Monday, October 15, 2012
007 Goes Blaxplotation: Live and Let Die (1973)
I've been a 007 fan since childhood. One of the first movies for grown-up's I rented (or my mother rented it) was Goldfinger. Not long after I saw For Your Eyes Only and (maybe) Octopussy and I was hooked for life. When License to Kill was released in 1989 they had a big quiz in one of the biggest newspapers in
- and I
got almost every question right and one tickets to the premiere plus a bunch a
other prizes, including the soundtrack on vinyl and a single of the main theme.
And no, I never got a chance to see License to Kill in cinema - I was too young
and they wouldn't let me in. It still hurts my soul. Soon Skyfall is here and I
absolutely adore Daniel Craig, but this won't be about him or the new movies,
it will be about the times our beloved agent made forays into genre-inspired
adventures. First out is the super-trendy - at the time - Live and Let Die,
Roger Moore's first outing as James Bond - and heavily inspired by the ongoing
trend of black cinema, "blaxploitation" - films with mainly Afro-American
actors and themes. Sweden
With Roger Moore came a totally different form of Bond-movies: more humour, bigger action and an actor who almost looked too dashing for the part.
handled it well, and Live and Let Die is an interesting mix of the grittier
style of Connery and the more light-weighted adventures of . What makes it particularly interesting
is the hip style, a Bond more rooted in (cinema) reality, gritty Moore streets (at
least the first half-hour) and more controversial themes. Gone is the
traditional super-villain who wants to take over the world, this guy - New York Kananga (Yaphet Kotto) just wants to double the amount of
heroin addicts in the
so he after that can sell the drugs even more expensive and at the same time
bankrupt his competitors. Mix in the story is voodoo and something that
probably became the inspiration for every damn car chase movie ever made
The story is more interesting and nastier than both before and after, and it's a good thing. Because is true evil. At bad days even I imagine how to destroy the world and create a perfect race of people on the moon or under the sea, because the world is so damn shitty anyway. So just making millions and millions of people addicted to heroine seems really, really sick in comparison. Nowadays it can seem a bit odd to have Afro-American actors play stereotypical black characters where everyone speaks in slang or deals with voodoo! It couldn't have worked with excellent actors who understood what they was doing - having fun - and Yaphet Kotto is still one the best Bond-baddies ever to grace the screen. His team of henchmen, often played with a big f**king twinkle in the eye is awesome. Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi is genius (mark my words) and Julius Harris as Tee Hee is a iconic henchmen with a nasty metal claw as a hand! It could have been extra sensitive with the character of Sheriff Pepper (Clifton James) who speaks to the black characters by using words like "boy" - but helluva strange, it works and never (to me) becomes offensive.
Live and Let Die has a couple of the best action scenes ever shot for a Bond movie, including the fine car-stunt in the beginning to the fistfights, the crocodile walk, the bus-sequence and the perfect boat-chase that beats most boat-chases I've seen.
Moore looks young and very, very
white in this movie - and seeing him in Harlem
(where they was allowed to shoot for exact ten minutes according to his
autobiography) is just bizarre, and cool. Moore hurt himself during the shot in
New Orleans by the way and was so doped up with medicines that he mistook his
wardrobe for the toiled and peed on his clothes one night - which wasn't
everything, his urine was blue because of the medicines and everything to
sprinkled with that color!
Live and Let Die is absolutely one of my favourite Bond-movies. A damn cool action film.