“Welcome to Hell, Blofeld!”
And Happy 50th, James!!!
After disappointing box office returns for OHMSS (though this was only when compared to the other films in the Bond franchise – it did very well, otherwise), and the swift departure of George Lazenby from the coveted role, the big Broccoli and his cohorts at Eon became fixated upon re-establishing the character with a more “Americanised” persona. To this end, John Gavin (Psycho, Spartacus) seemed to fit 007’s tuxedo quite nicely. And with Richard Maibaum’s tight script for Diamonds Are Forever just itching to thrust itself across the big screen, the scene seemed set for another non-British actor, after Lazenby’s Aussie spin, to assume the part of England’s finest secret agent.
But, all the while, Cubby Broccoli knew that audiences wanted to see Sean Connery come back to the role that he had made his own. And, together, with a slew of fawning producers he approached him and virtually begged him to return, if only for another last time. Ever the shrewd Scotsman, Connery then asked for, and unbelievably got, the biggest contracted deal that Hollywood had ever dished out to a leading man. $1,250,000.00 plus a percentage of the profits – all of which Connery would donate to the cherished charity that he had set up, the Scottish International Education Trust, which was constructed to aid artists, writers and creativity strictly north of the border. It was an amazing coup that wowed the industry at the time, but it also meant that 007 would once again have a familiar and much-loved face to lure the crowds back in.
To add to this sense of a family reunion, the film was directed by Guy Hamilton and boasted a glass-shattering title song from Shirley Bassy, both of whom had worked with Connery on the critical and popular favourite, Goldfinger, so it seemed that the vital ingredients of that old MI6 magic were in abundance. But this cosy familiarity also led to a sense of laziness and a certain lack of spontaneity and colour from both Connery and the film that surrounded him. The twinkle in Sean’s eye really isn’t there anymore and despite strutting about in a white tux in Vegas casinos, charging about the Nevada desert and outsmarting an armada of bash ‘em up police cars, battling various foes and performing some cliff-hanging stunts of high-rise and vehicular peril, it almost seems as though he is sleepwalking through the film. He’s still Bond, but this is like watching 007 on a little warm-up mission before turning up for the proper one. I sort of have this same problem with Live and Let Die as well, although to a far lesser degree, because Moore, in his first mission as Bond, is clearly enjoying himself. Connery, on the other hand, does not appear to be.
It was now 1970, and film tastes had changed. Sixties camp was out, and urbanised funk was in. Fantastical escapism was sneered at, unless it took place in outer space or involved the Devil or the dead rising from their graves, and a harder, more cynical attitude prevailed at the Cinema. Audiences hadn’t fully taken to OHMSS even though that had been an adventure that attempted to move with the times and the shifting moods of filmgoers. So, in many ways, James Bond, as a character and as a concept, actually was out of step.
Yet the film was enormously successful upon its release, winning a fair amount of critical praise and giving the fans what they thought they wanted - Sean Connery.
Time, however, has done the reverse for Diamonds Are Forever of what it did for OHMSS. Lazenby’s tour of duty has gained massive recognition as being one of the best Bond films ever made, whilst Diamond’s reputationhas sunk quite low, and the film definitely resides in the lower quarter of the series. In all honesty, it seems hard to understand how Hamilton’s rather tired and low-calibre movie could ever have found legitimate favour with the punters. It lacks much of the spectacle and the style that you could normally count on with Bond. The plot does not distinguish itself all that much from the sort of thing that Starsky and Hutch would possibly get involved in – the mob-related shenanigans of diamond smuggling – even if it does include a laser-toting satellite, a couple of uber-fit female bodyguards who are like Tex Avery cartoon-characters come to life, and an upper-class megalomaniac called Ernst Stavro Blofeld. This last element of roping in the same arch-enemy from the previous two films is also a bit perplexing. Blofeld wasn’t in Fleming’s novel, and you would have thought that the producers would shy away from such overt repetition of hero/foe dynamics. They surely thought – and rightly so, as it turned out – that audiences would feel more comfortable if they were on such safely familiar ground.
Thus, you could say that Diamonds is like the franchise’s equivalent to Hammer’s stubborn and outdated vibe as the House of Horror limped into the seventies. It looks tawdry despite solid production values, treads an all-too familiar path and offers a conclusion that is desultory and hugely reminiscent of Dracula getting killed off yet again, but leaving nobody in any doubt that he would return again at some point. Maibaum’s screenplay was admittedly dealing with one of Fleming’s much lesser-regarded novels, without too much of a sense of urgency, and so co-scribe Tom Mankiewicz and Guy Hamilton sought to energise it with humour and silliness, cobbling together some vignettes and additional characters that veered from the intriguing and the witty to the downright daft and ludicrous. Fleming had written in two gay hired killers called Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, who worked as a single unit with a reputation so fearsome that they even gave Felix Leiter the jitters, played here by Norman Burton, the fourth actor to assume the role. The film expands their part in the story considerably and tries, admittedly quite cleverly, to be both audacious about their sexuality and highly satirical about it too. The conceit is one of those things about the film that you either love or you hate. Personally, I think it is one of Hamilton’s more successful elements in a movie that meanders rather than sprints, and often struggles with the change in tone from the deadly serious and tragic nature of OHMSS to a more comedic, tongue-in-cheek and wryly grotesque attitude. Connery’s earlier tenure had featured plenty of humour, but the important thing was that he always took the role and the mission seriously. He may not be winking at the camera here, but the whole scenario around him is blown out of all proportion, and the script’s treatment of him, especially in the second half, is perilously close to parody.
It even appears that the stalwart secret agent is a well known celebrity spy too. After switching wallets with a man he has just eliminated, and whose identity he has assumed, his soon-to-be accomplice exclaims with shock that he has just killed James Bond, to which Connery replies, “Is that who it was? Well, it just goes to show … no-one’s indestructible.” So are we to assume that James Bond is now an acknowledged superspy, whose name travels before him? Suddenly, the film and the ensuing franchise had actually sent-up its own icon. This self-referencing smirk at the audience is the catalyst that changes everything, because the ironic twist would be that with disco, silly, flamboyant fashions, the exotic lure of the jet-set and the advent of things like The New Avengers and The Love Boat on TV, Roger Moore’s tongue-in-cheek style of action and romance would become the prime iconography of the decade. Hamilton may not have realised it at the time – just being thankful that Connery had ordained to step into the tuxedo once more - but he had opened the door to the next era’s riotously unique ribaldry and cavalier attitude.
And things certainly start off well in Connery’s last official adventure.
The pre-credits sequence is a harsh but amusing affair that sees Bond on a vengeful mission to track down and eliminate Blofeld, once and for all. Although it is unspoken, it seems clear that he is stalking his nemesis with especial venom because of the murder of his wife Tracy at the end of OHMSS. This rage is quite brilliantly done, with a couple of leads getting unceremoniously bashed-about until they provide James with Blofeld’s whereabouts, which turns out to be a plastic surgery clinic in which the villain intends to have various associates turned into doubles of himself, Hitler-style. Although the confrontation with someone who could be Blofeld ends in a farcical skirmish that doesn’t even manage to upstage Kenneth Williams’ bubbling chemicals demise from Carry On Screaming, which this sequence seems to be aping, this is still a good, comic-book, semi SF intro that even brings in the actual actor who voiced Draco in OHMSS as the chief surgeon.
“Tell me, Commander, how far does your expertise extend into the field of diamonds?”
“Well, the hardest substance found in nature. They cut glass. Suggest marriage. And I suppose they replaced the dog as a girl’s best friend.”
Somebody somewhere is stockpiling diamonds stolen out the South African mines. This could be a plot to then flood the market with the gems and drive the value down. Or it could be part of a far more heinous scheme. Judging by the fact that MI6 and Bernard Lee’s M have taken an interest in the mystery, we’d best presume the latter. Let’s just say, for example, there’s a criminal mastermind behind all this … and he’s using the diamonds to create a powerful laser with which he can hold the world to ransom? Yikes. So, assuming the identity of a known ice-smuggler, the redoubtable Peter Franks, who is conveniently “detained” at customs, Bond is unleashed to pick up the crime syndicate’s trail in Amsterdam, and to follow it in the hopes of infiltrating the set-up and sussing out who is behind it all and just what is going on.
Hooking-up with diamond-smuggling intermediary, Tiffany Case (the astoundingly bounteous Jill St. John), Bond ends-up in Las Vegas on the trail of the reclusive billionaire, Willard Whyte (played by Grand Old Oprey star, Jimmy Dean), and dodging all sorts of dastardly creeps, camp assassins and super-supple femme fatales in the process … until he discovers that his old foe, the indestructible Blofeld (Charles Grey), is the brains behind the scheme.
And, yep, it was lasers all along. I just knew it!
“That’s a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.”
The casting is wonderful and eclectic. They all deserved more than they got from the script, but there’s no denying that the colourful roster of eccentrics, maniacs and manipulating man-eaters give the movie some much-needed vigour and variety.
Raquel Welch was originally penned-in for the part of Tiffany Case, and you can certainly see the connection with Jill St. John’s spirited redhead, the first American leading-lady in the series. One of sexiest, yet curiously most overlooked of Bond-girls, St. John is dealt a cruel hand by the Maibaum/Mankiewicz screenplay. She commences the film as a determined and skilled go-between in the smuggling chain. Confident and sassy, she begins the tale as somebody who could actually offer up some depth as a criminal with a conscience or, at least, a ne’er-do-well who has a self-preserving change of heart. To her credit, she remains both massively sensual and seriously nefarious. She naturally gets bedded by Bond, and ends up as his ditzy klutz of an accomplice, but you know that she’s still only in it for what she can get out of her relationship with 007. “Darling,” she pouts, still believing that she has shacked-up with a master-smuggler, “where are the diamonds?” Or, when realising that the hairy guy she thought was Peter Franks is actually the well-connected James Bond, agent of MI6 and quite a handy ally, “Did your friend Felix say, um, anything about me?” Sadly, though, most of her savvy and her earlier cunning account for nought when Hamilton just requires her to lounge around palatial boudoirs without much on or to bounce her ample assets around on Blofeld’s oil rig. “Tiffany, my dear, we’re showing a bit more cheek than usual, aren’t we?” snipes the lecherous villain when he spies a vital cassette lurking all-too-obviously beneath the flimsy, strained material of the girl’s bikini. Still, I do enjoy every second that she is on screen … and, really, that is what you crave from a Bond-girl.
The other lady that the film offers us is the equally luscious Lana Wood. The sister of the more famous Natalie Wood, Lana has a small but memorable role as the aptly monikered Plenty O’ Toole (named after her father, of course), playful grifter at the gambling tables and unfortunate obstacle who gets in the way of the baddies. Even with some of her scenes cut out - which was a bit of narrative mistake, if you ask me – she still gains notoriety for the terrific moment when a squad of mobsters working for the smugglers’ front-company, the Slumber Funeral Home (whose boss, Morton Slumber, played by David Bauer, is named after a real Vegas funeral director!), pick her up and toss her, topless, over the high balcony and down into the pool below. “An exceptionally fine shot,” compliments Bond, to which the chief goon drawls with awesome relish, “I didn’t know there was a pool down there.” Later on, the poor girl is found at the bottom of another pool, where she has been sunk with a weight attached to her feet. The missing scenes show us how this unfortunate circumstance came to be and, as it stands in the final cut, this is an awkward moment that really doesn’t add up. In one of those horrible twists of fate, her sister Natalie would drown under mysterious circumstances just over a decade later.
“One of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief … (sniff-sniff) … I’m afraid it’s me. Sorry about that, old boy.”
Interestingly, both Tiffany Case (so named after the diamond store in which her unmarried mother gave birth to her, thereby signposting her future career and obsession) and Plenty O’ Toole are sexually aggressive and outspoken – complete clichés of modern American dames and the polar-opposite of the female spies and assassins that Bond normally forms assignations with. But the film would lavish its typical idiosyncrasies upon its villains, albeit pushing this dimension a little further than usual when it came to the lethal duo of Wint and Kidd.
Bruce Glover played the more keenly sadistic member of the hit team, and it is he who is clearly the more dominant in the bizarre relationship. Glover was a known actor with a couple of decades of experience on both the big and small screens. As Kidd, he is suave, slimy and sinister, but also fiercely defensive of his partner, Mr. Wint. Although the two take on their hits together, it appears to be Mr. Kidd who tends to actually do the job. The murder of Vegas comic-cum-gem-courier, Shady Tree (Leonard Barr) is not shown in the final cut, but the deleted scene reveals that, once again, it is Mr. Kidd who does the actual deed. Mr. Wint is played by renowned jazz musician and studio-player Putter Smith in his first acting role. He, if anything, is the nicer of the duo. With his big walrus moustache and droopy long hair, he looks like some sort of lost spaniel – his purely hangdog expression completely disarming and quite cleverly concealing a heart that is probably as dark and cold-blooded as that of his partner-in-crime. The odd couple joining hands and walking off into the desert sunset after destroying two separate links in the diamond-smuggling chain is a terrific little touch that must have dropped a few jaws back in the day – even if this was an era that was tenaciously clinging on to the values of free love and was certainly about to leap into a sleazier, devil-may-care ambivalence towards sexual politics in the funked-up, soulful seventies. You have to remember that in films like Dirty Harry, Busting and Serpico, this sort of thing was frowned upon by the good guys, so the inclusion of two gay killers actually seemed to be reinforcing Bond being on the authoritarian and right-wing side of the fence. The conceit, naturally, being that Bond, himself, could even be seen as something of a figurehead for what some would decry as being an amoral slide.
And if this threat wasn’t subversive enough, then Hamilton and Mankiewicz also saw to it that Bond would get his ass handed to him on a plate by two nubile young women whose athleticism was matched only by their viciousness. Playing the two limber vixen who are guarding the displaced Willard Whyte – the real Willard Whyte that is, and not the voice-switching charade of Blofeld – are genuine gymnastic champions Trina Parks as the sinuously exotic Thumper, and Lola Larson as the even more formidable Bambi. Whereas Bond might ordinarily enjoy being wedged tightly between a pair of thighs as shapely and strong as those belonging to Larson, there is a real look of strained concern on Connery’s face as the air is literally getting squeezed out of him. In the outtakes for the climax of the sequence, when Bond, who is being drowned by them, manages to turn the tables and shove their heads under the pool, you can see that neither girl comes up very happy – especially Parks who even appears to slam her skull into Sean’s chin. This sort of leads me to suspect that Connery was taking exacting some form of sweet revenge for such rough treatment. It is a good scene, albeit one that appears, like so many others in the film, to be a narrative bolt-on. There has long been some confusion over who actually played the part of Bambi. Stuntwoman Donna Garrett is frequently cited, and she did actually shoot some footage in the same costume, but she was then replaced by the more agile and slinky Larson.
There is a predisposition to dumping women in the drink in the film, isn’t there? Not only does Plenty gulp some pool-water a couple of times, and then Bambi and Thumper swiftly follow suit, but we discover that poor old Mrs. Whistler (Margaret Lacey), the kindly old school tutor who has acted as yet another diamond courier, has been fished out of a canal in Amsterdam, Don’t Look Now style. Even Tiffany, once she has devolved into pure Britt Eckland idiot mode, falls over the side of the oil rig under the recoil of a machinegun that she can’t control. For a movie that is set predominantly in the desert, this is quite some tally of water-based cast-wastage.
Another interesting casting choice is that of King Kong (1933) star Bruce Cabot, who plays the nefarious, double-dealing casino pit manager, Bert Saxby. The film gives him some assertive lines, but then wraps him up with a woeful exit that, typically for this production, just seems horribly tacked-on as an afterthought. Sadly Cabot died shortly after making the film, andDiamonds was his epitaph. A curious little aside that sort of doffs the cap to the concept of Kong is the attraction in the Circus Circus Hotel (in which I and site guru Phil Hinton actually stayed whilst covering the CES convention in 2009!) that “apparently” sees Zamora, the native girl, transform herself into a raging gorilla. Not only does this reference the super-simian connection, but the name Zamora is suspiciously similar to the surname of Charles Gemora, the actor/stuntman who specialised in donning monkey-suits for various SF/Fantasy pictures in the thirties and forties. Another homage, perhaps, in a film that seems quite determined to pay its respects to American celebrity, what with the character of Willard Whyte deliberately lifted from the larger-than-life persona of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
If you look, you can also spot Rob Zombie alumnus and excellent seventies thriller thug, Sid Haig, as, typically, a background henchman, albeit one with a lot more facial foliage than usual. England-based Yanks Ed (UFO) Bishop and the somewhat ubiquitous Shane Rimmer also crop up as Whyte employees. Rimmer would go on to get a bigger part as a submarine commander in The Spy Who Loved Me. David de Keyser, the man who supplied the fabulous Spaghetti Western voice for Gabrielle Ferzetti’s Draco in OHMSS appears early on, in the flesh, as Blofeld’s plastic surgeon. And, for the more eagle-eyed amongst you, director Guy Hamilton can also be glimpsed … and even name-dropped as ... you guessed it, Mr. Hamilton.
Blofeld’s back … and he’s posher than David Niven at a sherry-sipping soiree in Downton Abbey!
Charles Grey gets promoted from playing one of Blofeld’s victims in You Only Live Twice – the knifed-in-the-back expat, Dikko Henderson – to playing the arch-fiend himself. Now, whilst having Blofeld becoming urbane, highly refined and wildly sophisticated is probably more in-keeping with typically heightened and aristocratic demeanour of the usual Bondian uber-adversaries, it is a huge come-down from his previous incarnation that came in the vicious and physically aggressive form of Telly Savalas. With moggy in place – sporting a diamond-encrusted collar, of course – and back in a tight-fitting sixties grey suit, Grey is certainly cut from similar cloth as Donald Pleasance’s sinister archetype. Replacing the scar with a camp cigarette-holder and going as far as to have the villain don make-up, a wig and a frock to affect a gender-bending escape, make him altogether more comical and pantomimic than he is intimidating, and in a film that whose two most unusual and disturbing killers are openly gay, this can’t help but swerve Bond into vaguely disquieting new territory. His sixties adventures had always had a camp value to them – even Lazenby’s more streamlined character had fun in, and at the expense of a kilt and a highly starched posh accent and posh etiquette – but this was definitely taking things a touch too far. As a consequence, Connery seemed to be making a concerted effort to appear more rugged and brutally efficient, which really didn’t seem fair when his main opponents (though not the awesome Peter Franks, who is definitely a close physical match for Bond) were so mismatched to his own capabilities.
“I give up. I know the diamonds are in the body … but where?”
“Alimentary, Dr. Leiter.”
However, Ken Adams’ lavish set design is typically fabulous – creating a couple of gorgeously huge and atmospheric lairs for Blofeld and a luxurious hotel suite that is like a penthouse in Heaven – although two of the most visually arresting locations were actually genuine structures that the production was able to purloin in the futuristic desert home of Willard Whyte and the oil rig platform that stages the final battle, and the setting of the neon paradise of Las Vegas is, itself, a provocative high point. He also gets to fabricate a lunar landscape that is used by the trainee astronauts giving the space equipment manufactured at Whyte Technologies a run-through – which makes for a great image of the absurd when Bond rampages across it in his natty grey suit. Yet despite these elaborate dens, the crowded environs of Vegas and the sweep of the desert, I still think that the overall film still feels surprisingly small and sparse, almost remote – both visually and figuratively. Thus, it is hard to become fully involved with this story.
But there is no faulting the superb score from John Barry, who really tries his best to ladle on the atmosphere with a darkly sinister motif for the gay hitmen, a wonderful string and flute-led set-piece for Bond’s wacky escape into the desert in a moon-buggy, a belter of a main title power-ballad that comes courtesy of the mighty lungs of our Shirls, plus some gorgeous variations upon it, and, best of all, the return of his adrenalized, mission-in-progress rhythm of the ever-propulsive 007 theme for its penultimate appearance in the series. So far, that is. Sadly, this terrific cue plays over the final battle for the oil rig off the coast of Baja, California, which is only appropriate you would think, but the lacklustre visuals simply do not do it justice, remaining steadfastly unexciting and all rather bland. Of particular note, is the amusing, yet beautiful funeral parlour muzak that he creates for the weirdly suspenseful sequence in which Bond finds himself locked in a casket and about to be cremated in the Slumber Funeral Home. He also has occasion to write some lyrical, yet still creepy carnival material for the trapeze performance in the Circus Circus.
Unlike Lazenby’s more adaptable and self-reliant Bond, Connery gets to play with a few of Q’s toys which, in this case, comprise of a fun though rather naff, joke-store finger-trap secreted where impulsive baddies might think he has a concealed weapon, a specialised piton enabling him to get into the “better” rooms at the top of the Whyte House complex, some crafty fake fingerprints to throw the curious off the scent, and even a voice-simulator that seems to forget that OHMSS’s agent had a great knack for mimicking voices without such Q-tech (although it is primarily Blofeld who uses it in his guise as Willard Whyte). The whole idea of satellite-mounted laser is a good one, but by now this was a Cold War concept that had been done to death. Shots of various installations in global hotspots getting the clinical vaporising treatment seem viciously tacked-on and occur without any real suspense. There is a shot of some Red Chinese soldiers getting immolated in one particular strike – Hamilton stressing the idea of a human cost to Blofeld’s Star Wars-like blackmail program – but this entire sequence is ruined by being too quick and too obtrusive and played against a poor wraparound of Bond and Willard Whyte observing all of this from afar and trying to work out where Blofeld is operating from.
But the gadgets are just one thing in the excessive arsenal of a 007 mission. We need to see Bond in proper action too. And we do … although you could surely say that he peaks too soon. His early scrap with the diamond smuggler Peter Franks (Joe Robinson) in the cramped confines of an elevator in Tiffany’s Amsterdam pad is a real show-stopper and one of the greatest of the battling Bond bouts. Recalling the violence of Connery’s fight with Robert Shaw in a train compartment in From Russia With Love with its tight, shut-in desperation and close-quarter-combat fury, as well as the added brutality that Lazenby brought to the character, this is protracted and punishing stuff. I love the way that Sean, who has to despatch Franks because he has assumed his gem-smuggling identity, is all smiles and mock broken English pleasantries before giving the game away by miscalculating the dimensions of the lift and slamming his elbow through its window instead of clubbing-out his adversary whilst he has the upper hand, so to speak. Hamilton and stunt-co-ordinator Bob Simmons painstakingly worked out the moves and the angles, and both Connery and Robinson, who was a well-experienced wrestler, simply go for it with a blistering level of savagery. Glass shatters all around, and the two of them turn the lift into a battleground. Solid body blows and some intricate holds and throws belie the limited space. I always wince when Bond hurls the fire-extinguisher down at Franks … I know it lands beside the stricken man’s head … but you can’t help thinking that our boy didn’t exactly miss on purpose.
There is also that car chase.
Whipping around Vegas in a sexy red Mustang Mach-1, Bond and Tiffany give the cops one of those celebrated catch-me-if-you-cans. There is also a clear forerunner for Clifton James’ fantastic Louisiana redneck copper, Sheriff J. W. Pepper with the inclusion of an exasperated and befuddled police captain (Roy Hollis) who is given the run-around by Bond. This element of trumped law enforcement would also surface in Live and Let Die, right afterwards, and then The Man With The Golden Gun, but also in A View To A Kill, also … and would become a staple in things like Convoy (with Ernest Borgnine as the rattled, forever-trounced copper) and Smokey and The Bandit, in which Jackie Gleason would practically assume the role of Clifton James. Bond did it first, though, and the device has been a steady and consistently enjoyable cliché in movies ever since. We all know about the topsy-turvy stunt in which the Mustang slides down a narrow alleyway its side, with its right-hand wheels down, and then miraculously exits the skinny passage with its left hand wheels down. Not even Stephen Hawkins could safely explain the physical laws that have been bent with that switcheroo. But I have to say that the crafty little insert shot that Hamilton put in after he realised that the stunt had seemingly flipped-out does help things considerably. It may not seem all that credible that the alleyway actually has another convenient ramp hidden within its shadows with which to effect the up-and-down switch, but the sudden image of Tiffany’s side rising above Bond does trick the mind into accepting the storm-tossed schooner effect.
“Oh my God … you just killed James Bond!”
Yeah, like that's gonna happen!
You know, I still have a lot of fun with Diamonds Are Forever. It isn’t a good film by any stretch, and it is certainly one of the worst of the Bonds (although arguably not as bad as Moore’s last two yarns, or even The World Is Not Enough or Die Another Day which, quite frankly, stink), but it is never boring and the fixation upon Las Vegas is a nice touch that is perfectly well established in the story as being much more than just an exotic stopover, and supplies the film with a genuine atmosphere of seedy corruption and the ceaseless mass addiction to vice, a world that is possibly an ironic nirvana for Bond. Alongside this, however, there is a nice SF bent to the story and some interesting asides, such as Bond being sealed into a buried pipeline with a curious rat, and locked in that funeral casket, or battling Bambi and Thumper and performing sideways wheelies down an alleyway.
In some ways, this was the film that attempted to bring Bond into a more urban vernacular, and it often feels like the more outrageous aspects of the mission just don’t fit. The mission behind the scenes, however, had always been to make Bond more accessible to American audiences, and in this capacity it certainly succeeded. Although Connery would only return once more in the rival 007 enterprise of Never Say Never Again, a new seed had been sown and the baton change to Roger Moore comfortably expanded on the humour and the gimmickry that Diamonds had paved the way for. Guy Hamilton would be back for both Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun, having firmly established his none-too-serious style with Diamonds. They are both far better films, though it is hard to actually dislike this one too much, and no fan could entertain the thought of not having it in their collection, and admiring its diamond gleam, once in a while
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