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File 007 | Live and Let Die (1973) – Roger Moore and Blaxploitation make their 8th film debut

007 – No Time to Die, the twenty-fifth official film in the longest-running film franchise, is slated for release on October 7, 2021 – after being pushed back from last year due to the pandemic. In order to heat up the engines of this new blockbuster which, as we said, is part of one of the biggest, most traditional and beloved film franchises in the history of the seventh art, we have decided to create a new series of stories dissecting a bit of all the previous films, bringing you a lot of curiosities and a lot of information.

After seven films from the official 007 series in the movie timeline, the 70s are definitely leaving the Sean Connery era. The actor, who had left in the fifth film, made way for a replacement who was not working (George Lazenby) and returned in the seventh feature, said goodbye (now for real) to films that had him transformed into an internationally renowned phenomenon. . Without its star, EON (franchise producer) needed to restructure. The bet was a contract with an old “flirt” of the house in a film which bet on the wave of the time: blaxploitation. See below for more details on the production of Viva e Let Die, the eighth official film in the franchise.

Read also: File 007 | The Satanic Dr. No (1962) – Discover the first film in the James Bond spy franchise

Production

In addition to dealing with Sean Connery’s final departure from the franchise, EON’s blockbuster film series faced other struggles as it debuted in the 1970s. Perhaps the biggest was the struggle between the two. minds behind the producer: the executives and “owners” of 007, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli. Barely speaking, an agreement was reached between the two. Although both names continued to appear in production credits, only one of them would touch the boat with each new film. Broccoli had dealt with Diamonds Are Eternal (1971), the previous episode; therefore the new film would be orchestrated by Saltzman.

We were entering the 70s and in the midst of countless movements that have emerged, the one that stood out is blaxploitation. Representative black productions were already making noise, with one of the flagships of the movement, Shaft (1971), then becoming an icon of pop culture. The productions made by and for a specific audience began to expand their national and global range, also attracting the general public. So, riding this trend, the choice for the franchise’s eighth official feature film fell on a James Bond book (written by creator Ian Fleming) set in such a universe: Live and Let Die. Guy Hamilton, who had commissioned the previous one, The Diamonds Are Eternal, was returned to directing, along with Goldfinger (1964).

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Roger Moore was a flashy 007 and his debut already showed it.

The production of the eighth 007 has been one of the most problematic of the franchise. In addition to the split between the producers and the minds behind the blockbuster film series, the project still had to choose its new protagonist. The idea of ​​electing an outsider to build as the franchise’s new star hadn’t worked with George Lazenby. And without being able to “save” Connery again for another round, EON found itself in a bind. Almost, as he had flirted in the past, James Bond didn’t go American, with stars like Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood being targeted for the role.

Ultimately, the character would fall into the hands of Roger Moore, a British actor who had been considered the protagonist twice in the past. Moore was then best known for the successful series The Saint (1962-1969). However, the cast of the actor was followed by a few “buts” from the producers. The first is that by the time of his first incarnation as a Bond, Moore was already 45 years old – being older than Connery (criticized for having experienced a “forty” Bond in Diamonds Are Forever). And then because he was considered “out of shape” by the producers – it was a cure, and Moore was sent to the gym to work out.

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secret mission

Heavy group. The 8th James Bond film was inspired by the blaxploitation movement.

As has been said, this was the era of representative black American cinema fever, and even one of the biggest movie franchises of the era rode on that wave. Okay, 007 wasn’t what it was in the 1960s, but it was important to keep reshaping as we entered new times. Thus, the franchise has brought a lot of freshness to its universe by centering the plot around African culture. One of the coolest things about Live and Let Die is including a lot of its black actors. Here, Bond’s mission is to investigate the murders of three of his agency’s spies, which leads him to run into a drug lord from Harlem, New York, the drug dealer known as Mr. Big. The criminal appears to be linked to the dictator of a small fictional island in Jamaica called San Monique, Dr. Kananga.

Read also: File 007 | You Only Live Twice (1967) – James Bond travels to Japan to train with ninjas in the 5th film

Bondgirls and allies

The beautiful Jane Seymour is the fortune teller and clairvoyant Solitaire, prevented from losing her “purity”.

Here we have yet another controversy at the time, this one however a little smaller. As noted, by choosing to adapt the Live and Let Die book, automatically a predominantly black cast would be hired. These include the film’s main Bondgirl, the Solitaire fortune teller, raised on the island by Dr. Kananga, and Bond’s main love interest in the story; which in the book is black. Fearing controversy by presenting an interracial romance to the then spy, the production and studio (MGM / United Artists) struck a deadlock – and ended up going back and turning Solitaire into a white woman. The beautiful Jane Seymour (who would later become known for the novel Somewhere in the Past, 1980, and the series Dr. Quinn, 1993-1998) was chosen.

Finding a happy medium, the parties then agreed to transform the plot’s second Bondgirl, Rosie, who in the book was white, into a black woman. The one chosen for the role was Playboy bunny Gloria Hendry. And yes, she was involved with James Bond, so we still had an interracial relationship with 007, even though that wasn’t the main romance. In fact, it wouldn’t have been until 2002, with Halle Berry playing Jinx in A New Day to Die, for the main Bondgirl in the story to finally be a black woman.

On the side of the allies, we have the turns of Bernard Lee in boss M, and Lois Maxwell in Moneypenny. But no Q or Desmond Llewelyn in Roger Moore’s first foray as Bond.

Read also: File 007 | In Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – 6th Film marks the absence of Sean Connery in the role

Bad guys

The late Yaphet Kotto (Alien) is the memorable Dr. Kananga, full of eccentric minions.

The Roger Moore era would launch a gallery of particularly peculiar villains, who owed neither to the Connery era (with its own diverse repertoire) nor to comic book superheroes like Batman. Kicking off Moore’s phase as villain is actor Yaphet Kotto, who had just emerged from a successful police blaxplotation by the same studio, A Mafia Never Forgives (1972), and would of course become known as the ‘Alien – O Octavo Passenger (1979). Having fun like no other villain in the franchise, Kotto takes on the dual roles of Dr. Kananga and drug dealer Mr. Big. Despite this, the actor and character would suffer what is considered to be the worst death of a villain in the franchise, in a laughable scene worthy of the most trashy movies imaginable – like the villain puffing up like a balloon, bursting from the air. water like a missile and explode in the open. The doll used is simply badly made and too bad, without being able to believe that the scene actually entered into the final cut of the film.

Always in a comic book mood, the goons here are an attraction on their own. Julius Harris plays Tee Hee, a guy with a hook hand, able to bend the barrel of a gun; and Geoffrey Holder is particularly macabre with his paintings and his laughter in voodoo master Baron Samedi. Another character that attracts attention without having anything to do with the main plot is Hillbilly Pepper’s Sheriff (Clifton James), a character created and included after the production had problems with the New Orleans Police in the southern United States, due to prejudice against the black cast and crew. The character has been so successful that he will appear again in the sequel.

Read also: File 007 | Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Sean Connery Returns to Las Vegas in Movie 7

Baron Samedi is undoubtedly a big attraction of ‘Live and Let Die’.

Reportage

One of the most interesting aspects of Live and Let Die, aside from Roger Moore’s debut as James Bond, is the film’s choice of the noir theme, showing that the franchise was in phase and could be multicultural. 007 had previously paid homage to Japanese culture and cinema in Só Se Vive Two Times and now he is doing the same for African culture. Fans of the New Orleans and voodoo theme, beliefs, religion and everything related to this universe will see a unique film within the series.

For the soundtrack, for the first time in the franchise, conductor John Barry was absent from the compositions, leaving the post to none other than George Martin, a music producer considered the Fifth Beatle. It is precisely for this reason that the theme song Live and Let Die was with an old acquaintance of producer and songwriter, Paul McCartney, who immortalized the music to the point of transcending the film – something we would only see with some. more recent episodes (such as as Skyfall, by Adele).

The action scenes here act as a decoy. While Moore didn’t debut with best scripting, when it comes to the actor’s debut, he left nothing to be desired. With boat chases and even a spy race against crocodiles in the swamp – a scene actually performed by a stuntman (who would go on to become one of the most memorable fans and honored in Skyfall). To these and others, the Moore era would be known for its playfulness and for its increasingly playful mood. But let’s remember that this trend started in the previous movie, The Diamonds Are Forever. So Moore proved effective in the role, the film became a box office hit, grossing more than the previous episode, and although Live and Let Die was not a unanimous renewal, he manages to conquer for its unique characteristics adding to the rich repertoire of the film agent.

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