DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (United Artists, 1971)
★★★ The seventh James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. US release date: December 17, 1971. Budget: $7 million. Worldwide box office gross: $116.0 million (US gross: $43.8 million; international gross: $72.2 million). Running time: 119 minutes.
Following the murder of his wife Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James Bond (Sean Connery) is tracking her murderers, focusing on SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray). What 007 doesn’t know is that Blofeld is conducting a cloning experiment to create duplicates of himself, while simultaneously planning another one of his outlandish blackmail capers by sending a powerful laser-equipped satellite into orbit. Bond goes undercover as a diamond smuggler, a ruse that eventually leads him to Amsterdam and the apartment of sexy diamond courier Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). She leads him to Las Vegas, where Blofeld is posing as mysterious billionaire Willard Whyte.
Behind the Scenes
Having lost their box office momentum with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring George Lazenby as Bond, producers Broccoli and Saltzman offered Sean Connery a sizable incentive to return to his signature 007 role. And Connery delivered, producing another epic Bond hit.
Connery was frank about his motivations for returning, and aware that the OHMSS’s disappointing $23 million domestic gross had garnered him some leverage. “Coming back to do this one, the wicket was better for me to make the conditions,” he told a BBC interviewer in 1971. “Of not being such a pawn in the circumstances. Also to be able to get a two-picture deal as well with United Artist and myself as partners, to produce, act, or whatever.” Asked whether his character had changed since You Only Live Twice, Connery replied “I suppose I’m a bit slower. Not quite as fit. . . . I have no real dissatisfaction with the character as such. I only read three Bond novels. I read Thunderball, because that was the first one we were supposed to do. And I read Live and Let Die and From Russia with Love.”
In their efforts to recapture the old Bond magic, the producers knew that a return to the seriousness of From Russia with Love was not a wise move. They took the Goldfinger approach to 007 filmmaking, which meant an outrageous caper, plenty of gorgeous women to dally with Bond, and action sequences that bordered on the unbelievable. Diamonds Are Forever has these elements in good quantity. A more mature-looking Sean Connery has liaisons with Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) and Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood), and battles bodyguards Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks). He performs unbelievable stunts in a stolen moon buggy and a swift Ford Mustang fastback. And he faces some of his most unusual enemies, including the gay assassins Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith); the burly diamond smuggler Peter Franks (Joe Robinson); and, of all things, a foppish Blofeld, played in ham fashion by Charles Gray, who previously played a deadpan Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice. Producers would continue to follow the Goldfinger model for an uninterrupted decade, before returning to a more serious tone in For Your Eyes Only.
|James Bond||Sean Connery|
|Tiffany Case||Jill St. John|
|Ernst Stavro Blofeld||Charles Gray|
|Plenty O’Toole||Lana Wood|
|Willard Whyte||Jimmy Dean|
|Bert Saxby||Bruce Cabot|
|Mr. Wint||Bruce Glover|
|Mr. Kidd||Putter Smith|
|Felix Leiter||Norman Burton|
|Professor-Dr. Metz||Joseph Furst|
|Sir Donald Munger||Laurence Naismith|
|Shady Tree||Leonard Barr|
|Mrs. Whistler||Margaret Lacey|
|Miss Moneypenny||Lois Maxwell|
|Peter Franks||Joe Robinson|
|Klaus Hergersheimer||Edward Bishop|
|Dr. Tynan||Henry Rowland|
|Plastic Surgeon||David de Keyser|
|Doorman (Tropicana)||Nicky Blair|
|Aide to Professor-Dr. Metz||Constantin de Goguel|
|Immigration Officer||Clifford Earl|
|Airline Representative||John Abineri|
|Blofeld’s Double||Max Latimer|
|Albert R. Broccoli|
|Screenplay by||Richard Maibaum|
|Associate Producer||Stanley Sopel|
|Music Composed by||John Barry|
|Title Song Sung by||Shirley Bassey|
|Lyrics by||Don Black|
|Director of Photography||Ted Moore, B.S.C.|
|Production Designer||Ken Adam|
|Set Decorators||Peter Lamont|
|Production Managers||Claude Hudson|
|Stunt Arrangers||Bob Simmons|
|Title Designer||Maurice Binder|
|Visual Effects||Albert Whitlock|
|Dubbing Mixer||Gordon McCallum|
|Sound Recordists||John Mitchell|
|Alfred E. Overton|
|John W. Holmes|
 “Diamonds Are Forever (1971),” The Numbers, accessed May 11, 2020, https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Diamonds-Are-Forever.
 Special features, Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond Ultimate Edition (1971; MGM, 2006), DVD.