Live and Let Die (Guy Hamilton, 1973, UK)

After the misfire of Sean Connery's last (or semi-last) outing as James Bond, Diamonds are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die is a breath of fresh air. Bringing a new actor into the role of James Bond was never going to be easy, as On Her Majesty's Secret Service demonstrated, but Roger Moore is a great fit for the part. Despite being in his later forties at the beginning of his career as Bond, Roger Moore is believable. He was suited to the style of the films in the 1970s, which got progressively goofier as time went on. 

Live and Let Die, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, is unique from the prior Bond films in that it has virtually no gadgets. While the prior Bond films became heavily reliant on gadgets to the point of absurdity, Live and Let Die feels more like a normal crime film. The film was riding on the blaxploitation wave of the early 1970s and features a Harlem and Caribbean setting. Some argue that the Bond films are best when they have villains with plans more outlandish than mere drug-running, but Yaphet Kotto as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big is one of the better Bond villains in the canon.

The film is colorful and generally fun. It does start to drag in the latter half and loses some of the magic as Bond largely becomes a victim of chance. There is not much use of skill here to get out of bad situations. Jane Seymour as Solitaire is one of Bond's more memorable love interests. Also, the film benefits from having one the most memorable, and certainly one of the most popular theme songs in the Bond repertoire - "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings. Overall, Live and Let Die is an auspicious debut for Roger Moore.


7/10

Comments