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Live and Let Die(1973)
James Bond battles the forces of black magic in this high-octane adventure that hurtles him from the streets of New York City to Louisiana's bayou country. With charm, wit and deadly assurance, Agent 007 takes on a powerful drug lord with a diabolical scheme to conquer the world.
For more about Live and Let Die and the Live and Let Die Blu-ray release, see Live and Let Die Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on December 21, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writers: Tom Mankiewicz, Ian Fleming
Starring: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James (I), Julius Harris, David Hedison
» See full cast & crew
Live and Let Die Blu-ray Review
You used to say live and let live...
Reviewed by Ben Williams, December 21, 2008
The cinematic adventures of James Bond reached a turning point in 1973. Superstar Sean Connery had declined the opportunity to continue on in the role and his one-time replacement, George Lazenby, wasn't well received by critics or fans. Enter Roger Moore: a popular television star who had been rumored to be up for the titular role since his success as Simon Templar in "The Saint." Moore's tenure as James Bond would prove to be enduring as he occupied the role for 12 years. Live and Let Die was Moore's first foray into the James Bond world and, while not nearly as effective as Thunderball or Goldfinger, was still promising enough to signal that Bond had survived losing Sean Connery. Up until this point, Bond films had always featured a nice element of wit. Strangely, Moore's films became increasingly more and more steeped in pure camp. Fortunately, Live and Let Dieavoids most of the silly pitfalls that plagued Moore's later films and presents a solid and entertaining James Bond adventure.
When James Bond is dispatched to the United States to investigate the deaths of three MI6 agents, he encounters a shadowy underground figure by the name of Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto). Big has a mysterious connection to Dr. Kananga, the dictator of a small Caribbean island and the subject of the dead MI6 agents' investigation. Bond will, again, work with his CIA counterpart, Felix Leiter (David Hedison) as he traverses the unfamiliar American landscape. A lucky encounter with psychic tarot card reader, Solitaire (Jane Seymour), emboldens Bond's quest to foil Kananga's diabolical scheme to distribute tons of Heroin around the world. Kananga's ruthless henchmen, Tee Hee Johnson (Julius Harris) and voodoo doctor Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder), on the other hand, have other plans for Bond.
Live and Let Die was the first of the Bond films that focused on more common criminals and less on world domination. It's a throwaway episode that remains enjoyable in its execution, but never achieves the grandeur of Mr. Connery's previous efforts. 1973 was the height of the Blaxploitation era and Live and Let Die revels, from beginning to end, in its nuances. Bond has always been a symbol of the times -- a sexist alpha male during the Connery era, a rouge who was at odds with political correctness during the Pierce Brosnan years and an unaffected and brutal killing machine in the series' latest incarnation with Daniel Craig. Unfortunately for Moore, he's the Bond who wore leisure suits, battled killer pimps and fought off voodoo attacks. It's all pretty silly, of course, and Moore tackles the roll with a smirk and a sly sense of absurdity. His sense of the Bond character seems to reside in an overwhelming devil may care attitude. Moore's Bond has always struck me as being lighthearted with a reluctant propensity for violence, whereas Connery's Bond was a serious man with a quick wit who had no qualms about killing. There are as many opinions as to what makes the best Bond as there are Bond fans. I was raised on the Roger Moore films, so I do have fond memories of seeing them whilst growing up. However, in the shadow of what Connery and Craig have achieved, Live and Let Die is just a little on the soft side.
Live and Let Die does have its positives, however. Paul McCartney's exceptional title song is one of the best in the history of the franchise. George "The Fifth Beatle" Martin builds on themes from McCartney's opener and crafts a suspenseful and rollicking score. It's a fantastic 1 - 2 punch and is amongst the best Bond musical experiences in the series. Jane Seymour's Solitaire ranks as one of the most beautiful and sympathetic Bond girls of all time while Geoffrey Holder's Baron Samedi is effectively creepy. Live and Let Die has a lot of excellent parts that just happen to add up to a mediocre Bond adventure. Live and Let Die will, no doubt, be enjoyed as a throwback by Bond fans. It's the newcomers to the series that will be left wondering.
Live and Let Die Blu-ray, Video Quality
Live and Let Die comes to Blu-ray looking better than ever. The film was restored using the Lowry digital restoration process and has made the transition to 1080p , by way of AVC Mpeg-4 encoding, in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It's amazing to see a 35 year old film look so completely fresh and detailed. Contrast is excellent throughout the presentation with ample shadow details and deep blacks. Fine detail is impeccably preserved and gives Live and Let Die a look that belies the film's actual age. Colors are also richly saturated, with vibrant reds and blues that give the film a strikingly flamboyant color palette. Pervious versions of the film on home video have not done justice to the excellent photography on display in Live and Let Die.
Grain is present in levels appropriate to a film of this age. Noise never interferes nor do the effects of any kind of noise reduction. Live and Let Die simply looks as it should. Digital nasties don't rear their heads her either. I didn't detect a hint of edge enhancement, haloes, macroblocking or banding. All told, this is a spectacular transfer that shows how older films can fare well in the high definition arena if restored properly. Highly recommended!
Live and Let Die Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unfortunately, no level of lossless encoding can help a soundtrack that is poorly recorded. Live and Let Die suffers from an an abundance of audio issues that this 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio track just can't correct. Dialogue is poorly recorded, leaving scenes sounding muted and incomprehensible and sound effects suffer by like the were recoded inside a tin shack. It's clear that those involved in remixing this track were hampered by bad source material that just couldn't be improved upon. About the only bright spot in this mix is the music. It was obviously recorded with a lot more care and attention to proper fidelity - - exactly what one would expect from Paul McCartney and George Martin. Live and Let Die also includes the original mono soundtrack that was featured during the film's theatrical exhibition. It suffers from the same problems as the DTS track, but neuters the musical score. You're probably better off sticking with the lossless track, but don't expect for the folks at MGM to have magically turned older material that was recorded poorly into anything even close to a modern surround track.
Live and Let Die Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- MI6 Commentaries with John Cork, Tom Mankiewicz and Sir Roger Moore
- Inside Live and Let Die
- Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary
- Roger Moore as James Bond, Circa 1964
- Live and Let Die Conceptual Art
- On Set with Roger Moore: The Funeral Parade
- On Set with Roger Moore: Hang Gliding Lessons
- 007 Mission Control
- Theatrical Archive
- TV Broadcasts
- Radio Communication
- Image Database
While hardly breaking any new ground, Live and Let Die does feature a number of compelling supplements that add a nice dose of period scope to the making of the film. I was most taken by the throwback features. Listening to old Bond radio ads, seeing how the film was advertised on TV as well as the on-set films really helps to reset one's expectations for just what the prevailing attitudes and culture were like in the early 70s. There's also a strange supplement, "Roger Moore as James Bond, 1964", that stands as, frankly, an eerie bit of comedy from a low-rent British chat show. It's a strange thing to see Roger Moore doing his best Bond at the height of Connery's popularity in the role. All three commentary tracks are a worthwhile listen for fans of the film and, as always, I'm happy to see the original theatrical trailers included with the set.
Live and Let Die Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even though Live and Let Die is one of the better Roger Moore Bond films ever produced, it sill manages to be a weak entry into the long-standing series of James Bond adventures. I've never been particularly fond of Roger Moore's portrayal of the legendary spy, but this is one of his better attempts. The video presentation of this 35 year old film is nothing less than amazing. It's a testament to the tireless work of Lowry Digital that we can enjoy this film in such high quality. Audio, however, is extremely weak and has been hampered by the quality of the original recordings. While Live and Let Die will never be a favorite of mine, it's hard not to enjoy the film. It is over-the-top and fun and will always provide a laugh for the willing viewer. For Bond fans and collectors, this is a must have disc.
Live and Let Die: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Live and Let Die (4 bundles)
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Live and Let Die Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 21st - October 21, 2008
James Bond represents a lifestyle that many people want to live and few can afford. As the world's top secret agent, 007 gets to travel the world to exotic locations, making use of his fast cars and cool gadgets to save the world over and over again (with just ...
• James Bond Blu-ray Releases Get Detailed - July 29, 2008
MGM Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of the James Bond films 'Dr. No', 'Die Another Day', 'Live and Let Die', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From Russia With Love', and 'Thunderball', due to hit ...
• Bond is Officially Blu - June 18, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment in conjunction with MGM Home Entertainment have announced that they will bring six classic James Bond films to Blu-ray this fall. All six title - 'Dr. No', 'Die Another Day', 'Live and Let Die', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From Russia with Love', ...
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