Live and Let Die (film): Wikis


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Live and Let Die

Live and Let Die film poster
James Bond Roger Moore
Also starring Yaphet Kotto
Jane Seymour
David Hedison
and Bernard Lee as M
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Produced by Harry Saltzman
Albert R. Broccoli
Novel/Story by Ian Fleming
Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz
Cinematography Ted Moore
Music by George Martin
Main theme Live and Let Die
   Composer Paul McCartney
Linda McCartney
   Performer Paul McCartney &
Editing by Bert Bates
Raymond Poulton
John Shirley
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) 27 June 1973
5 July 1973
UK (premiere)
Running time 121 min.
Budget $7,000,000
Worldwide gross $126,400,000
Preceded by Diamonds Are Forever
Followed by The Man with the Golden Gun

Live and Let Die (1973) is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Although the producers had wanted Sean Connery to return after his role in the previous Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, he declined, sparking a search for a new actor to play James Bond. Roger Moore was signed for the lead role.

The film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. In the film, a Harlem drug lord known as Mr. Big plans to distribute two tons of heroin free so as to put rival drug barons out of business. Mr. Big, however, is revealed to be the disguised alter ego of Dr. Kananga, a corrupt Caribbean dictator, who rules San Monique, the fictional island where the heroin poppies are secretly farmed. Bond is investigating the death of three British agents, leading him to Kananga, where he is soon trapped in a world of gangsters and voodoo as he fights to put a stop to the drug baron's scheme.

Live and Let Die was released during the height of the blaxploitation era, and many blaxploitation archetypes and cliché are depicted such as afro hairstyles, derogatory racial epithets ("honky"), black gangsters, and "pimpmobiles".[1] It departs from the former plots of the James Bond films about megalomaniac super-villains, and instead focuses on drug trafficking, depicted primarily in blaxploitation films. It was considered by fans as an "Exploitation Bond film" in contrast to the other films. Moreover, it is set in African American cultural centres such as Harlem, New Orleans, and the Caribbean Islands. It was also the first James Bond film featuring an African American Bond girl to be romantically involved with 007, Rosie Carver, who was played by Gloria Hendry. Despite mixed reviews due to the racial overtones, the film was a box office success.



Three British MI6 agents, including one "on loan" to the American government, are killed under mysterious circumstances within 24 hours while monitoring the operations of Dr. Kananga, the dictator of a small Caribbean island called San Monique. James Bond is sent to New York, where the first agent was killed and where Kananga is currently visiting the UN, to investigate. As soon as Bond arrives in New York, his driver is killed while taking him to meet Felix Leiter of the CIA and Bond is nearly killed in the ensuing car crash.

Glastron speedboats in the Louisiana boat chase.

The driver's killer leads Bond to Mr. Big, a gangster who runs a chain of Fillet of Soul restaurants throughout the United States. It is during his confrontation with Mr. Big that Bond first meets Solitaire, a beautiful virgin tarot expert who has the uncanny ability to see both the future and remote events in the present. In disguise as Mr. Big, Kananga demands that his henchman kill Bond, who manages to escape unscathed. Bond follows Kananga back to San Monique, where he subsequently meets Rosie Carver, a CIA double agent, who is subsequently murdered on the island by Kanaga's scarecrow men after Bond suspects her of working for Kananga. Later he meets the boatman Quarrel, Jr. who takes him to Solitaire's home. Using a stacked tarot deck of only cards showing "The Lovers", Bond tricks her into thinking that seduction is in her future and then seduces her. Solitaire loses her ability to foretell the future when she loses her virginity to Bond and is forced into cooperating with Bond to bring down Kananga.

It transpires that Kananga is producing two tons of heroin and is protecting the poppy fields by exploiting locals' fear of voodoo and the occult. Through his alter ego, Mr. Big, Kananga plans to distribute the heroin free of charge at his Fillet of Soul restaurants, which will increase the number of addicts. Kananga also believes that other drug dealers, namely the Mafia, cannot compete with his giveaway, to which Kananga can later charge high prices for the heroin after he has simultaneously cultivated huge drug dependency and bankrupted his competitors. Kananga's men capture Bond and Solitaire at the New Orleans airport. Bond does not identify Mr. Big, as the latter is wearing a plastic gangster mask. Kananga rips off his mask and asks a disgusted Bond if he slept with Solitaire, using Bond to test her abilities. Kananga turns Solitaire over to Baron Samedi to be sacrificed after he discovers that her ability to read tarot cards is gone. Kananga leaves Bond with his one-armed henchman, Tee Hee Johnson, who takes Bond to a crocodile farm community in the Louisiana backwoods. Bond escapes being eaten by the crocodiles by running along the animals' backs to safety. He sets the farm on fire and steals a speedboat, engaging in a chase with Kananga's men, local sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) and the Louisiana state police. Later, back in San Monique, Bond throws Samedi into a coffin of snakes and rescues Solitaire from the voodoo sacrifice. Bond and Solitaire escape below ground into Kananga's lair. Kananga captures them both and proceeds to lower them into a shark tank. Bond escapes and forces a shark gun pellet in Kananga's mouth, causing him to literally blow up like a balloon, float to the top of the cave, and explode. After the job is done, Felix leaves Bond and Solitaire on a train out of the country.

Tee Hee Johnson follows Bond and Solitaire onto a train and tries to kill them both, but loses his prosthetic arm in a fight with Bond and is flung out the window. A very much alive Samedi is seen perched on the front of the speeding train in which Bond and Solitaire are travelling, laughing in his voodoo outfit, before the film ends.


Promotional image of the cast of Live and Let Die. From left: Tee Hee Johnson, Solitaire, Baron Samedi, James Bond, Dr. Kananga and Whisper.


While filming Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die was chosen as the next Ian Fleming novel to be adapted because screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz thought it would be daring to use black villains, as the Black Panthers and other racial movements were active at this time.[3] Guy Hamilton was again chosen to direct, and since he was a jazz fan, decided to film in New Orleans. Hamilton didn't want to use Mardi Gras since Thunderball featured Junkanoo, a similar festivity, so, following suggestions of a friend and searching for locations in helicopters, he decided to use two well-known features of the city, the jazz funerals and the canals.[3][4]

While searching for locations in Jamaica, the crew discovered a crocodile farm owned by Ross Kananga, after passing a sign warning that "trespassers will be eaten." The farm was put into the script and also inspired Mankiewicz to name the film's villain after Kananga.[3]


Broccoli and Saltzman tried to convince Sean Connery to return as 007, but he declined.[3] Among the actors to test for the part of Bond were Julian Glover, John Gavin, Jeremy Brett, Simon Oates, John Ronane, and Michael McStay. The main frontrunner for the role was Michael Billington. United Artists wanted an American to play Bond; Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were all considered. Producer Albert R. Broccoli, however, insisted that the part should be played by a Briton and put forward Roger Moore. After Moore was chosen, Billington remained on the top of the list in the event that Moore would decline to come back for the next film. Billington ultimately played a brief villainous role in the pre-credit sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Moore, who had been considered by the producers before both Dr. No and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, was ultimately cast.[4] He tried not to imitate either Sean Connery or his performance as Simon Templar in The Saint, and Mankiewicz fitted the screenplay into Moore's persona by giving more comedy scenes and a light-hearted approach to Bond.[3]

Mankiewicz had thought of turning Solitaire into a black woman, with Diana Ross as his primary choice.[1] However, Broccoli and Saltzman decided to stick to Fleming's Caucasian description, and Jane Seymour, who was in the TV series The Onedin Line, was cast for the role.[3] Yaphet Kotto was cast while doing another movie for United Artists, Across 110th Street.[3]

Live and Let Die is the first of two films featuring Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper portrayed by Clifton James, who appeared again in The Man with the Golden Gun. It is also the first of two films featuring David Hedison as Felix Leiter, who reprised the role in Licence to Kill, despite it being a tradition to cast a different actor for each film Leiter appeared in. Hedison had said "I was sure that would be my first and last",[5] before being cast again.

Madeline Smith, who played Miss Caruso, sharing Bond's bed in the film's opening, was recommended for the part by Roger Moore after he had appeared with her on TV. Smith said that Moore was extremely polite to work with, but she felt very uncomfortable being clad in only blue bikini panties while Moore's wife was on set overseeing the scene.

This was the only Bond film until 2002 not to feature 'Q', played at this stage by Desmond Llewellyn. Llewellyn was currently appearing in the TV series Follyfoot, but was written out of three episodes to appear in the film. The producers however had already decided not to include the character, much to Llewellyn's annoyance.[6]


Production began in 1972, with filming in Pinewood Studios, along with location shooting in New York City, New Orleans, Louisiana and Jamaica doubling for the fictional San Monique.[7] The producers were reportedly required to pay protection money to a local Harlem gang to ensure the crew's safety. When the cash ran out, they were "encouraged" to leave.[8]

Ross Kananga suggested the jump on crocodiles, and was enlisted by the producers to do the stunt.[1] The scene took five takes to be completed, including one in which the last crocodile snapped at Kananga's heel, tearing his trousers.[3] The production also had trouble with snakes. The script supervisor was so afraid that she refused to be on set with them; an actor fainted while filming a scene where he is killed by a snake; Jane Seymour became terrified as a reptile got closer, and Geoffrey Holder only agreed to fall into the snake-filled casket because Princess Alexandra was visiting the set.[3]

The boat chase was filmed on the Louisiana bayou, with some interruption caused by flooding.[4] 26 boats were built by the Glastron boat company for the film. Seventeen were destroyed during rehearsals.[9] The speedboat jump scene over the bayou, filmed with the assistance of a specially-constructed ramp, unintentionally set a Guinness World Record at the time with 110 feet (34 m) cleared. Unfortunately, the waves created by the impact caused the following boat to flip over.[3]

The chase involving the double-decker bus was filmed with a second-hand London bus adapted by having a top section removed and then replaced so that it ran on ball bearings and so would slide off on impact.[1]


Dejan's Olympia Brass Band.

Taking a temporary hiatus from scoring Bond films, John Barry was replaced by George Martin for the film.

For the theme song, Martin teamed with former Beatle Paul McCartney, who had previously been considered for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. This was the first time the pair had worked together since Abbey Road in 1969. The theme was written by Paul and his wife Linda McCartney and performed by Paul and his group, Wings. The tune, the first true rock and roll song used to open a Bond film, was a major success in the U.S. (#2 for three weeks) and the UK (#9), McCartney's best showings in over a year.

"Live and Let Die" remains arguably one of the most well-known piece of Bond-related music other than the series theme. For many years the song was a highlight of McCartney's live shows, complete with fireworks and lasers, and in 2005, it was performed live by McCartney during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX. In 1991 the song was covered by the American rock band Guns N' Roses.

The Olympia Brass Band has a notable part in "Live and Let Die", where they lead a funeral march for an assassination victim. Trumpeter Alvin Alcorn plays the killer. The piece of music the band plays at the beginning of the funeral march is "Just a Closer Walk with Thee".

Release and reception

The world premiere of the film was at Odeon Leicester Square in London on 6 July 1973, followed by a general release in the United Kingdom on 12 July 1973. It was released earlier however, in the United States, on 27 June 1973.[10] From a budget estimated to be around $7 million, the film grossed $126.4 million worldwide including $35.4 million from the United States.[11]

The film holds the record for the most viewed broadcast film on television in the United Kingdom by attracting 23.5 million viewers when premiered on ITV on 20 January 1980.[12]

Despite poor reaction to the racial overtones, reviews were mostly positive, with praise to the action scenes,[13][14] and Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 63% "fresh" rating, although this covers ratings from various reviewers since 2000, which gives a more modern perception of the film.[15] Universal Exports gave the film a 004 out of a 007.

Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times stated that Moore "has the superficial attributes for the job: The urbanity, the quizzically raised eyebrow, the calm under fire and in bed". However, he felt that Moore wasn't satisfactory in living up to the legacy left by Sean Connery in the preceding films. He rated the villains "a little banal", adding that the film "doesn't have a Bond villain worthy of the Goldfingers, Dr. Nos and Oddjobs of the past."[16] Chris Nashawaty similarly argues that Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big is the worst villain of the Roger Moore James Bond films.[17] BBC Films reviewer William Mager praised the use of locations, but said that the plot was "convoluted". He stated that "Connery and Lazenby had an air of concealed thuggishness, clenched fists at the ready, but in Moore's case a sardonic quip and a raised eyebrow are his deadliest weapons"[18] Reviewer Leonard Maltin rated the film two and a half stars out of four, describing it as a "barely memorable, overlong James Bond movie" that "seems merely an excuse to film wild chase sequences".[19] Danny Peary noted that Jane Seymour portrays “one of the Bond series’s most beautiful heroines” but had little praise for Moore, whom he described as making “an unimpressive debut as James Bond in Tom Mankiewicz’s unimaginative adaptation of Ian Fleming’s second novel…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. There are few interesting action sequences – a motorboat chase is trite enough to begin with, but the filmmakers make it worse by throwing in some stupid Louisiana cops, including pot-bellied Sheriff Pepper.”[20]

IGN ranked Solitaire as 10th in a Top 10 Bond Babes list.[21] In November 2006, Entertainment Weekly listed Live and Let Die as the third best Bond film.[22] MSN chose it as the thirteenth best Bond film[14] and IGN listed it as twelfth best.[13]

Year Result Award Recipients
1974 Nominated Academy Award for Best Original Song Paul & Linda McCartney
1974 Nominated Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture Paul & Linda McCartney
1975 Won Evening Standard Best Picture Guy Hamilton


  1. ^ a b c d (2006) Album notes for Live and Let Die Ultimate Edition DVD.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j (NTSC, Widescreen, Closed-captioned) Inside Live and Let Die: Live and Let Die Ultimate Edition, Disc 2. [DVD]. MGM/UA Home Video. 2000. ASIN: B000LY209E. 
  4. ^ a b c (NTSC, Widescreen, Closed-captioned) Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary - Live and Let Die Ultimate Edition, Disc 2. [DVD]. MGM/UA Home Video. 1973. ASIN: B000LY209E. 
  5. ^ James Bond 007 :: MI6 - The Home Of James Bond
  6. ^ Desmond Llewellyn's final interview with reference to Live and Let Die and Follyfoot
  7. ^ "Live and Let Die - Location Guide". Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  8. ^ Roger Moore. Live and Let Die Audio commentary 1. Live and Let Die, Ultimate Edition, disc 1. 
  9. ^ The Seattle Times: Outdoors: Big, gaudy and Bond-like, Seattle Boat Show exhibit cuts to the chase
  10. ^ "Live and Let Die - The Premiere & Press". Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  11. ^ "Live and Let Die". The Numbers. Nash Information Service. Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  12. ^ "TV's jewels fail to shine in list of all-time winners". Electronic Telegraph. 1998-02-07. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  13. ^ a b "James Bond's Top 20". IGN. 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  14. ^ a b Norman Wilner. "Rating the Spy Game". MSN.;wap2. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  15. ^ "Live and Let Die (1973)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  16. ^ "Live and Let Die". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  17. ^ Chris Nashawaty, "Moore...And Sometimes Less: A look at the most--and least--memorable bad guys, babes, and Bonds in Roger Moore's 007 oeuvre," Entertainment Weekly 1025 (December 12, 2008): 37.
  18. ^ "Live and Let Die (1973)". BBC. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  19. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2005). Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide. New American Library. 
  20. ^ Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986) p.244
  21. ^ IGN: Top 10 Bond Babes
  22. ^ Benjamin Svetkey and Joshua Rich (2006-11-15). "Ranking the Bond Films". Entertainment Weekly.,,1560072_20,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 

External links

Preceded by
Diamonds Are Forever
James Bond Films
Succeeded by
The Man with the Golden Gun


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Live and Let Die is a 1973 film about James Bond's 007 attempt to stop a diabolically brilliant heroin magnate armed with a complex organization and a reliable psychic tarot card reader.

Directed by [[w:Guy Hamilton. Written by Tom Mankiewicz, based on the novel by Ian Fleming.
Roger Moo7re is James Bond taglines


Mr. Big

  • Tee-Hee, on the first wrong answer from Miss Solitaire, you will snip the little finger of Mr. Bond's right hand. Starting with the second wrong answer, you will proceed to the more... vital... areas

Sheriff J.W. Pepper

  • [after stopping a man for speeding] You gotta set of wheels that just won't quit, boy! If they's yours that is...[the man reaches for his gun but Sheriff Pepper draws his first] UH-UH! Spin around boy! Ten fingers on the fender. Legs apart. I take it this ain't exactly your debut at this sort of thing. You picked the WRONG parish to haul ass through BOY! NOBODY cuts and runs on Sheriff J.W. PEPPER! And it's him who's speakin' by the by.


Sheriff J.W. Pepper: [to Bond] There's that son of a bitch. I got him. [to Felix] What are you? Some kinda doomsday machine boy? Well WE got a cage strong enough to hold an animal like you here!
Felix Leiter: Captain, would you enlighten the Sheriff please?
State Trooper: Yessir. J.W., let me have a word with ya. J.W., now this fellow's from London England. He's a Englishman workin' in cooperation with our boys, a sorta... secret agent.
Sheriff J.W. Pepper: Secret AGENT? On WHOSE side?

Cab driver: You know where you're going?
James Bond: Uptown, I believe?
Cab driver: Uptown? You headed into Harlem, man!
James Bond: Well you just stay on the tail of that jukebox and there's an extra twenty in it for you.
Cab driver: Hey man, for twenty bucks I'd take you to a Ku Klux Klan cookout!

Mr. Big: [to his men] Is this the stupid mother who tailed you uptown?
James Bond: There seems to be some mistake. My name is...
Mr. Big: Names is for tombstones, baby! Y'all take this honkey out and WASTE HIM! NOW!

James Bond: I'm not in the habit of giving answers to... lackeys.
Mr. Big: You damn lucky you got an ear left to hear the question with!

Tee-Hee: There are two ways to disable an croc, you know.
James Bond: I don't suppose you'd care to tell me what they are.
Tee-Hee: One way is to take a pencil and stick it in the pressure area above its eye.
James Bond: And the other way?
Tee-Hee: Oh, the other way is twice as simple. You just stick your hand in its mouth and pull its teeth out. Heh, heh.

[Bond has just explained the first two Lover's Lessons to Solitaire]
Solitaire: Is there time before we leave, for Lesson number 3?
James Bond: [undressing] Of course. There's no sense going out half-cocked.

State Trooper: That look like a boat stuck in the Sheriff's car there, Eddie?
Eddie: Boy, where you been all your life? That there's one of them new car-boats.
Sheriff J.W. Pepper: By the powers invested in me by this parish, I hereby do commandeer this vehicle and all those persons within. [spits and looks at Eddie] And that means you, smartass.

Rosie Carver: There's a...
James Bond: Oh, a snake. I forgot, I should have told you. You should never go in there without a mongoose.


  • Roger Moo7re is James Bond
  • More Action. More Excitement. More Adventure.


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