Friday, 7 July 2017

Where is James Bond's big gun?

The poster for Live and Let Die, created by Robert McGinnis, is iconic and a classic piece of Bond art, but there’s something on the poster that’s been puzzling me. In the centre of the artwork, a woman sits on top of the barrel of a field gun or anti-aircraft gun, which is being fired by James Bond.


I’ve watched Live and Let Die countless times, but I can’t remember ever seeing James Bond wield a gun of that sort. Unless it’s a case of blink and you miss it, the gun doesn’t appear in the film. What’s surprising, though, is quite how central the image is to the publicity of the film.

Apart from the poster, a large image of the gun is shown in the gatefold of the soundtrack album. Interestingly, the image here is a photograph. This rules out artistic licence, and means that Roger Moore filmed a scene featuring the gun or posed with it. It’s reasonable to conclude that the gun was used for publicity only or the scene ended on the cutting-room floor.



If the latter, the photograph may offer a clue about the gun’s intended placement in the film. Roger Moore is shown wearing a pale open-necked shirt, possibly the same shirt he wears for his scenes in Mr Big’s poppy field. Had Mr Big installed the gun in the poppy field to protect his crop? Perhaps there was a scene in which Bond discovers the gun and uses it to destroy the helicopter that’s attacking him. (That's another puzzler - what happens to the helicopter?)

The gun itself is shown in more detail in the photograph. To me, it looks like a Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun, but I haven’t been able to identify it precisely. A photograph in the US edition of Roger Moore’s Live and Let Die diary shows Roger Moore being shown how to use a gun mounted on a US Coast Guard boat. It's hard to tell, but it could be the same gun as that in the poster (Roger Moore is also wearing a pale open-necked shirt), in which case, the photograph on the soundtrack album would appear to be a publicity shot.

If anyone knows more about James Bond’s missing gun, then post a comment at the end of this post. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

5 comments:

  1. This really bugged me when I was 12 years old and first saw the film in a double feature with Diamonds Are Forever in 1981, because back then the poster imagery played a much greater role in my appreciation of the films. Posters and lobby cards - how I miss lobby cards. In the days when you could only catch trailers at random by buying a ticket for some other movie, studying lobby cards was a big part of going to a movie. The idea of simply walking into a cinema, buying a ticket and watching the movie was unthinkable; I wanted to study the lobby cards for a good 10 minutes before going in. And I'd glance at the lobby cards of whatever movie was playing any time I passed the theatre. And posters were the same. I'd study newspaper reproductions of the posters for years before I had opportunity to see the films. So it absolutely confused me that this gun on the poster didn't appear in the film.

    In later years I'd even ask the Bond experts but of course they're not really interested in the 1970s Bond films.

    A friend finally solved the mystery for me a couple of years ago when he found a passage in Roger Moore's Live and Let Die diary where they talk about how it was simply a convenient gun they found on location and used for publicity purposes. Those publicity photos ended up with McGinnis who probably had no idea there was no such scene in the movie.

    Note: somebody here in New Zealand successfully claimed a ticket refund from the makers of the movie 'Jack Reacher' for featuring a quarry explosion in the film's trailer that never made it into the movie. So if you want to try your luck in a class action suit for the product not living up to the advertised promises ...

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    1. Thanks, Craig. That solves it then. I knew I should have re-read Roger Moore's diary! I read it a long time ago, but couldn't find the relevant passage when I skimmed through it the other day. It's still curious, though, why the image would feature so heavily in the film's publicity when it didn't appear in the film.

      I agree with you about lobby cards. In the days of limited access to information about films, they were as much a part of the teaser as the trailer. They also gave you a side to the film that didn't necessarily make it to the screen. Mind you, sometimes the image that's chosen for the lobby card is just a bit bizarre - photos of the hair stylist or another member of the production crew, for instance. Very odd.

      Quite often I'll revisit a trailer after watching a film to see what the released film didn't include. I guess these days when initial trailers are released months before the film's out, it's not always clear what's going to be in the final cut. It's a bit of a gamble for the trailer makers. Then again, it gives the film company something to put in the DVD extras!

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    2. There was a lobby card for OHMSS that baffled me for years too. It's in the 50th anniversary poster book but I first saw it in 1979. Until 2012 I even wondered whether I'd imagined it. It just shows the film's crew rather than the cast leaning over the precipice at Piz Gloria. There was a screening of the film that year in a Sunday night double feature with something else (a non-Bond film). I didn't get to go because I'd already got to go to a similar double feature of Breakheart Pass and Goldfinger. What my parents didn't realise was that Goldfinger was screening second. They still let me go but said no to OHMSS because it would screen second too. But I did to go to the theatre and see that lobby card - it was the only piece of publicity; no daybill poster, no other lobby cards. And I assumed it was a scene from the film. It seemed bizarre, having a lobby card showing the crew rather than the cast. (Anything to distract from the fact that Connery was no longer in the role. It certainly worked to confuse me when I finally saw the film in 1981 and was shocked to find it starring George Lazenby.) Finally in 2012 when the poster book came out I had visual proof I hadn't dreamt seeing the perplexing lobby card for a non-existent scene from the film.

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    3. The OHMSS lobby cards are fascinating, aren't they? Even if the marketing people didn't want to focus on Lazenby, why show the crew? Surely action shots would have been better. Bizarre!

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  2. Thanks also to @BondMaps for sending me this link via Twitter:

    http://debrief.commanderbond.net/topic/42917-live-and-let-die-cut-scenes/

    This also confirms the publicity answer.

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