That's No Moonraker: Diamonds Are Forever

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After careful analysis of this photo, we've determined that the distance from the deck of the oil platform to the water is about 50 ft (55' if you count the railing). The world championship high dive height is set at 66 ft (27 m) for men, so assuming Bond is an Olympic-caliber diver (why not?) this should be a piece of cake for him.

Date

July 4th, 2020

Summary

Alex and Pete return after a brief stint elsewhere to discuss the 7th James Bond film.

Duration

1:41:00

Notes

Film

  • 7th movie based on the fourth book. First time we're jumping back to an earlier book. It's almost like a prequel.
  • Filmed in April and released in December '71.
  • Written by Tom Mankiewicz (of clan Mankiewicz). They wanted an American screenwriter since so much of the film is set in Las Vegas.
    • The novel provided material for about 45 minutes of screen time (it was 15 years old at this point). Makes one want to read the book.
  • The gun barrel sequence in this movie is a re-use of footage from fourth & fifth films (the second time the sequence was filmed, as you'll recall it was stuntman Bob Simmons for the first three movies) as the film aspect ratio had changed and they used Connery for the re-shoot.
    • Black and white but with a weird blueish tint.
    • This is the last gun barrel sequence where Bond is wearing a hat.
  • Connery was paid a record-breaking $1.25 million to come back to the role.
  • First returning artist for opening theme.
  • The casino scenes were filmed at Circus Circus, which had only opened three years prior.
    • The real life casino owner is briefly in the movie (not the carnival Barker).
  • Lana Wood (Plenty) almost drowned filming the scenes; they really did tie her to a cement block. She could breathe in between takes, but the cement block kept sliding farther and farther down in the pool, and she was only saved because somebody noticed.
  • Neither the main Bond girls are dubbed.
  • Kidd is played by jazz musician Putter Smith.
    • Not an actor, he was playing bass for Thelonious Monk and Saltzman saw him and thought he looked perfect for the part.
  • They originally cast Paul Williams for Wint, but he wanted too much money.
    • They replaced him with Bruce Glover, Father of Crispin Glover.
  • This is the first time we see a guy on fire in a James Bond movie.
  • It's also the last time we see SPECTRE or anybody from the organization in the movies until the Daniel Craig era.
  • Jimmy Dean (the Sausage King) plays Wilford Whyte. He's not a great actor in this and was more of a singer at the time.
  • Moneypenny was also not going to be in the movie due to a salary disagreement.
    • The one scene where she checks James Bond's passport was shot after the fact and thrown in (thus they recorded their lines separately and were never together).
  • Another appearance and yet another actor for Felix Leiter (still pretending he's the same guy).
  • Minor background characters.
    • Fever dream.
      • In the cold open, man in fez and sunglasses in casino (Frank Olegario) was merchant #1 (guy eating beetles) in Temple of Doom.
      • The dentist (when they're smuggling the diamonds out) (which is overly convoluted, BTW) Dr. Tynan is "first farmer (Amish man)" in The Frisco Kid (1979) (with Harrison Ford).
    • One of the goons from Slumber Inc. (Mark Lawrence) will come back in The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • Sid Hague (another goon) was in THX-1138, "Return of the Archos" episode off TOS, and Galaxy of Terror.
    • Comedian "Shady Tree" played by real life comedian Leonard Barry (uncle of Dean Martin).
    • Circus Circus announcer/carnival barker Don Missek (Scooby-Doo). A rare on-screen role.
    • Klaus Hergersheimer (the guy whose radiation badge Bond takes) (Ed Bishop) was a mission control guy in You Only Live Twice and a shuttle pilot in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Also from mission control in YOLT: Tom (played by Shane Rimmer) ("Hooston"), also the guy who asks Luke if he wants a new R2 unit.
    • Mike Stevens (Col. Airen Cracken) in ROTJ (guy in gunner seat).

Podcast

  • This movie is the awkward transition period between the 1960's and 70's. It's the awkward adolescence of the Bond franchise.
    • The more rooted in the 'present' a James Bond movie is (au currant), the worse it holds up. See also: things from 1985.
  • Google plot summary.
    • We almost side with Blofeld here; he steals from rich diamond producers to force the world into peace. Many people do the opposite (steal from the poor and instigate violence).
    • But his plan is very dumb like many supervillain plans.
  • Bond takes great sadistic pleasure in killing Blofeld (we know why if we saw the previous film, but no hint given in this movie).
    • Codename Theory: He's getting revenge on behalf of his friend and successor (former 077 stepped up) since Lazenby can't go back to the job since he's so broken up after his wife is murdered.
    • Connery Bond feels responsible because the guy he spent years trying to take down Blofeld. And the first scene of the cold open is in Japan (where he retired to) (Note: see last week).
  • What is actually happening in the gun barrel sequence? It has its own wikipedia page. It should be a scope rather than the barrel.
  • Production: re-using things from Goldfinger.
    • OHMSS came out and broke the mold (fan response wasn't as strong as they wanted), so they wanted to put the band back together to recapture the magic.
    • Guy Hamilton, Shirley Bassey, Connery all back. Connery wasn't super interested, but UA said he could have whatever he wanted if he'd do it.

Other actors considered

  • John Gavin (a regular TCM guy), Adam West (post-Batman) and Burt Reynolds (none of whom are British).
    • West and Reynolds both turned it down because they were American and didn't think they could do it.
    • Gavin was signed with Eon, but the producers wanted Connery and told him they'd get him for the next one. But Adam West was right; they can't have an American playing Bond, and Eon backed out.
  • Also Michael Gambon (new Dumbledore) (Irish).
    • Upon being approached, he was quoted as saying "are you kidding me?!" He thought his figure was too poor to play Bond. But Cubby Broccoli said so was Connery's.

Opening theme

  • Mentioned Kanye West version.
  • Lyricist was contentious because of the racy double (and sometimes single) entendres. Saltzman hated the crass innuendo but Broccoli liked it.
  • What Barry told Bassey to imagine she was singing about.
  • The song was also recorded and released in Italian by Bassey herself.
  • Alex agrees with the fan consensus that so far this is the best opening song.
  • Reference to Alphabeatical: Paul McCartney accidentally created Disco.
  • The song checks all of Pete's boxes.

Other notes

  • It's annoying they didn't work the phrase "diamonds are forever" into this movie, considering how easy it would have been to set up.
  • Bond girls.
    • Jill St. John as Tiffany case.
      • Notorious for dating around among celebrities: married four times married (including to two different heirs of vast fortunes). She dated both Connery and Lazenby and Tom Mankiewicz.
    • Mentioned: the "girl formula". This movie doesn't really follow that.
    • Plenty O'Toole played by Lana Wood.
Bad Blood between Lana Wood and Jill St. John
 Both were concurrently dating Sean Connery during the production of this movie.
 More bad blood: Jill St. John married Robert Wagner, who had been involved with the death of Lana's sister Natalie. In 1999, Jill refused to be photographed with Lana when Vanity Fair was doing a 'Bond Girls' reunion cover.
 There was an event in Palm Springs honoring Jill St. John and Lana Wood crashed it and confronted Robert Wagner about the death of her sister.
  • James Bond in his tuxedo is totally out of place at this grubby American Casino.
    • Circus Circus.
      • It was the first themed Vegas casino, and the first to cater not to high rollers but to the average Joe, starting a trend.
      • They used to have gymnastics going on above the floor but they stopped it when they realized people would stop and watch that instead of gambling.
        • This is another snapshot, a moment in time when Circus Circus was still trying to figure things out.
      • The guy who started Circus Circus came up with the "urinal theory of slot machines" namely that people don't want someone sitting right next to them when they are gambling, so they needed twice as many slot machines as they thought they would need so people would actually stay longer.
  • Bambi and Thumper don't really count as Bond girls.
    • The weird scene where they were trying to 'tumblecise' Bond to death.
  • The dark sadistic streak to this movie.
    • Bond tortures two women by holding their heads underwater. Is he the one who drowned Plenty O'Toole earlier in the movie?
    • Odd considering Natalie Wood (her sister in real life) will famously drown (or at least die in proximity to water) around 10 years from now (see above).
    • There's a weird drowning theme in this movie.
  • Bond is normally very misogynistic, to be sure, but in this movie he's downright vengeful against women.
  • Why was Plenty there at Tiffany's in the first place? Tiffany's choice to join with James after he points out a random dead body to her is odd.
  • Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd: at one time they were ranked the worst Bond villains in the entire series, but Pete and Alex like them a lot.
    • The subtext is that they were lovers, and at the time this meant to add to their unsettling presence, but now it humanizes them.
    • They said they wanted a "deformed Peter Lorre type" for the part of Wint, and Glover wanted to know  "aren't I too normal-looking to play this part?" 
  • The Bond trope of "we think the adventures over, but then someone shows up to kill him in the privacy of his hotel room and Bond disposes of them in a sort of 'epilogue' kind of way" (see also: From Russia with Love).
  • Why do they bother with extra Blofelds? It's not necessary plot device.
    • They're doubling down the fact that this guy doesn't look like either of the two Blofelds we've seen before. Not only that, this guy is Henderson from You Only Live Twice (two movies ago, the last time we saw Sean Connery).
    • The first thing anybody knows about Blofeld is that he's bald and here we have a guy with a full head of hair on him.
  • The fate of this particular Blofeld.  *Blofeld isn't in the book because this book takes place before the Blofeld Trilogy.

Discarded plot ideas from the book.

  1. Richard Myaiaum originally conceived this as a revenge-themed sequel with None chasing Erma Bunt and Draco (directly reacting to the events of the previous movie), but once Lazenby was for sure out they scrapped everything and started over.
  2. Original plot with Goldfinger's twin brother.
  3. Cubby Broccoli had a dream where his close personal friend Howard Hughes was replaced by an imposter so he had them write that movie.
  4. Then they brought in Tom Mankiewicz. The main antagonists in the book were the Mob, and they cut that but kept the henchmen.

More notes

  • Where's the Muppet angle?
  • Gadgets: temporary fingerprints, moon buggy (terrible, followed by goofy motorcycle), Q's ring.
  • Opinions on car chases.

Vegas is totally different now.

  • Our thoughts on Q in the field (as opposed to in the lab).
  • Fuel for Codename theory:
    • When Moneypenny gives bond his paperwork back and he asks if he can get her anything else, she responds "a diamond in a ring". That would be incredibly inappropriate if this was Lazenby Bond who just lost his wife. She knows this is not the same guy. Other mentions to bond having been away.
    • Scene where they go to the bridal suite. That would also be weird awkward if it was the same guy.
  • Return of Sean Connery means the return of "brakefast"!
    • Seems like it was thrown in for the fans since it's a bit out of place.
    • In the books, Breakfast is Bond's favorite meal. Mentioned: Pan still life paperbacks.
  • The line "blow up your pants". Shout out to Doug Benson, James Bonding.
  • How does this movie rank?
    • Alex ranks it as middle third. It's unusual and stands out.
    • Pete didn't care for it and found it "bleak and mean-spirited".
      • It's his least favorite so far. It's a bad combination of goofy and depressing.
  • Farewell to Sean Connery. James Bond will return in Live and Let Die.

Meta Notes

  • This is the second week in a row that Alex has assigned James Bond an amusing middle name.
  • Diamonds are Forever was the fifth-highest grossing movie of the year, coming in behind Summer of '42 and ahead of Dirty Harry. The number one movie was Fiddler on the Roof.
  • $1.25 million in 1971 is equivalent to $8,070,795.75 in 2020.
  • At 0:32:07, Alex's dog is really easy to hear in the background.
  • Shirley Bassey was not appointed a Dame until 2000, long after her final musical contribution to the Bond franchise.
  • The Mythbusters tested a myth from the show "Burn Notice" about surviving a 35-ft fall (equivalent to a 3-story building) into a shallow pool. In one jump they had their crash test dummy fall directly into the pool, and on another he fell onto a mattress floating in the pool. Although neither were pretty (both falls were potentially fatal), the fall onto the mattress was far worse. Although people regularly dive from higher heights than this, someone pushed out a window [defenestrated] wouldn't have time to get into proper diving position to avoid injury.

Quotes

  • Alex: (as Sean Connery) <in pretty good Scottish brogue> I'll do it for free if you let me say "brakefast".
  • Alex: He [Gavin] is the George Lazenby [...] to George Lazenby's George Lazenby. Pete: Exactly. He's a real "George Lazenby's George Lazenby".
  • Pete: Maybe you get those confused: "deceased" and "Irish".
  • Pete: I would count them [Bambi and Thumper] in the "Hench" category.
  • Pete: Maybe we could have used some van der Zyl. Alex: just a touch of van der Zyl.
  • Pete: If your movie's less than two hours it might as well be television.

Star Wars names

Star Wars pun names for Diamonds are Forever  
Alex
  • Diamonds R4-ever
  • Kyber crystals are Forever
Pete
  • "Die Wanna Wangas" are Forever
  • Diamonds are for Even Piell

Link (Patreon supporters only)

https://www.patreon.com/posts/thats-no-are-38758513


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