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"Diamonds are a girl's best friend."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is the seventh spy film in the James Bond series by Eon Productions, and the sixth and final Eon film to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

The film is based on Ian Fleming's 1956 novel of the same name, and is the second of four James Bond films directed by Guy Hamilton. The story has Bond impersonating a diamond smuggler to infiltrate a smuggling ring, and soon uncovering a plot by his old nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld to use the diamonds and build a giant laser. Bond has to battle his nemesis for one last time, in order to stop the smuggling and stall Blofeld's plan of destroying Washington DC, and extorting the world with nuclear supremacy.

After George Lazenby left the franchise, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli tested other actors, but studio United Artists wanted Sean Connery back, paying a then-record $1.25 million salary for him to return. The producers were inspired by Goldfinger, eventually hiring that film's director, Guy Hamilton. Locations included Las Vegas, California, Amsterdam and Lufthansa's hangar in Germany. Diamonds Are Forever was a commercial success, but received criticism for its humorous camp tone. Peter R. Hunt, who had directed On Her Majesty's Secret Service and worked in all previous Bond films as editor, was invited before Hamilton, but due to involvement with another project could only work in the film if the production date was postponed, which the producers declined to do.

This was the last Bond movie by Eon to use SPECTRE or Blofeld, elements that had not been featured in Ian Fleming's book, the content of which was largely eschewed in the adaptation. After this, writer Kevin McClory's legal claim against the Fleming estate that he, and not Ian Fleming, had created the organisation for the novel Thunderball was upheld by the courts. Blofeld is seen but not identified later in For Your Eyes Only (1981), as Eon's arrangements with the Fleming estate did not permit them to use McClory's works.

The original plot had as a villain Auric Goldfinger's twin, seeking revenge for the death of his brother. The plot was later changed after Albert R. Broccoli had a dream, where his close friend Howard Hughes was replaced by an imposter. So the character of Willard Whyte was created, and Tom Mankiewicz was chosen to rework the script. The adaptation eliminated the main villains from the source Ian Fleming novel, mobsters called Jack and Seraffimo Spang, but used the henchmen Shady Tree, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (pictured right).

Richard Maibaum's original idea for the ending was a giant boat chase across Lake Mead with Blofeld being pursued by Bond and all the Las Vegas casino owners who would be sailing in their private yachts. Bond would rouse the allies into action with a spoof of Lord Nelson's famous cry, "Las Vegas expects every man to do his duty." Maibaum was misinformed; there were no Roman galleys or Chinese junks in Las Vegas, and the idea was too expensive to replicate, so it was dropped.

Maibaum may have thought the eventual oil rig finale a poor substitute, but it was originally intended to be much more spectacular. Armed frogmen would jump from the helicopters into the sea and attach limpet mines to the rig's legs (this explains why frogmen appear on the movie's poster). Blofeld would have escaped in his BathoSub and Bond would have pursued him hanging from a weather balloon. The chase would have then continued across a salt mine with the two mortal enemies scrambling over the pure white hills of salt before Blofeld would fall to his death in a salt granulator. Permission was not granted by the owners of the salt mine. It also made the sequence too long. Further problems followed when the explosives set up for the finale were set off too early; fortunately, a handful of cameras were ready and able to capture the footage.

George Lazenby originally was offered a contract for seven Bond films, but declined and left after just one, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, on the advice of his agent (worse agent ever). Producers contemplated replacing him with John Gavin. Batman TV star Adam West (left) was also considered, as well as Michael Gambon, who rejected the offer telling Broccoli that he was "in terrible shape." United Artists' chief David Picker was unhappy with these casting choices and made it clear that Connery was to be enticed back to the role and that money was no object. When approached about resuming the role of Bond, Connery demanded the fee of £1.25 million (equal to £20 million in 2013) and to entice the actor to play Bond one more time United Artists offered to back two films of his choice. After both sides agreed to the deal, Connery used the fee to establish the Scottish International Education Trust, where Scottish artists could apply for funding without having to leave their country to pursue their careers. The first film made under Connery's deal was The Offence directed by his friend Sidney Lumet. The second was to be an adaptation of Macbeth by William Shakespeare using only Scottish actors and in which Connery himself would play the title role. This project was abandoned because another production of Macbeth (the Roman Polanski version) was already in production.

Charles Gray was cast as villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, after playing a Bond ally called Henderson in You Only Live Twice (1967). David Bauer, who plays Morton Slumber, previously appeared uncredited as an American diplomat also in You Only Live Twice.

Jazz musician Putter Smith was invited by Harry Saltzman to play Mr. Kidd after a Thelonious Monk Band show. Musician Paul Williams was originally cast as Mr. Wint. But when he couldn't agree with the producers on compensation, Bruce Glover replaced him. Glover said he was surprised at being chosen, because at first producers said he was too normal and that they wanted a deformed, Peter Lorre-like actor.

Film star Bruce Cabot, who played the part of Bert Saxby, died the following year and this turned out to be his final film role. Jimmy Dean was cast as Willard Whyte after Saltzman saw a presentation of him. Dean was very worried about playing a Howard Hughes pastiche, because he was an employee of Hughes at the Desert Inn.

Actresses considered for the role of Tiffany Case included: Raquel Welch, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway. Jill St. John (below) had originally been offered the part of Plenty O'Toole but landed the female lead after impressing director Guy Hamilton during screen tests. St. John became the first American Bond girl. Lana Wood (younger sister of actress Natalie Wood) was cast as Plenty O'Toole following a suggestion of screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. The woman in the bikini named "Marie", who in the beginning of the film is convinced by Bond to give up the location of Blofeld, was Denise Perrier, Miss World 1953.

Filming began on 5 April 1971, with the South African scenes actually shot in the desert near Las Vegas, and finished on 13 August 1971. The film was shot primarily in the US, with locations including the Los Angeles International Airport, Universal City Studios and eight hotels of Las Vegas. Besides the Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, other places in England were Dover and Southampton. The climactic oil rig sequence was shot off the shore of Oceanside, California. Other filming locations included Cap D'Antibes in France for the opening scenes, Amsterdam and Lufthansa's hangar at Frankfurt Airport, Germany.

Filming in Las Vegas took place mostly in hotels owned by Howard Hughes, since he was a friend of Cubby Broccoli. Getting the streets empty in order to shoot was achieved through the collaboration of Hughes, the Las Vegas police and shopkeepers association. The Las Vegas Hilton doubled for the Whyte House, and since the owner of the Circus Circus was a Bond fan, he allowed the Circus to be used on film and even made a cameo. The cinematographers said filming in Las Vegas at night had an advantage: no additional illumination was required due to the high number of neon lights. Sean Connery made the most of his time on location in Las Vegas. "I didn't get any sleep at all. We shot every night, I caught all the shows and played golf all day. On the weekend I collapsed – boy, did I collapse. Like a skull with legs." He also played the slot machines, and once delayed a scene because he was collecting his winnings.

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The site used for the Willard Whyte Space Labs (where Bond gets away in the Moon Buggy) was actually, at that time, a Johns-Manville gypsum plant located just outside of Las Vegas. The home of Kirk Douglas was used for the scene in Tiffany's house, while the Elrod House in Palm Springs, designed by John Lautner, became Willard Whyte's house. The exterior shots of the Slumber mortuary were of a real crematorium on the outskirts of Las Vegas. The interiors were a set constructed at Pinewood Studios, where Ken Adam imitated the real building's lozenge-shaped stained glass window in its nave. During location filming, Adam visited several funeral homes in the Las Vegas area, the inspiration behind the gaudy design of the Slumber mortuary (the use of tasteless Art Deco furniture and Tiffany lamps) came from these experiences. Production wrapped with the crematorium sequence, on August 13th 1971.

Since the car chase in Las Vegas would have many car crashes, the filmmakers had an arrangement with Ford to use their vehicles. Ford's only demand was that Sean Connery had to drive the 1971 Mustang Mach 1 which serves as Tiffany Case's car. The Moon Buggy was inspired by the actual NASA vehicle, but with additions such as flailing arms since the producers didn't find the design "outrageous" enough. Built by custom car fabricator Dean Jeffries on a rear-engined Corvair chassis, it was capable of road speeds. The fibreglass tires had to be replaced during the chase sequence because the heat and irregular desert soil ruined them.

Hamilton had the idea of making a fight scene inside a lift, which was choreographed and done by Sean Connery and stuntman Joe Robinson. The car chase where the red Mustang comes outside of the narrow street on the opposite side in which it was rolled, was filmed over three nights on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The alleyway car roll sequence is actually filmed in two locations. The entrance was at the car park at Universal Studios and the exit was at Fremont Street, Las Vegas. It eventually inspired a continuity mistake, as the car enters the alley on the right side tires and exits the street driving on the left side. While filming the scene of finding Plenty O´Toole drowned in Tiffany's swimming pool, Lana Wood actually had her feet loosely tied to a cement block on the bottom. Film crew members held a rope across the pool for her, with which she could lift her face out of the water to breathe between takes. The pool's sloping bottom made the block slip into deeper water with each take. Eventually, Wood was submerged but was noticed by on-lookers and rescued before actually drowning. Wood, being a certified diver, took some water but remained calm during the ordeal, although she later admitted to a few "very uncomfortable moments and quite some struggling until they pulled me out."

"Diamonds Are Forever", the title song, was the second James Bond theme to be performed by Shirley Bassey, after "Goldfinger" in 1964. Producer Harry Saltzman reportedly hated the song, and only the insistence of co-producer Cubby Broccoli kept it in the film. Saltzman's major objection was to the sexual innuendo of the lyrics. Indeed, in an interview for the television programme James Bond's Greatest Hits composer John Barry revealed that he told Bassey to imagine she was singing about a penis. Bassey would later return for a third performance for 1979's Moonraker. The original soundtrack was once again composed by John Barry, his sixth time composing for a Bond film. With Connery back in the lead role, the "James Bond Theme" was played by an electric guitar in the somewhat unique, blued gunbarrel sequence accompanied with prismatic ripples of light, and pre-credits sequence, and in a full orchestral version during a hovercraft sequence in Amsterdam. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound (Gordon McCallum, John W. Mitchell and Al Overton) but lost to Fiddler on the Roof.

Diamonds are Forever was released on December 14th 1971. It grossed $116 million worldwide,of which $43 million was from the United States. Reviews were mixed, as the camp tone had a mostly negative reaction. Connery was applauded by Kevin A. Ranson of MovieCrypt and Michael A. Smith of Nolan's Pop Culture. Critic Roger Ebert criticised the complexity of the plot and "moments of silliness" such as Bond finding himself driving a moon buggy with antennae revolving and robot arms flapping. He praised the Las Vegas car chase scene, particularly the segment when Bond drives the Mustang on two wheels. According to Danny Peary, Diamonds are Forever is "one of the most forgettable movies of the entire Bond series" and that "until Blofeld’s reappearance we must watch what is no better than a mundane diamond-smuggling melodrama, without the spectacle we associate with James Bond: the Las Vegas setting isn’t exotic enough, there’s little humour, assassins Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint are similar to characters you’d find on The Avengers, but not nearly as amusing – and the trouble Bond gets into, even Maxwell Smart could escape.” Would you believe, IGN chose it as the third worst James Bond film, and Total Film listed Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, and Bambie and Thumper, as the first and second worst villains in the Bond series (respectively).

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