I wrote a retrospective of the film for it's 40th anniversary, which you can read here.
As regular readers of this blog will know, I was (and remain) a huge fan of the late, great Sir Roger Moore. I picked this book up in 2003 at a Toy Fair, read it then and loved it. Last year, on hearing of his passing, I decided to read it again and what a treat it was.
This is Roger Moore’s diary of his time making Live And Let Die - we don’t get anything from before production began and we don’t get anything after production ended, but we get absolutely everything between those two points. Where now a lot of behind the scenes material (which I love to read) is either tactful or adheres to the company line, this takes no notice of that. Moore discusses race relations (both on set and with the locations), needles his producer for being cheap, gets on well with the crew and his fellow actors (most appeared to have worked with him in the past) and yet isn’t afraid to portray himself honestly - he loses his temper on occasion (sometimes at the production, more often at himself) and argues with his wife. Remarkably candid and told with the wit he showed in his autobiography and his live shows (two of which I was lucky enough to catch), this presents a man who enjoys what he does (and realises how lucky he is), wants the best for people (he’s often aghast at how Harry Saltzman treats people in restaurants), clearly loves his kids and takes great pride in his charity work for the Stars Organisation For Spastics (of which he was patron). Being a diary, we also get a glimpse into his social life as he entertains (or is entertained by) various famous people and even gets star-struck himself (such as meeting Deborah Kerr in a restaurant).
The book also features 8 pages of colour photographs, some of which are production stills, some of which are candid ones by Luisa Moore.
Funny, insightful, smart and informative, this is a fantastic read and if you can get hold of a copy, I’d very much recommend it.
|Roger Moore, with Cubby Broccoli (centre) and Harry Saltzman, is announced to the world as James Bond in August 1972.|
A little later my phone rang, with a message for me from Broccoli’s co-producer, Harry Saltzman: "Cubby thinks you need to lose a little weight."
Well, I’d been filming the TV series The Persuaders with Tony Curtis, whose love of the good life had rubbed off on me. ‘OK,’ I said, and started a strict diet.
The phone rang again: "Cubby thinks you’re a little out of shape."
So I started a tough fitness regimen.
Again the phone rang, and this time it was Cubby: "Harry thinks your hair is a little too long."
"Why didn’t you just cast a thin, fit, bald fellow in the first place and avoid putting me through this hell?" I replied.
|Roger Moore with Gloria Hendry (left) and Jane Seymour|
|Moore outside Ross Kananga's farm - the sign wasn't created for the production and spotting it led an intrigued Guy Hamilton to find out what was there.|
|Moore with old friend Madeline Smith, who plays Miss Caruso, the Italian agent in the opening sequence.|
|Posing on the Pinewood set of Kananga's lair|
|Moore with Ross Kananga at the crocodile farm (it's Ross who performs the stunt where he runs across their backs). Tom Mankiewicz was so taken with the name, he used it for the villain.|
|Production began in New Orleans on Friday 13th October 1972. Two days before, rehearsing in a speedboat on the Irish Bayou, the engine cut out on Moore as he went around a corner and he crashed, fracturing a front tooth and bashing his leg badly.|
|Taking it steadier on the Bayou|
|The now iconic photo op, suggested by unit publicist Dan Slater, taken at the Slidell Boatyard in Louisiana. Nobody told Moore how much explosive was going to be used and his chair was set up 300 yards away.|
'Why are you hiding behind there, fellows?' I asked foolishly.
'Well Rarge,' said one of the American crew, 'they say there's gonna be a little blast.'
I sat there, through the countdown, clutching a glass of chilled white port with the photographers on my right and all hell to be let loose on my left.
The bang came and I don't know if it blew me or I jumped four feet in the air, somehow without spilling one drop of wine. As a cool-in-a-crisis Bond shot it could have been a disaster, but most of the photographers leapt a bit higher than I did."
"Can you beat anybody, including a robber?"
"Oh yes," I replied, confidently.
"Supposing James Bond came in," he persisted.
"Daddy is going to play James Bond," I explained.
"I know that," he sighed, impatiently. "I mean the real James Bond, Sean Connery."
The book has been re-released (after being 'out of print for over forty years') by The History Press as The 007 Diaries: Filming Live and Let Die with a new introduction by David Hedison (Moore's friend who plays Felix Leiter in the film).