We’ve finally made it to the Roger Moore era of James Bond. But will Mel think Moore is less?
I was trying to think of a food accompaniment to this month’s movie, but I couldn’t think of anything from the film. So I made like Timothy Dalton and went back to the books. In the novel of Live and Let Die, Bond and Leiter enjoy a meal of crab and hamburgers. I originally planned to buy some lean mince, bacon, and blue cheese and handcraft some delicious burgers on artisan bread. In the end I went to KFC. Wicked Zinger Tower for Mel, the traditional Big Daddy meal for me.
As we tuck into America’s finest fare, various British agents are being killed around the globe. The UK ambassador is looking bored listening to a translation at the UN. He’s probably day-dreaming about Ferrero Roche. Suddenly he is assassinated with deadly sound through his headphones! His body spasms and then slumps dead. A couple of people look over, but nobody really reacts.
“Why would nobody do anything?!” asks Mel.
It reminds me of the Peter Kay bingo hall bit where a man dies during the game and everyone carries on playing. His wife just takes over his bingo numbers.
The credits kick in and I ask Mel if she likes the songs at the start of the Bond films?
“Um… They’re all right. What do you think? You always ask me questions.”
I love them. You only get them in Bond films and they set the musical score the film. They are also hugely evocative; when I’m driving along listening to the Bond Themes album I remember all the classic scenes.
Bond is unwinding after his latest mission with an Italian secret agent, when M and Moneypenny unexpectedly arrive at his flat. After this first scene with the new 007, I ask Mel for her first impressions.
“He’s even more slimy. At least Sean Connery was tough. He just seems like a poser. He seems like he’ll just be about the suaveness, not the substance of what his job his. He doesn’t seem like a proper spy.”
I’m shocked. I ask how her how she thinks Moore compares with Daniel Craig?
“Complete opposite. He’s more like Silva, the villain. I can tell he’s going to annoy me.”
We meet Solitaire, along with Kananga and his henchmen.
“Why is she in a nightie? Nobody else is in nightwear.”
We see some of Baron Samedi’s voodoo muscial extravagenza for tourists in San Monique.
“This one’s a bit surreal.”
Bond arrives and Solitaire does a Tarot reading for him.
“It will be the lovers’ card.”
It’s the fool. But shortly afterwards it is the lover.
“I knew that was coming.”
At his hotel, Bond calls room service.
“Bring me a woman,” Mel orders for him.
007 runs a bath and starts shaving.
Mel asks, “Do you ever shave in the bath?”
I have done, mainly because Bond does here. But now I use an electric shaver, like Bond in Die Another Day. Of course I don’t mention this. Spoilers.
Someone puts a snake in the bathroom, which Bond kills with the old deodorant can and lighter trick.
“I’m impressed by that. That is good thinking.”
CIA agent Rosie Carver arrives, but seems to be resistant to Bond’s charms.
As Rosie goes into her bedroom, she screams at what she finds there.
“It’s just a bloody hat,” says Mel.
“It’s just a hat, Darling,” says Bond. “Belonging to a small-headed man of limited means who lost a fight with a chicken.” Absolute classic.
Rosie begs him not to leave her alone, so he moves in for some seduction.
“For —–‘s sake.”
The next morning we see Bond walk out of their hotel suite to go and organise a car.
“She asked him not to leave her!”
Bond and Carver meet Quarrel Junior. I ask Mel if she can remember Quarrel Senior?
Dr. No… fisherman who was torched by the flame-thrower on a truck that was masquerading as a dragon on Crab Key?
“I hate it when you try to make me remember things. It all comes flooding back… the bad memories.”
Rosie has found a secret compartment in Quarrel Junior’s boat containing a gun, so she holds him up at gunpoint.
Bond: “As I was saying, Quarrel, a lousy agent… but the compensations speak for themselves.”
Rosie looks disconsolate, so Bond reassures her with a pat on the bottom, “Never mind, darling.”
Mel says, “So patronising to women.”
Bond has of course rumbled that Rosie Carver is working for Mr. Big. They stop off for a sexy picnic, then Bond pulls a gun on her.
Rosie: “But you couldn’t. You wouldn’t. Not after what we just done.”
Bond: “I certainly wouldn’t have killed you before.”
Mel gasps. “That’s the worst thing he’s ever said to a woman. It really shows what he thinks of women. Totally disposable. He knew she was bad and he just wanted to sleep with her?!”
To be fair, in the past he’s been able to turn ladies onto the path of righteousness by seducing them.
“Do you think he enjoys the power over women?” Mel asks.
I ask if she means the power of being totally irresistible to all women?
“I don’t know why. Look at him!”
I look at the screen. I see the raw, unfettered machismo of Roger Moore in his prime and wonder how we can be watching the same movie.
Later, Solitaire is in another nightie.
“I like her nightie. They often have nice nighties on here .”
Bond establishes that Solitaire actually believes in tarot, then makes her choose from the deck. It is the lovers’ card, so she sleeps with him.
“Oh for —-‘s sake. He’s already had one woman today!”
A slow day for the sexual tyrannosaurus that is Moore’s Bond, but the man does have a mission to complete.
Bond drops the deck on a table, revealing that he’s been out and bought a full pack of lovers’ cards.
“He is a rapist. She did that believing it was her destiny!”
But he needs information about Kananga and his evil scheme, I say.
“He’s so offensive. I hate him. I hate you for liking it as well right now.”
Bond is reassuring Solitaire that if she tells him what he needs to know, they will escape together on a boat. He says, “Lovers’ lesson number one: We have no secrets.”
“‘We have no secrets! But I just tricked you into sleeping with me.’ Even now he’s just bribing her. He doesn’t care about her.”
They meet Baron Samedi playing the flute. He gives a cheery, “Good morning!” and tells them it’s sure to be a beeeeaaauuuutiful day.
Mel laughs, “That reminds me of the Scottish man off Little Britain. ‘Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t.’ ”
As Bond and Solitaire walk along the street, Mel says he looks like a Bee Gee.
In a bid to keep, ahem, stayin’ alive they board a double-decker bus to make their escape.
“A bus isn’t really the best getaway vehicle is it?”
I would normally agree, in the hands of a lesser man…
“That would have tipped over!” Mel protests when the bus skids around.
She didn’t worry. As Sir Roger Moore himself tells us in his autobiography My Word Is My Bond (2008, Michael O’Mara Books):
“Before we all left London for Jamaica, I was dispatched to Hammersmith Bus Garage in west London, where they had a huge skidpan, to drive a bus and then apply the brakes hard on the slippery surface – as I was to do in the film. I was terrified the bus would turn over, but such is their design, I discovered, that they rarely do.”
When they get off at the jetty, Bond quips, “End of the line.”
“He’s just not being real.”
Mel isn’t impressed by Bond’s next change of clothes.
“Only playboy wannabes wear silk shirts.”
Bond says, “Possession being nine-tenths of the law…”
“…No it isn’t!” Mel automatically replies. This is her pet hate.
Kananga stages a test to check if Solitaire is still a virgin, and therefore still psychic, by reading out the serial number on Bond’s watch and asking her if it’s correct.
“It’s a fifty-fifty chance. He should have asked her what the number was. Also psychic ability doesn’t exist.”
Tee Hee has taken Bond to the crocodile farm. While throwing raw meat in the water to get the crocs excited, he reveals that he lost an arm to one of the beasts.
“He really needs to be careful handling raw meat. He’ll get salmonella. Look, it’s touching his shirt-sleeves.”
In the classic scene Bond escapes the island by running over the backs of the crocodiles, then jumps in a speed boat to make good his escape.
During the chase Bond goes over land next to a wedding. The chasing boat wrecks the wedding cake and drinks tent.
“Why is there always something really bad when they show a wedding? I think there’s an anti-marriage agenda.”
I’m about to reassure Mel that this won’t happen to us, when I remember the reason the room we are getting married in is called the Lake View Room is because it’s right next to a lake.
“This chase is going on for a bloody long time. We get the idea… you’re having a boat chase.”
Admittedly it is nearly fifteen minutes of boat chase, but Mel doesn’t appreciate how Roger suffered to bring this piece of art to the world. From My Word Is My Bond:
“I realised there wasn’t much fuel left in the tank, as the engine cut out. I had no steering! I therefore continued in a straight line… directly into a wooden boathouse. On impact, I flew out of the boat and straight into a wall, cracking my front teeth and twisting my knee badly. I needed a walking cane for days afterwards.”
Bond’s superior boating skills eventually sees him escaping his pursuers, but after gate-crashing a voodoo ceremony he’s soon at Kananga’s mercy once more. He cuts into Bond’s arm as he dangles on a crane above a shark tank.
“I bet that hurts. I wouldn’t like that, would you?”
I would not, I reply.
After a fight in the water, Bond shoves a pellet in Kananga’s mouth, which makes him blow up in both senses of the term. He expands like a balloon, and then explodes.
Mel laughs, “That effect was awful!”
Bond tells Solitaire her former employer had an inflated opinion of himself.
“James, what are you doing?” Asks Solitaire.
“He wants sex, Love. I hate the way he calls her ‘darling’ all the time.”
I call you darling, I say.
“Not like that! Not so… cheesily.”
On the train home Tee Hee reappears to menace the couple. He’s soon tipped out of the train window by Bond, leaving his prosthetic arm behind.
“Just being disarming, darling.” Bond says.
“Oh my God,” Mel mutters.
As the credits roll, Mel sums up, “That wasn’t very good.”
That’s my favourite Roger Moore, I protest.
“It goes downhill from here?!”
Well, Diamonds Are Forever was my least favourite Connery and you thought it was the best.
I ask how she rates Roger Moore as Bond?
“I hate him more than Sean Connery… he’s better than the other one though. He was forgettable.”
Mel will return… watching The Man With The Golden Gun.
Live and Let Die original trailer:
Order Live and Let Die on DVD from Amazon:
Order Roger Moore’s autobiography, My Word Is My Bond: