Saturday, June 25, 2016

Movie #366: Live & Let Die

Live & Let Die is the eight James Bond film, and stars Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison, Gloria Hendry, and Clifton James. I've seen this movie before, but it's been a while, and I had never really realized how nuts this movie is.

Bond (Moore) is assigned to go to the US to look into the deaths of MI6 agents, and discovers that today's special friend is Kananga (Kotto), the dictator of the small island nation of San Monique and also a Harlem gangster planning to flood the heroin market and then monopolize it. This in itself isn't too out of the ordinary for Bond villains, but the focus on black characters (well, supporting cast) and drug trafficking is, and very much a nod to the blaxpoitation films of the day.

Anyway, the movie's a pretty good bridge between the Connery era and the later, more wah-hoo Moore era; the villain's plot is somewhat topical, sure, but the villain also kills people with snakes and sharks, and stabs people (well, has people stabbed) on the streets of New Orleans and then sucked up in magic coffins. And, of course, we've got our colorful henchmen in the former of a maniacal dude with a claw-hand (Julius Harris), and Baron freakin' Samedi (Holder). And we have the first black Bond girl (Hendry), but of course she's the "aperitif" who dies shortly after introduction.

The actual Bond girl is Kanaga's hench-women and seeress Solitaire (Seymour) who seems to actually have the power of precognition/clairvoyance...until Bond bangs her, and then her powers depart with her virginity, which probably isn't the most problematic thing in a Bond film, but it's noteworthy. And then there's a speedboat chase that introduces a redneck sheriff (James) who winds up showing up in a later Bond movie as a comic bit...

Live & Let Die probably isn't the goofiest Bond movie, but it's just weird. It's also overlong and a little racially uncomfortable, sorry to say. Also Bond doesn't come out looking all that competent; he kind of bumblefucks his way through most of it. I hate to say it, but I actually kind of prefer the Brosnan era - sure, the movies were dumb, but they're all kind of dumb, and at least Brosnan's were a little snappier.

My Grade: C+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels