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After Sean Connery made his final "official" appearance in the role of James Bond with DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, the series producers selected Roger Moore as Connery's successor for LIVE AND LET DIE ($35). While Moore’s wittier approach to the character of 007 differed from Connery's, he proved himself to be the ideal man to take on the mantle of James Bond. LIVE AND LET DIE follows Bond as he investigates the deaths of several British Agents that were trying to break up an international drug smuggling operation. Bond's investigation leads him first to Harlem where he encounters Mr. Big, a shadowy figure that controls heroine distribution in the U.S., and finally to Dr. Kananga, the leader of a small Caribbean Island where the drugs are manufactured.

Yaphet Kotto is a tremendous presence as Kananga and makes one of the truly great Bond villains. As the mysterious Solitaire, Jane Seymour is one of my absolute favorite Bond Girls. To this day, no other Bond Girl has ever topped Seymour’s incredible beauty. Clifton James supplies LIVE AND LET DIE with its funniest moments as the redneck Sheriff Pepper, who tries to catch Bond as he races through the Louisiana bayous. The cast of LIVE AND LET DIE also features Julius W. Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison, Gloria Hendry, Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell. LIVE AND LET DIE is a little lighter on the action than the typical Bond movie, however the afore mentioned boat chase through bayous that more than makes up for the diminished number action sequences.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made LIVE AND LET DIE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Because of the digital restoration work provided by Lowry Digital Images, the 1080p presentation for LIVE AND LET DIE is a whole lot better than what I’ve seen in the past. The thing with LIVE AND LET DIE is the fact that it has always been a victim of the limitations found in the film stocks that were in use during the early 1970's. However, the work done by Lowry Digital Images goes a long way to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Image sharpness, fine detail and dimensionality are strong, but the earlier Connery movies do produce a stronger hi-def presence than this film. Colors can be fully saturated, but the color palette evidenced in the film stocks isn’t as attractive as the earlier Bond adventures. Black, whites contrast and shadow detail all reproduce quite well and greatly exceed my previous experiences with LIVE AND LET DIE. The digital restorative work also cleans up signs of age. Grain appears very minimal, but like the preceding films in the series, fine detail has not been compromised.

LIVE AND LET DIE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Once again, we are provided with a highly effective re-purposing of the original monaural soundtrack materials. No surprises, the forward soundstage dominates the mix. Directional effects are never exaggerated to the point that one becomes aware they are listening to a remix. Additionally, both the score and theme song are spread throughout the soundstage in an effective manner. Fidelity is very good, with the lossless encoding making the most of the original recordings. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility. French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the disc, as are English and Spanish monaural tracks. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Starting things off are three running Audio Commentaries the first is with director Guy Hamilton, the second features actor Sir Roger Moore and the third is with writer Tom Mankiewicz. Next is the twenty-one minute program Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary. Other Featurettes include: Inside Live And Let Die (thirty minutes), Roger Moore as James Bond Circa 1964 (seven minutes), On Set with Roger Moore: Hang Gliding Lessons (four minutes), On Set with Roger Moore: The Funeral Parade (two minutes), Exotic Locations (four minutes) and Live And Let Die Conceptual Art (two minutes). Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots and a large Image Database of stills and promotional materials close out the supplements.

LIVE AND LET DIE is an enjoyable Bond outing that introduces Roger Moore to the franchise. The Blu-ray presentation outclasses everything that has come before. Highly recommended to Bond fans.



Live and Let Die (James Bond) [Blu-ray] (1973)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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