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Tag Archive: Live and Let Die


For more than six years we at borg.com have been covering entertainment memorabilia auctions–sales of not merely replicas or mass-produced collectibles, but the real objects seen on film–rare or even one-of-a-kind costumes created by award-winning Hollywood costume designers, detailed props created by production crew, model vehicles created by special effects departments like Industrial Light and Magic, prosthetics created by famous makeup artists, set decoration, concept art, and much more.  Amassing a wide variety of artifacts from classic and more recent film and television history, London and Los Angeles-based Prop Store is hosting its annual auction later this month.  Known for its consignment of some of the most well-known and iconic screen-used props and costumes, Prop Store’s ultimate museum collectibles auction will be open for bidding from anyone, and items will be available at estimates for both beginning collectors and those with deeper pockets.

The Prop Store Live Auction: Treasures from Film and Television will be auctioning off approximately 600 items.  You’ll find the following movies and TV shows represented and more:  3:10 to Yuma (2007), 300, Aliens, Back to the Future films, Blade Runner, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Chronicles of Narnia films, Elysium, Enemy Mine, Excalibur, The Fifth Element, Gladiator, The Goonies, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Jason and the Argonauts, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the Indiana Jones films, Iron Man, the James Bond films, Judge Dredd (1995), the Jurassic Park films, Kick-Ass 2, Kingsman: the Secret Service, Lifeforce, Looper, The Lost Boys, The Martian, The Matrix, Men in Black III, Mission: Impossible (1996), The Mummy (1999), Patton, Pirates of the Caribbean series, Predators, the Rocky films, Saving Private Ryan, Scarface, Serenity, Shaun of the Dead, Shawshank Redemption, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Star Trek franchise, Star Wars franchise, Starship Troopers, Superman films, Terminator films, The Three Musketeers (1993), Tropic Thunder, Troy, True Grit, Underworld: Evolution, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Willow, The Wolfman (2010), World War Z, and the X-Men films.

You can flip through the auction house’s hefty 360-page catalog, or start with a look at what we selected as the best 50 of the lots–what we predict as the most sought-after by collectors and those that represent some of fandom’s favorite sci-fi and fantasy classics and modern favorites.

  • Industrial Light and Magic 17 3/4-inch Rebel Y-Wing filming model from Return of the Jedi
  • Sark (David Warner) Grid costume from the original Tron (1982)
  • Julie Newmar’s Catwoman costume and Burgess Meredith Penguin hat from the classic Batman TV series
  • Buttercup (Robin Wright) Fire Swamp red dress from The Princess Bride
  • Chekov (Walter Koenig) “nuclear wessels” costume, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) costume, and Sulu (George Takei) double shirt from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Full crew set of costumes (Malcolm, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, Inara, Kaylee, River, Book, and Simon) from Serenity (sold as individual costume lots)
  • Jack Nicholson purple Joker costume, plus separate coat and hat, from Batman (1989)
  • Enterprise-D 48-inch “pyro” model from Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Will Munny (Clint Eastwood) stunt shotgun from Unforgiven
  • Star-lord helmet from Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Mjolnir hammer from Thor

  • Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II jumpsuits made for Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman
  • Witch-king of Angmar crown from The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  • Val Kilmer Batman suit and cowl from Batman Forever
  • Maverick (Tom Cruise) flight suit from Top Gun
  • Geoffrey Rush Captain Barbossa costume from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Curse of the Black Pearl

And there are so many more.  Like…

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You may find Ian Fleming’s third James Bond novel, Moonraker, to be a surprising, refreshing read for several reasons.

First, it is new to those who have only watched the movie adaptations.  Moonraker the novel has very little relationship to the 11th Bond film, starring Roger Moore, where Moore’s Bond is trying to prevent a global conspiracy involving the Space Shuttle.

Second, Bond is humanized.  The impressive perfection of Bond in Casino Royale is smoothed out and Ian Fleming, after two other Bond novels, is easing into this super spy’s mystique, his aura, and the nature of this suave and sophisticated man of mystery.  The uncomfortable 1950s racial elements of Live and Let Die are thankfully completely absent here.  Here we see Bond at home, Bond buying a car, Bond’s daily life as Agent 007, including reviewing forms as any government analyst might do.  We get to see that Bond’s life, outside the novels, is routine.  It’s a Bond you may never thought you would get to see, if all you have seen are the films.

Third, Hugo Drax is a fantastic villain.  Even James Bond admires Drax and acknowledges it to other characters throughout Moonraker.  Bond’s preoccupation with Drax’s looks, his facial hair and the odd close-cut workers and their own myriad variety of moustaches is simply intriguing.

Fourth, we get to see Bond commiserate away from the Secret Service offices with M himself.  M invites Bond to an exclusive club called Blades, one of the most perfectly described locations in the Bond universe.  One might think we’ve seen Bond already do the card game bit in Casino Royale, yet Moonraker‘s card war is strangely epic.

Fifth, you’ll find some classic supporting villains that could be found in classic Hollywood mystery stories, including Krebs, a Wormtongue-toady type who at one time could have been played smartly by Peter Lorre.  There’s even a classic mad scientist.

Moonraker finds Bond summoned to M’s office where M proceeds to explain the need for a personal favor.  A certain member of the oldest gentleman’s club in all of jolly old England has been caught cheating at cards.  What kind of a man–a man who could afford to play the highest stakes of games in a club so exclusive only 200 members are ever allowed on the roster–would risk his reputation and membership on such arrogance and stupidity?

M calls on Bond because he is known around the service as the card player to beat, with a background knowledge of every trick in the book, and Fleming goes to some lengths in explaining the games and the ruses, not in any overdone way but just enough to immerse the reader in Bond’s world.  The club has the high brow feel of the club of Duke & Duke in Trading Places, and throughout the novel I wondered if any of Moonraker‘s vivid descriptions directly inspired movie script locations like the exclusive Bushwood Country Club in Caddyshack.

It doesn’t take long for Bond to figure out a way to foil the great cheating millionaire.  But this millionaire, Sir Hugo Drax, is key to the British government’s most important pet project–he is the mind behind the Moonraker missile project.  Moonraker is Great Britain’s first nuclear weapon and the future of the UK’s national defense system.  The significance of the first test of said missile causes M to pull Bond in when a member of the security team is killed at the launch site.  Bond takes over the role, which forces him to work one on one with Drax.

At first Bond loathes Drax and continuously finds ways to criticize him to M, yet once he follows Drax to examine his new creation he is rightly impressed with his ability to pull together a team of researchers and support staff, including 50 Germans, to complete this monumental project.  His work on site causes him to partner with the obligatory Bond girl of this novel, Gala Brand, a Scotland Yard agent posing as Drax’s personal assistant.

Moonraker is full of good action scenes–Bond chasing after Brand when she is kidnapped, Bond and Brand hiding with the missile silo walls, more than one murder attempt against Bond, the grand card game, and uncovering the secret purpose of the Moonraker rocket.  Where Casino Royale was exciting from a plot standpoint but not so much in-depth as far as character is concerned, and where Live and Let Die is now somewhat dated, Ian Fleming’s writing in Moonraker is vivid, rich, and compelling.

Moonraker would be ideal as a film remake today.  With Dame Judith Dench as M, it would be fascinating to see how Bond could be a friend of sorts assisting M after hours on more of a social mission than a political one.  And translating the V-2-inspired rocket and Cold War themes into something compelling today would be a fun challenge for the keepers of the James Bond mantle.

More borg.com James Bond novel “Retro-reviews” can be found here and here.

Review by C.J. Bunce

A modern reader will flinch a bit at Ian Fleming’s second James Bond novel, Live and Let Die.  His novel was written in 1954 through the eyes of an ex-British intelligence military officer and all the British imperialism of the time in which Fleming was writing spy novels.  Blacks are referred to as negroes throughout the book and it’s hard to separate whether the characters or narrator are guilty of the use of racial slurs attached to characters of almost every race, and even 1950s America is disparaged incessantly by Bond and the narrator throughout the book.

The villain of Live and Let Die is a large black man with “golden eyes” called Mr. Big.  By all accounts he is every bit the equal of any other mob boss from New York City’s history, only this mob boss is said to be the first criminal genius who is black.  He gets all the benefits of being a criminal mastermind and, indeed, gives Bond as much of a run for his money as any Bond villain.   M sends Bond on this mission in New York City, partnering with the CIA to attempt to track down a tie of rumored gold coin treasure of legendary pirate Captain Morgan and how Mr. Big is using the gold to fund his illegal enterprises.  Because Mr. Big is believed a spy for Russian agency SMERSH, whose agent left Bond’s hand branded as “spy” at the end of Casino Royale, Bond is eager to take out Mr. Big.  But Bond under-estimates this crime lord.  To give you an idea of the lens through which Fleming wrote the book, here’s an excerpt:

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a great negro criminal before,” said Bond.  “Chinamen, of course, the men behind the opium trade.  There’ve been some big-time Japs, mostly in pearls and drugs.  Plenty of negroes mixed up in diamonds and gold in Africa, but always in a small way.  They don’t seem to take to big business.  Pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much.
 
“Our man’s a bit of an exception,” said M.  “He’s not pure negro.  Born in Haiti.  Good dose of French blood.  Trained in Moscow, too, as you’ll see from the file.  And the negro races are just beginning to throw up geniuses in all the professions–scientists, doctors, writers.  It’s about time they turned up a great criminal.  After all there are 250,000,000 of them in the world.  Nearly a third of the white population.  They’ve got plenty of brains and ability and guts….”

The villain Mr. Big seems to mirror this in the climax of the book:

“In the history of negro emancipation, there have already appeared great athletes, great musicians, great writers, great doctors and scientists.  In due course, as in the developing history of other races, there will appear negroes great and famous in every other walk of life.  It is unfortunate for you, Mister Bond, and this girl, that you have encountered the first of the great negro criminals.”

So you not only have racist banter, you have the passing derogatory reference from a 1955 British society view, including the hinted weak attempt at the “but hey, jolly good, they’re giving it a good show,” and multiple attempts by Fleming to claim that he has managed to write the account of the first black villain of literature.  So the bottom line is this novel will make the average reader cringe, several times, throughout the story.  If you want to move past that part of the book, you’ll find the story and action rival that of his first novel, Casino Royale.

I had the benefit of reading Live and Let Die without reference to the Roger Moore film of the same name, the eighth in the Broccoli family’s cinematic productions.  But as much as I think I have seen all the Bond films multiple times, this story seemed unfamiliar.  It may be because bits of the novel are filtered through the movie adaptations Licence to Kill and For Your Eyes Only So I read it imagining Bond as current Bond actor Daniel Craig, but also trying to remember Sean Connery playing the role.  Only after finishing did I realize this was Roger Moore’s first role as Bond.  His more snobbish performances might very well have made him the better pick for this Bond story.

The co-star of this novel is American CIA agent Felix Leiter, and perhaps because I am an American reader, he has become my favorite supporting character in the new series, as played by black actor Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace He’s sort of the John Clark (from Tom Clancy’s novels) of the Bond world.  In my mind’s eye I saw Wright as Leiter here, but he was written and played in the films as a white Texan, so my thoughts of his Fleming’s clever use of Leiter helping Bond through understanding the politics of Harlem were just misplaced.  I also did not realize Yaphet Coto played Mr. Big onscreen and Jane Seymour as Bond-girl Solitaire.  Unlike Seymour’s typical role, the novel’s female conquest for Bond is neither independent nor strong.  But in trying to save her own life she manages to help Bond in the process, and is interesting as a second tier Bond partner.  And for my last movie reference I also admit I was tripped up every time M was referred to as male, as Dame Judi Dench’s seven portrayals on film now forever lock her as the only M in my mind.

Movies aside, as spy novels go, Live and Let Die stands on its own merits.  Peeling back the social commentary, James Bond in his second mission is both more accessible and emotional (he tears up once) and also more gritty.  His banter among spies rings of a predecessor to Richard Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior persona.  The most enjoyable trait is his loyalty, and even friendship, to Felix, and it is damage done to Felix that drives Bond’s motivation through half the novel.  Ian Fleming, who knew his hero at page one of his first novel, here leaves aside any character building and dives in head first with Bond as the fully realized master spy, fully aware of all the details in the room.  Fleming’s own life at his real-world estate called Goldeneye in Jamaica in particular is used to excellent effect in his descriptions and assessment of contemporary Jamaica.

Look for good sequences of Bond and Leiter being beaten in Harlem by Mr. Big’s henchmen, Felix’s “off-screen” bout with a shark in Florida, Bond exacting satisfying revenge for Felix, Bond’s attempt to save Solitaire from Mr. Big while uncovering the secret behind Captain Morgan’s gold as he swims in underwater gear off the coast of Jamaica, and finally, Mr. Big’s cunning method of concealing the gold and protecting his find from others.  A strange sub-culture of voodoo permeates the novel–Mr. Big uses black American workers across the country as his eyes and ears and to do so relies on their belief in and fear of voodoo.  This comes off as strange to the modern reader, particularly that all these people supposedly truly believe that Mr. Big is not the devil himself, but the devil’s own zombie.

Despite its shortcomings Live and Let Die features an action-packed story and Bond in spy mode as intriguing as ever.

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