This decision might feel controversial…
I used to like Diamonds Are Forever but as I got older my love of this film waned. It’s not that it is a bad film – it’s ok. But it’s because I delved into the genesis of the film perhaps might explain my decision.
Cast your mind back to the previous Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. George Lazenby was cast as Bond, taking over from Sean Connery who quit the role after You Only Live Twice. Without spoiling my review of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, originally the film was meant to end with Bond getting married. The opening sequence of Diamonds was meant to pick up where the last film left off and show Bond’s new bride being gunned down by Irma Bunt and Blofeld on Bond’s wedding day. But that idea was scrapped and the death of Bond’s bride was left in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, leaving a very powerful ending.
Diamonds Are Forever was meant to be a revenge film that sadly didn’t happen. George was axed from the role of Bond due to a combination of reasons; bad advice from his friend, bad press from the English tabloids regarding an on set incident involving Diana Rigg, his own antics on set (where he was reportedly drunk and acted like a total diva) and lack of support from the studio when it came to promoting him as Bond. The studio shot themselves in the foot when they released a poster with the tagline “Sean Connery IS Bond” only months before yet didn’t give George the same treatment. But most importantly which didn’t work out in George’s favour is that despite his Bond film doing well in the international market, it unfortunately didn’t do well in the US (in comparison to Connery’s Bond films).
With Diamonds Are Forever lined up as the next film, United Artists asked Sean Connery to come back against the wishes of producers Saltzman and Broccoli. They were apprehensive about having Sean back since they had fallen out famously over arguments over money owed to Sean. The studio didn’t care and paid Sean an obscene amount of money for him to return (although the money was donated by Sean to charitable trust funds in Scotland). Loosely based on the novel, the fact that majority of it was set in the US, you can almost say that this film acted like an apology to the cinema going audience for the “confusion” from the last film. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service went on to become the forgotten Bond film while Diamonds Are Forever became a box office hit.
For me, Diamonds is ranked this low because after the ending of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, they choose to go in the opposite direction and completely ignore what had happened. Bond had lost his wife…on his wedding day!!!! That should never happen, not even to your worst enemy. If the opening scene where Bond searches for Blofeld was suppose to be his revenge for his dead wife then sadly it deserved better than a five minute intro before the opening Shirley Bassey credits. It was this decision (and fear over box office profits) that turned Bond from a potentially complicated character to solidifying the formula of a larger than life spy that was to be repeated throughout in the later years.
Despite his best efforts, Connery did look old. Compare to what Lazenby, Moore and what Daniel Craig is constantly doing by keeping in shape, Connery looked like he just strolled off his last movie and went back to Bond. He didn’t stay for the next Bond film, despite agreeing a two-picture deal with United Artists.
Maybe I’m doing Diamonds a disservice. There are some fun moments and some silly moments that I can’t defend (like multiple Blofelds) but sadly I felt cheated (and still do) on what this film could have been.
The Countdown So Far:
Check back next week Wednesday to find out which Bond film comes in at #21.