[box cover]

Live and Let Die: Ultimate Edition

After a prologue that kills off two British agents, 1973's Bond entry begins with Paul McCartney (and Wings') title song for Live and Let Die. Only nine years earlier, Bond was decrying The Beatles in Goldfinger, but here Bond's title song is played by an ex-Fab Four member (with a score from Beatles producer George Martin). Well, that wasn't the only thing that changed in nearly a decade — Live and Let Die introduced Roger Moore as the third Bond (realistically he was Bond 2.5, with George Lazenby quickly forgotten by everyone involved) And yet, for Moore's first entry, it's a decidedly unsure version of the dashing-do epitomized by the world's greatest spy. By 1973, Bond must have seemed a little odd — or perhaps Sean Connery's return in 1971's Diamonds are Forever seemed a kiss-off — and thus the filmmakers followed the most happening genre of film of the era: Blaxploitation. As such, Moore's ascendancy into Bond-dom came through exploitation itself. Moore does the job well enough, even if the film can't help but feel a little dated, silly, and a wee bit offensive. At least Yaphett Kotto plays the bad guy Kanaga with enough panache to forgive some of the film's precarious social politics, and he keeps company with a fortune teller named Solitaire (Jane Seymour), whose powers of prognostication don't work once she's lost her virginity, a power Bond is more than willing to remove. Kanaga's henchmen include the clawed-armed Tee-Hee (Julius W. Harris) and voodoo priest Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holden), and has a double agent in the quickly abandoned secondary love interest Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry). The action highlights include a boat chase featuring the later revived (and reviled) Sheriff Pepper (Clifton James), and a final train sequence that recalls From Russia With Love. It's a modest introduction that puts more weight on the supporting cast to help Moore through, but at least he doesn't embarrass himself. Heck, he would have made a fine 007 if he was actually engaged in good stories, but Bond films tend to reflect the times they were made and as such — like the '70s itself — Moore descended into camp.

Fox/MGM presents the two-disc Live and Let Die: Ultimate Edition in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1, the last Bond film shot flat) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio. Extras on Disc One include a commentary by Roger Moore, another with Guy Hamilton, and a third track by screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. Disc Two features "Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary" (22 min.), "Roger Moore as James Bond circa 1964" (8 min.), a conceptual art gallery (2 min.), "007 Mission Control," which offers highlights of the franchise's repeated trademarks, "Inside Live and Let Die" (30 min.), "On Set with Roger Moore" entries "The Funeral Parade" (2 min.), and "Hang Gliding Lessons" (4 min.), two trailers, three TV spots, two radio ads, and a stills gallery. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case. Included as part of MGM's "The James Bond Ultimate Collection: Volume Three."

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