BONDAY

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Director Guy Hamilton
Year 1971
Starring Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot, Putter Smith, Bruce Glover
Rating PG
Run Time 120min
Age Policy

18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with a parent guardian. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed.

More Info IMDb

Sean Connery could have bought a few diamonds for the $1.25 million pounds he was paid to return to the Bond realm in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. Instead, he donated all of it to the Scottish International Educational Trust, of which he was one of the founders.

That wasn't all he got: Connery also commanded a percentage of the profits and a $2 million guarantee from United Artists to apply toward any two projects of his choosing. Quite a step up from less than a decade earlier, when the actor had made DR. NO for about $18,000.

Even so, there was an air of uncertainty about the decision. "The $7,000,000 question is," Connery told the Montreal Gazette during a break in shooting, "can James Bond still be the world's most popular wish fulfilment at 40?"

Apparently, lots of moviegoers thought so: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER took in twice as much at the box office s George Lazenby's one-off entry ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. "You've been waiting for him -- asking for him: Now, he's here!" crowed the voiceover guy in the DIAMONDS trailer as Connery stepped into frame. DIAMONDS put GOLDFINGER's Guy Hamilton back in the director's chair and GOLDFINGER belter Shirley Bassey was signed to deliver the no-holds-barred theme song.

Even so, this "comeback" film was not business as usual. Most Bond movies have a dash of humor, but DIAMONDS is notoriously nutty, as Bond infiltrates the glittering gulches of Las Vegas to find an elusive billionaire and unravel cat-cuddling Blofeld's plot to steal a fortune in diamonds, which he plans to use for nefarious purposes. In between some dynamic set pieces, such as a screaming car chase through Sin City and Bond's startling encounter with a pair of lovely but potentially lethal ladies who call themselves Bambi and Thumper, DIAMONDS works in some pretty wacky asides.

The oddest inclusion is a subplot involving Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), a secretive billionaire whose peculiar behavior brings to mind the similarly alliteratively named Howard Hughes (who was actually a friend of Bond producer Cubby Broccoli and who helped ensure the DIAMONDS crew could shoot wherever they pleased).

The Vegas milieu allows for us to get some sense of what the city had to offer back in the days when the events of CASINO were actually unfolding (get ready for rotten nightclub comics like Shady Tree and less-than-rousing routines from chorus girls who look like they were cheated out of their night off). There's also the presence of a homosexual couple known as Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), who memorably attempt to incinerate Bond in a crematorium.

The primary Bond Girls here are Jill St. John as Tiffany Case and Lana Wood as Plenty O'Toole. The red-haired St. John, a frequently seen face throughout the 1960s, had just turned 30 and was about to leave Hollywood at the time of DIAMONDS; she was the first American actress to be cast as a Bond co-star. Wood had grown up in Hollywood (her sister was Natalie Wood), starred in TV's PEYTON PLACE and had just done a Playboy photo spread in the hopes of giving her career a boost. Years later, the two women would have something else in common besides their work on DIAMONDS: St. John married Robert Wagner, who had previously been married to Natalie Wood and had been Lana's brother-in-law. (James Sanford)    

   

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