Cast & Crew
Jill St. John
Searching the globe for his notorious archenemy Ernst Stavros Blofeld, British espionage agent James Bond discovers him at a secret laboratory where Blofeld is developing "plastic transformation" to make doubles of himself. Bond attacks and kills Blofeld and several henchmen, then returns to London. There, intelligence chief "M" assigns Bond to discover who is behind the theft and stockpiling of a vast supply of South African diamonds. With intelligence that thief Peter Franks will be serving as a courier for the latest shipment of stolen diamonds, M5 arrests Franks and Bond assumes his identity to travel to Amsterdam to meet Franks's contact, American Tiffany Case. Unknown to Bond, hit men Wint and Kidd, who have transported the latest diamond supply from South Africa to Holland, have lost the shipment to informant Mrs. Whistler who, after delivering the diamonds to Tiffany, is murdered by the henchmen. Later, Bond learns that Franks has escaped and intercepts him in Tiffany's apartment building. After a furious fight in the tiny building's lift, Bond kills Franks and tells Tiffany the dead man is James Bond. Tiffany informs Bond that he is to smuggle the diamonds to Los Angeles hidden in Franks's casket. Upon landing in Los Angeles, Bond is welcomed by longtime friend and CIA operative Feliz Leiter, disguised as a customs agent. Still in the guise of Franks, Bond and the casket are picked up by the Slumber, Inc. funeral home hearse and driven to Nevada. At the desert chapel run by Morton Slumber, the real Franks is cremated and the diamonds passed to Bond, who is knocked out by Wint and Kidd, then placed in a casket that is sent through the crematory. Bond is rescued from incineration by lounge entertainer and smuggler Shady Tree, who states that the urn was full of paste stones and demands to know the location of the real diamonds. Bond vows to provide the gems and agrees to meet Shady that night at the Whyte House Hotel, where the comedian performs. That evening, Burt Saxby, Whyte House casino floor manager and associate of reclusive millionaire and hotel owner Willard Whyte, fails to intercept Wint and Kidd before they kill Shady in search of the diamonds. After a successful game of craps, assisted by pretty Plenty O'Toole, Bond takes the girl to his hotel room, where they are confronted by Slumber's hoodlums who throw Plenty out of the window into the pool several stories below. Bond is puzzled by the hoodlum's abrupt retreat, then finds Tiffany waiting for him in the bedroom. Tiffany suggests they sell the diamonds in Hong Kong and split the profits. Suspecting that Tiffany is connected to the diamond hoarder, Bond arranges with Leiter to pass the gems to her at the Circus Circus casino. Although the casino is covered by several American agents, Tiffany escapes with the stuffed animal containing the diamonds. Bond catches up with Tiffany at her house in the desert, but when they find Plenty, who was mistaken for Tiffany, dead in the pool, Tiffany agrees to help retrieve the stones. The couple follows a courier with the stuffed animal from an airport locker to Saxby who hands the toy off to a man in a van. Hiding onboard the van, Bond is taken to Whyte Techtronics lab, where the driver, light retraction expert Dr. Metz, takes the diamonds to a laboratory where a satellite dish is under construction. Discovered in the lab, Bond escapes company security using a test moon rover and, later, Tiffany's sporty Mach 1 Mustang coupe. Taking a lavish room in the Whyte House with Tiffany, Bond disregards Leiter's instructions to leave Whyte alone and breaks into his penthouse only to find Blofeld and his identical double. Both Blofelds reveal that Whyte has long served as a cover for the diamond smuggling because of the millionaire's widespread interests in technology and oil. Bond distinguishes the Blofeld double and kills him, but the real Blofeld has the agent gassed and taken by Wint and Kidd to the desert where he is buried in a large pipe. Reviving, Bond short-circuits the robotic pipe security, which summons a repair team who inadvertently rescue the agent. Back at the hotel, using a gimmick rigged up by British intelligence inventor "Q," Bond phones Blofeld and, impersonating Saxby, tricks him into revealing Whyte's location at his summer home outside of town. Bond, Leiter and several agents go to the house and after Bond cools off the gymnastic guards, Bambi and Thumper, by wrestling them in the pool, the agents locate Whyte locked in one portion of the house. Saxby attempts to intervene as Bond and Leiter free Whyte, but is killed by the agents. Back at the hotel, Tiffany spots Blofeld disguised as a woman and follows him to his car where he forces her to accompany him. At Whyte's penthouse, the millionaire discovers that Blofeld has used his identity and businesses to construct a satellite that has just launched. Despite attempts by the American government to prevent it, the satellite deploys a dish constructed of solid diamonds that concentrates the rays of the sun into a powerful laser beam that subsequently destroys an American missile, a Russian submarine and a Chinese missile launch pad. Whyte learns from Washington contacts that, using the threat of the satellite laser, Blofeld is holding America hostage. When Bond asks how the satellite is controlled, Whyte explains it is programmed by a simple coded cassette tape. Discovering that Blofeld has developed an oil rig off the coast of Baja, Bond concludes the tower serves as the satellite control and skydives there. Bond finds Tiffany, but is quickly subdued by Blofeld's guards. Taken to Blofeld, who is about to destroy Washington, D.C., Bond spots a cassette and signals Tiffany, who surreptitiously slips it to him. In the control room, Bond manages to exchange the music tape for the coded tape and places it in Tiffany's bikini bottom. Confusing the tapes, Tiffany replaces the coded tape in the control room and the ten-minute countdown to destroy Washington begins. Outside, Bond signals Leiter and the agents waiting in helicopters and they make a furious attack on the oil rig. Bond evades his guards and spotting Blofeld attempting to escape in a mini submarine being lowered by a crane, overpowers the crane driver and swings the sub into the control room, smashing it. With the mission completed, Bond and Tiffany relax on a cruise on one of Whyte's ships, but are attacked by Wint and Kidd disguised as waiters. After Bond kills the duo, Tiffany wonders how they can retrieve the diamonds in the satellite dish.
Jill St. John
David De Keyser
Constantin De Goguel
Albert R. Broccoli
Albert R. Broccoli
Mike Frankovich Jr.
John W. Holmes
Cal E. Maehl
Mina G. Mittelman
Raynsford W. Newhouse
Jerome M. Siegel
William P. Smith
Diamonds Are Forever
Connery, of course, had starred in the first five James Bond pictures and become a superstar in the process. To most Bond fans even today, after six actors have played the role, Connery will always be the 007. As early as the third film, Goldfinger (1964), Connery was tiring of the role and feared being typecast for the rest of his career. After the fifth, You Only Live Twice (1967), he departed the franchise and was replaced by George Lazenby, who starred in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). While regarded in retrospect by many as perhaps the best movie of the series, OHMSS was a box-office disappointment and, more importantly, Lazenby was universally panned. Not helping matters were the sour relations between Lazenby and the Bond producers. Clearly the actor would not be returning for an encore.
Frustrated with the state of their franchise, producers Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decided that the way to go was to shake things up dramatically in the casting department while also returning to the elements that had created their favorite early Bond film, Goldfinger. Many actors, British and American, were considered to play the new 007, including Roger Moore, Michael Gambon, Burt Reynolds, and even Adam West. At the end of the process, American actor John Gavin was chosen and even signed. But then, at the last minute, United Artists head David Picker made one last try to bring back Connery but the actor was still resistant. Picker's offer, however, was too good to refuse: $1.25 million, then an exorbitant sum, plus money for Connery to develop two non-Bond films to produce and/or star in. (Only one ever came to fruition: The Offence .) Connery took the offer and donated his entire salary to the Scottish International Educational Trust, a charity he had co-founded. As for John Gavin, he amicably withdrew from his contract, doubtless placated by the fact that he still got paid.
Now Broccoli and Saltzman could really re-capture Goldfinger, they thought. Not only was Connery back, but so were Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton, Goldfinger production designer Ken Adam (who had also designed three other Bond films) and Goldfinger title song performer Shirley Bassey. Richard Maibaum's screenplay even had as its villain Auric Goldfinger's twin brother! Goldfinger himself, actor Gert Frobe, was to have played the part. In the end, however, that character and plot element were eliminated after young writer Tom Mankiewicz was brought on to rewrite Maibaum's script. The final version kept a few elements of Ian Fleming's novel (some characters, a Vegas setting and a smuggling subplot), but for the most part it was an original.
Bond's nemesis Blofeld is back, this time played by Charles Gray, and this time with a plan to use diamonds on a specially-built satellite to help generate a laser beam of such intensity that it can destroy targets on the ground. Along the way, Bond travels to Amsterdam, Las Vegas, and an oil platform off the Baja peninsula while encountering a reclusive American billionaire named Willard Whyte (played by singer Jimmy Dean), Bond girls Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) and Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood, sister of Natalie), and a pair of gay assassins named Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith respectively).
Before the story launches, however, Bond takes care of some unfinished business. In the previous film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond had fallen in love and married Tracy Di Vicenzo, who was murdered on Blofeld's orders in the last scene. The film faded out on Bond weeping over his wife's body. Diamonds Are Forever opens with a vengeful Bond traversing the globe and brutally questioning various people as to Blofeld's whereabouts. Without knowledge of the previous film, one would be perplexed over Bond's rage here. After Bond (seemingly) finds and kills Blofeld at the end of the teaser sequence, 007 suddenly turns into a much more relaxed and carefree character for the rest of the picture, and events of the previous film are never mentioned -- even when the real Blofeld turns up later on. It's a curious way to handle Bond's reaction to Tracy's death, but it obviously speaks to the producers' desire to steer as far away from the previous film as possible while still acknowledging what Bond had gone through.
If the best parts of Diamonds Are Forever do resemble Goldfinger, it's not for superficial reasons like the substitution of diamonds for gold, or the early scene in which Bond and M are lectured on diamonds in much the same way as in a similar scene in Goldfinger. Instead, it's in the way the good scenes blend humor and action. The elevator fight is a great example. It's expertly and excitingly choreographed in and of itself, but it begins after a moment in which Bond thinks quickly to intercept the villain and then comically speaks in a fake Dutch accent to come off as non-threatening. When the villain lets his guard down for a moment, the fight begins, and it is serious, brutal and deadly (and made all the more interesting by its confined space). When it's over, Bond quickly switches his wallet with the dead man's so that his identity will not be revealed. When Tiffany Case pulls the wallet out of the dead man's pocket, we see James Bond's membership card to the Playboy Club, a perfect comic topper. A later sequence of Bond scaling the top of a Vegas skyscraper by means of more quick thinking and a rope device is at once casual and breathlessly suspenseful, again expertly blending changes in tone and mood for the audience. Scenes like these are far more memorable than the dull helicopter attack on the oil rig that forms the climax of Diamonds Are Forever.
The car chase at the film's midpoint is another high point. Set in downtown Las Vegas, the sequence was actually filmed there over five nights (except for the portion in the parking lot, which was shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood). The neon lighting from the casinos lining the streets was so bright that no artificial lights were required. While the chase is well-choreographed and great fun to watch, there are two blemishes to the scene. The first is the fact that crowds of tourists are clearly lining both sides of every street in the sequence, watching the action (the film crew was simply unable to keep them from being there).
The second is a famous continuity gaffe at the end of the chase. Bond manages to escape the police through a narrow alley by driving his car on its two right wheels. But when the car emerges at the other end it is on its two left wheels! The stunt was filmed in two locations -- the beginning at Universal Studios and the ending in Las Vegas -- with different stunt drivers and film crews. The mistake was not caught until it was viewed in dailies. An attempt to fix it was made by hastily writing and shooting an insert in which Bond instructs Tiffany to lean in the other direction before we see the car emerge from the alley, as if to imply that the car was able to easily switch sides in mid-roll.
The car Bond drives here is a new, red Ford Mustang, and in fact every single car that is damaged in Diamonds Are Forever is a Ford. The company offered to provide the filmmakers with as many cars as they wanted if only Bond would drive the Mustang during the car chase. Several dozen cars were destroyed in the course of the film, including many in takes that weren't used.
Cubby Broccoli's personal friendship with Howard Hughes not only inspired the character of Willard Whyte but also allowed for greater ease in location shooting, with Hughes giving Broccoli carte blanche to film for as long as he needed in any of Hughes' casinos. In the supporting cast, classic movie fans will recognize the face and voice of Marc Lawrence as one of the goons. Lawrence acted in over 200 movies dating back to 1932, and he would reappear memorably in the opening sequence of a later Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Another familiar face is that of Bruce Cabot, veteran of over 100 films including King Kong (1933), here making his final screen appearance. Bond fanatics will also recognize Charles Gray from his earlier, brief supporting turn in You Only Live Twice, and character actor Shane Rimmer from an earlier bit in You Only Live Twice and a much larger role as the submarine captain in the later Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
Diamonds Are Forever was shot on a budget of $7 million and grossed nearly $120 million. Clearly, the return of Sean Connery brought audiences back. But Connery was not to return, and for the next Bond film, Live and Let Die (1973), the casting process started all over again until Roger Moore won the role. Connery did play James Bond once more a decade later, but that was in the independently produced Never Say Never Again (1983), which was not part of the official Bond film canon.
Producers: Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman
Director: Guy Hamilton
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz; Ian Fleming (novel, uncredited)
Cinematography: Ted Moore
Art Direction: Bill Kenney, Jack Maxsted
Music: John Barry
Film Editing: Bert Bates, John W. Holmes
Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond), Jill St. John (Tiffany Case), Charles Gray (Ernst Stavro Blofeld), Lana Wood (Plenty O'Toole), Jimmy Dean (Willard Whyte), Bruce Cabot (Albert R. 'Bert' Saxby), Putter Smith (Mr. Kidd), Bruce Glover (Mr. Wint), Norman Burton (Felix Leiter), Joseph Furst (Dr. Metz), Bernard Lee ('M'), Desmond Llewelyn ('Q'), Leonard Barr (Shady Tree), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Margaret Lacey (Mrs. Whistler), Joe Robinson (Peter Franks).
by Jeremy Arnold
Diamonds Are Forever
We do function in your absence, Commander.- M
Presumably I'm the condemned man and obviously you're the hearty breakfast.- James Bond
The scorpion.- Mr. Wint
One of nature's finest killers, Mr. Wint.- Mr. Kidd
One is never too old to learn from a master, Mr. Kidd.- Mr. Wint
Very moving.- Mr. Wint
Heartwarming, Mr. Wint.- Mr. Kidd
A glowing tribute, Mr. Kidd.- Mr. Wint
Tell me, Commander, how far does your expertise extend into the field of diamonds?- Sir Donald Munger
Well, hardest substance found in nature, they cut glass, suggest marriages, I suppose it replaced the dog as the girl's best friend. That's about it.- James Bond
Refreshing to hear that there is one subject you're not an expert on!- M
After the failure of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), EON was desperate to get Sean Connery back to save the series. When he refused, the producers considered 'Moore, Roger' , then Timothy Dalton before unexpectedly signing an unknown American actor John Gavin (I). UA chief, David V. Picker, was not impressed with the choice of Gavin and the order went out to get Connery at any price. Connery was finally lured back with an unprecedented deal making him the highest paid actor to date. The final contract involved Connery getting $1.25 million up front, 12.5% of the gross and a commitment from UA to finance two non-Bond films of Connery's choice. Connery later donated his fee to the Scottish International Trust.
When Bond climbed the Whyte House, he was actually climbing the Las Vegas International Hotel (now called the Las Vegas Hilton).
Lana Wood's voice was dubbed.
Actresses considered for the role of Tiffany Case included: Raquel Welch, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway. Jill St. John had originally been offered the part of Plenty O'Toole but landed the female lead after impressing the director Guy Hamilton during screen tests. St. John became the first American Bond girl.
The original plot had Gert Frobe returning as Auric Goldfinger (1964)'s twin and seeking revenge for the death of his brother.
The onscreen title reads "Ian Fleming's Diamonds Are Forever. The titles by Maurice Binder (1925-1991), who designed the first and most of the subsequent Bond series opening titles through 1989, featured the signature "James Bond" style of displaying silhouettes and body parts of scantily clad women. In addition, Binder created distinctive titles specific to each Bond film. In Diamonds Are Forever, diamonds were worn or held by models, and the villain's trademark white cat appeared wearing a diamond collar. The opening and closing cast credits differ in order. The closing credits acknowledge the cooperation of several automobile companies, ship lines and numerous Las Vegas hotels, as well as David Morris Jewellers. The final title card states: "James Bond will return in Live and Let Die."
Diamonds Are Forever was the seventh of producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli's James Bond series, which began with the 1962 United Artist release Dr. No (see below). The first five films in the series starred Sean Connery as the suave British secret agent "James Bond," Bernard Lee as the head of intelligence, "M" and Lois Maxwell as M's secretary, "Miss Moneypenny." The character of "Ernst Stavros Blofeld," Bond's archrival, appeared in several Bond films and was played in earlier films by Donald Pleasance and Telly Savalas. Charles Gray, who played Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever, portrayed a colleague of Bond's in the 1967 UA production You Only Live Twice (see below).
In the sixth of the Bond series, the 1969 UA release On Her Majesty's Secret Service (see below), Bond was played by Australian model George Lazenby. According to a February 27, 1970 Daily Variety news item, the producers announced that Lazenby would not continue in the role for Diamonds Are Forever. A documentary on the making of Diamonds Are Forever, part of additional content for the film's DVD release, reveals that disappointment in the box-office returns for On Her Majesty's Secret Service prompted the producers to consider options to revitalize the series. One possibility was Americanizing the British agent.
According to Broccoli's wife Barbara, television star Adam West was considered for the part; however, well-known leading man John Gavin was signed as the new American Bond. Despite the signing, Broccoli and Saltzman sought out Connery to press him to return in the role. When the producers approved Connery's 1.4 million dollar salary request, the actor agreed to resume the role for one picture only. Connery donated his entire salary from Diamonds Are Forever to the Scottish International Educational Trust, an organization he founded. Upon being informed of the decision to use Connery, Gavin purportedly withdrew amicably from the production and was paid his entire salary.
A February 1971 Variety news item indicated that Raquel Welch was under consideration for a role, depending on who was cast as Bond. A biography on Connery indicates that Jill St. John was initially to play the role of "Plenty O'Toole." An undated Hollywood Reporter article on the film, contained in the film's file at the AMPAS Library, mentions that Sammy Davis, Jr. was to make a cameo appearance in the film. The documentary on the making of Diamonds Are Forever indicated that Davis' brief appearance was shot, but cut from the final release of the film. The documentary also mentioned that songwriter Paul Williams was sought for the role of "Mr. Kidd." Although well-known stunt woman Donna Garrett (whose name is misspelled in contemporary sources as Garratt) began the role of "Bambi," for unknown reasons, she was later replaced by Lola Larson. In many reviews, Garrett is credited in the role. Joe Robinson, who played "Peter Franks," was a popular stuntman who had, according to modern sources, previously taught Connery karate. Modern sources indicate that Lana Wood's voice was dubbed, although it was not obvious in the viewed print. Diamonds Are Forever was shot on location in London, Amsterdam, Germany, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The film marked the final screen appearance of former leading man and longtime character actor Bruce Cabot (1904-1972). The character of "Willard Whyte" was very loosely based on reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes.
Diamonds Are Forever was based on the Ian Fleming novel, but only several characters and the jewel smuggling plot were used. Co-screenwriter Richard Maibaum added Blofeld to the plot, as the most successful of the series featured a strong villain opposite Bond. Initially Maibaum conceived of creating a twin of the notorious "Auric Goldfinger," from the 1964 UA release Goldfinger (see below), but decided on doubles of Blofeld instead. On Her Majesty's Secret Service ended with the murder of Bond's wife (the only time Bond ever married), "Teresa `Tracy' Di Vicenzo," by Blofeld. Although not mentioned in Diamonds Are Forever, the murder explains the opening sequence in which a wrathful Bond violently interrogates several individuals to learn of Blofeld's whereabouts. Blofeld would reappear in future Bond films, the 1981 production, For Your Eyes Only and Never Say Never Again, released in 1984. In 1997, comedian Mike Myers wrote and starred in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, the first of three feature film spoofs on the Bond character to feature 1960s "hipster" British secret agent "Austin Powers." "Dr. Evil," Powers' arch-rival, who was also played by Myers, was based on Blofeld.
The Bond series typically featured fantastic gadgetry and stunts. In Diamonds Are Forever the most popular stunt was Bond and "Tiffany Case" escaping from the Las Vegas sheriff by turning their car sideways on two wheels to pass between the narrow space of two buildings. The original American stunt drivers were able to complete the stunt, tilting the car over on its passenger side. Upon the car's exiting from between the buildings, however, the filmed footage revealed crowds of watching fans and several police cars that could not be removed. The stunt drivers were not able to reproduce the stunt and French drivers were hired. When they succeeded in completing the stunt, however, they exited onto the street with the car titled over on the driver's side, forcing the producers to shoot an insert that had the Mustang exiting momentarily in an alley and tilting over on the driver's side before continuing between the next buildings.
Diamonds Are Forever received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound. The film marked the last appearance by Connery as Bond for Saltzman and Broccoli's Eon Productions. The next Bond film, Live and Let Die, UA, 1973, and several others in the series starred Roger Moore. In 1987, Connery returned as James Bond in the Kevin McClory production of a Warner Brothers release, Never Say Never Again, which was a remake of the UA's 1965 release, Thunderball. Later actors to play Bond included Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. In late 2005, British actor Daniel Craig was announced as the latest James Bond. For more information on the long history of James Bond films, please see From Russia With Love.
Released in United States Winter December 17, 1971
Released in United States on Video July 1982
Re-released in United States on Video November 7, 1995
Released in United States April 1996
Based on the Ian Fleming novel "Diamonds Are Forever (London, 1956).
Sean Connery was paid a reported $1million for this role.
Formerly distributed by CBS/Fox Video.
Released in United States Winter December 17, 1971
Released in United States on Video July 1982
Re-released in United States on Video November 7, 1995
Released in United States April 1996 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) as part of program "6 With 007: Sean Connery's James Bond" April 7-10, 1996.)