Tag Archives: Live And Let Die

James Bond and the Oscars

1964 Goldfinger- Winner of Best Sound Effects (Norman Wanstall )

1965 Thunderball- Winner of Best Visual Effects (John Stear)

1971 Diamonds Are Forever – Nominated for Best Sound

1973 Live And Let Die – Nominated for Best Song (Lyrics by Linda and Paul McCartney; Sung by Paul McCartney and Wings)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me – Nominated for Best Song (Music by M. Hamlisch; Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager; Sung by Carly Simon)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me- Nominated for Best Score (Music by Marvin Hamlisch)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me -Nominated for Best Art Direction/ Set Decoration (Ken Adam, Peter Lamont, Hugh Scaife)

1979 Moonraker – Nominated for Best Visual Effects (Derek Meddings; P Wilson; J. Evans)

1981 – For Your Eyes Only Nominated for Best Song (Lyrics by Mick Leeson; Music by Bill Conti; Sung by Sheena Easton)

1982 Irving G. Thalberg Lifetime Achievement Award- Albert R. Broccoli

Live and Let Die

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Solitaire; The Villain: Mr.Big; Supporting Characters: Tee Hee, Felix Leiter, The Robber, Dexter, Quarrel, “M”, “Q”; Locations covered: Harlem NY; Tampa Bay, FL; Shark`s Bay, Jamaica

Ian Fleming picked up the pace from Casino Royale by giving us Live And Let Die, a tense, and sometimes grueling suspense thriller with more action, more villians, and more locations. In fact, it`s more of everything. And it`s easy to see why, after reading this novel, that Fleming`s books became such a phenomenen by the early 60`s.

Fleming`s best and most interesting passages seem to be when he delves into subjects he has a knowledge or passion about. Orinthology. Marine biology. The layout of Jamaica (the home of Ian Fleming). All these factors come into play and make for a riveting read.

The book starts off with the suspicion that a vast pirate fortune from centuries ago has been found, and it`s contents are being looted and sold off to finance criminal activities.

“In short” continued M, “we suspect that this Jamaican treasure is being used to finance the Soviet espionage system, or an important part of it, in America. And our suspicion becomes a certainty when I tell you who this Mr. Big is.”

Here`s where the book starts to get tricky and politically dicey:

“Mr.Big” said M, weighing his words, “is probably the most powerful Negro criminal in the world. He is…the head of the Black Widow Voodoo cult…He is also a Soviet agent…a known member of SMERSH.”

“I don`t think I`ve ever heard of a great Negro criminal before” said Bond. They don`t seem to take to big business. Pretty law abiding chaps, on the whole, I should have thought.”

As you can tell from the excerpted dialogue, Live And Let Die contains generalizations and stereotypes of Black people that were probably very common in the world 43 years ago. It also contains a great deal of words that most people wouldn`t think, use or say today. Perhaps Fleming knew something that contemporaries of his day did not. Despite using terminology that might make some people squirm, Fleming does attempt to be balanced in his own view of black people and how he presents them in his book.

Bond moves on to Harlem, where much of the gold coins looted from Bloody Morgan`s Pirate Ship in Jamaica have been turning up. But Bond is on Mr. Big`s turf, and Mr. Big gets the word out quick that 007 isn`t welcome in that part of town. Bond gets a fairly straight forward message delivered to his hotel:

THE BEATS OF YOUR OWN HEART ARE NUMBERED. I KNOW THAT NUMBER AND HAVE STARTED TO COUNT.

Maybe Bond has never had much contact with black people in his life. In his conversation with “M”, he made many generalizations and stereotypical comments, and now, on page 48, Fleming presents Bond as very uncomfortable being in an all black nightclub, and the sweat has now started to bead up on Bond`s forehead.

Bond and Felix get dropped through a trap door in the floor, and 007 comes face to face with Mr. Big and his “psychic” companion, Miss Solitaire.

Speaking of Mr. Big: “It was a great football of a head, twice the normal size and very nearly round. The skin was grey-black, taut and shining like the face of a week old corpse in the river…the eyes were extraordinarily far apart, so that one could not focus on them both, but only on one at a time. They bulged slightly, and the irises were golden around black pupils which were now wide. They were animal eyes, not human, and they seemed to blaze.”

Mr. Big brings in Solitaire to divine the truth from the questions 007 is going to be forced to answer. On page 60, Fleming explains to us how Solitaire got her name, which was a nice touch. After just a few questions, 007 gets the sense that Solitaire is lying to Mr.Big about the answers. It appears she wants to leave her master, Mr.Big, and she`s going to have Bond help her do it.

Bond manages to escape the situation, and Solitaire joins up with him on a train to get out of New York. On the train, Solitaire gives detailed information about her past, and how she fits into Mr. Big`s criminal syndicate. On their train ride down to Tampa, an all points bulletin is put out in the Negro underworld for all `eyes` to be on the lookout for 007 and Solitaire. Baldwin, the room servant on 007`s traincar, seems agitated and mighty nervous while going about his job. Bond sends Solitaire into the next room and has a talk with Baldwin.

“Got something on your mind, Baldwin?” he asked.

Yassuh. Shouldn`t be tellin` yuh this, but dere`s plenty trouble `n this train this trip. Yuh gotten yo`self a henemy `n dis train. Ah hear t`ings which Ah don` like at all. Better take dese hyah.”

He reached in his pocket and brought out two wooden window wedges. Bond took the wedges from him.

Unfortunately, most of the secondary characters such as Baldwin are portrayed as unintelligent and poorly educated. Honest and good, but poorly educated. Baldwin`s assistance for Bond helps save Bond and Solitaire`s life, but it cost`s Baldwin his. On page 112, Bond remarks “Poor Baldwin. We owe him a lot”. So, Fleming did write many of the black characters as decent, good people, but he also stereotyped their language and manner of speaking.

Bond, Felix, and Solitaire all meet up in Tampa, but it`s not long before Mr.Big`s empire finds Solitaire, kidnaps her, and lets a shark eat half of Felix Leiter`s body off. Felix lives, and a note is attached to his dumped body that read:

HE DISAGREED WITH SOMETHING THAT ATE HIM

Bond then sets off to settle the score for Felix and Solitaire. He tracks down the warehouse used to help house the shark that Leiter was fed to, and there, Fleming sets up a wonderful action sequence set amongst gunfire and exploding fish tanks.

The end result at the warehouse is in Bond`s favor, but the FBI is in a huge hurry to rush Bond out of the country, and keep what happened at the warehouse quiet so as not to offend Mr. Big. Bond takes off for Jamaica, and begins training. The routines will last a week, and are used to get Bond in shape to scuba dive up close enough to Mr.Big`s yacht, The Secatur, so as to rescue Solitaire and destroy the gold coin smuggling operation.

As I`ve said, Fleming paints quite a picture in Live And Let Die. He has a firm grasp on creating vivid imagery in the readers mind. His action sequences are tight, crisp, focused and surprisingly up to date. What Live And Let Die lacks though is any real chemistry between 007 and Solitaire. Solitaire is intermittently seen throughout the book. Her “powers” were never really expounded upon, therefore there`s not much to know about her. The dialogue between 007 and Solitaire didn’t go over too well. Much of it was either corny or incomprehensible.

Also, Mr. Big gets the short end of the stick, as far as villians go. Big gets in some choice words, and Fleming writes him as well educated and articulate, but somehow Mr. Big isn`t in the book long enough. After a brief appearance in the beginning, he doesn`t show up until the last 20 pages or so of the book.

The real chemistry actually takes place between Felix Leiter and 007. After meeting for the first time on the Casino Royale mission, 007 and Felix have become very good friends. Fleming does a great job of conveying the sense that these two are friends who are always looking out for one another`s back.

licence to kill – adaptation

License To Kill was based, in part, upon two different Fleming Novels; the novels–Live And Let Die and The Hildebrand Rarity. With most novel to film transitions, some of the most fun can be had seeing what made the final script and what did not. We`ll first take a look at The Hildebrand Rarity.

The Milton Krest character made the film, but he was drastically different than the book character. As in the book, LTK`s Krest had a drinking problem. What Krest did`nt have in LTK was his `corrector`, a whip made of sea spines. He used it, in the book, to keep his wife in line. In the film, the `corrector` is given to the newly created character of Franz Sanchez, who only uses it once. Liz Krest did`nt make the film, but instead was essentially replaced by Lupe Lamora. The WaveKrest in the book made the film and in both cases, The WaveKrest was being used searching for marine specimens as a cover for more nefarious activities. In the case of The Hildebrand Rarity, The WaveKrest was used as a tax writeoff/way to travel around the world free. In LTK, it was used to smuggle cocaine.

A whole section was taken from Live and Let Die, that had not been used for the film of that name. Mostly, this had to do with the revenge of a criminal against Felix Leiter, and how Bond reacted to it. In the book, Felix was partially fed to a great white shark and a note attached to the leftovers of his body that said “He disagreed with something that ate him”. In the book, this sequence takes place on an ocean front warehouse in Tampa/St.Petersburg, whereas in the film, it takes place in Key West.

In the book, Bond is investigating treasure smuggling by Mr. Big. In LTK, Felix and Bond investigate drug smuggling by Franz Sanchez. In LALD, the treasure was being smuggled in the bottom of aquariums that had collected sea creatures. The gold coins were buried in the silt. In LTK, the cocaine was smuggled inside the WaveKrest, and buried underneath a maggot incubator.

In The Hildebrand Rarity, Bond was aided by Fidele Barbery and in Live and Let Die, Bond was aided by Quarrel. In License To Kill, Bond is aided by Sharky who is either one of these characters in disguise. Take your pick.

Diana Ross for Solitaire

Writer Tom Mankiewicz wanted Diana Ross for the role of Solitaire in Live and Let Die. He thought it was time for a black woman in a leading role in a James Bond film and he lobbied hard for her inclusion. However, the studio declined his suggestion and went with the way the character was written in the book: a white fortune teller.

“One of the things that I wanted very much was for Solitaire to be played by a black woman. When it came time to do it (film LALD), UA was quite frightened of it for legitimate reasons from their point of view: the picture was going to be very expensive and they wondered, outside of cities like New York and London, how well that would go over with a new Bond. They`d had the experience of Her Majesty`s Secret Service. They were real careful.” [Mankiewicz is quoted in Tom Soter`s 1993 tome Bond and Beyond]

Tom Mankiewicz and Guy Hamilton both felt that having a black female lead in the role of Solitaire would “alleviate” the problems the movie would face in having all black villains. A compromise was worked out, where Bond would sleep with a black woman (Rosie Carver-played by Gloria Hendry) but Solitaire would be kept white!

A Look Back: Live and Let Die with Robert Baum

maxresdefaultFollowing Sean Connery’s return to British intelligence in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Roger Moore is the new Bond, James Bond in Live and Let Die. Note to trivia buffs: this is film number eight based on Ian Fleming’s second Bond novel and Moore is the third James Bond–following Connery, George Lazenby, and Connery again.

The man who once essayed the title role in the tv series based on Leslie Charteris’ The Saint books imbues agent 007 with a lighter touch than Connery. Moore brings a charm to the role and shows more ease in his first Bond outing than Lazenby displayed in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

When Moore is first seen (following the pre-credit sequence), he is at home in the company of a gorgeous woman. The tryst is interrupted by the early morning arrival of Bond’s boss M (Bernard Lee) and his secretary Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell). They send 007 on his way to New York for his mission. One which will involve voodoo, heroin, and a lovely fortune teller named Solitaire (Jane Seymour).

It has been noted that the producers were hoping Connery would return to the series–and not for his 1971 mission. One can only imagine how certain moments of the film might have turned out had that happened. Like a sequence in Harlem when Bond enters a restaurant which serves as a front for his adversary’s illicit operations. And everyone in the place is black. An approach which an undercover operative calls a “clever disguise.”

“Voyage to the bottom of the Sea” regular David Hedison becomes the fifth actor to play 007’s longtime ally CIA agent Felix Leiter. His rendering of the role is a far cry from the most recent Leiter (Norman Burton in Diamonds Are Forever, who seemed more like light comic relief) and makes for probably the best Leiter since Jack Lord played the agent in the first Bond adventure Dr. No (1962).

Yaphet Kotto makes for an OK villain but his claw-handed henchman Tee Hee (Julius Harris) makes for a delightful scene-stealer. Clifton James is amusing as a redneck sheriff though he comes off as being too much of a buffoon. Former Beatle Paul McCartney’s title tune certainly makes for the liveliest Bond theme song ever. Seymour is quite a stunning presence despite the fact that her accent makes her sound like a fairy tale princess. However, she does establish herself in a pantheon of such Bond beauties as Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman, Claudine Auger, and Diana Rigg.

While the film is a bit chatty, director Guy Hamilton–who also helmed 1964s Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever–keeps the narrative going at a slightly brisk pace. But hey, this is a new Bond; Hamilton is breaking Moore in, presumably saving the heavy stunt extravaganzas (though there is a jaw-dropping boat chase which includes a moment which made the Guiness Book of World Records) for later entries in the series–hopefully. Moore relies primarily on being witty and charming to get himself out of trouble than the fisticuffs frequently employed by Connery (when there was no available gadget or PPK around to do so). to extricate himself from sticky situations.