Three British Secret Service agents are killed within the space of a few hours – one in New York, one in New Orleans and one on the island of San Monique in the Caribbean.
The only connection appears to be a man named Kananga (Yaphet Kotto) – he’s the Prime Minister of San Monique, and the agent in New York was shadowing him on behalf of the CIA (the man in New Orleans was investigating odd activities at a restaurant named ‘Fillet of Soul’).
James Bond (Roger Moore), travels to New York and tails Kananga to another in the ‘Fillet of Soul’ chain of restaurants, but is taken captive by a black gangster named Mr Big and sentenced to death.
Escaping, he and CIA man Felix Leiter (David Hedison) wonder what the connection is between the Prime Minister of a Caribbean island and a Harlem gangster.
Bond travels to San Monique in search of answers and falls in with CIA agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry).
After an attempt on Bond’s life and the exposure of Rosie as a double agent on Kananga’s payroll, Bond infiltrates a cliff top fortress and seduces his ‘ward’ Solitaire.
They escape together and discover that Kananga is growing vast fields of poppies under nets to escape prying eyes. Kananga is obviously producing and smuggling heroin at a vast rate.
They head for New Orleans, where Bond still wants to discover the connection between Kananga and the British Secret Service agent’s death, but they are taken captive by Mr Big’s men again.
Bond escapes, is recaptured and confronts Mr Big, who turns out to be Kananga himself. Kananga grows the poppies, produces the heroin and then distributes it (as Mr Big) through his chain of ‘Fillet of Soul’ restaurants.
He intends giving away the heroin until he has cornered the market, thus driving the Mafia out of business.
Bond manages to destroy Kananga’s heroin-refining operation in New Orleans and escapes along the Louisiana bayous.
Hearing that Kananga has returned to his island realm with Solitaire, he follows and finds that Kananga is having Solitaire sacrificed at a voodoo ceremony.
While he rescues her, Leiter’s CIA agents blow up the poppy fields. Bond and Solitaire penetrate Kananga’s underground heroin refining plant on San Monique and Bond kills Kananga in hand-to-hand combat.
A last-minute attack by Kananga’s metal-clawed henchman Tee Hee (Julius Harris), is averted, and Bond and Solitaire are safe.
Roger Moore is definitely an acquired taste as Bond (Moore himself admitted to not getting the hang of the character until The Spy Who Loved Me) and – like most James Bond films, you could chop out at least 15 minutes and make a better movie – but there’s still a certain sense of style to Live and Let Die and, along with having arguably the greatest theme song of them all, this is great entertainment.
Earl Jolly Brown