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LIVE AND LET DIE

Live and Let Die (1973) is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series to be produced by Eon Productions, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, it was the third of four Bond films to be directed by Guy Hamilton. Although the producers had wanted Sean Connery to return after his role in the previous Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, he declined, sparking a search for a new actor to play James Bond. Moore was signed for the lead role.

The film is based loosely on the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. It was the second novel in Fleming's James Bond series, and was first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in 1954. Major plot elements from the novel were also incorporated into two other Bond films: For Your Eyes Only, released in 1981 and Licence to Kill, released in 1989. Live and Let Die was also adapated in a comic strip format in 1958–59 by John McLusky for the Daily Express.

In the film, a Harlem drug lord known as Mr. Big plans to distribute two tons of heroin free to put rival drug barons out of business. Mr. Big, however, is revealed to be the disguised alter ego of Dr. Kananga, a corrupt Caribbean dictator, who rules San Monique, the fictional island where the heroin poppies are secretly farmed. Bond is investigating the death of three British agents, leading him to Kananga, where he is soon trapped in a world of gangsters and voodoo as he fights to put a stop to the drug baron's scheme.

Live and Let Die was released during the height of the blaxploitation era, and many blaxploitation archetypes and clichés are depicted in the film, including derogatory racial epithets ("honky"), black gangsters, and "pimpmobiles". It departs from the former plots of the James Bond films about megalomaniac super-villains, and instead focuses on drug trafficking, depicted primarily in blaxploitation films. It is set in African American cultural centres such as Harlem and New Orleans, as well as the Caribbean Islands. It was also the first James Bond film featuring an African American Bond girl to be romantically involved with 007, Rosie Carver, who was played by Gloria Hendry. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a box office success and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Live and Let Die", written by Paul McCartney and performed by his band Wings.

While filming Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die was chosen as the next Ian Fleming novel to be adapted because screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz thought it would be daring to use black villains, as the Black Panthers and other racial movements were active at this time. Guy Hamilton was again chosen to direct, and since he was a jazz fan, Mankiewicz suggested him to film in New Orleans. Hamilton didn't want to use Mardi Gras since Thunderball featured Junkanoo, a similar festivity, so after more discussions with the writer and location scouting with helicopters, he decided to use two well-known features of the city, the jazz funerals and the canals.

While searching for locations in Jamaica, the crew discovered a crocodile farm owned by Ross Kananga, after passing a sign warning that "trespassers will be eaten." The farm was put into the script and also inspired Mankiewicz to name the film's villain after Kananga.

Broccoli and Saltzman tried to convince Sean Connery to return as 007, but he declined. The two producers then approached Clint Eastwood, who was fresh from his success as Dirty Harry, but although flattered he also turned down the offer, stating that 007 should be played by an Englishman. Among the actors to test for the part of Bond were Julian Glover, John Gavin, Jeremy Brett, Simon Oates, John Ronane, and William Gaunt. The main frontrunner for the role was Michael Billington (right). United Artists wanted an American to play Bond; Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were all considered. Producer Albert R. Broccoli, however, insisted that the part should be played by a British actor and put forward Roger Moore. After Moore was chosen, Billington remained on the top of the list in the event that Moore would decline to come back for the next film. Billington ultimately played a brief villainous role in the pre-credit sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Moore, who had been considered by the producers before both Dr. No and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, was ultimately cast. He tried not to imitate either Sean Connery or his performance as Simon Templar in The Saint, and Mankiewicz fitted the screenplay into Moore's persona by giving more comedy scenes and a light-hearted approach to Bond.

Mankiewicz had thought of turning Solitaire into a black woman, with Diana Ross as his primary choice. However, Broccoli and Saltzman decided to stick to Fleming's description of a white woman, and after thinking of Catherine Deneuve, Jane Seymour (pictured below), who was in the TV series The Onedin Line, was cast for the role. Yaphet Kotto was cast while doing another movie for United Artists, Across 110th Street. Kotto reported one of the things he liked in role was Kananga's interest in the occult, "feeling like he can control past, present and future".

Mankiewicz created Sheriff J.W. Pepper to add a comic relief character. Portrayed by Clifton James, Pepper appeared again in The Man with the Golden Gun. It is also the first of two films featuring David Hedison as Felix Leiter, who reprised the role in Licence to Kill. Hedison had said "I was sure that would be my first and last", before being cast again.

Madeline Smith, who played Miss Caruso, sharing Bond's bed in the film's opening, was recommended for the part by Roger Moore after he had appeared with her on TV. Smith said that Moore was extremely polite to work with, but she felt very uncomfortable being clad in only blue bikini panties while Moore's wife was on set overseeing the scene.

This was the only Bond film until 2002 not to feature 'Q', played at this stage by Desmond Llewellyn. Llewellyn was currently appearing in the TV series Follyfoot, but was written out of three episodes to appear in the film. The producers however had already decided not to include the character, much to Llewellyn's annoyance.

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Live and Let Die (1973) is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Although the producers had wanted Sean Connery to return after his role in the previous Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, he declined, sparking a search for a new actor to play James Bond. Roger Moore was signed for the lead role. Buy Live and Let Die here.

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Principal photography began in October 1972, in Louisiana. For a while only the second unit was shot after Moore was diagnosed with kidney stones. In November production moved to Jamaica, which doubled for the fictional San Monique. In December, production was divided between interiors in Pinewood Studios and location shooting in Harlem. The producers were reportedly required to pay protection money to a local Harlem gang to ensure the crew's safety. When the cash ran out, they were "encouraged" to leave.

Ross Kananga suggested the jump on crocodiles, and was enlisted by the producers to do the stunt. The scene took five takes to be completed, including one in which the last crocodile snapped at Kananga's heel, tearing his trousers. The production also had trouble with snakes. The script supervisor was so afraid that she refused to be on set with them; an actor fainted while filming a scene where he is killed by a snake; Jane Seymour became terrified as a reptile got closer, and Geoffrey Holder only agreed to fall into the snake-filled casket because Princess Alexandra was visiting the set.

The boat chase was filmed in Louisiana around the Irish Bayou area, with some interruption caused by flooding. Twenty-six boats were built by the Glastron boat company for the film. Seventeen were destroyed during rehearsals. The speedboat jump scene over the bayou, filmed with the assistance of a specially-constructed ramp, unintentionally set a Guinness World Record at the time with 110 feet (34 m) cleared. Unfortunately, the waves created by the impact caused the following boat to flip over.

The chase involving the double-decker bus was filmed with a second-hand London bus adapted by having a top section removed, and then placed back in situ running on ball bearings to allow to slide off on impact. The stunts involving the bus were performed by Maurice Patchett, a London Transport bus driving instructor.

John Barry, who had worked on the previous five themes and orchestrated the "James Bond Theme", was unavailable during production. Broccoli and Saltzman instead asked Paul McCartney to write the theme song. Since McCartney's salary was high and another composer could not be hired with the remainder of the music budget, George Martin, who had been McCartney's producer while with The Beatles, was chosen to write the score for the film. "Live and Let Die", written by McCartney along with his wife Linda and performed by their group Wings, was the first true rock and roll song used to open a Bond film, and became a major success in the UK (where it reached number nine in the charts) and the US (where it reached number 2, for three weeks).

The Olympia Brass Band has a notable part in "Live and Let Die", where they lead a funeral march for a (soon to be) assassination victim. Trumpeter Alvin Alcorn plays the killer. The piece of music the band plays at the beginning of the funeral march is "Just a Closer Walk with Thee". After the agent is stabbed, the band starts playing the more lively "Joe Avery's Piece".

The film was released in the United States on June 27th 1973. The world premiere was at Odeon Leicester Square in London on July 6th 1973, with general release in the United Kingdom on the same day. From a budget of around $7 million, the film grossed $161.8 million worldwide. Despite poor reaction to the racial overtones, reviews were mostly positive, with praise for the action scenes.

Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times stated that Moore "has the superficial attributes for the job: The urbanity, the quizzically raised eyebrow, the calm under fire and in bed". However, he felt that Moore wasn't satisfactory in living up to the legacy left by Sean Connery in the preceding films. He rated the villains "a little banal", adding that the film "doesn't have a Bond villain worthy of the Goldfingers, Dr. Nos and Oddjobs of the past." BBC Films reviewer William Mager praised the use of locations, but said that the plot was "convoluted". He stated that "Connery and Lazenby had an air of concealed thuggishness, clenched fists at the ready, but in Moore's case a sardonic quip and a raised eyebrow are his deadliest weapons". Reviewer Leonard Maltin rated the film two and a half stars out of four, describing it as a "barely memorable, overlong James Bond movie" that "seems merely an excuse to film wild chase sequences". Danny Peary noted that Jane Seymour portrays "one of the Bond series's most beautiful heroines" but had little praise for Moore, whom he described as making "an unimpressive debut as James Bond."

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