And so begins the era of Roger Moore as 007.
Roger Moore was the James Bond I knew growing up. Since I have not watched a lot of these movies for years, they do tend to blend together. However, many of the memories I have from my childhood of James Bond comes from Live and Let Die.
Live and Let Die started down the path of taking James Bond into more of a campy, almost slapstick, route rather than the pseudo-serious super spy action of most of the previous Bond films to this point. You can see in Live and Let Die the more reliance on gadgets and the wild situations, such as running across the backs of crocodiles, are even more ramped up.
Roger Moore fit with this quality of Bond and worked as the character is taken in this direction. He had a lightheartedness about him that was different from Connery or Lazenby’s performances.
In Live and Let Die, Bond comes to investigate the deaths of three British agents who were investigating the heroin trade in America. Specifically, the dealings of a crime lord named Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), the head of a small island country in the Caribbean. Mr. Big maintained the services of Solitaire (Jane Seymour), a tarot card reading psychic, who gives him the skinny on the future.
Live and Let Die took advantage of the blaxploitation trend at the time, using several of the genre’s tropes and cliches. The movie’s plot included the use of voodoo and the wild mystic villain named Samedi (Geoffrey Holder).
It also featured the weirdest chase scene in movie history. Bond jumps in a speed boat and they begin a chase on the water. That, in and of itself, is not strange. However, as the boat chase started, it switched POV to a white, hick sheriff named Sheriff Pepper (Clifton James). While I do not know this for sure, Sheriff Pepper made me wonder if he was an inspiration for the creation of Sheriff Buford T. Justice from the Smokey and the Bandit series. It was bizarre to watch much of that speed boat chase through the eyes of this sheriff. I know it is a divisive scene among Bond films, but I have to say it is one of the most memorable scenes for me. I remembered Pepper from the first time I saw him.
Of course, the film featured one of the best Bond title songs, from Paul McCartney and Wings. This is probably my personal favorite song among the Bond themes, and the filmmakers must have thought to themselves that “we have Paul McCartney” because they played the song multiple times in the movie.
This film kicked off Roger Moore as James Bond in a fun and energetic manner. While there were some departures from the previous films, Live and Let Die holds its own place among the better Bond films and a door into the new world of 007.