After switching between actors on the three previous films, James Bond fans were introduced to Roger Moore as the new 007 for the 1973 film "Live And Let Die"...

Time Tunnel: The Roger Moore Era Begins
8th February 2007

After switching between actors on the three previous films, James Bond fans were introduced to Roger Moore as the new 007 for the 1973 film "Live And Let Die". It would be his first of seven official outings as the legendary spy and secure his place in history as the longest running Bond. On January 8th 1973, Time Magazine reported from the production of the film and the casting of Moore in the role:

A wristwatch with a magnetic field to deflect bullets. A bad guy named Tee Hee who has a metal hand that can crush a gun to talcum powder. Voodoo sacrifices and a pool of 86 hungry crocodiles, each of them waiting for just one bite of the struggling hero. It sounds like a comic strip, and in a way it is. The newest James Bond movie, Live and Let Die, is the most inventive—and the most potentially lucrative—comic strip ever made, two hours of thrilling, high-powered nonsense.

Filmed in Jamaica and New Orleans, with scenes yet to be shot in Harlem, the movie takes Agent 007 to the fictional island of San Monique, where Mr. Big, the first black villain in a Bond movie, runs a heroin-smuggling ring. There Bond—played for the first time by Roger Moore, star of TV's The Saint —meets a telepathic beauty named Solitaire (Jane Seymour), a black double agent (Gloria Hendry) and the usual assortment of outrageous villains, their seemingly indestructible henchmen and an obstacle course of hazards that would have sent even Superman running for his Valium. "There will be more action packed into these two hours than any other Bond film," brags Director Guy Hamilton.


The producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, have already grossed $200 million from the seven previous Bond movies: Dr. No (1963), From Russia with Love (1964), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Investment in the latest: $7,000,000. "We spend a lot of money," says Saltzman. "You see it and you feel it. The physical size is there. It isn't done with mirrors. I think a lot of the appeal of a Bond movie is that you know that this is not done in a studio."

Above: Moore, Broccoli and Saltzman
Feeding Time. For the crocodile scene, for instance, Saltzman and Broccoli carved out a pond on a crocodile and alligator farm in Jamaica. Since crocs are sluggish once they are fed, 86 of the monsters, specially selected for size and meanness, were starved for three months, just so they could stay awake and snap their jaws with appropriate conviction. How does Bond, who has been placed by Mr. Big on a little island in the middle, escape? He throws them some chicken heads, which were supposed to attract the killers to himself, and while the crocodiles are dining, walks across their backs to shore. Of course.

In another Jamaican scene, Bond commandeers a double-decker bus and races away from Mr. Big's black thugs. A low-lying bridge shears the top off the bus and it lands neatly atop the pursuing car. Cost to prepare the bus, including two extra top decks, and shoot the episode: $500,000. In one bizarre scene in New Orleans, a Bond colleague stands watching a funeral. It is his own, and as the coffin is carried up to him, he is stabbed by Mr. Big's men. He falls, and the bottom of the coffin opens to take him inside.

The Bond movie industry is the ultimate consumer in the throwaway society. In a sensational speedboat chase across Louisiana lakes and bayous—the boats jump a highway in one scene—numerous cars, 17 speedboats and eight planes were destroyed in the name of realism. "Our violence is not personal violence," explains Saltzman. "We commit mayhem on inanimate objects like boats, planes or cars." He adds affably: "Of course people occasionally get in between the hardware."

The producers see TV as their biggest competitor. "We have to show the audience things that they don't see on their box in the evening," says Director Hamilton. "We tell them: 'Come with us for a glorious ride. But leave your brains under the seat and don't ask too many questions. Because if we have to stop and explain things, we will lose momentum.' "

Not only must the stunts be spectacular, but the locations must be unusual or exotic. Indeed, locations are already being scouted in Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore for the next epic, The Man with the Golden Gun.


To ensure the all-important PG rating, sex is sneaked in as comedy. "We suggest the erotic with outrageous humor that disarms the censor," explains Hamilton. "Bond can't make love on a bed—everyone makes love on a bed —but on a waterbed filled with fish. It is so ridiculous that it has a sort of charm of its own. Besides, the children are more interested in the fish in the bed than the adults on top of the bed."

For most people, Sean Connery, who played 007 in all but one of the seven Bond features, is James Bond. (On Her Majesty's Secret Service starred George Lazenby.) If he had not become tired of the role—and grown rich playing it—Connery probably could have grown old, gray and feeble in the part.

But the smooth, handsome Moore is, ironically, more like the original 007 in the late Ian Fleming's novels than was Connery, a tough, rugged Scot. "Fleming saw Bond as himself," observes Saltzman, "as a kind of disenfranchised member of the Establishment, Eton, Harrow and Cambridge. And Sean was none of those.

Fleming would have been delighted with Roger, however. He is the classic Englishman. He looks good and he moves good." Hamilton is doing nothing to cast Moore in the Connery mold. "The fatal thing would be for Roger to step into Sean's shoes," he says. "He must have his own way."

Boyish. While he is, at 44, two years older than Connery, Moore appears much younger, with a boyish look that, for a man licensed to kill, comes perilously close to being pretty. As the Saint he was a trifle pudgy, and in his last TV series, The Persuaders, his hair was much too long for Her Majesty's Secret Service. To play the more athletic, squarer Bond, he lost 17 lbs. and went to the barber three times before the makeup men were happy.

The son of a London policeman, Moore quit school when he was 15 to become an artist. Not succeeding at that, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. After a stint as an officer in the British army, he was brought to Hollywood to play the romantic hero in a number of dreary costume dramas. An unhappy round of TV series followed in the '50s and '60s, and he eventually went back to England, where he finally achieved stardom as the Saint. Moore now lives in Denham, 20 miles outside London, where he and his third wife Luisa have 17 acres, a swimming pool and tennis courts.

Moore has spent much of his career taking over parts other actors have made famous. He replaced James Garner in the TV series Maverick and followed Movie Actors George Sanders and Louis Hayward as the droll, urbane Saint.

"I replace everyone," he jokes. "I'll be replacing Mickey Mouse in about three years' time." He adds: "I think the Bonds are marvelous subjects —escapist entertainment expensively made. It's all going for you as an actor. I often stop in the middle of a day's work and say: 'Jesus Christ, they're really going to pay you for being a kid and living out your fantasies!' "


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