Bond’s Black “Tactileneck” in Live and Let Die

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973).

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973).

Vitals

Roger Moore as James Bond, debonair British secret agent

“San Monique” (actually Jamaica), Spring 1973

Film: Live and Let Die
Release Date: June 27, 1973
Director: Guy Hamilton
Costume Designer: Julie Harris

Background

Despite today being April 1st, this post isn’t timed to be an April Fool’s Day post; instead, BAMF Style is celebrating the return of Archer last night by analyzing the “tactileneck” that started it all – Roger Moore’s all-black assault attire in Live and Let Die.

After the love of his life his temporary lust object is kidnapped in keeping with the movie’s rampant polyester-flavored blend of racism and sexism, James Bond packs some heavy heat to return to Jamaica San Monique and retrieve her… mostly so he can have someone to have sex with during his return trip.

Bond manages to really bungle things up and, although he lands a henchman in a coffin of poisonous snakes, he gets captured right alongside of Solitaire.

The 1954 Fleming novel from which this took its title then saw Bond and Solitaire horrendously tied to the back of his yacht and dragged through coral reef into shark-infested waters, which is admitted a pretty badass way to be tortured. Unfortunately, this was shelved in favor of a more budget-friendly version that finds Bond and Solitaire tied up together to a slow… a very slow… device that would lower them into a shark tank. The lowering process gives Bond time to activate the buzz saw on his Rolex (although he probably would’ve had time to chew through it then read a few passages of Ulysses) and escape. This is the stereotypical unnecessarily slow-and-escapable torture that would give Austin Powers so much fodder to mock decades later, right down to Dr. Kananga’s smug insistence on laying out every detail of his evil plan, even saying “Let me show you exactly how it works.”

(Luckily, the reef-cutting sharkbait torture was revived for For Your Eyes Only, which I would argue to be my favorite of Roger Moore’s outings as Bond.)

What’d He Wear?

By the time Roger Moore took over the mantle as “00-’70s”, the turtleneck sweater had been trending for decades as a fresh alternative to ties. Beginning with its association with beatniks and “sweater girls” in the ’50s, the turtleneck gradually went mainstream until exploding in popularity when Steve McQueen sported one as Lt. Frank Bullitt in 1968.

Bond prepares for battle on San Monique.

Bond prepares for battle on San Monique.

Known as a “polo neck” or “roll-neck” among the Brits, the turtleneck eased its way into the Bond series in the form of shorter polo necks in the three preceding Bond outings – You Only Live TwiceOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Diamonds are Forever – before the costumers decided to go all out and place their new 007, Roger Moore, in a black jumper with a full turtleneck collar that rolled over to totally cover his neck. (In that context, the “roll-neck” appellation probably makes the most sense for this type of collar.)

Bond’s black knit turtleneck jumper is comfortably lightweight for the jungle atmosphere, although it appears to be a warmer material like merino wool. (I still wouldn’t rule out cotton, though.) The cuffs have extended ribbing to allow them to be folded back over the wrist without having to sacrifice the sleeve’s integrity by rolling them up (which that asshole Kananga does anyway before drawing Bond’s blood!) His jumper is tucked into his trousers.

Roger Moore's eyebrow carries yet another scene.

Roger Moore’s eyebrow carries yet another scene.

The series paid tribute to this look in Spectre by placing Daniel Craig in several mock and full polo neck jumpers throughout the film, including a luxurious charcoal mock polo neck that was paired with a brown shoulder holster for the teaser poster that directly evoked Moore’s look in Live and Let Die. The well-fitted turtleneck for assault purposes is also a favorite of Sterling Archer, who enjoys a closet full of at least ten “tactilenecks” in black… and “slightly darker black”.

"Solitaire. Solitaire... SOLITAIREEEEEEEE!" "What?" "Danger zone!"

“Solitaire. Solitaire… SOLITAIREEEEEEEE!”
“What?”
“Danger zone!”

Bond’s black trousers continue the clean, minimalist look with sewn-down darts that provide the comfortable fit of pleats while offering the cleaner look of flat front trousers. Like Moore’s other trousers tailored by Cyril Castle for Live and Let Die, these don’t have the typical front or side pockets; instead, there is a straight slit just below the belt line on each side that serves like a “large coin pocket” for small, essential items. There are two jetted hip pockets in the back that close through a button.

Bond may have been better served tactically if he had forgone the then-fashionable flared bottoms, but his rescue mission involved a very beautiful woman so 007 would want to look as stylish as possible. The corny flared bottoms are somewhat thankfully offset by the trousers’ high rise on Roger Moore’s already tall 6’1″ frame.

I apologize in retrospect for unintentionally making it look like Roger Moore is checking out his own ass.

I apologize in retrospect for unintentionally making it look like Roger Moore is distracted by his own ass.

Moore’s “Bond for the ’70s” differentiates himself further by incorporating belts into his outfits, which was virtually unheard of during the Connery-Lazenby era as both men wore trousers with “Daks top” side adjusters exclusively. Moore bridges the transition by wearing some suits with button-tab side adjusters in Live and Let Die while sporting belts with his more casual looks, from his basketweave sport coat in New Orleans to this all-black “assault gear”. By The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond would become a full-time belt wearer with both suits and casualwear.

In this case, Bond’s wide black textured leather belt is both stylish and practical; heavy action means more stress on the trousers, and a large shoulder holster like the one he’s sporting for his .44 Magnum (more on that later) needs to be fastened to a belt to stabilize it and keep it from flopping around. Like his other belts – most notably the one worn with his beige trousers and black silk shirt when he lands in New Orleans – this one has a large squared brass single-claw buckle.

Bond judges Whispers and Kananga's crew for wearing the strangest henchmen uniforms yet: red polos with tight jeans.

Bond judges Whispers and Kananga’s crew for wearing the strangest henchmen uniforms yet: red polos with tight jeans. Is this a villain’s cave or a Target?

Bond’s footwear for the occasion is a step (heyoo!) in the right direction for 007’s tactical wear. While Sean Connery had always sported black leather dress boots when prowling around in all black, Roger Moore’s Bond opts for more practical shoes with his dark gray sueded leather laced sneakers (or “trainers”, being as he’s British.) Only a brief look at Bond’s socks is given, and they appear to be very thin black dress socks, possibly even silk.

Kickin' ass on San Monique.

Kickin’ ass on San Monique.

The all black of Bond’s outfit is diversified by his brown leather shoulder rig. The large holster under his left arm is big enough for the Smith & Wesson N-framed revolver that he carries for this particular mission. The leather portion consists of the holster itself and a large leather loop around the left shoulder, which is harnessed to Bond’s chest by an olive-colored vinyl strap with a silver adjuster. There are four rows of tan lacing directly above the holster opening.

Bond takes charge with his .44 Magnum.

Bond takes charge with his .44 Magnum.

Although Q himself doesn’t appear in Live and Let Die (part of a thankfully brief attempt to distance the Moore era from the previous entries), the “bezel buzz saw” on Bond’s stainless Rolex helps he and Solitaire out of a jam. It’s the same Rolex Submariner 5513 that Kananga used in an earlier scene to try and gauge Solitaire’s powers, with its black dial, stainless steel link bracelet, and – of course – black ceramic bezel with its life-saving buzz saw. The watch also has magnetic powers, as Bond uses to disrobe the voluptuous Miss Caruso (Madeline Smith) in the opening scene; it may be this very scene that influenced Roger Moore to cite this watch as his favorite Bond gadget. (Interestingly, the 5513 Submariner was produced from 1962 until 1989, the entire duration (with a few breaks) of Bond’s on-screen Rolex preference before Pierce Brosnan showed up wearing an Omega in 1995’s GoldenEye.)

Shame on you if you don't know what kind of watch this is.

Shame on you if you don’t know what kind of watch this is.

Credit should be given to the real-life Q of the Bond series: Syd Cain. Cain was the production designer who modified many of the most famous gadgets, including wearables like this buzz saw Rolex and Rosa Klebb’s poison-tipped shoes in From Russia With Love. This Live and Let Die Rolex was included in an auction lot from Phillips Watches in November 2015, signed “Roger Moore 007” on the caseback. Additional images and info can be found at Watch Guru.

Ever find yourself tied with rope and facing off against a villain who can't stand to be filled with gas to the point of exploding? The magnetic buzzsaw Rolex is perfect for you.

Ever find yourself tied with rope and facing off against a villain who can’t stand to be filled with gas to the point of exploding? The magnetic buzzsaw Rolex is perfect for you.

On his blog, The Suits of James Bond, Matt Spaiser includes a fine analysis of Bond’s outfit with nice screenshots that could clarify more details.

How to Get the Look

Although there are better choices than all black for furtive nighttime wear, Roger Moore looks very cool in this now-iconic outfit that has proven its influence on future generations of fictional spies.

LALDblack-crop

  • Black lightweight merino wool turtleneck jumper
  • Black wool darted-front trousers with tall belt loops, waistline front pockets, jetted button-through back pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Black textured leather belt with large squared brass single-claw buckle
  • Dark gray sueded leather sneakers/trainers
  • Thin black silk dress socks
  • Brown leather shoulder holster (RHD), for S&W N-frame revolver, with olive-colored vinyl strap
  • Rolex Submariner 5513 wristwatch with black dial and black bezel on stainless link bracelet

Iconic Alternatives offers some guidance in finding an affordable turtleneck jumper like this one and others worn in the series as well as many other outfits sported by 007.

The Gun

Makes a jolly good can opener but not practical for Bond…

…was the conclusion of Geoffrey Boothroyd, the Scottish firearms expert consulted by Ian Fleming for the novels and later featured in the featurette “The Guns of James Bond”. That clip, from which the above quote was derived, was filmed in 1964 during the making of Goldfinger and found Boothroyd joining Sean Connery on the Fort Knox set to discuss Bond’s various handguns, notably comparing the Beretta to the Walther. In it, Boothroyd also gets a chance to fire his personal favorite, a single-action Ruger Blackhawk revolver in .44 Magnum, but determines that the large, “man-sized gun” would be “too big to hide under an agent’s coat”.

Nearly a decade later, a .44 Magnum finally made its way into James Bond’s shoulder holster in the form of a nickel Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver.

Bond makes an ass of himself by shooting up a sentient porcelain statue.

Bond makes an ass of himself by shooting up a sentient porcelain statue.

Though the .44 Magnum was first produced in 1955, it wasn’t until Clint Eastwood declared it “the most powerful handgun in the world” in Dirty Harry that the world actually began to take notice. The Bond franchise, which was paying more and more attention to pop culture trends, realized that the subtlety of Bond’s classic Walther PPK might alienate audiences who were preferring heroes that blew away opponents with oversized American hand cannons; indeed, Tee-Hee’s treatment of the PPK in an early scene may be symbolic of this. (Interestingly, rumor has it that Clint Eastwood was approached for the Bond role in Live and Let Die but respectfully refused and said that the role should go to a Brit.)

LALDblack-GUN2

Four years after Smith & Wesson developed the .44 Magnum cartridge, it was eclipsed as the “most powerful” handgun round when the .454 Casull was developed (sorry, Clint.) Throughout the ’60s, the .44 Magnum found a special audience with hunters and gung-ho cops but never caught on with mainstream firearms enthusiasts.

After Dirty Harry was released in 1971, gun stores couldn’t keep the Smith & Wesson Model 29 on their shelves. Desperate to feel like Harry Callahan, customers began ordering other .44 Magnum revolvers like the Ruger Redhawk, and the cartridge took on a new life. Smith & Wesson continued to offer its Model 29 in a variety of barrel lengths ranging from 3″ up to a staggering 10⅝” as well as in a highly polished blue or nickel-plated finish. (Smith & Wesson also offered a stainless steel version, the Model 629.)

The Model 29 in Roger Moore’s holster as he marched into San Monique was nickel-plated with a 6″ barrel and checkered walnut grips. Due to being such a badass gun, it was often used for promotional artwork even in other scenes where Bond was armed with his PPK (or nothing at all).

Whether it was capitalizing on the trend started by Dirty Harry or a nod to Boothroyd’s preferred “man-sized gun”, Live and Let Die wisely armed 007 with this heavier duty weapon for combat against Kananga’s henchmen, although it’s a mystery why he didn’t take any speedloaders or reloads since six rounds of anything – .44 Magnum or not – won’t stop more than six targets.

Moore and Seymour pose with Bond's big honkin' .44.

Moore and Seymour pose with Bond’s big honkin’ .44 and a legion of surly looking “San Moniquans”.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie, and check out Archer on FX if you haven’t yet!

The Quote

Although the series was trying to distance itself from the Connery years, Live and Let Die still keeps the cringe-worthy one-liners intact. After Bond witnesses Kananga’s death-by-expanding-gas-pellet…

He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.

Footnotes

  • The SPECTRE connection doesn’t end with the revival of the dark, tight-fitting turtleneck; this was also the first Bond film that Daniel Craig had ever seen. (SPECTRE was also the only Bond film after Live and Let Die that featured a scene in Bond’s apartment, but this is slightly less interesting trivia.)
  • The Polish title translates to “Allow to Leave Alone to Die”. OK, Poland.
  • I’ve mentioned it in a previous Live and Let Die post, and I’ll continue to mention it; I really like seeing Jane Seymour on screen in this one.
Next stop Poundtown.

Next stop Poundtown.

8 comments

  1. Teeritz

    LS, you may be aware that this film, seen by me back in the Seventies at the tender age of nine, sparked my life-long obsessions with both Bond and a Submariner 5513. You’re right in saying that this model was in production until ’89, but the dial design of Bond’s 5513 in this film was changed sometime in 1982/83 when Rolex began using white gold borders around the hour markers on the dial.
    Great write-up as usual.
    And Archer rules! Gotta snap up Season Six soon.

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      I remember you saying that, and I wish my quest for a Submariner 5513 had begun when I was nine rather than 21 – I might have started saving earlier! 😉 Do you have a preference for a pre- or post-82/83 5513 dial?

      Like

      • teeritz

        Oh, believe me, LS, ’tis far better to want it for only five or ten years as opposed to forty. Wanted one since 1974, finally got it in 2015. Wrote a long, sprawling post about it on my blog.
        I much, much, much prefer the pre-83 dials. It had a simplicity of look to it. Along with the Omega Speedmaster Professional, the Submariner 5513 strongly evokes images (for me, anyway) of oil platforms off the coast of Norway, gas pipelines in the Sahara, E-Type Jaguars, unfiltered Camels, Raquel Welch, Ann-Margret, Michael Caine-with his thick black specs-, McQueen, Rod Taylor (in his heyday) and, of course, Bond. The Connery version.
        Having said all that, the later models with the white gold-bordered hour markers are still a very nice watch. The last great Submariner, in my view, was the 14060 (the non-date) model. I still have a soft-spot for that one, and prefer it to the 16610 date model that was in production at the same time. These were both phased out around six or seven years ago, but don’t hold me to that.
        At any rate, keep saving. While a 5513 is a force to be reckoned with, the later model 14060 would probably have better water resistance, and it definitely has a stronger crystal, being made of sapphire. A 5513 should be treated with the same care and reverence as a vintage car.

        Like

  2. Preston Fassel

    If you think the Polish title translation is odd, you really ought to check out some of the movie posters from the era. I’m a second-generation American with Polish grandparents, so I feel very comfortable saying (and I think dziadek would agree) that 1970s-80s Polish film posters are batshit insane.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Bond in Brioni – The Navy Suit in GoldenEye | BAMF Style

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