Sunday, 20 July 2014

Most Secret - Diamonds are Forever


Making mud pies, 007?”
A Japanese paper-screened living room, calm, serene. Apart from the Japanese man thrown through the wall, knocked about by a man with an oddly familiar Scottish brogue. Not his shoes – his accent... really, do pay attention... Where is Blofeld?; Cairo!. Cut to an Egyptian casino, a seedy Egyptian in a tux and fez calls for cards; 'Hit me.' The mystery Jock obliges and is given a name; Marie. In the blink of an eye we are on the French riviera and Miss World 1953 is reclining in a bikini and as if you couldn't guess, Sean Connery ambles up to deliver that opener; “My name is Bond. James Bond.” Giving his name, he takes her bikini top, throttling her. So, where is Ernst Stavro Blofeld?.

With his plastic surgeons, as it turns out, an impatient Blofeld demands the procedure be performed tonight!. This involves a Frankenstein-style lab with the patient immersed in a piping-hot natural mud bath. As the surgeons conveniently leave, Bond sneaks in in scrubs and takes a look around. A muddy revolver emerges from the bath to menace Bond and he dives for the chain to send a deluge of mud onto the patient, suffocating him. 

A jet of water reveals the dead man wasn't Blofeld and the real thing walks in, flanked by two armed goons (sporting the funniest helmets seen in any Bond until Moonraker). The deceased would have been Blofeld's double in a day or two and Blofeld orders a goon to remove 007's gun. Reaching into Bond's jacket, he gets his fingers mangled by the fiendish trap in the pocket – not something for the absent-minded – and 007 does a knife throwing routine with scalpels before knocking Blofeld senseless and wheeling him into a hot mud spring. “Welcome to hell, Blofeld”; Bond's enjoyment of the moment is cut short, by the arrival of none other than... Volcano Cat!.

Diamonds are Forever
They are all I need to please me
They can stimulate and tease me
They won't leave in the night-
I've no fear that they might-
Desert Me

Burley Chassis – forgive me, Shirley Bassey introduces a world of sparkling opulence, the wonderful title sequence from Maurice Binder sets the scene and the usual artfully nude girls are draped in diamonds, (as is Volcano Cat, himself stylishly accoutred in diamond choker, the epitome of elegance and nonchalance as he strolls through the titles thoroughly enjoying himself)

A tray of magnificent diamonds and M is briefing a visibly bored James Bond before they meet Sir.Donald Munger, diamond expert. South African diamonds are being smuggled – as Sir.Donald outlines the problem we see a montage revealing the workers offloading the stones to the mine dentist. 
Above: Mr. Kidd (Left) and Mr.Wint

Two decidedly odd characters, Mr.Wint and Mr.Kidd are in the South African desert regarding a deadly scorpion. Ominous. A motorcycle rolls up and it's the dentist, complete with an exhaust baffle (US: muffler) that hinges open to reveal a roll of diamonds. Initially cautious – he usually deals with someone else – he places the stones into the box they have brought and is about to leave when Mr.Kidd feigns toothache and Mr.Wint slips the scorpion down the dentist's collar. No sooner have they disposed of his body when a helicopter comes in and they hand the pilot the box. The chopper flies off and BOOM!; it was a bomb. Wint and Kidd walk off, erm, hand in hand. Maybe they are friends...

Back to the briefing and Sir.Donald's theory that someone is stockpiling diamonds, either to dump on the market to kill prices or as a lever to blackmail. The question at hand is; who is doing the stockpiling?.

A bush classroom somewhere in Africa, an elderly lady teaching English is interrupted by visitors. Wint and Kidd (the latter given to spraying himself with scent at every opportunity) give the old girl the stones, placed in a hollowed out bible. Next stop: Amsterdam.
What a co-incidence: Bond is off to the land of the Tulips too; a professional smuggler, Peter Franks has come to the Secret Service's attention and is due to leave for Amsterdam.

The Port of Dover: a mustard yellow Triumph Stag pulls up to customs, Mr.Franks is directed to Passport Control. As he goes inside, Miss Moneypenny – in Customs uniform – walks out to hand the car's new owner – Bond – his passport. Now posing as Franks, Bond drives off to the Hovercraft terminal and we see the Seaspeed Princess Margaret roaring into the channel. (It's worth pointing out how glamorous and exotic hovertravel really was at the time, going by hovercraft was quite the adventure.) Across the channel and a tourist boat glides along the canals of Amsterdam, the guide pointing out the scenic attractions. Such as the dead old lady being fished out by the Politie. The sinister Wint and Kidd are close, posing as tourists and Bond/Franks arrives at a nearby house in the Stag, ringing the button marked 'T.Case.'

Upstairs in a typically Dutch apartment, Bond meets Tiffany Case – she was born in the store – we get a glimpse of her in not much but a Blonde wig and then as a Brunette. Bond makes a 'collars and cuffs' joke that hasn't aged as badly as it might and she goes to check his prints, under the pretext of getting him some ice for his drink. She has an instant camera with a fingerprint scanner hidden in a wardrobe and Bond's prints match Peter Franks'. Finally dressed – Tiffany reveals herself to be a natural redhead. 'Franks' has to get 50,000 carats of diamonds into Los Angeles – and for $1,000 a carat – he'd better come up with something original...

You've just killed James Bond!”
Over the phone to Q, Bond pulls off his fake fingerprint and from his Lab (Complete with tantalising glimpse of an Aston Martin DBS) Q tells him that the real Franks has escaped!. As Franks arrives at Tiffany's place, Bond (Posing hilariously as a courting couple) follows him into the lift. Bond attacks, a glass panel breaking as he does giving Franks warning.
 Franks is a hard man and a vicious hand to hand ensues, both men battering each other with punches and karate chops. Pulling a gun, Franks is disarmed, a shot discharging – he grabs a sliver of glass as the lift goes past a startled Tiffany, who has heard the commotion. Finally, Bond sets off a fire extinguisher, blinding Franks with foam before knocking him down the stairwell, killing him. Deftly switching wallets, Bond drags the body into Tiffany's apartment and lets her discover the man's identity... James Bond!. Panicked by this, Tiffany reveals the stones are hidden in her chandelier, delivered by a little old lady...

The forklift loads the coffin and 'Mr.Franks' boards his flight, posing as a bereaved brother. Also aboard are Tiffany and, unseen behind a partition, Wint and Kidd. Kidd, spraying himself, seems nonplussed by Wint's casual remark regarding Tiffany's attractiveness 'for a lady.'(The first gay villains in a James Bond film, Wint and Kidd are more subdued-weird than outrageous-camp.)
At Los Angeles, Bond is called to the customs shed where – surprise, surprise it's Felix Leiter undercover as a customs man. (With a disappearing clipboard if you watch very attentively). Welcoming James on behalf of the C.I.A. he warns him about the three stooges – no, three actual stooges – waiting by the hearse and goes through the show of checking the body for contraband. But where are the diamonds? - Alimentary, Doctor Leiter...

Slumber Inc. has sent it's finest, most obvious Hoodlums – (The wonderful Marc Lawrence is in charge – a career Movie gangster, he was to return as the Hitman at the beginning of Golden Gun) and they take Bond to the crematorium to meet the sinister Morton Slumber. A few switches thrown and the coffin goes through the curtains bearing the mortal remains of Peter Franks. A bit of movie time-twisting and barely have Bond and Slumber sat down in the latter's office when a bearer brings in the urn, packed to the brim with diamonds. Bond is instructed to take the urn through to the garden of rest where a curtained niche reverently awaits it. The only other people present are Wint and Kidd, reverently placing flowers. A Slumber Inc. envelope awaits, reverently stuffed with cash and the drop is made. As all Bond fans know, JB has to be knocked out from behind once per film and Wint and Kidd must be fans; they oblige with a metal urn and drag the comatose Bond off. At this point an old guy with a face that looks like putty shows up and walks off with the stones.

We all have fears; some of us are claustrophobic. Actually, I defy anyone not to be if they wake up inside a coffin in a burning oven. Bond does just this, and is trapped, the gas jets outside roaring into an inferno of flame. Just as suddenly, the lid opens to reveal Putty-face; the stones are phoney! Bond is quick to counter though as they wouldn't have burned $50,000 unless it was dud – bring the real money, get the real diamonds. He saunters off leaving the Tropicana as his address.

(Spot the crew member!)
Bond is relaxing in his bath and phones Felix, who tells him Q has arrived with the real diamonds and will bring them tomorrow. Leafing through a brochure, Bond sees none other than Putty-face; real name Shady Tree, appearing with his Acorns in the Lincoln Lounge of the Whyte House. (On the facing page is a photo of Sammy Davis, Jnr whose scene in the film was cut).
The Whyte House; a towering casino-hotel, the brainchild of the American tycoon Willard Whyte, eccentric and notoriously reclusive. The slots are doing a roaring trade and the showgirls are doing their thing in the bar. James Bond saunters – Connery really does this very well – into the Lincoln lounge to catch the end of Shady Tree's act. (One of the old school of stand-ups, the humour hasn't aged well) In his dressing room, Tree is approached by Wint and Kidd... who are themselves approached as they leave. Bert Saxby, the Casino Manager tells them not to kill Tree as the stones are fake. He's too late, as Bond finds out a few moments later. 

Above; 'Mr.Frank's credits good!'
What does James Bond do without a lead?, in a Casino? - yep, he goes to the craps table. He calls to raise the stakes and the croupier calls over Saxby. Flashing the Slumber envelope to Saxby, Bond hits lucky and his credit is good. A high-roller attracts a certain sort and Plenty O'Toole is certainly a sort. 
 Above and Below: Lana Wood is Plenty - Plenty O' Toole
Plenty latches on to the big spending Bond. Played by Lana Wood, Plenty is, in seventies parlance a 'Busty Stunner'. Going into his office, Saxby calls Willard Whyte and tells him to check the casino security cameras; Whyte does so and sees 'Peter Franks' at the table. He's not interested in details, just those diamonds!. Bond wins big and tips Plenty $5,000 for her support and she goes up to his suite for 'a drink'. Her dress hits the floor and she goes to freshen up. Bond flicks the light on to discover the goons from Slumber are all pointing guns and poor Plenty is woman-handled out of the window to fall into the pool several storeys below. Bond congratulates the lead goon (Lawrence) on his aim, to get the immortal, delightfully gruff reply “I didn't know there was a pool down there”. Bond's elbow knocks the wind out of the goon, but rather than demand the real diamonds, the thugs leave a now deeply suspicious Bond who finds Tiffany Case waiting for him on the bed in a negligible. Sorry – negligee. They make love, we know this because Tiffany has a cigarette in her hand. They make a deal; 50-50 – he gets her the sparklers and she gets them out of town in one piece. Them?, after being seen helping him she'll need new employers...

Circus, Circus; rows of packed slots beneath a large safety net and, above that; the Flying Palacios trapeze artistes are performing a breathtaking routine. Surreal. Tiffany wanders in and follows the instructions Bond gave her. Up in a control gallery, James and Felix watch and wait as she makes her way to a Blackjack table. At the signal the dealer – who is in on it – skilfully deals her a card with instructions to play the water balloons and, trusting his C.I.A. Colleagues, James goes to hire a car for the next part of the plan. Despite being clearly uninterested, Tiffany wins the prize – the game is rigged and she gets a toy dog, (The whiney kid is priceless). Felix' men aren't subtle, though, Tiffany spots the follow and ducks into an illusion booth where a Girl becomes a Gorilla (and Nairobi moves to South Africa) and then goes beserk, giving the kids a fright and sending them stampeding out. She goes out the back and manages to give the agents the slip.

Tiffany's house is a beautiful, low bungalow with pool – (In real life, owned by Kirk Douglas) and secret agent lounging awaiting her return. She launches into Bond, but then notices there's a girl in the pool; Plenty, quite dead. Poor plenty! - she must have stumbled in looking for Tiffany. (In a cut scene after she was dumped in the Hotel pool she came back up to Bond's room and found Tiffany's address – perhaps a mistake to leave the scene out.) Bond explains that the couriers are being murdered – the Dentist, the old lady, Shady... she's next. He slaps her to get her to talk; the stuffed dog is in a locker at McArran International and the pick-up is made by a Whyte van. Bond and Tiffany follow, in a Ford Mustang (A red Mach1 429 Cobra Jet Ram Air for the record). 
Stopping for gas, the van's driver – Saxby switches with another man. Getting Tiffany to cut him off, Bond sneaks into the back of the van for the drive out to the desert and Whyte's High Security Tectronics plant.

Inside the plant, a vehicle elevator takes the van deep underground and the mystery man disappears inside a security card door with the diamonds. Timing his approach, 007 waits for a technician to use his card and comes in with him, making small talk. The man is Klaus Hergesheimer , from G-Section and checking radiation shields is his life. The complex is clearly vast, tunnels leading off either way with Laboratories and suchlike. Strolling in in a white coat and clipboard, Bond cheekily poses as Hergesheimer and gets a look at a lot of diamonds and a high-tech apparatus before the mystery man comes up and demands he leaves, revealing himself as one Professor Metz. A phone-call from Willard Whyte diverts Metz long enough for Bond to hear that the diamonds are 'enough for completion' and then see a rather conspicuous cassette tape before being shown the door. As he leaves through one door, the real Hergesheimer comes in another and Bond is blown.

The Moon. Two astronauts collect samples from the lunar surface, a moon buggy nearby. Its a mockup – a training facility (And quite probably a nod to the popular Conspiracy Theories of the time that doubted the Moon landings were real). The alarm goes up and Bond is spotted, going for the moon buggy. He manages to get it started and drives through the backdrop and out into daylight, crashing through the security barrier with a force of Whyte's security men in pursuit. Into the Nevada desert where the buggy's off-off Road (Well, you can't get much farther off road than the Moon...) design leaves the chasing cars struggling with the rugged terrain. 
However, there's a second wave of security on Honda mini-trikes and, as the last car rolls (Look for the detached moon buggy wheel bouncing along as the car wipes out. The terrain was more than a match for the buggy's wheels with their fibre-glass tyres) the trikes take over, one taking a tumble. As the others chase the receding buggy across the open desert, Bond appears and kicks the rider off, stealing the trike and reaching Tiffany, waiting with the Mustang.

Lean Over!
Night on the Strip, Bond and Tiffany cruise along the Neon valley where Whyte's influence with the local cops becomes clear; thinking they are saboteurs, the cops try to arrest them. Bond makes a break, the Mustang's horsepower and pedigree showing as he takes the car through the traffic and into a screeching turn (The obsessive among you will note the tyre marks from previous takes) and past the crowds lining the pavement to see a Bond film being made. (Hang on, noticing all this makes me obsessive!) 

The chase enters a casino car-park and Bond throws the Mach1 around to make a fool of the cops, giving them the slip by using a trailer as a ramp and rolling over a car roof. The cop car behind follows Movie rule #345 by trying to follow and crashing. The Sheriff himself then takes over, chasing the Mustang into an alleyway – a dead end. There's nowhere to go – just a loading ramp and a narrow alley beyond. Well, if you haven't seen this one I can only assume you are Willard Whyte – hasn't everyone?. Anyway – the car goes along on two wheels and while the Sheriff's car follows rule #345, Bond lands it and drives off. 
Below: 'Lean Over!' 

The Whyte House and 'Mr. and Mrs.Jones' have taken the Bridal Suite. On a fantastic aquarium-bed filled with exotic fish, they discuss matters, until an irate Felix interrupts. He's got word from Washington and it's no-go, they must leave Willard Whyte alone. 

To underline the point, Felix has men stationed outside the Suite to stop Bond going anywhere. Felix leaves and so does Bond, casually strolling out of the window to stand nonchalantly on top of a scenic elevator. The elevator rises right up to the Starlite lounge and Bond is left hanging far above (an obvious projection of) Vegas. Its a sheer overhang, but 007 has come equipped with a piton gun, the piton and cable hidden in his cummerbund. Soon he's hanging off the very top of the Whyte House and clambering up, he reaches the roof and finds a way in through a ventilation screen. Dropping in, he finds himself in the throne room – literally; he's in Willard Whyte's toilet and Whyte is clearly a very strange man. A wooden rotating throne swivels to provide access to a fully-fitted executive desk with all the bells and whistles, even a newspaper rack, plus monitor screens showing the casinos.

Pressing a button experimentally, Bond sees himself on the monitor, with Whyte's voice over the speaker relaying the dismaying news that he was expected. Whyte tells him to leave his gun and a door slides open. The vast central space of the Penthouse is a stunning stainless steel and teak affair, the overhanging gallery windows along one side, a steel stairway curving upwards like a metallic dinosaur spine. Angled ceiling supports slope down to the windows above a sunken circular conference area, the perspex false floor adorned with steel models of rockets. At the far end a desk, the chair behind melodramatically turned to face the wall, a tapestry hangs incongruously in a frame and there's a massive, circular safe in the wall. Bond's footsteps echo hollowly as he walks the length of the room. The chair turns... to reveal Blofeld!. Blofelds! - another Blofeld steps down the stairs, much to Bond's amazement and settles on a sofa. A rather familiar cat accompanies him, settling on the other. The canny Ernst Stavro has successfully duplicated himself. As the phone rings he uses a clever telephone voice-changer to sound exactly like Whyte. (And the pedant in me can't help, but note that this wouldn't change his actual voice as it seems to in the film)
Above: After climbing tp the Penthouse, Bond finds two Blofelds - and kills the wrong one.

Blofeld reveals Whyte is being held hostage. As a notorious recluse, he was the perfect kidnap victim. Walking across the perspex floor we see below it a map of Whyte's empire is laid out in miniature – everything from Electronics to Aviation. Bond has a problem; which is the real ESB?. He admits he wouldn't know which one to kill, standing casually by the cat on the sofa. Suddenly, Bond boots the cat (Relax – look closely and it looks like they filmed it backwards, with the cat originally landing on the sofa by Bond's shoe). The startled kitty leaps into the hands of sofa-Blofeld and, lightning-fast, Bond draws and shoots him in the head with the piton gun. The Blofeld at the desk has a revolver aimed at Bond and as sofa-Blofeld's cat leaves in a huff the real Blofeld's cat makes an entrance, pausing only to put the ersatz-Kitty in its place. (I won't dwell on VC's performance as he is quite the prima-donna as it is.) Blofeld has a cassette tape – World's Greatest Marches – the same one we saw in Metz' lab. He puts it in the wall safe and orders Bond into the lift – or should that be elevator?. Bond is suspicious, but has no choice. Pressing 'L' he braces for the floor to open, but the elevator isn't rigged. Oh, apart from the gas hissing in. A comatose Bond is met in a sub-basement by Wint and Kidd. (Listen closely and you can just hear Kidd say 'Winter' – Fleming's original name for the character) As they dump 007 in the boot of their car, Wint's scent bottle slips out of a pocket and is accidentally crushed beneath Bond. They drive down an underground tunnel and Kidd presses a remote to open a concealed doorway in the side of a hill. Leaving Bond in a section of steel pipe, the two funsters drive off.

Morning. A pipe-laying team are hard at work in the early morning sun – heavy plant making short work of the dry Nevada dirt. Out cold, James Bond is buried alive, the section of pipe just one of many placed before the trench is filled in. Dazed, Bond finally comes to, with a rat for companion. The rat is sniffing its evening-dressed companion and for good reason – Bond reeks, Wint's scent all over him. Suddenly, the rat scarpers – and the reason is clear. A frightening contraption is sparking and squealing along the pipe; some kind of automated pipe welding device. Timing his leap carefully, Bond jumps on, his face inches from the flailing, arcing welding cables. Grabbing two by the insulation, he manages to short the machine out. A maintenance jeep comes out and two engineers open an inspection hatch; out steps Bond with a pithy quip.

Blofeld takes a call in Whyte's Penthouse – posing as Saxby, Bond uses a hastily lashed-up version of the voice-changer. Is he a hobbyist?; not at all, it's Q (Hooray!) to the rescue. 'Saxby' acts spooked, prompting Blofeld to reveal Whyte is being held at his own summer house. He orders 'Saxby' to eliminate him and calls Metz to bring the operation forward 24hrs. Leaving his second in command behind ready to hit the Penthouse, Felix takes Bond to the summer house. Bond goes in ahead. When they have Whyte, the Penthouse will be raided. The house is magnificent, mid-century modern and absolutely breathtaking (The famous Elrod house was used for this scene).
Above; Bambi & Thumper and (Right) Willard Whyte, freed by Bond and Felix
Strolling in, Bond is greeted by Bambi and Thumper – two acrobatic, but deadly girls who guard Whyte. They don't carry any weapons, but Bond soon finds out the hard way... they are weapons. Thumper gives him a knee to the heritage department and Bambi vaults across the room, tumbling into a spinning kick that sends him sprawling. These girls are psychotic – Bambi holding Bond's head in her vice-strong thighs as Thumper lines him up for a brutal kick to the guts. Bond is out of his depth – and that's before they sling him into the infinity pool, diving in for the finish. Luckily, 007 can hold his breath and turns the tables, holding the girls splashing and struggling underwater as Felix and the cavalry arrive. Where's Willard Whyte? - a half-drowned Thumper points out his quarters below the pool and he's freed. (Emerging from the toilet – clearly there's a theme here) Emerging into the sunlight for the first time in years, Whyte is nearly killed, Saxby's shot going high. Felix' men open up and Saxby is shot, his body sliding down the hillside. The eccentric tycoon gives an order: tell Saxby, he's fired!. (The late Jimmy Dean plays Whyte, but was nervous about the role as at the time he worked for Howard Hughes and was worried about playing such an obvious pastiche).
Look what the cat dragged in
Back in the Whyte House, Agent Maxwell leads his men towards the Penthouse, whilst Q takes a moment to enjoy the Slots, playing a row one at a time. Spotting him, Tiffany comes up to see how much trouble she's in, asking him to put in a good word. Oddly, all the machines he's played have paid out their jackpots... Q shows her his secret; a tiny Electromagnetic RPM Controller built into a pinky-ring. Naturally, Q launches into a long-winded technical briefing, but Tiffany's attention is caught by the middle-aged woman casually heading for the exit. Is that VC she's carrying? - none other!. Following the woman outside she's bundled into a limousine and we are treated to the hideous sight of Blofeld in drag. (He wasn't camp enough?) As they drive off, Whyte leads the way to the underground Tectronics Lab to find everything has been moved. Bond draws the gizmo he saw and Whyte reveals Metz is a World famous expert on Laser refraction. Oh-Oh. Also a committed pacifist, it seems odd that such a man should be working for Blofeld. Studying Bond's sketch, the Lab manager recognises it-the satellite they sent to AFB Vandenberg for launch and Whyte's call comes too late; the satellite is already in orbit.

Vandenberg has a problem; the launch went smoothly, but the rocket is not responding to control. The first stage separates prematurely and the nose-cone breaks away to reveal the satellite. The Solar arrays open and a burst of the main thruster sees it in it's own orbit, the abort signal having no effect whatsoever. The main reflector unfurls into a hemisphere of diamonds, while Back at Tectronics the full danger of Blofeld's satellite is starting to dawn on Bond and Co.

North Dakota, Strategic Air Command's 224th Strategic Missile Wing (168 Squadron). An ICBM silo. Blofeld's satellite fires a pulse of concentrated laser energy and the missile explodes. (You have to make some allowances for the Special Effects here; they were clearly under financial and time constraints) Even a Soviet Submarine underwater isn't safe – the next beam superheats the hull, the sub blows up with a massive underwater explosion. At the Penthouse of the Whyte House, Whyte has to answer both a call of nature and a phonecall from Washington. Red China next; a row of anti-aircraft missiles are blown to bits, the soldiers manning them running around in flames. Whyte emerges from the can to reveal Blofeld is holding the United States - the World to ransom. All Blofeld needs to control the satellite is a coded tape – a cassette even. (Bells ringing?, good, lets proceed...) Bond looks over the map below the perspex floor. Assuming Blofeld is still using Whyte's empire as cover, he could be anywhere from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Oregon, from Texas to Baja, California... but Whyte hasn't got anything in Baja!...

An oil platform off of the Baja coast. In his quarters, Blofeld strokes VC luxuriantly as he listens to the radio broadcasting news of the nuclear emergencies. Flustered, Metz enters, with the news that the rig has been quietly surrounded by Submarines and is being circled by Military aircraft. Unruffled, Blofeld is not bothered by the show of muscle – the Nuclear powers are best dealt with by force. Tongue firmly in cheek, he insists to the jittery Metz that this will ensure total disarmament and World Peace. (Laser experts beware: check your employer before signing...)
A plane is approaching, Blofeld orders a 'Stage One' Alert and across the rig men in blue and orange get-ups rush around pretending to know what this means. Lets take a moment to consider the dress code here; Blofeld's henchmen are hilarious, blue boiler suits, orange jump boots, gloves and pistol belts topped off with matching safety lids with a white lightning flash. Where were we?; oh yes, the plane. A silver sphere tumbles from the aircraft, drogue parachutes pulling open three larger ones to slow it's descent to the sea. Splashing down, the chutes detach and the ball starts to roll towards the rig, much like the more recent Water Walkers at Swimming pools. Of course, it unzips to reveal Bond, ready with a Pollution inspection quip. Under armed guard, 007 is winched up in a cage to the main deck where Blofeld greets him with disdain. Tiffany is making the most of her captivity, working on her tan on a lounger in a fetching purple bikini.
Above; Bond & Whyte discover Blofeld's oil platform, Blofeld outlines the plan, Tiffany tries to help and the final battle.
A thorough search uncovered the cassette hidden in the lining of Bond's (now ripped) suit and Blofeld plays it to reveal it contains martial music. Credit where it's due; Blofeld acknowledges Bond's plan was spot-on, to switch the tape from his lining for the Satellite Master Control tape and Scotch the whole plot. (There's definitely a joke there somewhere...) True to form, Blofeld gives Bond the master tour and Tiffany shows her colours by slipping Bond his music cassette. In the main control room and there's no word from the Authorities. Blofeld decides on Washington DC as his next target. Standing by the control bank, Bond presses eject and smoothly switches the tapes. Having changed, Tiffany comes in, just too late to see the switch she assumes the real tape is still in the control bank. A ten-minute countdown begins. Blofeld orders Bond to be thrown in the brig after another search, but he manages to offload the incriminating Control tape down the back of Tiffany's bikini bottom. Bond manages to set a weather balloon loose on the way to the brig and makes a break, getting a machine-gun butt in the gut. Tiffany scurries out to tell Bond the good news; she's switched the tapes back!. Bond tells her her mistake as he's hauled off.

More cheek than usual
A Whyte helicopter flies over the ocean. From the air, Whyte and Felix spot the balloon going up and Felix launches the attack, a fleet of gunships preparing to hit the rig. On the rig, the radar picks up the incoming assault and at a command, the rig's hidden defences are deployed. Innocuous-looking containers open flat to reveal anti-aircraft guns. A burst of rocket fire from the gunships is met with a ferocious hail of AAA rounds and the first casualties are taken as explosions rock the rig, choppers roaring overhead. A furious Metz finally realises the obvious and Blofeld spots the cassette hidden in Tiffany's bikini as she fumbles to get the cassettes switched. Its the brig for Tiffany, but a burst of fire from a gunship riddles her guard and she's free. Meanwhile, Bond has discovered there is no proper brig on a rig; it's a storeroom with a handy hatch down to the underside and, as a gunship explodes above he ropes down to hang precariously above the water. Another chopper goes down, but Bond manages to reach a pair of cables strung rope-bridge style beneath the rig. More explosions; this time in the control room and it looks like the games up. Blofeld calls for his Bathosub to be prepared and prepares to bugger off. Bond reaches topside as Blofeld steps aboard his mini-sub. (A natty design, the Bathosub is, at the time of writing, on show at the marvellous Bond in Motion exhibit in London.)

Launched by crane, the Bathosub is hauled high into the air above the rig and Bond spots his chance; before Blofeld can be lowered into the water 007 strikes, hauling the crane operator clear. Bond decides on a bit of fun; as the outraged Blofeld screams in frustration over the tannoy, Bond first drops it into the drink and then hauls it back up to play wrecking ball. Tiffany picks up a sub machine gun and rattles off a burst in the vague direction of the bad guys, the recoil knocking her backwards – clean off the rig!. As the Bathosub smashes through the control room wall all hell breaks loose. Time to go. 007 steps onto the guardrail and executes a magnificent dive into the sea as the rig goes up in a series of massive explosions.

A cruise liner prepares for departure, sounding her mighty horn in salute, the jubilant passengers waving to loved ones amidst a waterfall of paper streamers. Felix and WW bid James and Tiffany farewell, Whyte offering to have the ship steam in circles if they are enjoying the voyage. (This guy has clout!). But where are Messrs Wint and Kidd? - oh, there they are, at the portholes of their cabin. That night, James and Tiffany canoodle on a lounger on the private deck of their suite. Worried about her future, she has a question for him... but the knock at the door announces dinner has arrived. Need I add the waiters are Wint and Kidd? - none other. On the pretence of a gift from WW, they offer a sumptuous feast; Oysters Andaluz, Shashlik, Tid-Bits, Prime Rib au Jus, Salade Utopia and for dessert, a Bombe Surprisé - the ticking kind...

Mr.Wint plays Wine Waiter, offering Bond a Mouton Rothschild '55 and, of course, Bond smells a rat – specifically, Wint's overpowering scent. He's smelled it before and expresses disappointment that there wasn't a claret. Wint falls for it – a bad giveaway; Mouton Rothschild is a claret. (Cannot stomach it myself, but each to their own). The game is up, Kidd lighting up two kebabs with oil and going for Bond as his partner tries to strangle him. Smashing a brandy, Bond lights up Kidd who goes up like – well, a man covered in flaming spirit. In agony, Kidd goes over the rail and into the ocean, lightly cooked for the fishes. His partner dead, Wint is distraught, but mainly murderous. Tiffany chucks the Bombe at him (Presumably just nutting him with a bottle didn't occur) and it breaks open to reveal the Surprisé. Bond grabs the bomb and, turning Wint round, he pulls his jacket tail back between his legs, wraps it round the bomb and tips him forward into the briny. KaBOOM!.

Alone at last, Tiffany pops the question; How the hell do they get those diamonds back down again?. Blofeld's satellite twinkles the challenge from the sky and Shirley sings the Theme song.

James Bond will return in
Diamonds are Forever was, of course, Sean Connery's last official Bond, his last for EON Productions. It's taken a lot of flak over the years; Blofeld' s too camp, Bond disinterested and going through the motions. Here's the authentic Volcano Cat take; Charles Gray is wonderful as Blofeld, camp, tongue in cheek and not taking the whole thing too seriously. He's perfect – for me the best Blofeld of the series. Pleasance and Telly played it straight – a mistake in my book. How can you be a megalomaniac, living in craters and threatening the World and not have a smile about the whole thing?. I've enjoyed all three Blofelds, (I should include Max Von Sydow there) but Gray is the one for me. I'm in a minority there; so what?.

Connery came back to the role grudgingly; his hate-hate relationship with the Producers by now endemic. There was no real chance of this rift being smoothed and this paved the way for the Moore years. On his deathbed Cubby Broccoli made his peace with Connery – a proud Scot and not an easy man to sway. The support is good, too; Lana Wood is definitely Plenty and Jill St.John does well, apart from some moments when her cool deserts her. Surely a street-smart girl could do better than sling a dessert... but that's nit-picking.

Overall, Diamonds holds its ground well – in fact one of my favourite Connery Bonds, only beaten by From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. One for the collection. 
Below: Just to set the film in the historical context, some events from 1971 

Goofs – I'm always in two minds about these – picking holes in someone's work is hardly noble, but it can be fun and so in the spirit of things here's some of my favourites.
The Alleyway stunt – originally a goof, the Mustang went into the alle on one side and rolled out on the other – clearly impossible in such a tiny space, but the error was spotted and an insert filmed; we see Bond and Tiffany in the car as it turns.
Earlier in the same chase, a Cop car skids into a conveniently placed wooden baffle in the Mint car-park. (Presumably there to protect the building.)
When Bond kills Blofeld's double in the Penthouse, he shoots him with the Piton gun, but with no cable attached. Either Bond was psychic and knew he'd need the gun to kill with – or this is a goof.
The diamond reflector of the satellite was an old-style camera flash reflector.
In the scene with Whyte at Tectronics, Connery clearly says 'Light retraction.' Metz is an expert in Refraction.
Tiffany's bikini and change of top on the oil platform – where did she get them?, did they stop off on the way to Baja?.
In the WW chopper over the Pacific, Whyte's life-vest is clearly stencilled 'Property of Pan Am'
When Bond throws the spirit over Kidd, he suddenly sports asbestos gloves (More of a safety requirement than a goof.)

 Well, why not? - you deserve a treat - and to celebrate our first advertisers, those marvellous folks at Purely Diamonds; here's some bonus material;

 Above: Whichever is your favourite Bond, the incomparable (Now Sir.) Sean Connery returned to the role, famously donating his World record $1.25 Million salary to found a charity for Scottish children. (The coffin shot was his last day as an 'official' Bond)
 Above: The Moon Buggy has recently been restored.

 Above: Golf on the moon!
 Above: Trina Parks plays Thumper - the scene was filmed at the famous Elrod house, designed by the genius John Lautner

 Below: There's a dynamic here - rumour has it that Connery had on-set flings with both his leading ladies... we can neither confirm nor deny this...

No comments:

Post a Comment