Live and Let Die: Ultimate Edition (1973)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Nov-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Credits
Featurette-Bond 1973 : The lost Documentary
Gallery-Poster-Conceptual Art
Featurette-Rodger Moore As James Bond, Circa 1964
Featurette-007,Women, Allies, Mission Combat Manuel, Q Branch
Featurette-Exotic Locations
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Inside Let And Let Die
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On Set With Rodger Moore: The Funeral Parade
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On Set With Rodger Moore:Hang Gliding Lessons
Theatrical Trailer-Archive
TV Spots-Broadcasts
Radio Spots-Communications
Gallery-Photo-The World Of James Bond in 1973-The Year Of Release
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 116:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:39)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Guy Hamilton
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Roger Moore
Yaphet Kotto
Jane Seymour
Clifton James
Julius Harris
Geoffrey Holder
David Hedison
Gloria Hendry
Bernard Lee
Lois Maxwell
Tommy Lane
Earl Jolly Brown
Roy Stewart
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music George Martin
Linda McCartney
Paul McCartney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Live and Let Die is the funkiest jive-talking Bond film. Featuring big afros, long sideburns, huge collars, platform shoes, seedy Harlem bars, black drug lords, and white red-neck hillbilly cops, Live and Let Die drops 007 into a blaxploitation script straight out of Shaft. It's absolutely pimplicious!

    Six actors have played James Bond in the 21 official Bond films, including rugged Sean Connery, former Aussie soldier George Lazenby, dapper Roger Moore, sulky Timothy Dalton, debonair Pierce Brosnan, and newcomer Daniel Craig.

    Live and Let Die was to mark the arrival of Roger Moore as Bond, following Sean Connery's brief return for just one film, Diamonds Are Forever. According to some recollections, Moore was approached to be the first Bond, before the role was offered to Sean Connery, and then again before the role was offered to George Lazenby. Some would say "fortunately", both times Moore was too busy to accept. As a result, Connery, with the help of original Bond Director Terence Young, was to make the role his own.

    Despite being aged 45 when he took on the role, Moore was to appear in seven Bond films over a period of 12 years. Following Live and Let Die in 1973, he went on to star in The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977, Moonraker in 1979, For Your Eyes Only in 1981, Octupussy in 1983, and View To a Kill in 1985.

    When Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hired Moore, they consciously decided to make Bond even more suave, debonair and unflappable. He is no longer a cold-blooded killer, and doesn't even look like he can handle himself in a fight. For example, when in Live and Let Die he ends up in a bar in downtown Harlem, I don't think anyone in the audience expected him to get out alive. The tough aura of invincibility was replaced by a handsome pretty-boy who was to embrace the comic elements of the character. Indeed, as Desson Howe once observed: "His weapon of choice was the punchline."

    The producers also decided to drop some of the Bondisms made famous by Connery. For example, in Live and Let Die, Moore's Bond never orders a vodka martini, but rather drinks bourbon whiskey; and Bond now smokes cigars, not cigarettes. As time passed, and Moore was increasingly accepted by Bond fans, some of the old Bond character traits were to return and some of the new ones were dropped.

    With the Moore era, the Bond films were to become less adult-orientated and far more tongue-in-cheek and family friendly. As a result, Bond was to gain a wider appeal, and box office takings were to improve in an increasingly difficult market.

    However, despite all these changes, or maybe because of them, the producers still wanted to infuse Live and Let Die with some of the spirit of the earlier Bond films, and thus they brought in Bond Director Guy Hamilton who had previously directed Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who had written Diamonds Are Forever, and would later return to write The Man With the Golden Gun.

    While this was the only Bond film to have the character of Q absent since he was introduced in the second movie, both Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell reprise their roles as M and Moneypenny respectively. Of note, the character of red-neck hillbilly Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) is introduced in Live and Let Die, and David Hedison makes his debut as Felix Leiter. Hedison returns as Leiter in Licence To Kill, becoming the only actor to play the role more than once.

    In true blaxploitation style, the plot of Live and Let Die is not about world domination or political intrigue - instead, it's about drug smuggling. The British and US Governments have been secretly monitoring the operations of Dr. Kanaga (Yaphet Kotto), a small-time dictator of a tiny Caribbean Island called San Monique.

    When the secret agents involved in the operation disappear, James Bond (Roger Moore) is urgently sent to New York City, where the last agent was killed, to investigate. It so happens that Kananga is also currently in NYC visiting the UN.

    Bond's investigation leads him to a heroin drug lord, Mr. Big, who owns and operates a chain of restaurants in North America known as Fillet Of Soul. Bond also meets Mr. Big's virginal tarot card reading assistant, the very beautiful Solitaire (Jane Seymour).

    For more about the Bond universe, check out the official sites at www.jamesbond.com and www.007.com

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Live and Let Die has been released twice before on DVD, including as a Special Edition. However, with this Ultimate Edition the original camera negatives have been imaged and digitally restored in Lowry's labs, using the John Lowry process. This process took over three years to complete for all 20 films, and the results are truly remarkable.

    Live and Let Die's DVD transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is close to the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1.

    Overall, the sharpness of the image is very good, but I did notice that some of the mid to long shots looked a little soft. For example the shot in the airport at 12:37. I assume this is in the source material, and I wonder if this is the work of a second unit camera team with a different lens or film stock? The black level is excellent, with true, deep blacks. The shadow detail, however, is a bit of a mixed bag. At times it was excellent, such as the interior of Bond's flat at 7:29, but at other times it was lacking, such as during the scene in the dark alleyway at 25:29.

    With the Lowry process, the entire film has been colour corrected. As a result, the movie has a very consistent approach to colour, and the transfer usually exhibits a very well saturated palette. At times, however, some of the colours looked a little muted. The skin tones are accurate.

    While some scenes can appear a little grainy at times, I assume this is in the source material, and relates to the film stock used. I also assume some grainy stock footage has been inserted occasionally. There are no problems with MPEG, Film-To-Video or Film Artefacts. Considering the age of the source material, this is a great achievement in DVD authoring.

    English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, Greek, Hindi, English Text Commentary and Dutch Text Commentary subtitles are present. The English ones are accurate.

    The feature is presented on a Dual Layer disc, with the layer change is placed at 55:39. The feature is divided into 32 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in the 1970s, I wasn't expecting much, but was pleased with the results. The disappointing aspect of the DVD aurally is that the sound does seem dated, and even a little tinny at times. For example, the gun shots sound muffled in comparison to more recent films.

    The DVD offers three audio options: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s), and English Text Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). I watched the feature with both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1 audio. While many films benefit from a dts soundtrack, this is not one of them. I heard very little difference between the two options. I imagine it will be the later films from the 1990s onwards with more modern sound designs and recordings that will reap the benefits of dts audio.

    Although there is a considerable amount of ADR, the dialogue quality and audio sync are good throughout.

    Taking a temporary break from scoring the Bond films, Oscar winning composer John Barry stepped aside to make way for Fifth Beatle George Martin. For the catchy theme song, Martin enlisted the help of former Beatle Paul McCartney.

    The dts and Dolby Digital surround mixes provide a nice separation across the front three speakers. The rear speakers are called upon to provide subtle ambience, such as during the hotel stage show at 27:47 or during the voodoo gathering at 96:22. The resulting mix sounds almost like a Dolby stereo surround mix, and there are no whiz-bang directional effects or panning between speakers.

    This DVD's LFE track is very limited, but the subwoofer does lend a hand at times, such as during the explosion at 102:17.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Apart from the restored picture and sound, a whole new array of extras have been added to the Bond Ultimate Editions in addition to the extras included on the Special Editions. Unless stated otherwise, all are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo.

 Menus

    A series of animated menus with audio.

Disc One

Trailer

    A forced trailer for the Bond Ultimate Editions, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Audio Commentary - Director Guy Hamilton & members Of Cast And Crew

    Hosted by John Clark of the Ian Fleming Foundation, this commentary is very interesting, and packed with a lot of information and anecdotes. Interviews with a number of the cast and crew have been edited to make the commentary fairly screen specific, and each speaker is introduced by Clark. We hear from a range of people, such as Actors, Jane Seymour, and Yaphet Kotto, Art Director Syd Cain, and SFX Supervisor David Meddings. Some of these interviews were recorded on location, so the audio quality suffers at times.

Audio Commentary - Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz

    Mankiewicz recalls the many script ideas he had, and to some extent, the evolution of those that ended up on the big screen. While there are some gaps, Mankiewicz seems to recall his time working on this film very well. This appears to be the same commentary that was on the Special Edition DVD.

Audio Commentary - Actor Roger Moore

    Last year, Roger Moore recorded screen specific audio commentaries for all seven of his Bond films. Although there are some lengthy gaps, Moore has a pleasant voice to listen to, and a fun, yet dry sense of humour. His commentary is quite personal and he discusses issues well beyond the film. For example, the film opens at the UN, and this allows him to discuss his 15 years working for the UN, as a UNICEF Good Will Ambassador. Of course there is also plenty of Bond-related anecdotes and memories, such as how he was originally approached and hired, to his recollections of cast, crew, and the film's many locations.

Disc Two

De-Classified: MI6 Vault

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1:

007 Mission Control

    An interactive feature that allows the viewer to jump directly to a key scene in the film, or to a specific character, gadget, or Bond girl.

Mission Dossiers

    The featurettes from the Live And Let Die Special Edition:

Ministry Of Propaganda

    Theatrical Trailers:

    TV Trailers:

    Two Radio Spots

Interactive Image Database 

    Nine themed photographic stills galleries from 1973, presented as slide shows.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As with the Bond Special Editions, I understand that the R1 and R4 Ultimate Editions should be identical, except for the NTSC/PAL differences and some differences with the subtitles.

Summary

    Live and Let Die was to mark an intentional and noticeable change in direction for the Bond movies. The films were to become far more commercial, and far less critically acclaimed. With Live and Let Die one can see the evolution toward the tongue-in-cheek high-camp action-comedies that were to be known simply as the Moore era.

    The video quality is very good, considering the age of the source material.

    The audio quality is good, considering the limited source material.

    The extras are thorough, genuine, and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, July 03, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
I am a pedantic nitpicking b****** - grug (there is no bio.)
You're right, Grug - Ron Stevens
Music Score and Title Song - Michael Q (read my bio)
Missing audio commentary's..... - mr lowery REPLY POSTED
What??? No Moore Audio Commentaries on Region 4??? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED