Sunday, January 10, 2021

The 007 Project: Live and Let Die


Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Bond goes to Harlem, New Orleans, and the Caribbean island of San Monique to investigate the killings of three MI6 agents who were investigating a heroin ring led by Kananga, the ruler of San Monique who is also doubling as Mr. Big, an American gangster. Kananga uses Baron Samedi, a voodoo priest, to scare the locals of San Monique, and he uses Solitaire, a virginal psychic, to predict the future. 

Memorable Quote:
Darling, I've a small confession to make now. Try not to be too upset. The deck was slightly stacked in my favor.  ~Bond

I'm all in on the "voodoo in the Caribbean" angle. As I wrote in my review of MacGyver episode Walking Dead:

In the convenience store, the racketeer invokes the name of Baron Samedi, who I'm familiar with from Live and Let Die, my favorite Roger Moore Bond movie.  I'm also a big fan of the book as well.  In general I like island and voodoo themes which is probably why I dig this episode.  

While the boat chase through the Louisiana bayou is mostly excellent, it's tarnished by the inclusion of J.W. Pepper, a redneck Louisiana sheriff whose only function is comic relief, except he's not funny. I'm not looking for comic relief in my Bond movies, and certainly not in the form of the cartoonish, annoying, and racist J.W. Pepper.  

Most interesting piece of IMDB trivia:
Ross Kananga (credited as stunt coordinator) was the owner of the alligator and crocodile farm in which Bond escapes some hungry crocs. Kananga did this stunt by himself wearing Mr Roger Moore's clothes (and shoes made of crocodile skin). The crocodile shoes were a fun idea of Mr Moore. It took 5 attempts to complete the stunt. During the 4th, one of the crocodiles snapped at one of the shoes as it went by. The producers (while scouting locations) first took notice of Mr Kananga's farm from the sign out front: WARNING: TRESPASSERS WILL BE EATEN (the sign can be seen in the film). They liked Ross Kananga so much, they used his surname for the film's villain, Dr. Kananga.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Interesting to note that Roger Moore is 3 years older than Sean Connery. 
  • 1:57 mark - no reaction from the guys at the UN after the dude sitting next to them suddenly collapses.
  • Kananga is played by Yaphet Kotto, who also played Alonzo Mosely in Midnight Run.
  • Fun opening Roger Moore scene in Bond's apartment with M, Moneypenny, and the "missing" female Italian agent. 
  • Kananga's network of people working for him is massive.  
  • Great performance by Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi -- very charismatic. 
  • 34:40 - Bond leaves the burned snake on the ground and resumes his self-care. I would have first wanted to confirm the snake was actually dead. 
  • 39:10 - Very brief scene where Bond walks into the tarot card shop -- good setup for later when he uses his deck to trick Solitaire. 
  • Cool that they brought Quarrel Jr. in as the son of Quarrel from Dr. No
  • 1:16:00 - Bond is very calm for having his pinky finger about to be cut off by Tee Hee's hook. And no way that Kananga would have spared Bond's finger after Solitaire answered incorrectly. 
  • Here's an amazing video of the failed takes of Ross Kananga running on the crocodiles.  
  • I'm not a fan of graphic death scenes, which become more prevalent later in the series. Kananga's death is not overly graphic but is kind of disturbing as his body inflates and explodes. 

Final Analysis:
I'm a big fan of this movie, even if the current viewing didn't quite measure up to my memory of it. I enjoy the cast, including Jane Seymour as Solitaire (my favorite Bond girl so far), and mostly I'm just a sucker for anything related to Caribbean/voodoo/island stuff. Ranking this number 2 on the list. 


  1. Wasn't a fan of this one just as I wasn't a big fan of "The Walking Dead" on "MacGyver", but I didn't make the connection of Geoffrey Holder being this film's Baron Samedi. Were you aware he was the face of 7UP back in the 70s and 80s?
    I used to love 7UP back then but they've added a tremendous amount of lemon to their formula in the last 20 years and I don't like it nearly as much as I did in the Geoffrey Holder era.

    1. He almost seems like he's playing the Baron in that commercial -- I wasn't aware of that ad campaign. I'm not a soda drinker, but I did like the 7UP grade school game where the class closed their eyes with their thumbs up and tried to guess who touched their thumb.

    2. The Geoffrey Holder ad campaign for 7UP had to have lasted at least 15 years. It may well have been inspired by his "Live and Let Die" role.

      Consider yourself blessed to not be a pop drinker (being a native Midwesterner I wouldn't call it "soda" even if you ripped my fingernails out!). I've indulged a pop-drinking habit for decades now. I only drink one can a day most days now but it's still all downside for your system. I remember the 7UP grade school game too....and am curious if the current generation of kids still play it.