Live and Let Die

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It’s out with the old and in with the new—the new James Bond, that is! I’ve never seen any of the Roger Moore-era Bond films, so either I’m going to be pleasantly surprised or wildly disappointed. Whichever way it lands, I’m still going to watch every single damn one of them because that’s what I committed to for this project. SO LET’S DO THIS THING!

We open on the United Nations in New York City! Being a Jersey boy, I like it already. Anyway, all of the delegates look bored as they listen to Hungary blah blah blah in his language. The English translator does his thing, but the line to the UK rep is replaced with…something that makes a bbrrrrrrwwwwaaapp! sound, which makes him keel over.

CUT TO New Orleans, as a funeral procession makes its way down the street and a dude in a blue suit watches from the sides. Oh boy, is this one going to take place in America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave? I sure hope it’s in better locales than the last one! So the dude in the blue suit is stabbed, and he’s thrown into a coffin. Then the music goes up-tempo and everyone’s dancing and I love Popeye’s Chicken! Well this is a bit of fun–minus the murder, of course. Ah hell, even the murder’s kind of fun in this jazzy environment!

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New Orleans: Nothing but fun! (Murder) and Fun!

Then we’re in San Somethingorother, an island in the Caribbean, and a voodoo ceremony has people dancing while a white dude gets the ol’ snakebite to the face, which is accompanied by the orchestral crescendo from “A Day In The Life.” Now THAT’S a cold open!

Speaking of classic songs, the opening credits start and oh boy, it’s Paul McCartney’s kick-ass tune “Live and Let Die,” a song I’ve heard hundreds of times in my life because a) it kicks ass, and b) I love The Beatles more than most other aspects of life on this planet. I’m excited just to hear this song again right now because it’s so good. There’s flames and naked people and guns and a bunch of other crazy crap being displayed during this opening credit sequence, and I turn the volume up on my TV because this song’s so darn good. Oh man! And Yaphet Kotto and Jayne Seymour are in this movie? Neat. I liked Homicide: Life on the Street, and Seymour is fine, as well. Oh boy, the reggae section of the song! I could spend most of this recap just writing about how good this song is, but I won’t, because it’s only like 2% of the running time. But it’s so, so good. And WHAT? George Martin did the score for this film? Awesome.

Anyway, back to the actual movie. We open on a lady sleeping on Roger Moore-as-James Bond’s chest as his room is being buzzed. It’s M, bothering Bond at 5:48 AM(!). Bond lets him in and M says look sharp, new guy, you’ve got some spy shit to do: 3 of our agents have died in the past 24 hours. Bond offers M coffee to keep him out of his room where the gal is, and M reluctantly follows. Bond has a pretty sweet pad in this movie and his own espresso machine because class; stodgy old M is not impressed.

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“I don’t have a sexy lady in there. I mean, espresso?”

However, Bond still has to keep this guy away from his chick, but Moneypenny catches the girl sneaking into the hall closet. Moneypenny gives him some gadgets and background material and such while M gets schooled with Bond’s cool magnet watch. M gets pissed at Bond’s shenanigans, and Moneypenny covers for Bond’s ladyfriend in the closet. Bond thanks her for the help, and Moneypenny winks at Bond’s sassiness. His Italian lover comes out of the closet and embraces him, and Bond uses the magnetic watch to unzip her dress. Smooth.

But enough of that slap-and-tickle: he’s on the next plane to America (Fuck Yeah!) on now-extinct airline Pan Am. Tarot cards are being thrown…somewhere, by somebody, and it seems to be predicting Bond’s adventure, especially the “he brings violence and destruction” part. Outside the airport, Bond finds his secret spy taxi and off he goes. Felix Leiter calls him in the car, and he’s headed for midtown Manhattan. Leiter is 15 years younger, a foot taller, and has a full head of hair as opposed to his last appearance in this series.

A sweet pimpmobile rolls up next to the spy taxi while it’s driving down the RFK Expressway and a brother who looks like he doesn’t take any jive from us honkies is behind the wheel. He shoots Bond’s driver in the head with a dart that comes out of his side mirror and speeds away.

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Guess which car is said “pimpmobile”? Go on, guess!

Bond realizes that something’s wrong as they crash into the side of Liza Minelli’s car. Bond takes the wheel while a dead man’s foot presses on the gas, so this is already ten times better than Swiss Army Man. They’re just tearing through city streets until they crash into the side of a parked van–so a typical NYC driver.

Meanwhile, the CIA is scoping out some fellows (Leiter says, “the usual goon squad,” and I love using the word goon in these recaps so much!). Bond calls Leiter and says some shit’s gone down just east of Chinatown, and I get to hear Felix say “white pimpmobile,” so this is a lot of fun for me.

Meanwhile, a very young and slim Yaphet Kotto shows up on-screen looking dapper, and he’s the head of this group of…I’m not sure yet. He plays the switcheroo game by putting on an audio tape so anyone listening in will just hear him jib-jabbing about policy or something. Jane Seymour is also in this scene, and she is looking rather foxy. Kotto and his men change into their evening pimpwear. Bond investigates a voodoo shop, and he certainly looks out of place in this setting. The dude that killed his driver comes out of the back room, and Bond buys a stuffed snake(?) as cover while he snoops around the back, maybe to find a stuffed rat to go with it. He also spots the white pimpmobile in a parking lot in the back.

Kotto, Seymour, and crew get into a secret elevator that goes right to this parking lot, and Bond ducks for cover. This is a subterranean secret parking lot with its own car elevator, so I bet the monthly rent is crazy pricy. Bond ditches the stuffed snake and gets into a taxi to tail, but he’s also tailed by another guy. He gets a driver with major chops who says hey man, you probably shouldn’t go to Harlem, but Bond’s like I’m not American so your country’s race issues means nothing to me.

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Because if anybody can appreciate Soul food, it’s a white upper-class Brit.

He goes into a restaurant called Fillet of Soul, which probably has excellent food, and once he walks in the place goes silent. Apparently being a white Brit in a black establishment draws a lot of attention in a Soul food restaurant in 1973 Harlem. He goes to buy some information but his booth swings around to a secret room. Three brothers stand there on-guard as Bond starts lightly flirting with Jane Seymour, AKA Solitaire. But she’s into tarot and black guys, so Bond’s smoothness goes nowhere. Then a dude with a fucking metal pincer for a hand crushes his gun. These dudes are pretty badass!

Bond continues to try flirting with Solitaire over tarot cards, but she calls him a fool via the tarot. One of the dirtiest looking people I’ve ever seen comes out of the back room and asks if this is the honky that followed them uptown, and when Bond tries to introduce himself, this guy says, “Names are for tombstones, baby,” which is a pretty badass thing to say to shut someone down immediately. Anyway, they’re going to take Bond out back and kill him. Blofeld these dudes are not!

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Pictured: Harlem, 1973.

He gets dragged outside and says to Solitaire, be right back for us to get down to Bone Town, and he’s going to be shot like a dog in the rubble of Harlem. But he drops a fire escape into his captors’ faces, only to find himself held to yet another gun. But hey! It’s a CIA operative. He chastises Bond for having a “white face in Harlem,” and that’s true. Not very good spy tactics, Bond. Then again, going in blackface would have been a worse option.

Anyway, his new CIA pal says that the main kingpin here is Mr. Big (Kotto’s character). They get into the car, and the lighter is a speaker with Felix Leiter speaking through it, and we get this mind-boggling punnery: “An actual Felix Leiter? Illuminating.” Goddammit, Bond, you did it again!

So Felix gets Bond booked to San Monieque(?) and right away, we see some crazy voodoo show that’s being put on for honky tourists. It’s…bizarre. Bond checks in wearing a very sharp suit, and apparently Mrs. Bond is waiting for him. B-b-but Bond’s not married! Remember, his wife died a few movies ago? Come on, movie, what malarkey are you playing at? I really wish they would stop cutting back to the floor show because it’s making me very uncomfortable.

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“Look, it’s show business, OK? I’m just trying to get a SAG card.”

He gets to his suite and runs a bath, leaving his gun on the bed (thanks for pointing that out to us, movie), and finds a woman’s clothes in his closet. Moore’s Bond is pretty dapper, but not particularly good at the whole spy thing. He scans the room with a device looking for bugs, finds a few, calls room service, and gets himself a bottle of booze with two glasses. His bath’s drawn, but a compartment over it opens and a s-s-s-snake slithers in! He’s shaving in the bath, which is kind of silly to see. Like, you drew a whole bath just to shave? Weirdo.

His champagne arrives, and Bond tips him because class, and that snake is just finding its way around the place. Bond lights a cartoonishly large cigar, spots the snake, and then uses the hairspray bottle and said cigar to make a flame thrower, which cooks that snake’s goose. What?

Anyway, someone slips into the room with a gun, but it’s Rosie Carver, CIA agent, who’s pretending to be Mrs. Bond. She says the dude that delivered the champagne is the murderer from the pimpmobile from the beginning, and Carter says this is only her second mission, which doesn’t inspire confidence in Bond. She has a crisis of confidence, so Bond makes his move on her to get down to Sex Town, but she declines. Then some spooky shit is found in her room, so she runs into his arms. Maybe he set that up because he’s a creep.

At breakfast the next morning, Bond finds a tarot card with his bill and he goes to rent a boat with Carter. He picks the dude snoozing on his deck because I guess he trusts the lazy. While Bond fishes, Carter goes to change and accidentally stumbles across secret spy stuff in his cabin. Just as the captain seems like he’s about to tie up Bond, Carter puts a gun on him. Hey! It’s Quarrel from Dr. No! Bond says wow, you’re a pretty shitty agent, but I’m going to continually objectify you while we’re on this mission so that’s OK.

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Race relations in 1973 were…well, let’s not dwell on the past, shan’t we?

Meanwhile, Solitaire and Mr. Big are in a gigantic crazy house on a hill in this tropical paradise, and Solitaire can actually see the future with her tarot cards. So I guess magic and clairvoyance are on the table as real things in the James Bond universe. Mr. Big ask Solitaire to tell him about the future, and that darn lovers card comes up, signaling that she and Bond are going to be doing the horizontal bop. Also, it’s intimated that Carter is a double-agent for Mr. Big. Moore starts sussing this out with her, and he suggests they cool out for a minute and have lunch.

CUT TO Bond and Carter making out next to a stream and he starts interrogating her about how she’s about to fuck him over and then puts a gun in her face. She gets freaked out by a voodoo statue that she spots, he cocks the gun, and a funky instrumental of the theme song starts playing as she races through the jungle. One of the statues has lenses for eyes and a gun for a mouth and shoots Carter dead.

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“Soooo…do I get my SAG card now?”

Mr. Big’s pissed at Solitaire for not seeing this, and she lies herself out of this sticky fudgsicle. Mr. Big intimates that Solitaire’s mother used to be his psychic until she lost the gift, and warns that he’ll kill Solitaire if she slips, as well. He asks her where Bond is, but she refuses to give him the answer. Then he lays a trip on her about how he’ll take away her power and probably kill her soon. Meanwhile, Bond is goddamn hang gliding off the back of Quarrel’s boat and smoking a cigar because like he gives a shit about any of this. He disengages and sails off to infiltrate Mr. Big’s fortress, kicking a guard off the side of a cliff just for good measure.

After he lands, BOOM! He’s in a smart suit jacket and tie. Then before you know it, he’s flipping around Solitaire’s tarot cards. She walks into the room in a sheer nightgown and tells him to put down those cards. Bond says, hey it’s in the cards that we’re going to be lovers, but she says no way Jose. He has her pick a card, and indeed, it’s the lovers card. Bond starts in with his sexing on her, and she looks very upset at all of this. But what the hell, the cards say it must be so, and they pull the trigger on this thing.

Afterwards, they’re laying in bed and Solitaire’s concerned because she says this happened to her mother and grandmother. Bond seems happy about this, but Solitaire looks really upset. Turns out it’s because she’s lost her psychic powers from fucking Bond. While he tries to get information from her, she’s like hey asshole, I just lost my magical psychic powers because of you. Bond being Bond doesn’t give a shit. He says hey look, I stacked the deck with lovers cards to trick you into sleeping with me, and she looks really upset that he’s not understanding that her goddamn psychic powers are gone forever. So Bond, looking at his watch and thinking this is all a waste of time, starts dressing to leave. But she figures, aw hell I’m probably going to be murdered, so she goes for round two with Bond’s penis.

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Dr. Sexy: Medicine Lady

Later, they wander through the jungle to escape and I just have to say, Jane Seymour looks lovely in this film. Coming across a graveyard, they find that weirdo from the floor show at the resort playing a pipe and he says some creepy shit to them. Then he informs Mr. Big’s people that Bond’s on his way. The score is super-tight (thanks, George Martin!). A helicopter (again with the helicopters…) flies over and fires on them, and they disappear into the forest for cover.

They come across a small village that I’m sure isn’t crawling with Mr. Big’s people, and of course it is, including the local police. I mean, they’re the only two white people on this whole island, so they kind of stand out. Bond just up and steals a double-decker bus and Mr. Big’s people give chase. I’m not going to recap the chase because we’ve all seen chases before in films and besides, this isn’t one of Bond’s cool tricked-out spy cars; it’s just a shitty double-decker bus. Also, writing a play-by-play of action sequences is kind of exhausting.

They get to Quarrel’s boat and zoom off. Mr. Big gets word that his henchmen failed him, and he slams the receiver down. Meanwhile, Bond clarifies that what Mr. Big is doing is smuggling heroin, you silly goose audience. Bond tells Quarrel to contact Felix and make arrangements for a trip to New Orleans. CUT TO New Orleans, where Bond is still traveling with Solitaire instead of placing her in witness protection or something for Mr. Big’s upcoming trial. Wait a second! It’s the same taxi driver that he had with the chops in Harlem, who speaks some jive and locks him in the back. This is certainly a well-organized cabal Mr. Big has going on.

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“They call me Mister Chops!”

Bond’s taken to an airplane where he’s told that he’s going to be skydiving without a parachute, and Solitaire gives him a good fake-out to punch and kick his way out of this situation. He jumps into a plane with a flight student inside and says that he’s her new instructor, and she seems totally fine with this. They drive around the landing strip and carrier while chased by some of the worst drivers ever, who promptly destroy several planes by slamming into them. Is chasing somebody in a taxiing plane really that difficult? Hey! The flight student says, “Holy shit!” which I think is the first instance of a curse word in a Bond film!

She stops the plane, which is now sans wings, and….that scene ends. Leiter’s now on the phone with the flight school, who are rightly pissed about the destroyed plane, while Bond gets a suit tailored for him. This is one of the funnier aspects of Bond I enjoy: how he kind of just doesn’t give a shit about what damage he causes to the world around him and goes on his way in life, sarcastic and blithe as possible. It reminds me a lot of myself.

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Hey! He even looks like me! Am I James Bond? [CUT TO 24 hours later, where I’ve been jailed and charged with dozens of acts of criminal and sexual misconduct] Nope!

Back to the sweet sounds of New Orleans where another funeral procession takes place. Bond really does look good in that suit he just got custom-fit for himself, and I’m enjoying the Dixieland jazz. They go into a dive bar and take in a singer (Shirley Bassey? No, just someone doing a Bassey impression) singing the theme song, which is a neat touch. Wait, so was this song also a big hit in the world of James Bond? But what was the reason for its creation, since they aren’t making James Bond movies in James Bond’s reality. Or are they? (::Gets nosebleed, goes into shock::)

The waiter says Leiter has a phone call, and Bond looks at the singer quizzically as his seat sinks into the floor and the waiters put a new table over it. In the basement, Mr. Big gives him the business while Solitaire reads her tarot. He asks if Bond went down to sex town with Solitaire, but Bond says he ain’t saying shit until he sees Kanaga (who was Yaphet Kotto, but this is now the dirtiest guy in the world from the beginning, so what gives?). Turns out he’s wearing a mask, and Kotto is both Kanaga and Mr. Big. You know, these spy movies are already confusing, so come on movie, let’s not have a guy in prosthetics playing two characters, as well. Jeez o peez.

So Mr. Big has two tons of heroin that he’s deciding to nationally distribute for free so he can hook everyone on the stuff, drive out the competition, and then raise the price. With his plan now laid out, he asks Bond again: you two doing it on the regs, or what? Bond refuses to answer, so he has his hook hand friend play the game Cut Off His Fingers. He says that Solitaire better start giving the right answers fast, or with the first wrong answer, it’s Bond’s pinky cut off by Claw Hand, and the second wrong answer…well, it’s not gonna be his pinky, I’ll tell you that much.

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“I’m going to kill you! But we have fun, don’t we?”

She has to answer details off of Bond’s watch correctly. First answer: correct. Aaaannnd….that’s that. He lets Bond free, but Claw Hand clubs him out of consciousness. Then the damn assassin from the pimpmobile carries out Bond while that freaky-deaky voodoo man enters the room. This guy’s organization’s travel budget must be insane! Mr. Big reveals that he knows Solitaire was lying, so he hits her in the fucking face really hard. Again: awful, but at the same time, at least it’s a villain doing this in a Bond movie and not our ostensible hero.

Bond’s driven to a crocodile farm where he’s on the lunch menu. This is all a front for the heroin processing, and Bond is conscious and walking towards his imminent death. Claw Man shows him around the joint and draws the attention of the crocodiles and alligators with some chicken parts. Bond’s made to walk the plank, so to speak, and he’s left to die on an island in the middle of the lake.

So Bond movie, is this going to be a well-done escape sequence, or a shitty one?  It’s usually a 50/50 proposal. But wait! He uses his magnet watch to pull a metal canoe his way. But darnit, it’s tied to a tree! Aaand here come the alligators! Bond throws a piece of chicken at one, but there ain’t enough chicken on that island to slake their thirst for your blood, Bond! So what does he do? He pulls a Pitfall! and runs on a bunch of alligators’ backs to safety. Oh, James Bond escape sequences, never stop being completely fucking ridiculous. Bond opens the alligator pen and lets them loose, using chicken parts as bait, then sets the whole heroin processing center ablaze. The heroin scientists flee this scene and Bond jumps on a boat and speeds away.

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Real Talk: Those are actual crocodiles, and that’s the real-life owner of this croc farm running across their backs, because The Past didn’t give a shit about anything.

One of Mr. Big’s dude sends out an APB to his network of bijou goons to go after Bond, promising I don’t know money or something to the man who catches him. So we have a pretty cool powerboat chase sequence in the Louisiana bijou. I don’t know why Bond movies are always choosing the crummier-looking parts of America to set their stories in when they cross the pond. Maybe it’s subtle British revenge for the Revolutionary War.

Meanwhile, a Beuford T. Justice-type sees one of the Mr. Big associates speeding and there’s a racist little bit of the horrible American past here, with a white sheriff calling him “boy” and everything. But Bond fucking leaps over this bit of racism and one of the guys chasing him destroys Sheriff Pepper’s car with his boat, leaving him to pound fucking sand. But Sheriff Pepper just commandeers another cop car to continue his racist persecution. Bond’s boat starts having problems, so he ducks onto another old racist white family’s property and steals their boat. I’m sure there’s a bunch of subtle jabs at American racism going on here, but again: it’s pretty sweet watching a high-speed power boat chase, so I don’t really care.

I guess Sheriff Pepper’s going to be a character in this movie now, since he’s in on the chase and calls these guys “Black Russians,” which, what? Anyway, the cops have built a blockade at a bridge, but Bond just plows right through that shit. I’m starting to wonder if Smokey and the Bandit actually based the Beuford T. Justice character off Sheriff Pepper here. He’s a real fucking hick.

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Pictured: Fucking Hick.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s brother-in-law gets it in the back of the head from Mr. Big’s associate, who steals his super-fast boat to go after Bond. Sheriff Pepper nearly shits himself when he sees his brother-in-law’s boat speeding past and he guffaws and goons away, barely able to keep his goddamn tongue in his mouth at this point.

So it’s Bond and Mr. Big’s associate whose name I never caught speeding down the bijou. They pass a hillbilly wedding and just plow through it, wrecking the reception area because fuck those people. Man, Sheriff Pepper is a foaming-at-the-mouth hillbilly that repulses me. The British must think we’re animals over here.

Bond keeps leaping across roadways to get to separate waterways, which is a cool visual, and Sheriff Pepper, the fat gross slob, squeezes his way out of an upside-down police vehicle. Just like Beuford T. Justice! The waterway chase continues, and Bond plays cat-and-mouse in a lagoon with the Bad Guy. Seems like he’s mixing a cocktail—of death! Then the badass score kicks in, and Bond flings some turpentine in the Bad Guy’s face, slams him into a disused fishing boat, and kablammo! No more Bad Guy.

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“Saaaaay….my drink is running low.”

Bond just kind of cruises to port, where Felix and all of the hick cops are waiting for him. He lets Bond know that Kanaga/Mr. Big has Solitaire, while Sheriff Pepper slops his way over to Bond, asking if he’s “some kind of doomsday machine, boy?” which, yes, of course he is you stupid fat hick. Bond’s like, come now old bean, I’m only trying to help. The captain pulls this fucking moron over and lets him know that Bond’s a secret agent. But Sheriff Pepper’s dumber than a bag of hammers and twice as ugly.

So it’s Bond going back to San Montinegro, where we’re going to have a crazy voodoo finale. I don’t know if this is racist or what, since I know nothing about Caribbean or voodoo culture, but it certainly feels racist. Meanwhile, it’s Bond and Quarrel doing more nighttime Dr. No spying together, so that’s fun. Bond goes up to kill some native people, and the voodoo ceremony continues.

Looks like Solitaire is going to be sacrificed to their voodoo god, and a coffin is carried in. Meanwhile, it’s the freak show from the floorshow who opens the coffin, pulling out a snake for this wild religious ceremony. I’ll say this: these folks look like they’re having fun in their religion. In my church, we just sing hymns and you just got a tiny sip of wine during communion. If they threw snakes and human sacrifice into the mix, I’d bet (although forbidden by Scripture) that attendance would go up.

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Look, I’m just saying that the Lutheran church could use some spicing up. Instead of a Christmas pageant, how about we try this instead?

Just when Solitaire is going to be bit by the snake, everything stops, and more voodoo ceremony goes on that is indecipherable to me. They lay a hat in front of a grave, and everyone stops to witness what’s about to happen. And what happens? Some freaky dude (the dude form the floor show? The movie makes it very difficult to follow what’s happening) rises vertically out of the ground. Bond apparently feels the same way, because he just says fuck this and starts shooting.

He blows the dude that came out of the ground’s head off, and then the rest of his body, and then shoots more people, and I think he just wants to go back to London at this point. Then the dynamite that he laid in the poppy fields goes off, destroying the evil heroin. But oh crap! That zombie dude comes out of the grave again. He laughs at Bond and then picks up a machete.

Oooh, machete fight! You don’t see one of these often. Still, Bond easily punches this guy into the snake coffin, which kills(?) him. Then he uses the signal to go down into the grave, where a bunch of red-shirted goons are. An alarm is sound and he and Solitaire beat feet through the caverns. But oh shit, they just show up in Mr. Big’s underground lair.

Bond takes a drink because, oh fuck it why not, and Mr. Big lets him know that he hasn’t really been too much of a disruption, really. Mr. Big finds the gun that Bond has on him really neat, so he tests it out on the pimpmobile assassin from earlier. It inflates and explodes the couch he’s sitting on, and Mr. Big seems weirdly anxious about all of this.

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Maybe he’s nervous but excited, like when you graduated college or first trampled the world for your sole gain. Like butterflies in the stomach that have automatic weapons.

There’s an underground monorail, which Bond figures out is how he gets the heroin around. He ties Bond and Solitaire to a lowering wench, and says that he’s gonna cut him up good with this big knife. He starts slicing Bond’s arm up, which is awful and sadistic, then starts lowering him into the lagoon, but Bond uses his magnetic watch to zip one of those crazy gas-filled bullets to him. His blood drops a bit into the water, which attracts sharks(!) from a nearby pen. Why is it always helicopters and sharks in Bond films?

Anyway, Bond mouths the gas bullet and his watch is also a little buzzsaw that he uses to cut through his ropes. He gets Solitaire free, kicks pimpmobile assassin into something, and is now down to a knifefight with Mr. Big. They both fall into the shark-infested waters, and Bond shoves the gas bullet into Mr. Big’s mouth. And then—I am not even joking—the gas bullet goes off and inflates Mr. Big into a balloon, who then  sails up to the ceiling and explodes! What the actual fuck, movie? That’s ri-goddamn-diculous, even for a Bond film!

So Bond leaps up, lowers Solitaire to safety, and he’s the fucking hero, as usual. They hop into the underground monorail, and CUT TO Bond and Solitaire hopping on a train, where they’re gonna do it for the next 16 hours straight.

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“You’re going to have sex with her and then kill her, aren’t you?” “Yes. No. Well, yes.”

But first, he teaches her gin rummy if she’s going to be a proper British lady, but she fucking schools him immediately in that game. He pulls the bed down and says he’s going to test an old adage: unlucky at cards…But Claw Man is on the train! As Bond and Solitaire get ready to have sexy times, Claw Man short-circuits the electrical system and breaks into their room. As Claw Man is about to chop off her fingers, James enters the room form the bathroom, throws the deck of cards in his face, and they have a good old-fashioned close-quarters fight. Why the fuck would this guy give a shit at this point? Wouldn’t he just move on to his next henchman job? Anyway, they tussle and bustle with each other, and Claw Man looks like he’s about to ice Bond with that damn claw hand, but Bond snips the wires on Claw Man’s stupid claw and punches him in the kidneys. Claw Man’s trapped with his claw clamped on a metal bar, so Bond just tosses him out the window. Then he and Solitaire get to getting.

The movie ends with that freak voodoo guy sitting on the front of the train, laughing right in the audience’s faces. Then Paul McCartney’s awesome song starts playing, and I’m fucking spent.

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Just an immortal being laughing in the face of your own mortality, nothing to see here…

Stray Notes

  • I think this movie featured more Felix Leiter than any other Bond film before. I always like seeing Leiter show up: he’s Bond’s American counterpart, and hey, I’m an American too!
  • Claw Man’s actual character name is Tee-Hee. I’m going to stick with Claw Man because that’s a stupid name for such a rad villain.
  • I just really love the theme song, OK? It kicks ass. I wish they had more 70’s rock bands do Bond themes: how great would a Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin James Bond song have been?
  • Seriously: Sheriff Pepper is perhaps the most over-the-top, ridiculous, and awful Southern Sheriff stereotype I’ve ever seen committed to film. Leave it to the British to depict the worst parts of our country with the most satirical bite.

Conclusions

Thank you, James Bond franchise, for making this film. I almost lost faith in you after the last two movies, which were stink-a-roo. A new actor portraying Bond injected some much-needed energy into the franchise, which was starting to look tired by Diamonds Are Forever. Roger Moore’s Bond is a class act that treats the women around him with (a modicum of) respect, which is far better than Connery’s callous “slap ‘em, fuck ‘em, then leave ‘em to die” Bond.

Most importantly, this was a fun movie to watch: there was a lot of crazy crap in this film, including voodoo, a crocodile farm, and a powerboat chase, but it all somehow worked. It wasn’t quite over-the-top, but teetering on the edge of being so. I suspect that the film series will get even more cartoonish during Moore’s era (and people have warned me of such), but I love it when things get campy and crazy. Especially in escapist fare like James Bond, the crazier and less connected to reality, the better. I mean, come on, this movie actually allows for voodoo and magic to be realities in the James Bond universe! That’s fucking nuts.

I just have to gush a little more about the music: George “Producer of The Beatles” Martin’s score was fantastic from start to finish. The instrumental cues that were take-offs of McCartney’s theme were enjoyable, and I didn’t even miss the “James Bond Theme.” Even though John Barry was the king of Bond music scores, George Martin did the same excellent, professional, and polished job that contributed so heavily to The Beatles’ studio success.

I’ll give this entry kudos for employing a largely black cast, which was probably unexpected to viewers of a James Bond film in 1973. While this movie has been cited as being racist, I didn’t really see it that way: It’s Hollywood voodoo in the Caribbean scenes, which is no more outrageous than any other depiction of voodoo in film, and as for the Harlem-centered, jive-talking characters? Well, black people that lived in Harlem in the early 1970’s spoke jive. It’s kind of just part of Black American cultural history. Get over it.

While not as exotic and eye-popping as You Only Live Twice, or as spy-centered as From Russia with Love, Live and Let Die is a solid return to form for the Bond franchise and an entertaining action film in its on right. This was a strong debut for Roger Moore as James Bond, and I’m looking forward to watching the next movie.

Rating

With thrills, spills, and kills, Live and Let Die is as classic a Bond film as any in the series so far. Roger Moore is a particularly classy Bond, and while the craziness of the series starts to ramp up here, it’s a fun bit of escapist action. Three and a half out of four Bonds.

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Categories: action, film, humor, James Bond

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

Trackbacks

  1. Breaking the Bonds: Conclusion – Breaking the Bonds
  2. Breaking the Bonds 2: Franchise Conclusion – Gray Matter

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