Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Names is for tombstones, baby!

Live and Let Die (1973)
Chosen by blogalongabond

Bond's Intro: No Bond before the credits, to perhaps ease us into the plot before once more asking where is Connery? The pre-credits are fun but daft (I like to believe the guy at the UN is killed by a spike coming out of the headphones which makes about as much sense as a silly sonic noise thingagmy doodad).
Bond's actual intro is both quietly confidant and pretty fucking awful. I like how it just gets on with the business of it being Moore now, no cutesy self-referential messing around. M comes into his apartment and says 'hello 007'. That's it job done. However this means it is not at all iconic. 

And then there's the matter of James Bond's flat. Oh dear. Just horrid. I still have waking nightmares about that kitchen. And the monogramed dressing gown. The horror, the horror.

Theme Song and Credits: A doozy of a tune (even if the word 'in' seems to be used far too much) but the usual shaved cooch and perky nipples which doesn't seem to make much of a potentially interesting tarot theme.

The Ladies: The standard is pretty high looks wise (but then it very rarely isn't so seems a bit of a redundancy). Jane Seymour is stunning though a bit dull (her direction appears to mostly have consisted of "Jane, Jane, arch your back some more") and Gloria Hendry is fun (though terribly written - we will get some more supposedly intelligent women acting like idiots with next month's Britt Eklund).

The Baddies
: Not for the first, or last, time do we get a great, interesting actor playing a not so great villain. Yaphet Kotto is terrific but doesn't really do all that much. There's an interesting assortment of henchmen though. Tee Hee has a cool hook, Whisper is just the right side of odd and has a gadgeted out pimpmobile and then there is the distinctive Baron Samedi performed brilliantly by Geoffrey Holder. Though he and the whole tarot gimmick sit very strangely in Bond's world.

License to Kill: Again it is a while before Bond really gets any action, where he fights a couple of thugs and runs away. Like Dr. No the first kill is not human. A snake taking place of a spider. Interestingly (or not) when watching this on ITV many years ago the cut out the bit where he actually kills it (presumably to stop kids getting the idea of using cigars and spray aftershave to burn things) so he appeared to just let Rosie Carver enter the bathroom to face the deadly creature (and made the line "Oh, a snake. I forgot, I should have told you. You should never go in there without a mongoose." even creepier)

Bond hates foreigners: Bond's treatment of African-Americans is far fairer than the films. He seems fairly colour blind and happily fucks italian, african-american and virgin american.
The movie however is slightly troubling. Just about every black person seems in league with the bad guys (or simply happy to see people killed off in front of them). Taxi drivers, shoe shiners, men on the street all pay respect to Mr. Big ("You got a honky on your tail").

We do have one character who is working for the good guys but he is of course killed off (though it's hard to claim that as racially motivated because Bond's compatriots do have a habit of dying no matter the colour of their skin).

Bond hates women: He's pretty horrid towards Rosie Carver ("Like I was saying a lousy agent but the compensations speak for themselves", "I certainly wouldn't have killed you before" - good to know necrophillia is not one of Bond's quirks) but his treatment of Solitaire really is hard to defend. Slipping her the equivalent of a supernatural roofie it's difficult not to see his taking of her virginity as anything but rape (especially when you think of him chuckling to himself as he buys 30 odd packs of tarot cards and takes the lover out of each one to create the trick deck).

Bond's crazy knowledge: Not much really on crocs all he offers is "Oh, I've always tried to keep them at arms length"

Bond's a big fat snob: "I liked Baines. We had the same bootmaker"

00's killed: A bunch of agents at the start. Baines seemed to be doing the same job as 007 but may not have been 00 material really.

Mini overview: There's some pretty good stuff here like a mostly fun boat chase with some great stunts but it suffers from it's modishness more than the sixties efforts (I like the bit where Moore seemingly glides in to Solitaires house on his gigantic shirt collar) and continues to highlight the crappier bits of the last few movies (I loved the jokes and silliness as a kid but they grate now)

Bond never mentions that the back of the cards have his number on but in a movie with men who can't be killed and psychic ladies it's not so strange I guess.

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