Live and Let Die (1973) is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Although the producers had wanted Sean Connery to return after his role in the previous Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, he declined, sparking a search for a new actor to play James Bond. Roger Moore was signed for the lead role.
The film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. In the film, a Harlem drug lord known as Mr. Big plans to distribute two tons of heroin free so as to put rival drug barons out of business. Mr. Big, however, is revealed to be the disguised alter ego of Dr. Kananga, a corrupt Caribbean dictator, who rules San Monique, the fictional island where the heroin poppies are secretly farmed. Bond is investigating the death of three British agents, leading him to Kananga, where he is soon trapped in a world of gangsters and voodoo as he fights to put a stop to the drug baron’s scheme.
Live and Let Die was released during the height of the blaxploitation era, and many blaxploitation archetypes and cliché are depicted such as afro hairstyles, derogatory racial epithets (“honky”), black gangsters, and “pimpmobiles”. It departs from the former plots of the James Bond films about megalomaniac super-villains, and instead focuses on drug trafficking, depicted primarily in blaxploitation films. It was considered by fans as an “Exploitation Bond film” in contrast to the other films. Moreover, it is set in African American cultural centres such as Harlem, New Orleans, and the Caribbean Islands. It was also the first James Bond film featuring an African American Bond girl to be romantically involved with 007, Rosie Carver, who was played by Gloria Hendry. Despite mixed reviews the film was a box office success and was nominated for an Academy Award.
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