BOND 50 LIVE AND LET DIE

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...

MISSION 8: LIVE AND LET DIE (1973)

In the end it came down to a simple choice between Roger Moore and rising star Burt Reynolds, whose breakout performance in 1972’s Deliverance channelled a rugged, jungle-chested machismo that looked set to enshrine him as a genuine ‘70s action star. Director Guy Hamilton insisted that Reynolds possessed all the right elements for Bond – “I must say the best people at the time were voting for Reynolds,” screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz later revealed – but Broccoli vetoed him on the grounds that Bond must always be British (ironic, given that he had originally signed American John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever ). Roger Moore found himself haunted by Connery’s voice on the totemic line “My name’s Bond, James Bond…” but, a brief bout of nerves before his first press conference aside, he embraced the chance to make Fleming’s hero his own. “I didn’t have any reservations – four or five thousand actors have played Hamlet!” Intriguingly, Paul McCartney’s title song tells us to “give the other fella hell” – could this be the same “other fella” on George Lazenby’s mind in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ?

TRESPASSERS WILL BE EATEN It’s the most gloriously pulpy moment in the Bonds to date. Marooned on a rock at Kananga’s heroin farm, 007 watches as the snouts of crocodiles surface from the rust-coloured water, their dark eyes fixing upon him with unmistakably hungry intent. For once his Q-issued gizmology is useless. Stealthily, a croc clambers onto the rock, followed by another, then another… How will he get out of this one, kids? Producer Harry Saltzman suggested a helicopter rescue, dismissed by screenwriter Mankiewicz as “too easy” – though he had no idea how to resolve the cliffhanger he’d written himself into. “Why the hell doesn’t he jump over their backs?” suggested Ross Kananga, owner of the true life gator farm that supplied the location and the man who loaned his name to the movie’s villain. On New Year’s Eve 1972 Kananga actually attempted the insanely dangerous stunt himself, taking five heart-stopping attempts to leap across the backs of the snapping, increasingly agitated predators. The audacious final sequence is pure Bond joy.

TRIV AND LET DIE

We nearly had a new M as well as a new Bond - Kenneth More was poised to replace a poorly Bernard Lee in the role.

Clifton James wore stomach padding for his role as gutbucket sheriff J W Pepper.

The filmmakers considered bringing original Bond girl Ursula Andress back as Honey Ryder to help ease the transition to the new 007.

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN