Live and Let Die is not one of the better James Bond films. Not even close. In fact, I'd rank the 1973 outing among the worst, along with A View to a Kill and Die Another Day. (And I take these things very seriously.) However, like pizza and sex (and the ever elusive pizzasex I've heard so much about), bad Bond is still kinda good, and Live and Let Die is not without numerous pleasures. It opens tonight and plays through next Thursday at the Laurelhurst (times here). Here are some highlights/lowlights:
• It's the most racist Bond flick, and possibly one of the most racist mainstream movies ever made. EVERY black character turns out to be villainous.
• It's Roger Moore's first time as Bond, and while he got better in later years, he still comes out of the gate strong. Interestingly, Moore is nearly three years older than Sean Connery, meaning that he's older here than Connery was in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever.
• Live and Let Die is also the most stereotypically '70s of all the Bond pictures that came out in the '70s. Pimpmobiles, crazy clothes, platform shoes, the whole works.
• One of the henchman's name is Tee Hee. He's called that, I think, because he smiles all the time. He has a hook for a hand. There's a part where he fumbles while trying to remove Bond's watch, and Bond bitchily scolds him, "Butterhook!"
• There's the inexplicable introduction of J.W. Pepper, a redneck Southern sheriff who also turns up in the following year's The Man with the Golden Gun. He has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. He's stupid, annoying, and racist. I think he's how the British filmmakers viewed Americans.
• And there's that long, insane boat chase, where boats fly out of canals, over land, then back into the water.
• Bond is pretty shameless in this one. He totally lies to get into bed with Jane Seymour's character, a tarot card reader who flips over the "Lovers" card and subsequently falls into bed with him. Little does she know that he stacked the deck—literally: Every single card in Bond's prepared deck was a "Lovers" card, and so she loses her powers of clairvoyance along with her virginity.
• Alligators! There's a stunt where Bond runs across the backs of a few alligators to get off an island. It's a great stunt. It was performed by one Ross Kananga, and the filmmakers named the villain Dr. Kananga after him. There's an outtake where Ross Kananga ends up with his pant leg in one of the gators' mouths.
• There's that guy who you know but don't know by name: Geoffrey Holder. He plays Baron Samedi, a voodoo villain. Remember him from 7-Up commercials?
• Jane Seymour's tarot deck bears a 007 logo! I can't figure out how this logically works in the world of the film; it is a huge gaping hole knocked out of the film's fourth wall.
• The way Dr. Kananga's character (spoiler) dies at the end is so ridiculous that I won't say anything else about it.
• Oh! Paul McCartney's theme song, of course.
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