Following Diamonds are forever, Prodcuers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman wished for Sean Connery to return once again to play Bond a 7th time. Connery declined for a return thus launching another search for James Bond. Unlike the search to replace Connery for OHMSS, Broccoli and Saltzman went with a known actor in Roger Moore. Moore established his name in another famed spy series in the 1960s this one called The Saint. Moore would become the eldest actor to play Bond beginning his tenure at the age of 46 (Moore was born in 1927). Physically Moore doesn’t look all that much older than Connery who looked older that his early 40s in Diamonds Are Forever. Though Moores age will be a thing talked about in his later roles as 007. Once again Guy Hamilton returns to direct marking his 3rd Bond direction. Bond must stop the distribution of free heroin.
The Plot: The film begins with the death of 3 agents. One in the UN undercover watching over San Monique dictator Dr Kananga, The second in New Orleans watching over a Fillet Of Soul restaurant The final agent is killed in San Monique by snake bite. We then meet up with Bond. The Moore reveal isn’t built up like Connery and Lazenby were. Moore is just in bed with a hot chick who sadly is only seen in this one scene. M knocks at Bonds door and begins to inform Bond on the deaths of the agents. Bond tries to stall M so the hot chick who is an Italian agent can hide. Monneypenny arrives and gives Bond his watch from. Q. This marks the only film Q is not present since the casting of Desmond Llywellyn.
Bond travels to New York. While we see the plane we get a interesting thing of Tarot Cards predicting what Bonds actions will be which is interesting. Tarot plays a large role within the film. Bond arrives and already gets into trouble when his cab drive who is CIA is killed by a passing car while on the way to meet with Felix this time played by David Hedison. Bond traces the license plate of the car that killed the driver which leads Bond to an occult store. Bond enters the back of the store and finds himself in a car park which he sees the villains leaving.
Bond tails the car which takes him into Harlem and a Fillet Of Soul restaraunt Bond is tailed in his cab the whole time. Bond enters Fillet Of Soul and is put in a booth that revolves Bond into a hidden back room. Bond then awaits meeting Mr Big the gangster who owns the chain. Bond meets Solitare portrayed by Jane Seymour who is in her first film role here. Solitare is Bigs tarot card reader. Bond meets with Mr Big who demands his henchmen kill Bond. Before Bond leaves he picks a tarot card revealed to be the Lovers which tells us that Bond and Solitare will hook up in the movie. Bond beats Bigs henchmen before being confronted by the man who tailed him earlier. The man happens to be a CIA agent.
Bond travels to San Monique to investigate Dr Kananga. When Bond arrives at his hotel an attempt is made on his life by a snake which Bond lights on fire with his lighter and can of deoderant. Bond then meets his room mate Rosie Carver a CIA agent who had been working with the agent killed at the start of the movie. The next day Bond is sent a tarot card and goes to a tarot shop to find its meaning. Bond and Rosie head to the island the agent was killed on. We find that Rosie is a double agent and really works for Kananga. Bond is tipped off after find out what the tarot card meant. Bond threatens to kill her if she doesn’t tell him what going on. Rosie runs off and is killed by a scarecrow
That night Bond uses a hang glider to get to the home of Solitaire. Bond uses a pack of Lover tarot cards trick Solitaire into sleeping with him which causes her to loose her ability to read cards. Bond and Solitaire investigate the island to find what Kananga is hiding. Kananga is growing poppy in fields. Bond and Solitaire are found out and make an escape from Kanangas men on a bus. The chase between Bond and Kanangas men is a great scene. Bond and Solitaire escape on Boat provided by Quarrel Jr the son of Quarrel from Dr No.
Bond and Solitaire head to New Orleans were they are captured by Kanangas men. Bond escapes and chases of the henchen while driving a plane around an airfiled whcih is fun. Bond and Leiter trace Mr Big to the Fillet Of Soul seen in the pre credit sequence. Bond is once again taken into a hidden room to meet with Mr Big. Bond will only talk with Kananga so Big reveals he is Kananga. Bond then breaks down Kanangas plan and how he distributes the heroin through the chain of Fillet of Soul restaraunts for free to put the mafia out of business and increase the value of his product. Bond is knocked out by the metal claw of Tee-Hee who is Kanangas main henchman in the movie but unlike others plays a smaller role to the likes of an OddJob or Red Grant. Solitaire is taken back to San Monique to be killed by Baron Samoodi.
Bond is taken to an aligator farm which acts as a front for Kanangas operation. Bond is left stranded on a small island in the middle of the swamp were all the alligators live. Bond tries to use his magnetic watch to lure a boat towards him but its tied to a rope. Bond then makes an escape by jumping on their backs to escape to the main land. This is one of the better stunts in the movie which was performed by Ross Kananga who owned the farm used in the movie. Bond then lures an alligator out and into the lab by using raw chicken. Bond then sets the lab on fire and escapes on a speed boat. A bunch of Kanangas goons go after Bond.
With Kanangas men in pursuit of Bond we get the best action scene in the whole movie. A lot has been said about the boat chase that either its really good or that its too long and dull. I think its a great scene but the only downside is the addition of Sheriff J W Pepper. Pepper is a typical southern resident who is just a goof and one of the worst characters in the series. Remove the stuff with Pepper following the chase in a squad car with two other cops then the scene would be a lot better. Bond takes out each of Kanangas men by just having their boats crash wiping them out one by one. Following the chase Bond if informed by Leiter that Kananga is headed back to San Monique.
Bond, Leiter and Quarrel Jr head out on Quarrels boat to end Kanagas operation. Bond and Quarrel head out to the island and plant bombs in
Kanangas poppy fields. Quarrel heads back to the boat while Bond goes after Solitaire. We then find Solitaire being sacrified to Baron Samoodi in a similar way as one of the agents was in the pre-credit sequence. Bond watches while hiding to make his move. Bond comes into make the save and fight off a number of men an then shoots a fake Baron Samoodi. The Samoodi then rises up from a grave. Bond and Sammodi have a fight which leaves Samoodi getting kocked out into a coffin full of snakes. Bond and Solitaire use the grave that Samoodi used to rise out of to enter Kanangas base. Bond and Solitaire are caught by Kananga and tied on a platfrom that is lifted above Kanangas shark pool. Bond uses the magnet in his watch to grab a shark gun bullet and then uses a buzzsaw on his watch to break free. Bond and Kananga face off and end up in the pool. Bond puts the shark bullet in Kanangas mouth which inflates him with air and he then explodes. The effect for Kananga exploding looks very cheap 40 years on but it was 1973 so its understandable.
Bond and Solitaire leave the US via train. Tee Hee sneaks on the train while hiding in a mail sack. Tee Hee cuts the power to Bonds room. Bond and Tee Hee engage in a fight which its really good. Much like the elevator fight from Diamonds the confined space makes the fight a lot better because these guys have so little room to move around in. Tee Hee gets his claw caught on the window after Bond cut the wires and Bond throws Tee Hee out the window. Bond rescues Solitaire who was trapped in the folding bed during the fight. As the movie ends we cut to Baron Samoodi laughing as he sits on the back of the train. I guess the idea was they were alluding to a Samoodi return in the next film but this never happens and makes the last shot in the movie pretty random.
Thoughts: A lot of people either love or hate this movie. Im in the love group. This was the first full Roger Moore Bond movie I saw when I was a kid and I think its one of his strongest movies. There is a pattern in Moores first handful of films that the odd number films are better so 1,3,5 are the great movies while 2 and 4 are regarded as the bad ones but we will cover them when we get to them. The films heavily focuses on an african american feel which is the only in the sereis. The film was made during the height of the Blackxplotation movement in Hollywood thus way the majority of the films cast is of African American descent. Moore comes off very well in his first outing. It is clear that he is going for a more light hearted apporach to his portrayal as Bond which is a 180 from Connery who was a rougher Bond who had little doses of humor while Moore relied more on the humor. Personally I feel that Solitaire is one of the better Bond girls of the series. Unlike a majority of the female leads that will be seen in the coming films Solitaire is one who actually provies assistane to Bond that and Jane Seymour looks really good in this movie.
Overall: For his first Bond Movie Moore delivers a good movie that is either loved or hated by fans. As I said I think its one of the better Moore movies. The one downside is the addition of J.W Pepper to add unneeded comic relief. The theme song written by Paul and Lind McCartney is one of if not the best Bond theme song written.