And yes, yes, I know, only Sean Connery was Bond, and Roger gets blamed for everything cartoonish about the series. But I'd suggest you revisit the last couple of Connery's and Lazenby's one go, and see if you can still tell me straight-faced that it wasn't already headed that way. Granted, I'll give you Moonraker (1979), as the apex of ridiculousness...in any event...to an eight or nine year old, Live and Let Die was (and mostly still is) a thrilling adventure, worth it if only for the boat chase scene and what's still one of the best Bond theme songs.
|...and one of the best Bond posters thanks to Robert McGinnis.|
So this past week, as you may have already figured out, I delved into Fleming's second Bond adventure, Live and Let Die (1954). In it, rare gold coins have been turning up in New York City pawn shoppes, and the U.S. government has contacted the British government over several of the pieces which have been traced to Mr. Big, a Harlem gangster. Bond is sent in to join American agent Felix Leiter in tracking the source of the coins, believed to be the treasure of the infamous pirate Henry Morgan, and distrupt Mr. Big's operations. Big, a practitioner of Voodoo, seems to have an infallible eye and network set up to stop the super-spy from foiling him.
|Not my copy, but one with a far cooler cover.|
Which leads to a very important point: in today's politically correct world, this book will likely be offensive to new readers. I mention it for two reasons. The first is how far the PC trend has gone: that Huckleberry Finn either gets whitewashed or banned for its coarse racial language and I've read reports of To Kill a Mockingbird being banned for RACISM. It's more than a little horrifying to become so sensitive so as to miss the point entirely. Are Fleming's somewhat frequent references to "negroid features" and his use of stereotypical "negro" dialect in the dialogue racist? Absolutely. But other than pointing out the usual (it was a different time, etc.), I won't make any apologies for it. It is what it is. Big is an interesting villain in that he's physically imposing, cunning, ruthless, able to pray on superstition and fear to subjugate others, philosophical and highly intelligent. In terms of at least three dimensions, he gets a pass. Unfortunately, that's not enough to bolster how more or less stereotypical every other black character around him is.
|Believe or not...far less offensive than what's in the book.|