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Live and Let Die

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In 1973, while Fred Williamson as Black Caesar was raising hell up in Harlem, a new playa showed up on the scene: James Bond. And the playa was played by a different player: Roger Moore, taking over the role from Sean Connery and George Lazenby (and fake-Shemp Bonds such as David Niven and Barry Sullivan). In 007's ninth big-screen outing, the British empire strikes back at the then-popular blaxploitation craze, sending Bond to assert order over villainous black Others (chiefly Yaphet Kotto and the kingly Geoffrey Holder) all made to look as exoticized and ooh-scary as possible. (The plot manages to link the Harlem heroin trade and Caribbean voodoo, so there's plenty of opportunity; there's also a backwoods sheriff wildly overplayed by Clifton James to make Bond look like a model of social progress.) Despite its risible racial politics, this is one of the liveliest and most underrated films in the series, with clever sight gags, sultry New Orleans locations, a great speedboat chase and maybe the most garish finish ever for a Bond supervillain. Above all, it has Paul McCartney's smashing tongue-in-cheek theme song, undimmed even by an unnecessary preposition or two.
Sat., Aug. 16, noon; Sun., Aug. 17, noon; Mon., Aug. 18, 7 p.m., 2008

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