James Bond
Live and Let Die

Starring: Roger Moore
16192DVD Z1
Certificate: PG
Available Now

James Bond faces his most terrifying ordeal when he takes on the gangland boss Mr Big and his drug-baron "associate" Dr Kananga...

Making an impressive debut, Roger Moore manages to inject a little more humanity into Bond, as George Lazenby attempted to do in 1969. Although the tactics 007 uses to woo Kananga's mistress Solitaire (Jane Seymour) are indisputably underhanded, Bond nonetheless exhibits a tenderness towards his lover that we have seldom seen before in the series.

The task of replacing Sean Connery is made lighter for Moore by the efforts of writer Tom Mankiewicz and the rest of the creative team, who engineer dialogue and situations that are free of associations with the previous Bond movies, thus helping to avoid direct comparisons between the two actors. As the "making of" documentary and two audio commentaries reveal, Bond's dialogue in Live and Let Die contains none of the familiar catch-phrases, aside from the inevitable "My name is Bond, James Bond." At no point during this movie does Bond order a vodka martini, or don a tuxedo, or even appear on the familiar set of M's office. Even the supernatural subject matter, with copious references to voodoo and Solitaire's use of Tarot cards, is unique among the Bond films (as was Fleming's original novel among his Bond books).

Other memorable elements include further assaults upon the American police force during the spectacular speedboat chase. This involves the first of two Bond appearances by the unforgettable Clifton James as the loud-mouthed and uncouth Southern sheriff, J W Pepper. Yaphet Kotto turns in a charismatically unhinged performance in his dual role as Kananga/Mr Big. Composer George Martin fills John Barry's shoes expertly with a rousing and refreshing incidental score and one of the best-ever title songs to a Bond movie, performed by Paul McCartney and Wings.

Also featuring an amusing cross-promotional TV advertisement by the UK's milk marketing board, this DVD offers hours of entertainment, although it is painfully slow to load and switch between features (on my player at least). Nonetheless, it's to die for.

Richard McGinlay