Combustible Celluloid
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With: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison, Gloria Hendry, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
Written by: Tom Mankiewicz, based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 121
Date: 06/27/1973

Live and Let Die (1973)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Quite Revealing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Making his debut as James Bond, Roger Moore was gentler and more reserved than his predecessor Sean Connery, and was certainly more prone to bits of deadpan comedy. His first movie is a mixed bag. It has a strong villain in Yaphet Kotto, but Jane Seymour as the main Bond girl is perhaps a bit too helpless and passive. Secondary Bond girl, African-American Gloria Hendry, became Bond's first interracial romance.

When three MI6 agents are mysteriously killed in the same 24-hour period, Agent 007, James Bond (Moore) is sent to investigate. He first goes to Harlem, where he encounters Mr. Big, a drug lord, and his servant Solitaire (Seymour), who reads Tarot cards and predicts her boss's future.

Escaping an attempt on his life, Bond heads to San Monique, where he seduces Solitaire and runs into the Caribbean Prime Minister Kananga (Kotto), who is somehow connected with Mr. Big and a huge heroin business. After a trip to New Orleans, and a run in with Sheriff J.W. Pepper, Bond returns to San Monique for a showdown. But can he escape Kananga's deadly shark tank?

Live and Let Die goes a bit too far over the top at times, such as a simple murder in New Orleans that somehow involves an entire funeral procession, an extended and tiresome speedboat chase, and the annoying presence of redneck sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), who inexplicably returned for the next movie.

On the plus side, the movie makes great use of sharks, crocodiles, and snakes, and has some fun gadgets, such as a "shark gun" that explodes its prey with a blast of air. However, the best part is definitely Paul McCartney's theme song, a highlight of the series.

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