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LIVE AND LET DIE
(Guy Hamilton . 1973 )

“There's no sense going out half-cocked.”

BOND 9 . LIVE AND LET DIE

 

 

“I enjoyed Bond,” declared Guy Hamilton, still in Leo Verswijver’s confessional. “I enjoyed the whole experience of Bond. After Diamonds Are Forever, I said: Bye-bye and thank you! But they said: Oh no, wait a minute, you are to do the next Bond without Sean! And so we went off with Roger Moore…”

And so, ater the youngest Bond, the oldest…Moore was 45.

“Sean was a good Bond,”Cubby Broccoli commented, “but he was never going to be the only one.” Oh really? So why try to lure him back again and again - offering a then astronomical $5.5m for this one?

Anyway, he was gone. Long gone. Rather like the other ’62 superstar, John Lennon, quitting The Beatles. Because why?  “Because,” said Lennon, “I grew up.”

When all attempts failed, United Artists wanted a name.  A safe name, however ridiculous a name.  Steve McQueen! Paul Newman! Robert Redford! Even John Gavin and Burt Reynolds were back in the frame.“ Fleming would have spun in his grave,” was Broccoli's comment. But they all sang from the same hymn sheet: Has to be an Brit. UA next suggested another hymn singer, Clint Eastwood, who quickly refused: “No matter how much you offer.”

Like Clint, the London producers insisted 007 was a true Brit. Oh really? So why sign John Gavin for the previous film...

007 .   This time instead of trying to replicate Sean they realised their mistake and moved Bond far away from the original.  No dinner suit, no vodka martinis, no Q and no M’s office. Broccoli saw tele-Brits Michael McStay, John Ronane (both had guested in Moore’s Persuaders) and Simon Oats (his work included Remington Steelewith Pierce Brosnan). Plus Julian Glover, already another Commander (Anderson) in the BBC’s 1972 Spy Trap series.He’d be tested again for Bond 13, aka For Your Eyes Only, 1981.

And the story about Timothy Dalton being called upwas also rubbish.   As he has stated many (many!) times. “I was not approached for Live and Let Die . But there was a time in the late 1970s, when Roger may not have done another one, for whatever reason. They were looking around then, and I went to see Mr. Broccoli in Los Angeles.”

Next suggestion: Hey, why not get the real thing…And that was the adventurous baronet listed by the Guinness Book of Records as “the world's greatest living explorer” Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes - akaRanulph (or Ran) Fiennes.  An Old Etonian like Fleming, Fiennes was the first man to conquer the world's highest peak of Mount Everest (at the third attempt at age 65) and cross the North and South Poles unaided. He led more than 30 expeditions to places as cold as Antarctica and as hot as the desert of Arabia, where he helped discover the lost Oman city of Ubar - the “Atlantis of the Sands.”

His previous connection with movies led to him being kicked out of the SAS (for a while) for using Army explosives to blow up the ugly concrete dam built for Doctor Dolittle - ruining, he said, the prettiest English village of Castle Comb in Wiltshire.

He was 28 when getting to the final six beforethen Cubby announced“his hands were too big andhe hasthe face of a farmer.”  Some 38 years later,during a failed attempt to walk to the North Pole in 2000, one of those hands, the left, suffered such that he eventually cut off the necrotic fingertips with a fretsaw..!

This real life hero is a cousin of Ralph Fiennes - the new M following the death of Judi Dench in the climax of Skyfall, 2011.

Patrick McGoohan still refused

“the unlikable, immoral bully.”

 

This time,  he recommended Roger Moore.   (What did he have against us!)

Moore. was seeing much of Harry and Cubby - and not just just across the Curzon Street gambling tables. They were all working at Pinewood Studios: he was shooting The Persuaders, they were into Sean’s farewell, Diamonds Are Forever. “I knew the role was up for grabs again and declined Lew Grade’s offer to make a second series of The Persuaders. Just as well I did, my phone rang. It was Harry. “Cubby and I have decided we want to go with you as the next James Bond.”

Roger was ecstatic - until, Harry kept phoning... with Cubby’s notes. Roger was overwweight...out of shape...and his hair was too long. “Why didn’t you just cast a thin, fit, bald fellow in the first place?”

“His TV image was too glossy and soft-centered when compared with the virile dynamite we had in Sean,” said Broccoli. “Essentially, we had to bury The Saint and the lightweight giggling of The Persuaders. ” If The Persuaders didn't bury Moore first.

Indeed, the first Roger Bond nearly wasn’t... His freedom depended on his Persuaders appeal - in the US. (And that was zero). Broccoli sent for Michael Billington againand he produced “my best Bond test” for Guy Hamilton. Next, and why ever not, David Warbeck, tried again…  having gained weight, muscle and  self-confidence (via BBC series called… Spytrap). “I was more sure of myself.” His director was Guy Hamilton, himself.  Except he didn’t dirige…. ”We had a script, walked in and met on the set. How do you do?/How do you do?  I said: How do you want this…. Do you have anything in mind like the way it’s gone before. No, he said, play it your way. We wan tto see how you’re going to do it.  So there I was, trying to be nice and cool, a few quips with the bird… then a whole fight scene (after just a walk through of the choreography!). That wrappd it up, we shoot hands - bye!”

David was among friends.The fighter was Bernarde Boston,originally meant to be Warbeck’s lover in Blacksnake until Russ Meyer chickened out and changed the plot.  The girl was Carolyn Seymour from Take Three Girls - David had just met her on the plane home from an Ibiza break. “She was not going to be in the film, just helping out with the tests,"

And the New Zealander was Bond until the eleventh hour - or beyond - when with a bound, Moore leapt free from his falling US ratings... And on October 13 in Louisiana, he began ruining Bond for the next dozen years.

  

UK critic Alexander Walker said:

“The school bully was replaced

by the school prefect.”

  

Retorted Moore: “Four or five thousand actors have played Hamlet.” Yes, Roger, you said it. Actors!

He signed on for  three film with options for more... met  up with old mayes Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell (M and Miss Moneypenny) and started shooting in New York in October 1972.

Hamilton did his best. “Whatever you do, don’t try to play Sean Connery,” het told Moore. “You got to create your own Bond, and I will try and help you, because I know the things you’re good at and the things you’re not so good at. Every actor has strengths and weaknesses and as a director you’ve got to find that balance. Roger created his own Bond with a lighter tone than Sean Connery, but that’s because it’s very much his personality. When we were… you could notice that Roger was beginning to relax into the part gradually, no longer cautious that he was competing another Bond. He was beginning to feel Bond in the skin, and understood how he had to play it. Halfway through the picture, he was much more relaxed than in the first part of the picture.”

As it turned out, Roger’s debut was more suited to the hero and er, style, of Ben Stiller’s Zoolander.

Moore’s tribute to Tom Mankiewicz on his 2010 death called him, “one of the most innovative, clever and inspirational writers of the Bonds. He and Guy Hamilton would lock themselves away working out snake-pit scenarios for 007, and then plan inventive escapes whilst leading the the audience up one or two wrong turns. "Like in Live And Let Die when Jimmy Bond  is stranded on an island in a lake full of alligators. Jimmy sees a boat nearby and switches on his magnetic watch to attract the metal oar rests... Aha, say the audience, that’s how he does it. But then we see the boat is tethered. Aha, says Tom! Think again, dear audience.”

 

 

 

* Sean had definitely gone this time. “Never again!” And Eon wanted a name - however silly. McQueen, Newman, Redford !!! Or a total newcomer: Michael McStay, Simon Oates John Ronane - and in the hot seat until the final bell, New Zealander David Warbeck - working as a London schoolteacher between acting gigs. He would be considered again and because of it, he became a spaghetti action hero, saying in one Italian thriller: “You're muddling me with Roger Moore.” Nice guy - but not quite...

[Photo: © Flora Film/Gico Cinematografica, 1980]


(Clic to enlarge)

 

By the time Pierce Brosnan really put his mark on Bond, the man who was so nearly 007 died of cancer in 1997. David Warbeck was 55, a New Zealander of Scots descent. He had studied at RADA in the 60s. Virtually ignored by UK films, he became an action star in Italian rip-offs of Bond, Rambo, Indy Jones or which ever hero was hot. He is also remembered as James Coburn's pal in the Irish flashbacks of Italian super-director Sergio Leone's Duck You Sucker! 

In one of his spaghetti thrillers, Warbeck actually said: “You're muddling me with Roger Moore.” Not... quite.

UA also wanted a safe script, and despite the (tad late) blaxploitation feel of the casting, insisted that scenarist Tom Mankiewicz change the colour of his leading lady, Solitaire, from black to white - and vice-versa for Rosie Carver. The year, it is worth remembering, was 1973 and not 1943.

Solitaire .   Cubby must have beenthe only producer in the world to think of Goldie Hawn or Helen Mirren as a virgin - and a frightened, vulnerable virgin at that.When theywould have eaten the new Bond alive and spat himout...

"I knew she wasn’t interested," recalled Mirren's agent, Maggie Parker. But remembering Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg, Maggie checked out the offer. "The money would have been lovely [£250,000] and the promotional tour great fun but she’d never done it for the size of the cheque before andwasn’t about to go that way."

This line considerably annoyed Broccoli at their meei at Verrey’s the Regent Street restaurant . It was one thing talking turkey, quite another to ruffle the turkey’s feathers. Ruffled, Cubby was and he rasped: “If this young lady thinks she is above our little film and just wants to hang about with these people from the RSC, thenletthat be her problem.”

Mrs Parker couldn’t help but laugh - as she knew Mirren would have, as well

Tom Mankiewicz (Roger called him Wanky Mitz) had written Solitaire for Diana Ross, but Eon played safe with the white Gayle Hunnicutt. But she and David Hemmings were infanticipating future actor Nolan Hemmings. The supernatural heroine went to the long, swirling-haired Jane Seymour, the then daughter-in-law of Richard Attenborough.

Tom Mankiewicz wrote her for Diana Ross, but Eon played safe with the white Gayle Hunnicutt. But she and David Hemmings were infanticipating future actor Noan Hemmings. The supernatural heroine went to the long, swirling-haired Jane Seymour, the then daughter-in-law of Richard Attenborough.

M .  Bernard Leewas very ill during filming. Kenneth More stood by in reserve.

Harry was always on the set - Cubby was on the next one. Their relationship was becoming molten lava. Director Guy Hamilton said he could happily makea film withHarry, and happily make a film withCubby - “but not with the two of them together.”

Cubby Broccoli, alone, was satisfied with his new hero. Until 1985 when he told Roger:

 

“You're a bigger pain

than Sean used to be."

 

 When voting against the very idea of a black Bond in 2015, Kaphet Kotto  revealed that he jad been asked not to promote Live and Let Die at the time - as his portrayal would upset filmgoers! An ignoble demand. Even more so when you realise that with Kotto, Julius Harris and Gloria Hendry aboard LALD, Eon was shamelessly (and we now hear, shamefully) ripping off  Hollywood’s blaxploitation syndrome, just as with Moonraker it would copy the science fiction  brigade. “They were afraid the public would react negatively to a black villain,” Kotto said,  “so they didn’t play my character up. That hurt me a lot, man. I went through a lot of goddamn emotional hell because they were afraid people would be angry that a black guy was not being Sidney Poitier. I was the opposite of everything he created.”

This was the first Bond film seen by future Bond aces Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes.Neither one knew the book’s original title was The Undertaker’s Wind - more (West Indian) meterological than digestive.

Mendes told Mike Fleming Jr (at Deadline Hollywood, November 5, 2015) that he had a completely clear memory of seeing Live And Let Die. “I was probably 10 or 11. In those days, no videos, no DVDs, no computers. So you’d go to the movies, or wait a year until it came on television the first time. I went three times, and that world, all the voodoo stuff and the dark and very weird world of adult sexuality and danger, that was unbelievably enticing and heart opening. Sartre has a great quote, that ‘A man’s work is nothing more or less than a slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art, the two or three great and simple images in the presence of which his heart first opened.’ And I often think of that in relation to Bond in Live And Let Die and think, well, something happened to me as a young boy there.”





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