t a movie starring James Bond, so why focus on that character so early?
Ultimately, this movie is not so much a Bond movie, but a blaxploitation film that features a guest-starring role by Roger Moore as James Bond. And I do mean guest-starring. Bond, as a character, is trumped by Kotto’s character, Solitaire, and even Sheriff Pepper. It seems like Bond isn’t given much to do that’s “cool.” Once he does have a chance to shine, the light is moved and someone steps in and steals his scene. The boat chase near the end, a scene that could have salvaged this movie, is absolutely ruined with the introduction of Sheriff J.W. Pepper.
Speaking of Pepper, what an absolutely annoying character. And I guess that was the point. In a movie where almost every black character on the screen is a villain, there has to be some sort of balance attempted. At least, that’s how the screenwriter explained it in the extra feature. There was probably a better way to solve this problem than the introduction of this character. Like, make more black people not evil.
Quarrel, Jr. and a CIA agent wind up being the only two black characters who aren’t evil in this movie. I found it quite a stretch for there to be such a vast network that no matter where the good guys go, there’s someone there who’s working for Mr. Big. Just got far-fetched.
Finally, I’m not a fan of the introduction of the mystical/supernatural element to Bond. The tarot cards and the Voodoo don’t really mesh well for me, but I suppose they were a part of the original novel. Although, from what I’ve read, they were downplayed and attributed more to feeding on a myth rather than reality. Maybe someone has read the book and can enlighten me.
But hey…props to the producers for using Quarrel, Jr. and not just renaming the character. I liked the nod to Dr. No.