Live And Let Die was released in the UK 50 years ago on July 12, 1973. To celebrate, read essential facts about the film below.
1. While 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever was filming, producers selected Live And Let Die to be adapted as the eighth 007 film.
2. Roger Moore had no qualms when taking over the James Bond role from Sean Connery and George Lazenby commenting, “Four or five thousand actors have played Hamlet. Everyone had their own interpretation on that!”
3. Filming began on Friday 13th October 1972 in the Irish bayou in Louisiana with the boat chase between 007 and Mr. Big’s henchmen.
4. Roger Moore described director Guy Hamilton as ‘General Hamilton’. This was not only due to his leadership style, but his role during WW2 – Hamilton ran covert high-speed motor gun and torpedo boats and even went undercover after being dropped in occupied France. Roger described him as “very much a James Bond character himself”.
5. The massive boat chase was never detailed in the script – it just said ‘the most terrific boat chase you’ve ever seen’. The stunts were developed on location.
6. Twenty six boats were built by the Glastron boat company for the speedboat stunt sequence. Seventeen were destroyed during rehearsals.
7. On the 16th of October 1972, stuntman Jerry Comeaux raced his Glastron speedboat at 75 miles per hour towards a specially built ramp to perform a record-setting 95-foot leap.
8. Roger Moore was involved in an accident while filming the speedboat chase – he suffered a fractured tooth and a concussion. He recovered after several days and resumed filming.
9. Roger Moore trained and then performed a substantial portion of driving the double decker bus with guidance from the stunt crew. Roger Moore said, “Before we started shooting, I was sent to London Passenger Transport, to their skid pan, to learn how to skid a bus, which I have to admit is rather scary.” The double decker bus featured was an AEC Regent III.
10. Live And Let Die was the first 007 film not to feature Q. The novel of the same name was also the first to mention Q Branch.
11. Early in the production, Roger Moore was hospitalised with kidney stones which resulted in him having to wear a special harness during the speedboat chase scene to support his back.
12. Jamaica, part-time home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, was used as the filming location for the fictitious country of San Monique.
13. As well as providing his crocodile farm as a filming location, Ross Kananga took the role of a stunt double for Bond – jumping across five crocodiles to avoid being eaten. In one attempt he had the heels bitten off his crocodile loafers.
14. Kananga also gave his name to Mr Big’s alter ego Dr. Kananga, who was originally named Jakata.
15. Many of the alligators and crocodiles that featured in these scenes had names and were well loved by Kananga – the star being ‘Daisy’ whom he had owned for over 20 years and trained since she was eight years old.
16. This is the first Bond film to feature swearing. Mrs Bell, whose flying lesson is hijacked by Bond, utters the words “holy s**t” while Sheriff J.W. Pepper also begins to say another word but is cut off when Bond jumps over him in a speedboat.
17. Roger only said his first lines 14 days into filming, which were “Hello Felix, What are you doing here”?
18. Jane Seymour went to have her Tarot cards read in New Orleans in preparation for her role. Many of the cast received tarot card readings on set, Roger Moore’s cards said he would have a son and become a humanitarian, both became true.
19. Live And Let Die gave us a second look at the interior of Bond’s townhouse since we saw a glimpse in Dr. No, 11 years before. The next time we see his home is in Spectre.
20. The film’s rushes shot in New York were transported back to London by Harry Saltzman’s secretary Sue Parker. In JFK airport, customs confiscated her luggage and put the film canisters through x-ray machines, almost destroying the footage.
21. Geoffrey Holder, former dancer, played henchman and ‘voodoo god of cemeteries’ Baron Samedi. He not only helped design the costume of his character, but choreographed the dances he performed during the ritual scenes.
22. Live And Let Die was the first James Bond movie that Daniel Craig watched.
23. Mrs Bell, the trainee pilot whose flying lesson is hijacked by Bond, is named after Bell Helicopters.
24. Real snakes were used in many scenes, and during the pre-credits sequence, the actor Dennis Edwards, who played a captured British agent about to be sacrificed using a snake, was so scared that he fainted during filming. This footage was used in the finished film to represent Baines’ death from the snake’s venom.
25. Roger Moore’s favourite gadget was the magnetic watch which could skillfully snatch lightweight metallic items when activated.
26. This was the first film score not to involve John Barry. Paul McCartney was suggested by George Martin for the title song. Producer Harry Saltzman was interested in having Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston perform it instead of Wings but McCartney would only allow the song he had written with Linda McCartney to be used if Wings performed it.
27. ‘Live And Let Die’ was the first Bond theme to make the US Billboard Top Ten. The song was nominated for an Academy Award. The winning song, ‘The Way We Were’ had its music written by Marvin Hamlisch, who later co-wrote ‘Nobody Does It Better’.
28. David Bowie and his wife Angie attended the premiere. Bowie was later considered to do the theme for Moonraker.
29. The film holds the record for the most viewed film on television in the United Kingdom by attracting 23.5 million viewers when it premiered on ITV on 20th January 1980.
30. The film was a resounding success at the box office, earning over $161 million worldwide against a budget of $7 million, making it the highest-grossing Bond film at the time of its release.