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Live and Let Die (1973)



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Roger Moore's first outing as agent 007 is a bit of a disappointment. He hadn't had a chance to mature into the role, and watching him wearing seventies fashion clothes doesn't help either. Moore's Bond was adapted for the seventies' mentality, enhancing the humorous side of Bond that Diamonds Are Forever had experimented with. In Live and Let Die, the goofy humor isn't painful as it would become as time went on, but the film suffers from other flaws. Jane Seymour, one of the few Bond girls who successfully launched a career from a Bond film, turns in a good enough performance as Solitaire, but the character lacks depth. The other Bond girl, Rosie Carver, is about as annoying squeamish as one can get and manages to knock even Stacey Sutton (from A View To a Kill) from the title of "Most Annoying Bond Girl." The plot is largely uninteresting, and the pre-credits sequence, which is usually a spectacular action-packed "mini-movie" to get things rolling, is about as dull as they come. And, what may be a far larger disappointment, Desmond Llewelyn's 'Q' does not put in an appearance, due to scheduling conflicts with Llewelyn. But, to make up for it in part, is one of the strongest and strangest collections of villains and henchmen Bond would ever face. Yaphet Kotto plays Kananga, a drug smuggler with an imposing, powerful aura about him. The henchmen include Tee Hee, a giant man with a metallic arm, and a mystical voodoo witch doctor who is ominous and...tall. Also noteworthy is the first of two appearances by Clifton James as the redneck sheriff J. W. Pepper. Pepper's merit is greatly debated -- some like him, some don't. I think he's great in this film, but having him return in The Man With the Golden Gun was overdoing it. There are a surprising number of extremely strong, memorable scenes in Live and Let Die for what is ultimately a weak film. One occurs when Bond is restrained and at the mercy of Kananga and Tee Hee, and another involves being on a rock in the middle of a pool of alligators. Sadly, Kananga's demise is embarrassingly ludicrous and immediately triggers the question, "What were they thinking?"

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