Vintage Pulp Jun 27 2023
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Live fast, die young, and leave a terribly damaged corpse thanks to James Bond.


As with Shaft a few days ago, we can't add much new to the longtime assessments of 1973's Live and Let Die. We wouldn't discuss the film at all except that the posters were the work of illustration wizard Robert McGinnis. However, in light of our Shaft examination, there's an angle we can take: Live and Let Die was the first Bond movie to be clearly influenced by the diversification of Hollywood, becoming the first to include numerous black cast members in speaking roles. Since most participants in a Bond movie are there to get killed, including, often, all but one of the women he sleeps with, the rules didn't change even with the diversified cast. This leads to head villain Yaphet Kotto suffering perhaps the most brutal death in the franchise, and hottie Gloria Hendry departs for the hereafter too, which is criminal, in our view. But their participation was a landmark and gives Live and Let Die, even today, a different feel and look than the usual Bond fare.

On other fronts, Live and Let Die seems like the movie in which Bond stuntwork kicked into high gear, beginning a push that would soon extend beyond the bounds of earthly physics. The speedboat chase produced a then-world record aerial leap of 110 feet. On the acting front, newcomer Roger Moore displayed even at the outset of his Bond journey some of the cheeseball tendencies that would eventually take over his later portrayals, but it works fine. He was probably one of the best looking actors in the world in 1973, and while he doesn't have a chiseled physique, he's still everything and a free refill. We consider Live and Let Die to be one of two good Moore outings as Bond, along with The Man with the Golden Gun. It's certainly worth a watch, even if you've already seen it. And if you want to have a really fun night, watch it back-to-back with Shaft.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 04
1969—The Krays Are Found Guilty of Murder
In England, twins Ronald and Reginald Kray are found guilty of the murder of Jack McVitie. The Kray brothers had been notorious gangsters in London's East End, and for their crimes both were sentenced to life in prison, and both eventually died behind bars. Their story later inspired a 1990 motion picture entitled The Krays.
1975—Charlie Chaplin Is Knighted
British-born comic genius Charlie Chaplin, whose long and turbulent career in the U.S. had been brought to an abrupt end when he was branded a communist and denied a residence visa, is bestowed a knighthood at London's Buckingham Palace. Chaplin died two years later and even then peace eluded him, as his body was stolen from its grave for eleven weeks by men trying to extort money from the Chaplin family.
March 03
1959—Lou Costello Dies
American comedian Lou Costello, of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, dies of a heart attack at Doctors' Hospital in Beverly Hills, three days before his 53rd birthday. His career spanned radio and film, silent movies and talkies, vaudeville and cinema, and in his heyday he was, along with partner Abbott, one of the most beloved personalities in Hollywood.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
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