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Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Main image of Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
35mm, colour, Panavision, 120 mins
DirectorGuy Hamilton
Production CompaniesDanjaq LLC
 Eon Productions
ProducersHarry Saltzman
 Albert R. Broccoli
ScreenplayRichard Maibaum
 Tom Mankiewicz
Original novelIan Fleming
PhotographyTed Moore
MusicJohn Barry

Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond); Jill St. John (Tiffany Case); Charles Gray (Ernst Stavros Blofeld); Lana Wood (Plenty O'Toole); Jimmy Dean (Willard Whyte); Bruce Cabot (Albert S. Saxby); Putter Smith (Mr Kidd); Bruce Glover (Mr Wint)

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While investigating a diamond smuggling racket, James Bond uncovers a plot to hold the world to ransom.

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Although George Lazenby had replaced Sean Connery as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (d. Peter Hunt, 1969), the poor critical and audience reception of his performance and a personal falling-out with producer Albert R. Broccoli ensured that a different actor would play the lead in Diamonds Are Forever. After Broccoli considered Michael Gambon, John Gavin, Adam West and Roger Moore (who would subsequently begin a 14-year stint as Bond with Live and Let Die two years later), Connery was enticed back after negotiating a then-unprecedented fee of £1.2 million plus perks including the guaranteed funding of two personal film projects (one of which was The Offence, d. Sidney Lumet, 1972). It would be his sixth and final appearance as Bond in the official series.

Strongly and deliberately reminiscent of Goldfinger (1964), which was also directed by Guy Hamilton (Shirley Bassey returned to deliver a John Barry-penned title song), Diamonds Are Forever revolves around a plan to stockpile the world's diamonds for use in a satellite-powered weapon with which supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray) plans to hold the world to ransom.

But this plays second fiddle to a larger than usual cast of memorable supporting characters, including arguably the most eccentric hitmen featured in the series, Mr Wint and Mr Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith) and some genuinely witty lines, courtesy of Bond screenwriting debutant Tom Mankiewicz. As diamond smuggler Tiffany Case, Jill St. John was one of the more impressive Bond girls, though the name everyone remembers is Plenty O'Toole, played by Lana Wood.

Parts of the film were shot in Las Vegas, taking advantage of Broccoli's personal friendship with billionaire Howard Hughes, who gave him the run of several properties that he owned. Vegas was also the location for a spectacular night-time car chase that earned well-merited comparisons with the seminal one in Bullitt (US, 1968). However, the oil rig climax was a disappointment, recognised as such by the filmmakers even at the time - they originally had more ambitious plans for the film's finale which were strangled by red tape.

Diamonds Are Forever was the last 'official' Bond film to feature Blofeld. Although the character clearly still had plenty of mileage, a successful lawsuit from Thunderball co-producer Kevin McClory left him with the rights to the character, subsequently revived in the one-off Connery Bond vehicle Never Say Never Again (US/UK, d. Irvin Kershner, 1983).

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
Adam, Ken (1921-)
Binder, Maurice (1925-1991)
Broccoli, Albert R. (1909-1996)
Connery, Sean (1930-)
Gray, Charles (1928-2000)
Hamilton, Guy (1922-)
Lamont, Peter (1929-)
Lee, Bernard (1908-1981)
Llewelyn, Desmond (1914-1999)
James Bond
James Bond: Sean Connery