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Live and Let Die

From Academic Kids

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2002 Penguin Books paperback edition

Live and Let Die is the second James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, first published in 1954. It is also the eighth official film in the EON Productions Bond franchise and the first to star Roger Moore as British Secret Service agent, Commander James Bond. The film was released in 1973 and was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

Contents

The novel

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1965 Pan Books paperback edition.

Live and Let Die is considered one of Fleming's most controversial novels due to its depiction of African-Americans. In 2002 for the first time in the United States since the book was published, the original title of chapter five ("Nigger Heaven") is used.

Elements from this novel appeared in three Bond films. Besides the 1973 film of the same name (see below), the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only and 1989's Licence to Kill also used major plot elements from the book.

Plot summary

James Bond 007 is sent to New York City to investigate "Mr. Big", an underworld leader who is selling 17th century gold coins to finance Soviet spy operations. Bond is also going, essentially, to get revenge against SMERSH in retaliation for being tortured and branded on his hand by another SMERSH operative, Le Chiffre, in Casino Royale. Along the way, he encounters Solitaire, a fortune teller who becomes his ally, as well as Quarrel (who later appears in Dr. No). Bond's CIA liaison and friend, Felix Leiter also returns and is gravely injured by Mr. Big's minions.

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Comic strip adaptation

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from December 15, 1958 to March 28, 1959. The adaptation was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. The strip was reprinted by Titan Books in the early 1990s; a new reprint by Titan is planned for publication in 2005.

The film

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Plot summary

Several British agents monitoring the operations of Dr Kananga, the dictator of a small Caribbean island called San Monique, are murdered in mysterious circumstances. James Bond is sent to New York, where the last agent was killed and where Kananga is currently visiting the UN, to investigate. As soon as Bond arrives in New York, his driver is killed while taking him to meet Felix Leiter of the CIA. The driver's killer leads Bond to Mr Big, a gangster who runs a chain of restaurants throughout the US. It is during his confrontation with Mr Big that Bond first meets Solitaire, a beautiful tarot expert who has the uncanny ability to see the future. Bond follows Kananga back to San Monique where he seduces Solitaire (it had been foretold in the cards), which, by "compelling to earthly love", takes away her power. It transpires that Kananga is producing massive amounts of heroin and is protecting the poppy fields through fear of voodoo and the occult. Through his alter ego, Mr Big (Kananga in disguise) he would distribute the heroin from his chain of Fillet Of Soul restaurants for free until the number of drug addicts doubles and his rival drug lords are put out of business, leaving Kananga with a monopoly.

In the closing scene of the film, the central voodoo character, Baron Samedi, is seen perched on the front of the speeding train in which Bond and Solitaire are travelling, in his voodoo outfit and laughing mysteriously, despite having been supposedly killed by Bond during the film's climax.

Live and Let Die marked two milestones for Bond films. It was the first time a fictional country would be used as a setting (this would happen again in Licence to Kill), and it was also the only occasion in which 007 commits what amounts to a political assassination, since Kananga is the leader of a nation.

Cast & characters

Live and Let Die is the first James Bond film from which Q was absent. It is the first of two films featuring David Hedison as Felix Leiter, CIA, reprising the role in Licence to Kill; no other actor has played Felix Leiter more than once. Also, it is the first of two films featuring Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper; Clifton James reprised the role in The Man with the Golden Gun. The Jamaican agent, Quarrel Jr., is the son of the original Quarrel from Dr. No.

Crew

Soundtrack

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Original Live and Let Die soundtrack cover

The film is notable for its title song, written by Paul McCartney (despite what Bond said about The Beatles in Goldfinger) and Linda McCartney and performed by Paul and his group, Wings, which was the first true rock and roll song used to open a Bond movie. McCartney reportedly composed and recorded the song unsolicited and then offered it to the producers. The title song was covered in 1991 by the rock band Guns N' Roses.

Taking a temporary hiatus from scoring Bond films, John Barry subsequently passed the baton over to McCartney's producer, George Martin. This was the first James Bond film that Barry has in some way not been a part of.

Track listing

  1. Live and Let Die (Main Title) — Paul McCartney & Wings
  2. Just a Closer Walk With Thee/New Second
  3. Bond Meets Solitaire
  4. Whisper Who Dares
  5. Snakes Alive
  6. Baron Samedi's Dance of Death
  7. San Monique
  8. Fillet of Soul-New Orleans/Live and Let Die/Fillet of Soul-Harlem
  9. Bond Drops In
  10. If He Finds It, Kill Him
  11. Trespassers Will Be Eaten
  12. Solitaire Gets Her Cards
  13. Sacrifice
  14. James Bond Theme
  15. Gunbarrel/Snakebit
  16. Bond to New York
  17. San Monique
  18. Bond and Rosie
  19. The Lovers
  20. New Orleans
  21. Boat Chase
  22. Underground Lair

Vehicles & gadgets

  • Magnetic Watch - Given to Bond by M when turned on it could snag any light weight metallic item. In theory, Bond claims it can even deflect a bullet. It also has a saw built into it.
  • Bug Sweeper - Bond uses a handheld device that can sweep a room for electronic microphones.
  • Although not an official gadget, Bond improvises a small flamethrower using a can of after-shave lotion and a lit cigar.
  • Bond has an espresso machine at his home. In 1973, such devices were uncommon for home use (much as Bond in From Russia With Love had a pager and car-based telephone years before cell phones were invented).

Locations

Film locations

Shooting locations

Trivia

  • The producers made a conscious effort to distance the new James Bond from the character made famous by Sean Connery, perhaps an effort to avoid repeating the George Lazenby fiasco. For example: Roger Moore's Bond never orders a vodka martini (neither shaken, nor stirred), he drinks bourbon whisky; the mission briefing occurs in Bond's flat (not seen since Dr. No in '62); the armourer Q is dropped from the film (though still mentioned); Roger Moore's James Bond does not wear a hat; he smokes cigars, not cigarettes, in brief: an English gentleman. In time, as Moore grew in to the role, many old Bond-isms returned, and some new elements were dropped.
  • Moreover, Roger Moore toned down his famous mannerisms, cultivated in the role of Simon Templar, The Saint, in particular, the cocking eyebrow.
  • This is the first James Bond film where a character used the word "Shit". It is uttered by the old woman whose flying lesson is hijacked by Bond (network viewers never see this). Even in 1973, that was not enough to have the film rated past PG; viewers would have to wait until 1989, for Licence to Kill (coincidentally also partly based on Live and Let Die) until such language was heard again.
  • In a zoom-in shot of what is (supposedly) the CIA headquarters in New York the then under construction World Trade Center can be seen briefly in the background.
  • This was the first and, to date, only James Bond film to acknowledge the supernatural. Although there are indications that Baron Samedi is simply a magician and showman, and that his "resurrection" after falling into a coffin of snakes could be explained as a trick (suggesting a further, off-screen confrontation with Bond; Soon after Bond's defeat of Tee-Hee?), Solitaire's psychic abilities are more difficult to rationalize.
  • One of Kananga's henchmen, Adam (portrayed by Tommy Lane) played a similar role in the original Shaft.
  • Coachbuilder Les Dunham provided a Chevrolet Corvette conversion (the Corvorado) which uses components from a 1971 or 1972 Cadillac Eldorado; this car was briefly seen in the blaxploitation film Superfly. He kept the vehicle for several years as a show car. One of the vehicles 007 is pursuing in the film (as a passenger in a taxicab) is a custom-built Cadillac Fleetwood, along with an Eldorado coupe.
  • Solitaire's Tarot cards have 007 printed on the backs of them. The High Priestess card was deliberately designed to resemble Jane Seymour.

External links

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