1. CBn Reviews 'Live And Let Die'

    By Devin Zydel on 2005-08-12

    Over the last several months, members of the CBn Forum have been reviewing all the James Bond films in the “Countdown Threads“. If you wish to join in on the forum discussion all you have to do is register. Now here are some select reviews, varying in opinions, of Live And Let Die

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by 00-FAN008

    'Live And Let Die' litho by Jeff Marshall

    ‘Live And Let Die’ litho by Jeff Marshall

    Another big-time favourite of mine starring Roger. I seem to remember that I watched the film several times over in my youth; I guess I enjoyed it that much!

    One of the best things about Live And Let Die, for me, was the villians. Specifically, Tee-Hee and Baron Samedi, who had their own unique and interesting traits; Tee-Hee with his silver claw, and Baron Samedi: “the man who cannot die”. Yaphet Kotto was also an enjoyable villian onscreen as Mr. Big; a very plausible villian. However, I thought his death was very ridiculous to a certain degree.

    Another great thing about Live And Let Die was the 70’s. Bond was a very adaptable character who could blend in well with the times without aging a bit, and I thought it was really cool to see Roger Moore in a 1970’s setting.

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by DLibrasnow

    The initial Bond movie by Roger Moore is a mixed bag in my book. Whereas the supporting villains are excellent, the main villain is underwhelming and his plot (flooding the US with drugs) is rather ho-hum compared to bigger plots like destruction of the world (Moonraker) or the nuclear attack of British cities (For Your Eyes Only).

    Roger Moore also seems to still be finding his way in the part and apart from a few glimmers of what he would eventually deliver the movie and his performance seems to be on remote control.

    Some of the definite highlights include the crocodile farm sequence and the boat chase in the bayous and some of the drawbacks include Sheriff J.W. Pepper and Jane Seymour’s lackluster performance.

    I did like the whole voodoo thing though, I thought that was an interesting element and very unusual for a Bond movie.

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by Freemo

    Meh. Good, but hard to get really excited about. Ever seen two people have a passionate debate regarding the merits of Live And Let Die? No, it’s just “sort of good”. Has a certain flavor to it though, with the voodoo themes and the 70’s style. I guess whether or not you like this film comes down to whether or not you like those things.

    I like Bond tricking Solitarie with the cards, and the crocodile farm, and the title song ofcourse, but apart from that I don’t think the film ever really rises above “middle of the pack”. Good, but not great.

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by Genrewriter

    A great debut for Moore and a stellar cast of villains make this a wonderful 007 outing, but the film is marred slightly by the incredibly bad death of Kananga. Still, the music, action and set design are all top notch with the main title theme standing out from pretty much everything else as the best part of the movie.

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by Qwerty

    Live And Let Die is a good James Bond film on pretty much all merits. It’s just not one that has enough spectacle, or plot, or whatever else, to make it count in my top five for instance. I’m sure it floats around near the #10 borderline often though. With Live And Let Die, we get a very solid performance from Roger Moore as James Bond. It’s his opening film, and it’s very much like Dr. No in a way — opening films for the two best Bond’s (in my opinion), and both are solid flicks for both of them.

    Live And Let Die does have some very good, and very underrated villains in it though. I always look at the villains as being alongside, with the main star in James Bond, to be the most important aspect of the film. The villains provide the mission for Bond (often enough) and need to be a good challenge. I liked Yaphet Kotto’s quiet menace against Moore’s Bond, and Tee Hee proves to be a well used henchman who doesn’t get too comical that he becomes unbelievable. I liked Jane Seymour’s Solitaire as well – nothing brilliant, but a very good Bond girl.

    The locations are fair, Harlem looks…well like some of the tougher parts of New York, it’s expected. The plot in this film, I thought, could have been fleshed out more and perhaps better explained or further crafted in the screenplay, but it is serviceable.

    On the whole, a solid film.

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by Scottlee

    Despite the cool New Olreans jazz band sequence (the short, black guy with the knife still creeps me out), the pre-credits wimps out by not including the new Bond in it, and there are other faults to the film. Gloria Hendry is dreadful, chase sequences are slightly over-used (more so the bus sequence than the boat chase), and baddie’s end hideout looks small and cheap. Oh, and main title track aside, George Martin is not a good ‘scorer’ of films, a statement I make knowing full well the guy shares the exact name of my father. Sorry, dad. Finally, where the hell is Q? Criminal omission.

    Good points? There are a few more than there are bad. Moore gives a credible effort, although he wouldn’t really reach his peak until his third Bond. Jane Seymour is lovely to look at, and her character has a likeable personality. The villains are all great. Kananga is well put across, TeeHee delightful, Baron Samedi just a legend both character wise and in the history of movies full stop. Whisper and Adam are less impressive, but provide decent back-up when needed. It’s also curious to note that 3 of those aforementioned ruffians could be both argued to be dead/not dead come the end of the picture.

    Did I beg the question, though, up until now, of how Bond ‘got away’ from Adam and company at the flying school? He (007) ended up in practically the same place he started in! And whether or not you liked Sheriff Pepper is a matter of opinion and mood. The crocodile sequence is classic Bond, by the way.

    Live And Let Die is a good Bond, but rough around the edges.

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by Skudor

    The best thing here is the gorgeous young Jane Seymour. What really brings it down is the supernatural mumbo jumbo, the tarot card reading etc. What it does have is an edgy, dangerous feel that so many other Bond movies fail to give – but this comes at the expense of including the irritating voodoo. As usual for me, Roger Moore’s Bond isn’t enough to bring up the rating, and the villain played by Yaphet Kotto is very wooden. Tee Hee is a good henchman, and in the Oddjob tradition he is a credible threat to Bond. The fight on the train is good.

    The title song rocks!

    ‘Live And Let Die’ by Turn

    A lot of people look at Live And Let Die as dated and a victim of giving into the blaxploitation wave of the early 1970s. I’m sure there’s some deeper meaning article about what it all means (Zencat may have some angle on this, much like his Goldfinger article). But I just find it a pretty entertaining movie. To borrow something DLibrasnow said in one of his reviews, this is the point where I will start to really show my enthusiasm for the higher-ranking films of the series.

    While pretty far down my list, there’s a lot going on in Live And Let Die to keep involved in. The whole voodoo theme is a natural for a Bond film, and a somewhat sad reminder that we don’t get anything like that anymore. It’s like a SPECTRE watching over the whole film.

    While Moore had yet to hit his stride as Bond, he does well in his debut. I’ve always considered Jane Seymour to be one of the most attractive Bond women, although over the years the Solitare character has really slipped down my list. In some scenes she seems strong, especially those with the cards, but those seem less effective when she turns into a simpering damsel in distress. And we finally get a decent Felix after the disappointing Norman Burton in Diamonds Are Forever. Hedison was a natural and actually gets to take part in the action, although I can’t figure out why he didn’t aid Bond on the island.

    I really like the villainous network in Live And Let Die. Richard Maibaum complained that he would have come up with something better than “cooking up drugs in the jungle” caper. But I don’t think that aspect of it overwhelms Kananga isn’t a great Bond villain, but an interesting one. When he gets angry, such as when he belts Solitare, it’s frightening. Then when he does a 360 and acts all charming at the climax, it’s unsettling because you know he’s losing his mind. Tee Hee is an intersting Jaws/Odd Job variation; Whisper is off-beat; the cab driver is one of those characters we also don’t get to see anymore. He’s not dangerous, but he lends to it; Adam doesn’t get much development, but he’s still dangerous.

    Then we get Baron Samedi, whose presence just looms over the film. The scene in the graveyard as Bond and Solitare escape is one of the series’ finest examples of the bizzare (another thing we don’t get anymore). And the final image of him on the train is second only to the last shot of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as far as endings go. And it’s one of the best images of the series.

    The George Martin score has divided a lot of fans. I love it and feel it’s appropriate for the era. It was one of the first two remastered scores I bought. McCartney’s theme song is my favorite, and the credits are among the most memorable. I also liked the marketing for this one. The poster is one of the best with a ton of imagery (compare it to the Die Another Day poster and see what I mean).

    I enjoy the Tom Mankiewicz script and feel he is one of the more underappreciated members of the creative team. The confrontation scene in Kananga’s office in the Filet of Soul is one of the better scenes of its type in the series. Sheriff Pepper really didn’t bother me although he does make the boat chase seem dragged out. And Q’s absence didn’t hurt it, really.

    One of Live And Let Die‘s faults is it seems like one long chase movie as Bond is pursued by car, motorcycle, helicopter, plane, boat, etc. He just always seems in danger and never has the upper hand. Of course, you could say that about a lot of films, but here I really enjoyed it for the most part. Live And Let Die is a unique film in the Bond series.