Sean Connery finally called it a day after "Diamonds are Forever", and the hunt was on for a new Bond. Enter Roger Moore in a film that ranks with the best Bonds.
The plot is convoluted but makes great use of location. Bond, investigating the death of three agents, heads to New York to meet CIA buddy Felix Leiter and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue leading him to Harlem, the Caribbean island of San Monique, and a Louisiana bayou in pursuit of the mysterious Kananga.
Jane Seymour is Solitaire, a Tarot-reading voodoo queen; while the villain is Yaphet Kotto, who plays his role with just the right air of detached amusement. His charismatic henchmen include Julius Harris as Tee-Hee, a silently grinning man with a metal hand who is obviously the prototype for Jaws. Geoffrey Holder, the man with the golden laugh, is the supernatural Baron Samedi.
The film pays homage to the popular movie genres of the early 70s. The scenes in Harlem - oversized afro haircuts and leather trenchcoats - are pure blaxploitation. The boat chase in the bayou could be from one of Burt Reynolds's car chase movies with Clifton James' Sheriff JW Pepper a low-rent Jackie Gleason.
Roger Moore is very different to the Bonds that preceded him. 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.
"Live and Let Die" marked a turning point in the series. In many ways the producers tried to make a fresh start with Moore. There is no briefing with Q, no meeting in M's office, no tuxedoed Bond sipping a martini in a casino, and no John Barry score. Paul McCartney's fantastic theme song almost compensates for all of this.
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