1973 Running time: 117 Certificate: pg Rating: 3

Synopsis

It was all change for the Bond franchise when former Saint Roger Moore stepped into Sean Connery's shoes for his first mission as 007. He's sent to the Caribbean via New York and Louisiana on the trail of drugs kingpin Mr Big (Yaphet Kotto). Departing from the earlier themes of global megalomania, it drew on the blaxploitation movies of the time and made Bond a lighter, more jocular spy than Connery's ruthless killing machine. Rather than a Walther PPK, a raised eyebrow came to be 007's deadliest weapon.

Director

  • Guy Hamilton

Cast

  • Roger Moore

  • Jane Seymour

  • Yaphet Kotto

  • David Hedison

  • Clifton James

Review

With the Connery era over, it was time to grant another Bond the licence to kill. Step forward Roger Moore, who had already been considered for Dr No and On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

He was to bring a lighter, self-deprecating comedy touch that was to end with the safari-suited geriatrics of A View To A Kill twelve years later. Moore would be 58 years old.

The film-makers also dispensed with the megalomaniac villain on the payroll of SPECTRE and opted for Bond's adversary as an Afro-American drug lord immersed in a world of blaxploitation cliches.

Yet, strangely enough, it worked. Moore was fresh and the appetite for Bond product so all-consuming that an adoring public would have probably been happy with Norman Wisdom in the role. Perhaps not.

After the murder of two British agents, Bond is despatched to New York where - after an assassination attempt - he finds himself on the trail of Mr Big (Kotto), a druglord who uses a chain of soul food restaurants as a front.

It turns out that he is also Dr Kananga, a Caribbean island dictator whose rule thrives on voodoo-inspired terror and who wants to flood the market with free heroin, driving other cartels out of business and boosting the number of addicts.

Moore, who at 46 was probably already too old to play the role, rose gamely to the challenge and the accomplished action sequences ranged from a decapitated double-decker bus to a terrific speedboat chase through the Louisiana bayou (17 out of 26 boats were totalled during shooting).

Unfortunately, the lighter tone also meant the emergence of Clifton James' redneck Sheriff JW Pepper, possibly the least funny character in a Bond film until Denise Richards in The World Is Not Enough.

On a positive note, it also gave 007 the opportunity to get entwined with an Afro-American Bond girl in the shape of Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) even if tarot-reading Solitaire (Seymour) was at the blander end of the Bond girl spectrum.

Still, it was a promising start...and if you weren't suffering withdrawal symptoms from Connery's absence, then Moore certainly wasn't less.

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