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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Island Excursion

Live and Let Die on IMDb

Plot Overview

right handWhen a British diplomat/agent and two other of Her Majesty's agents die by black hands within twenty-four hours of each other, secret agent James Bond (Roger Moore,) in the ‘00’ section with its attendant license to kill, is dispatched by ‘M’ Fantasy Island Express (Bernard Lee) to find out what happened and, per the commentary of the screen­writer Tom Mankiewicz, to “vanquish some black villains” for the sake of the fran­chise. We've seen enough Bond flicks by now to know what to expect, although it's never happened to blacks before. The 1963 “Dream” speech of MLK will likely resonate through this 1973 script.


Martin Luther King
Jr.Civil rights advocate Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) complained about: “when your first name becomes ‘nigger’ and your middle name becomes ‘boy’ (how­ever old you are) and your last name becomes ‘John’.” “Live and Let Die” does not use that particular first name any­where, but it does have a voodoo high priest named Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) of a secret (i.e. occult) church. Different religions will title their leaders differently, and Christians have, (Acts 13:1) “in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger.” Niger is Latin for black, which is the root of the first name MLK was complaining about, but necessarily respected in a prophet or teacher.

A Louisiana local Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) does call a speeding black man he stops “boy,” but he also calls the state troopers “boys” and even Bond is “boy.” That's just the highly informal speech used of adult males in general in the south, not some­thing to get all worked up over.

I don't know if I've ever heard “john” used disparagingly but a “johnny” can refer generally to any fellow. The taxi driver in this movie refers to James Bond as “Jim.” He prefers to go by “James,” but a lot of “Jameses” will accept “Jim.”

MLK had a dream that his “children will one day … not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” “Live and Let Die” goes to town with that one. Trailing his suspect through Harlem, 007 sticks out “like a cue ball.” The honky is white, in other words. Then comes the scene in a bungalow on the Caribbean nation island of San Mónique where a snake is sneaked into his room as a warning. It has skin with speckled coloration and round black pupils. The pupils say it's non-venomous—poisonous snakes have cat's-eye pupils—and as I'm unfamiliar with snakes south of the border, I judge it by its eyes, not by its skin color. At a voodoo ritual a bound agent is struck by a green snake and dies. Poisonous, that one. Later a man is tossed into a coffin filled with writhing snakes of many colors and is bit and dies. The only one I recognized is the (non-poisonous) Python with its distinctive broad stripe. The cue ball is white, the solids are nasty, and the stripes are safe … more or less. There is no way to check out the eyes in the writhing rack in the wooden casket. Cool.

On the trail of the bad guys, Bond doesn't bother with a warrant to search his suspect's property, not even a no-knock warrant. He sneaks up behind the guard and knocks him over the precipice. Okay. Eventually, he gets another suspect cuffed to the window of a moving train. At the point where we expect the police would read him his rights, 007 tosses out the garbage. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The theme song, Live and Let Die, is played in a bar: “What does it matter to you?/ When you got a job to do, you got to do it well./ You've got to give the other fellow hell.” The job that matters to the cop with the license to kill is to give the johnny hell.

Plot Overview

Bond wraps up his assignment by playing paper, rock, scissors. He feeds one bad guy an expanding gas pellet that can't be contained by his skin wrapping. He pelts an evil warehouse with brick-size fire­brands. And he clips the control cables on a bad guy's weapon. Paper, rock, scissors isn't a serious game testing one's mettle, there's an element of chance to it, it's just the way the cookie crumbles.



Bond starts his assignment in New York by tailing a deliberately reckless driver into oh cult voodoo shop where he sees him disappear into a back room. He distracts the shop minder by having her retreat to gift wrap a play snake for him while he sneaks into the back room leading eventually to a Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto.) We suppose this is the secret agent version of, (Prov. 18:16) “A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”

(Prov. 18:17) “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.” Mr. Big is the street name of Dr. Kananga the dictator of San Monique. His stated concerns are relief “for many island neighbors bullied by U.S. industries.” His principles are “friend­ship to all with favoritism towards none.” His goal is to engender “new respect for the entire area.” His method, as uncovered by Bond, is to cultivate “poppy grown in thousands of acres of well-camou­flaged fields protected by the voodoo threat of Baron Samedi.” And as “Mr. Big, distributor and whole­saler through a chain of Filet of Soul restaurants,” he will crush the competition by flooding the market.

(Prov. 18:18) “The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.” Kananga's virgin priestess Solitaire (Jane Seymour) resists Bond's charms until a stacked deck of tarot cards tricks her (“I had no choice. Please believe me. The cards”) into becoming (“So it finally happened”) this installment's Bond girl.

Production Values

” (1973) was directed by Guy Hamilton. Its screen­play was written by Tom Mankiewicz, based on Ian Fleming's novel, Live and Let Die. It stars Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, David Hedison, and Geoffrey Holder. Moore was funny and Seymour intriguing. Kotto is villainous and his right hand man Julius Harris gripping. Comic relief was provided by Clifton James playing a redneck sheriff.

It's rated PG for its thematic material and violence. We suppose its single swear word can be forgiven in its stressed-out context. The title song was written by Paul & Linda McCartney, and performed by Paul & Wings. George Martin's orchestral score was nothing to brag about. It was set in exotic locales of New York, New Orleans, and a Caribbean island.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I found this an entertaining Bond flick that was cutting edge in its day. Edgy humor broke up the routine. Politically correct it is not. It was written to appeal to adolescent boys.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

“I have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King Jr. Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Source: Martin Luther King, Jr: The Peaceful Warrior. Pocket Books, NY: 1968. Web.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. 1963. Print.

Live and Let Die. Music by Paul McCartney. Lyrics by Linda McCartney. Performed by Paul McCartney and Wings.