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Special Edition

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 serves up LIVE AND LET DIE as Special Edition DVD with a good number of supplements. The movie is presented in its proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, with the DVD being enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Since LIVE AND LET DIE was filmed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, it is obviously one on the lower budget Bond movies. Of course, the lower budget of the film’s production does in some ways affect the quality of the DVD presentation. Sure, LIVE AND LET DIE looks good on DVD, but I would not characterize the presentation as great. Don't get me wrong, the image is relatively sharp, detailed and quite watchable. However, no one will ever confuse LIVE AND LET DIE with a demonstration quality DVD. Colors are well reproduced, but they are subject to the limitations of the film stocks used in the early 1970's. The black level is fine and the image boasts good contrast. Film grain is rather apparent in a number of places, plus the element used for the transfer shows a number of age related markings. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed by the use of dual layer technology and solid DVD authoring.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is a bit thin sounding, but short of re-mixing it from the original sound elements (if they still exist), this is as good as LIVE AND LET DIE is likely to sound. Dialogue is always intelligible, but the music and sound effects could do with a bit of punching up. A French language soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus are beautifully designed, featuring animation sound and full motion video. Through the menu system, one can access the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVD's terrific complement of extras. LIVE AND LET DIE features two separate audio commentaries, the first with director Guy Hamilton (as well as cast members) and the second with screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. Commentary one is comprised of various interviews that have been assembled for their relevance to the film. Commentary two is an actual running commentary, specific to the action on the screen. Even though a bit sparse, I am going to recommend the second commentary over the first, since my personal preference runs towards a screen specific talk.

Supplements also include Inside Live And Let Die, a new thirty-minute documentary about the production of the film. Hosted by Patrick Macnee, Inside Live And Let Die features interviews with cast members and the production team, as well as behind-the-scenes footage. Also included is On The Set With Roger Moore, which provides two brief sequences of behind-the-scenes footage. Filling out the supplements are a theatrical trailer, a theatrical teaser, TV spots, a still gallery, radio spots and a UK Milk Board commercial showing cast and crewmembers drinking the wholesome white beverage on the set of LIVE AND LET DIE.

Even though LIVE AND LET DIE isn’t the best looking Special Edition Bond DVD that MGM Home Entertainment has produced, 007 fans will want to own this disc anyway for the wealth of features that it contains.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 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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