Live and Let Die Movie Review
Bond Over Easy, Cool But Dumb
Author: Bill Slocum (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Greenwich, CT United States
Was Roger Moore channeling Austin Powers in 1973? There's a scene in this, his first go-round as 007, where Bond is tied up and his arm is cut to draw blood and attract some hungry sharks swimming below. Moore twitches his eyebrow and asks: "Perhaps we can try something in a simpler vein."
Those sharks don't need any frickin' laser beams on their heads to get you to smell the Austin. Moore gets a lot of blame for turning the Bond movies into weakly-plotted farces, ignoring that the series had been moving in that direction since "Goldfinger" and that the previous installment, Sean Connery's final EON bow "Diamonds Are Forever," was every bit as goofy. Also, Moore could deliver a more serious Bond when the script allowed, and two of the finest Bonds ever, "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "For Your Eyes Only," were his.
But there's no getting around this, "Live And Let Die" is a dumb movie. The gadgets are silly, the villain's scheme is ill-defined, the storyline is frenetic and unengaging, the action is plodding and overlong. Moore starts out not quite know how to play Bond here, while the movie requires him to play the fool sauntering through Harlem in a double-breasted suit like the Prince of Wales waiting for some natives to show him around.
But this film makes me smile, in part because I'm young enough to remember what it was all about when it came out. If this was Bond for the cheap seats, it at least delivered the goods, with some vivid supporting characters, a knockout visual style, amazing title music from Paul McCartney, and most importantly for Moore's future in the series, drop-dead quips. My favorite is when the nasty Tee Hee twists his pistol muzzle out of shape with a metal pincer arm, then giggles when he hands it back: "Funny how the least little thing amuses him."
Julius Harris is menacing but charming as Tee Hee, mostly mute except when he sticks Bond in a gator pond and suggests the best way to disarm the beasts is to try and pull out their teeth. Chief villain Yaphet Kotto has his moments, too, but with odd shifts of character. In the beginning, he's stone-smoothed Sidney Poitier in "Heat of The Night," and at the end, he's strong Marlon Brando in "The Ugly Americab." Jane Seymour is Bond's love interest, and why she goes off with him is another of those things best not thought about long.
But "Live And Let Die" is a winner. It's a fun movie that brings me back to younger days, when my heart was an open book. It's a nice transitional film for the series in that Kotto managed a mostly smooth entrance to the role of Kananga in film history’s first Bond villian. And it has one