Thursday, July 14, 2016

James Bond: Live and Let Die - Book vs Movie

The Book:

Published: 1954
Main Characters: James Bond, Mr. Big, Felix Leiter, Solitare
Setting: Harlem and Manhattan, New York
St. Petersburg, Florida
Basic Premise: Mysterious gold coins have suddenly appeared on the market making their way from Jamaica to New York and are linked to Mr. Big, a notorious criminal and SMERSH operative.  Bond is sent to represent the British side of things and bring down Mr. Big.

My Thoughts:  This is my 2nd James Bond book and while I didn't enjoy it as much as the first it did keep me entertained and up until the end I had no idea how Bond was going to get out of the mess he'd gotten himself into.  I think one of the things that kept me from completely enjoying it was how dated it seemed.  I'm prepared for some - Bond's attitude towards women is fantastically patronizing - and it hadn't bothered me in Casino Royale.  However, a large focus of this book involved race relations so it became a little jarring especially in regards to language.  I know it was typical at the time so it's not really a reflection of the book itself but it did make it a bit harder to translate into now.  There's also a few complicated descriptions of trap doors and things that got a little over detailed and I lost focus on the book trying to visualize what he was talking about and had to rewind.  The story itself is super fast paced and wonderfully readable especially once Bond gets to St. Petersburg and the pace really picks up.  I love the simplicity of Fleming's writing.  His style is very clean and his amount of details is usually absolutely perfect - enough to get a good picture of what is going on but not enough to slow the pace of the story.  I'm really beginning to like Bond and I'm looking forward to reading/listening to his next adventure.  

Audio Note:  Simon Vance does a fantastic job with his narration and really brings the cool controlled Bond to life.  At 6 hours and 28 minutes it's a fairly short listen and one that is action packed.

Live and Let Die 
Released: 1973
Main Characters: James Bond (Roger Moore), Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry), Tee Hee (Julius Harris), Solitaire (Jane Seymour)
Setting: London, New York, New Orleans, Jamaica
Basic Premise: Ummm... there's a lot of voodoo ceremonies and some stuff about heroin and lots of agents getting killed.  And some alligators.  And Jane Seymour is gorgeous.  That's pretty much all I got.

My Thoughts: So I didn't expect this movie to be amazing.  I was expecting cheesy with ridiculous gadgets but I was also expecting a plot that made some sense.  I definitely got cheese and ridiculous gadgets but after an hour I paused the movie and looked over at J and asked "What exactly are they investigating?"  He had no idea either.  There is absolutely no connection to the book except for the some of the character's names and 2 of the locations and the occasional scene fragment.  The movie was disjointed and incoherent but I did think the casting of Yaphet Kotto as Mr. Big was a great choice.  I just wish he had been like the Mr. Big in the book.  And the young Jane Seymour is absolutely lovely.  Moore is definitely a lighter smoother Bond than the Bond of books but I thought he did a good job as the character in terms of his essential British-ness.  Unfortunately, I can't say I enjoyed the movie.  While I could have gotten past the cheese and lack of connection to the book I couldn't get past that I found it kind of boring.

I had an idea of watching the movies as I read the book but after this one I don't think I'm going too.  I'm hoping to watch the different Bonds as I get to the books where Connery and others began to try and at least compare each actor's version of Bond.

I will say that I don't have a long history with Bond.  I've read the first 2 books and watched the Daniel Craig Bond movies but it wasn't a franchise I really grew up with though of course I had heard of it.  Is there something I'm missing?  If you're a fan of the Bond movies is there one I should watch that might raise my opinion of these earlier movies?  What's your Bond experience?


  1. I can say I have never read any bond books or seen any of the movies. I have no idea why but they just don't really interest me. I do like a lot of the songs from the movies though :)

  2. You know, I've never been a big fan of James Bond. He just doesn't do it for me. Although I've never read the books. I have read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, though!

  3. I've never read the books and have only seen the more recent movies (Pierce) lol Don't think they are for me.

  4. I think it's really interesting to get a sense of the literary Bond- I've never read any of those but watched a lot of the movies growing up. I have to be honest Live and Let Die was never one of my favorites of the movie, and I can see where the race issues would be jarring. But I still think it would be neat to read the books. I may have to give it a try.

  5. Oops forgot the second part- I think having seen most of them (don't care for the newer ones) that the early Connery ones are the best. Thunderball is probably my favorite and I kinda like Dr. No too. I mean sure they're silly at times, but those early ones had atmosphere. I do have fond memories of some of the late 70's/ early 80's Roger Moore ones, but they are firmly tongue in cheek all the way. :) And I thought Pierce Brosnan made a good Bond, but his movies- what he had to work with- I didn't think was .

  6. I enjoy the Bond movies, but I've never read any of the books. Your post makes me want to.

  7. It can be a challenge reading/watching older ones sometimes. I've never actually read or watched anything Bond. Huh!

  8. I have always wanted to try the books. I like most of the movies but was more of a Sean Connery fan than Roger Moore so I didn't watch his as much as Sean One of the things I like to do is see how far off they get from the books when making a movie...sometimes I swear they just use the title. I haven't watched much Bond since Pierce Bronson, he was my second fav. and I am not a fan of Daniel Craig. :(

  9. I am a die hard James Bond fan when it comes to the movies, but Roger Moore was not my fave in the role. I haven't read any of the books, but Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan and the very hot Daniel Craig have made me watch these movies over and over again. I have them on DVD, and still watch if they come on television. Critics say, and I think I agree, that Sean Connery was closest to the role created in the books, and even though they were done in the 60's, something about his acting seems more genuine, dark and action-filled. Pierce was a little lighter, and I think Daniel Craig brings a little more of an edge, too. Hope you get to check them out. If you need company, I'll binge watch with you. (lol) Hugs...

  10. My dad took me to a Bond film fest in Portland when I was about 13, and I think we saw 2 or 3 movies. This was pre-Brosnan, not to date myself. I was super affected by On Her Majesty's Secret Service, with its beautiful Louis Armstrong theme song, and it made Bond's attitude towards more palatable to me--he was heart broken! Adukt me isn't as ready to let him off the hook. I read a few of the books long ago, and read Casino Royal after seeing the Daniel Craig movie, and was struck by both the similarities and differences.
    Cool project!

  11. Hmm, I have never tried a Bond book...but yes he does get himself into some awful messes. Thanks for sharing these.

  12. What a great idea: a book-and-movie retrospective! I loved the Bond movies when I was in high school (Roger Moore was Bond at the time), so I decided to read the books. I enjoyed the adventures, but even in the late 70s and early 80s I found them gratingly sexist and, as in this book, racist. As a result, I've never gone back and re-read them. And I agree that the movie in this case was woefully weak when it came to plot. It's my least favorite of the Moore movies.