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007 One by One: “Diamonds are Forever”

Drinks

We usually call this category “cocktails” but Bond’s lips fail to touch a single mixed drink in “Diamonds are Forever.” Apart from some Scotch in Tiffany Cases’s apartment and a bottle of either vodka or gin placed discretely near Bond’s bathtub at the Whyte House near some vermouth, hard liquor takes a back seat this time around. There’s no champagne, either. Red wine, however, plays a role.

The running gag in which Bond annoys M by forever one-upping him in general knowledge continues in a scene involving a sherry. Bond states the year of the sherry is “’51.” Thinking for once he’s got the upper hand, M informs Bond that sherry bottles don’t have vintages. Bond, however, says that’s so, but he’s referring to the 1851 vintage of the original wine that the sherry, a fortified wine, is made from. M can barely contain his irritation as Bond’s surmise is confirmed by sherry-loving diamond expert, Sir Donald Munger (Laurence Naismith).

The fact that Rothschild Mouton-Cadet is a claret also turns out to be of some importance in the final scene of “Diamonds are Forever.” In fact, Bond’s wine knowledge, and sense of smell, help him figure out that his two super-effete waiters are, in fact, killers-for-hire Wint and Kidd. They really should have brought an expert sommelier with them if they were going to dare serve wine to the knowledgeable Mr. Bond.

Random facts and observations:

* There’s no ignoring the fact that the usually tuxedo-clad Bond is seriously overdressed for Las Vegas, circa 1970. The deleted cameo featuring Rat Packer extraordinaire Sammy Davis, Jr. pointed out the obvious when, spotting Bond entering the casino in his white dinner jacket, a mugging Davis notes “They ain’t never going to get a cake big enough to put him on top of.”

* While the movie “Diamonds are Forever” has fairly little in common with Ian Fleming’s novel, a few similar scenes and one or two characters are derived from the book. In particular, comedian Shady Tree, Tiffany Case, and diamond smuggler Peter Franks all appear in the novel.

* The part of Mr. Wint, played by Bruce Glover, was originally given to actor/singer-songwriter Paul Williams, who dropped out when his agent couldn’t negotiate a high enough price from the thrift-conscious EON team. Williams is best known today for writing such hits as “We’ve Only Just Begun” for the Carpenters and “Rainbow Connection” for Kermit the Frog, but he was a very familiar TV and film face during the 1970s. He also looked something like a much shorter, less bald, version of Putter Smith, which would have put an even weirder, and probably more offensive, spin on the Wint-Kidd romance. Williams went on to show what a thoroughly vile and twisted villain he could be in Brian De Palma’s demented 1974 masterpiece, “Phantom of the Paradise.”

* While he was very pro-American, Ian Fleming was a snob through and through. The Las Vegas section of the novel Diamonds are Forever drips with contempt for the city.

* Cubby Broccoli, on the other hand, was a Vegas regular, an avid gambler, and a good friend of Howard Hughes, who was in control of about half of Las Vegas during filming. (Guess who controlled the other half.) The Hughes connection opened many doors for the production, and cast and crew members were given the royal treatment. However, it really had been years since all but a tiny coterie had seen the reclusive mega-magnate. At one point German-born production designer Ken Adam was mistaken for Hughes at Hughes’ own ranch.

* One of Adam’s most enjoyably silly touches is the fish-filled water bed that Bond and Tiffany Case enjoy in the absurdly lavish bridal suite of the Whyte House. Water beds were soon to become ubiquitous with swinging bachelors and bachelorettes across the nation. We haven’t seen one in a while, however.

* Cubby Broccoli wasn’t the only EON team member to have an affection for Las Vegas-style fun. Writer Tom Mankiewicz admits to having lost several weeks pay at the tables, and Ken Adam complained about the effect on his production design team. “The big problem was that nobody went to bed. At four in the morning I found my chief draftsman – my assistant – in the casino. And there were so many beautiful women. There were ten women to each man.”

* The name of the hapless radiation inspector who comes across Bond at Willard Whtye’s enormous laboratory, Klaus Hergesheimer of G Section (Ed Bishop), is an inside gag at the expense of director Guy Hamilton. Hamilton used the monicker “Hergesheimer” as his personal version of “whatshisname” whenever his memory failed him.

* Speaking of director Hamilton, he apparently nursed a deep dislike of American automobiles. He no doubt got great pleasure from destroying a few of them during the car chase scenes.

* Despite the help of Howard Hughes, there were issues with filming in the 24/7 setting of Las Vegas. Casino scenes at the Riviera Casino had to be shot between 3 and 6 a.m. For the the downtown Las Vegas car chase, there was no hope of completely shutting down the busy area. It doesn’t take a particularly eagle eye to notice during the scene that the streets are lined with gawking tourists who don’t seem one bit startled by all the vehicular mayhem.

* It’s possible that the set-like astronaut training area in Willard Whyte’s compound  might have been jocularly inspired by persistent rumors that the Apollo moon landings had been an elaborately staged TV hoax. Wikipedia theorizes that “Diamonds are Forever” might have actually helped encourage those rumors.

* The light from the signage on Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard – now a mall area dubbed “the Fremont Street Experience” – was so bright that, even with the slower film stocks available in the 1970s, Oscar-winning director of photography Ted Moore was able to shoot using only available light.

* Part of the reason Tiffany Case is seen wearing a number of wigs in the film is that Jill St. John was reportedly marketing a line of wigs around the time of the production.

* Aside from being an avid spy fan, Lana Wood was also an experienced scuba diver. That turned out to be a very good thing during the scene where Plenty O’Toole is found dead in a swimming pool. The cement block Ms. Wood was tied to moved slightly deeper into the water, so that she was was unable to get her head above water to breathe between shots. Fortunately, Wood was able to attract the attention of divers who eventually freed her. Not too badly traumatized by the scare, Wood returned immediately to work.

* One of comedian Shady Tree’s sexy but nearly silent “Acorns” is none other than future Oscar nominee Valerie Perrine. She’s best known for her outstanding work in such 1970s highlights as “Lenny,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” and “Superman.”

* At one point, Bond is identified via his Playboy Club membership card.

* In the novel, much is made of Bond’s complete anonymity as a spy. In the movie, Tiffany Case reacts to the James Bond name immediately. A famous spy wouldn’t be particularly effective, but this is the movies.

* Don’t ask us how it happened, but the guy writing this has some very vivid memories of  Playboy magazine’s “Diamonds are Forever” pictorial when he was way too young to be seeing such things. In particular, he can vividly recall some slightly more graphic imagery of Bond’s abortive make-out session with Plenty O’Toole/Lana Wood.

* The faux mad scientist with the comically Yiddish accent in the offensive-if-you-think-about-it gorilla-transformation show on the Circus Circus midway is, we are told, one of the original owners of Circus Circus.

* Sadly, only one of the two pictures Sean Connery was offered as part of his “Diamonds” deal actually got made. “The Offense,” was a well-regarded police thriller directed by frequent Connery collaborator Sidney Lumet. The second film, a sure-to-be-fascinating version of “Macbeth” starring and directed by Connery was, you should pardon the expression, scotched by a rival production from director Roman Polanski.

* “Diamonds are Forever” lyricist Don Black describes an encounter with Steven Spielberg in which the famed director and apparent Bond mega-geek went into great detail on his love of the song and the opening credit sequence by Maurice Binder. As a side note, Spielberg was reportedly turned down as a Bond director on two occasions by Cubby Broccoli around the time of “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The stated reason: lack of experience.

* Cubby Broccoli might have been a known cheapskate in certain ways, but he was also a shrewdly generous boss when he needed to be. He generally maintained a line item for “morale” on all of his films.

The Quips and One-Liners

James Bond (as smuggler Peter Frank): “That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.”
Tiffany Case: “I don’t dress for the hired help.”

Bond to Tiffany Case: “Presumably I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast.”

Plenty O’Toole: “Hi, I’m Plenty.”
James Bond: “But of course you are.”
Plenty O’Toole: “Plenty O’Toole.”
James Bond: Named after your father perhaps?

James Bond (preparing to roll the dice at a craps table): “I’ll take the full odds on the ten, two hundred on the hard way, the limit on all the numbers, two hundred and fifty on the eleven. Thank you very much.”
Plenty O’Toole: “Say, you’ve played this game before.”
James Bond: “Just once.”

Felix Leiter: “I give up. I know the diamonds are in the body, but where?”
James Bond: “Alimentary, Dr. Leiter…”

James Bond: “Good morning, gentlemen. ACME pollution inspection. We’re cleaning up the world, we thought this was a suitable starting point.”

James Bond: “I tend to notice little things like that – whether a girl is a blonde or a brunette.”
Tiffany Case: “Which do you prefer?”
James Bond: “Well, as long as the collar and cuffs match…”

Blofeld: “Tiffany, my dear. We’re showing a bit more cheek than usual, aren’t we?”
[Tiffany Case removes the cassette from her bikini bottom and hands it over.]

Mr. Wint: “And for dessert, the piece de resistance… a Bombe Surprise.”
Tiffany Case: “Mmm! That looks fantastic. What’s in it?”
Mr. Wint: “Ah… But then there would be no surprise, Madame.”

Tiffany Case: “Darling, why are we suddenly staying in the Newlywed Suite at the Whyte House?”
James Bond: “In order to form a more perfect union.”

Tiffany Case: “My God! You just killed James Bond!”
James Bond (as Peter Franks): “Is that who it was? Well just goes to show, no one’s indestructible.”

The (Kind of) Romantic Ending

In the book, Bond thought he might be in love with Tiffany Case, but in the movie he’s clearly in no mood for a commitment. He seems fairly relieved when Ms. Case’s mention of an important question is interrupted by the arrival of the deadly Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. As it turns out, he needn’t have worried. She’s as much a hedonist as Bond, and as mercenary as ever. She just wants to figure out a way to retrieve the smuggled diamonds from Willard Whyte’s satellite.

Still, once again, Bond and his not so true not quite love end the movie snuggling surrounded by water…this time they’re on one of Willard Whyte’s ocean liners.

“James Bond Will Return”

“The End of Diamonds are Forever
James Bond will return in LIVE AND LET DIE” said the final title card.

Of course, he’d be returning as Roger Moore.

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