Geek Dave used to say live and let live...
1. While filming Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die was chosen as the
next Ian Fleming novel to be adapted because screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz
thought it would be daring to use black villains (this was the early 1970s). The Black Panthers
and other racial movements were active at this time, and it was also the height of the blaxploitation era - Mankiewicz included many blaxploitation archetypes and clichés in his screenplay, including derogatory racial epithets ("honky"), and pimpmobiles.
was again chosen to direct his third of four Bond features, and since he was a huge jazz fan Mankiewicz
suggested him to film in New Orleans. But Hamilton wasn't so sure, he did not want to use Mardi
Gras, which Mankiewicz had included in his story treatment, since Thunderball had featured the similar festival Junkanoo, so after
more discussions with the writer and location scouting with
helicopters Hamilton decided to use two well-known features of the city, the
jazz funerals and the canals instead.
2. After the success of Diamonds Are Forever producer Albert R. Broccoli tried to convince Sean Connery to return as 007 once again, but he declined. A 'back-up Bond' was already in place in the form of American born John Gavin, was was previously offered and accepted the role of James Bond for Diamonds Are Forever before Sean Connery was lured back with a massive paycheck. Gavin's contract was honored in full, and he was expected to step into Bond's shoes for the following feature, should Connery decline.
However, Harry Saltzman really felt that Bond should be played by a Brit instead, and so the two producers went back on the hunt for a new 007.
3. Among the British actors the pair considered or screen tested for Bond were Julian Glover, Jeremy Brett, Simon Oates, John Ronane, William Gaunt, Michael Billington, future Bond Timothy Dalton (who felt himself to be too young for the part) and Roger Moore.
Moore had been in contention for the role a decade earlier when Bond was just beginning its journey to the big screen, but at the time he had to pass on the part as he was under contract to The Saint. Moore was initially hesitant about taking on the role for Live And Let Die as he wasn't entirely convinced that Sean Connery was truly done with Bond, but Broccoli persuaded him otherwise. However, Michael Billington was kept in contention in case contract negotiations with Moore broke down or if he decided to not return for a second film. Billington ultimately played a brief villainous role in the pre-credit sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me.
4. To capitalise further on the blaxspoitation theme Mankiewicz had
thought of turning Solitaire into a black woman, with Diana Ross as his
primary choice. However, Broccoli and Saltzman insisted he stick to
Fleming's description of a white woman. Catherine Deneuve was considered
for the part before it eventually went to Jane Seymour.
5. Live And Let Die was the only Bond film until 2006 not
to feature 'Q', played at this stage by Desmond Llewelyn. He was then
appearing in the TV series Follyfoot, but at his request he had been
written out for three episodes to appear in the new Bond film. Saltzman
and Broccoli then decided not to include the character, feeling that
"too much was being made of the films' gadgets", and decided to downplay
this aspect of the series, much to Llewelyn's annoyance!
6. During location scouting in Jamaica the crew discovered a crocodile farm owned by Ross Kananga,
at the entrance was a sign saying "trespassers will be eaten." The farm
was put into the script and also inspired Mankiewicz to rename the film's
villain after Kananga.
7. Whilst filming was taking place on his farm Ross Kananga suggested the stunt of Bond jumping on crocodiles, and was enlisted by the producers to perform it. The scene took five takes to be completed, including one in which the last crocodile snapped at Kananga's heel, tearing his trousers.
I don't know how much Kanaga was paid but take a look at the video above of all the attempts and I'm sure you'll agree it was nowhere near enough!
8. Madeline Smith, who played Miss Caruso who could be seen sharing Bond's bed in the film's opening, was recommended for the part by Roger Moore himself after he had appeared with her on a TV show. Smith said that Moore was extremely polite to work with, but she felt very uncomfortable being clad in only blue bikini panties while Moore's wife was on set overseeing the scene.
9. The speedboat jump scene over the bayou, filmed with the assistance of a specially-constructed ramp, unintentionally set a Guinness World Record at the time with 110 feet (34 m) cleared.
10. Confusingly Live And Let Die went on general release in the United States on June 27th 1973, this was followed nine days later by the "world premiere" at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on July 6th!
From a modest budget of around $7 million ($37 million allowing for inflation) the film grossed an impressive $161.8 million ($862 million in 2016 dollars) worldwide. More impressive though is the fact that when Live And Let Die received its debut television broadcast on ITV on January 20th 1980 it was watched by a record breaking 23.5 million viewers. To this day it remains the highest viewed film on British television.
James Bond will return next Monday in 10 things you might not know about The Man With The Golden Gun.
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