Bond Pretitle Sequences: Diamonds Are Forever
Simon Pitt |
Saturday 10th August
I’m watching all of the Bond pre-credit teasers one after another.
Diamonds are Forever
Sean Connery is Bond!
Finally, after the silly Moore years, the suave Brosnan years, the brutish Craig period, and the lumpy Dalton films, Connery, the real Bond, walks into the gun barrel. Yes, he nearly falls over when he turns to shoot. Yes, he’s in black and white, and yes, he’s wearing a hat, but he’s Bond.
Funnily enough, the hat was very much a part of Bond in the early years. Bond’s trademark was to throw the hat from the door onto the hat stand, something that Johnny English spoofed when Rowan Atkinson throws a coat, misses the hat stand, and it goes out of the open window behind.
Hat wearing is something that’s changed a lot over the years. In the 60s a man was only fully dressed if he was wearing trousers and a hat. Now, the trousers are still mandatory, but the hat is a frippery. In fact, wearing a hat is odd. The hat is seen as a needless addition, unlike trousers, which you have to wear. It’s basically against the law not to.
The early 1970s were an odd time to be a Bond fan. First Bond was Connery, then he wasn’t, and the Fry’s chocolate man was, then Connery was again, then the Saint was Bond. But here, Connery is back. Connery, of course, would later be Bond again in Never Say Never Again, but we don’t count that. Mr Bean was an MI6 agent in it, for crying out loud.
We open on a quaint Chinese building. There’s a full six seconds of nothing before an unfortunate Chinese villain is thrown through the wall. It’s all a bit You Only Live Twice. We hear Connery’s voice, but we don’t see him. We know it is Connery though. He’s calm, and rather thuggish; he throws the man around with ease. “Where is Blofeld?” he asks. The villain is so terrified that his voice isn’t even in time with his mouth. “Cairo”, he stutters and we immediately cut to it.
“Hit me,” a villainous be-fezed man says. Bond obliges.
“One chance,” He says. He doesn’t need to threaten him much, or even say who he’s looking for. Good job the man with the Fez didn’t think Bond was talking about his postman or something. We cut again.
“Who are you?” Marie asks, bikini-clad (naturally, she’s the only female we’ve seen so far, so of course she won’t be wearing clothes). We cut and see Bond’s face for the first time as Connery delivers the immortal line. “Bond, James Bond.”
“Is there something I can do for you?” she says. I find it quite amusing just how attracted every woman is to Bond in these films. I mean, yes, Connery is a perfectly adequately looking (admittedly, he’s wearing a wig here), but in the context of the Bond universe, he’s so fabulously attractive to women, that they see him and literally jump on the nearest bed, demanding he join them.
“There’s something I’d like you to get off your chest,” Bond says, and grabs her bra to strangle her with it. Connery is a much more brutish Bond. He’s not quite as thuggish as Daniel Craig is, he’s more slick than that, but he has no problem hitting women. Moore argued with the producers that Bond should never hit women, Connery’s Bond doesn’t care. “Where is Ernst Stavro Blofeld?” he asks, using his middle name, in case she knows any other Ernst Blofelds.
We cut to a plastic surgeon, as Blofeld walks in smoking a cigarette. It looks like he gets his cigarettes from the same shop as Lady Penelope. Blofeld demands the operation, “tonight,” and we cut to a man covered in brown mashed potato. I’m not completely sure why he’s in a bath of it; I mean it’s his face they’re converting. And I’m not even sure why you need to smear brown gunk over someone’s face to do plastic surgery.
It seems the lunch bell rings, because for some reason, all the surgeons leave at the same time, except one, who reveals himself as Bond. “Blofeld”, however, is ready, and has a gun under the gunk. Unfortunately, his reactions are slow beyond belief. Bond does an unnecessary forward roll, and grabs a gunk pulley. It’s like Noel’s House Party, as the gunk pours down.
Bizarrely, this stream of gunk kills the man. I’m not sure why. I mean, he drowns in about ten seconds, which you wouldn’t think is enough time. Bond grabs a handy water pistol and hoses the man off, but it isn’t Blofeld. “He would have been me,” Blofeld says, coming in. It becomes apparent that he’s not been planning to change his own appearance, but create doubles of himself. It’s the reverse of the plot of Die Another Day.
Connery is a master of putting up his hands, the casual way he flicks his wrists. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of films where people put their hands up, but never one like this before. One of the guards, with, I must add, incredible sideburns, goes to get Bond’s gun.
You can accuse 007 of many things, but being unprepared is not one of them. Bond has a mousetrap in his pocket, and when Sideburns goes to get his gun, it snaps on his fingers. The other guard, rather than shoot Bond, runs at him instead. Makes perfect sense, he has a gun after all, and the best way to use those things is to run at someone and try to hit them with it. Guns, famously, are no good from a distance.
“Kill him,” Blofeld says, although at this point, Bond has thrown both men to the ground. Blofeld makes a pathetic attempt to kill Bond. He grabs a knife, and flails wildly, reaching over a stretcher. It’s not 007’s hardest fight.
For some reason, Bond decides that the best way to kill Blofeld is to strap him to a stretcher and push him into a pool of hot bubbling lava stuff. Even more inexplicably, a lever pulls the stretcher into the pool. I don’t really get what that lever is meant to be there for.
A white fluffy cat screams, we zoom into the diamond necklace and crash into the titles.
I like the Diamonds are Forever theme tune. It’s a nice “big” tune, very Bond. Harry Saltzman, though, famously hated the theme tune because of the sexual innuendo of the lyrics. Have to admit, that’s a bit of an ironic thing for the producer of the James Bond films to say. I wonder if he’s ever actually watched the films.
The final shot of the cat, is a nice foreshadowing of the later dénouement, when Bond identifies the real Blofeld by seeing which cat is wearing a diamond necklace. This idea of foreshadowing later events in the pre-opening sequence is overused in the next few Bond films, but it’s done much more subtly here.
I have a soft spot for this sequence. It is, really, what the For Your Eyes Only sequence should have been. You have to remember, at the end of the previous film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Blofeld had driven past and killed Bond’s wife. Bond’s single-minded pursuit of Blofeld here, immediately afterwards, makes perfect sense.
In fact, the director of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has said that had Lazenby returned, the pre-title sequence of Diamonds are Forever would have been the scene where Bond’s wife is shot. Since Lazenby didn’t return, that became the final scene of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Admittedly, viewers might have been confused in this sequence. Not only is Bond a different actor, but so is Blofeld. He’s grown a full head of hair for a start. Even more confusingly, Charles Gray, who plays Blofeld, played an ally of Bond’s called Henderson in You Only Live Twice. Well, I say ally. He makes Bond a Martini stirred but not shaken, so maybe he was trying to kill him then too.
The script plays on this confusion about Bond’s identity. M refers to Bond having just been on holiday and adds:
We do function in your absence, Commander.
Somewhat ironically, though, the Bond franchise didn’t quite manage in Connery’s absence. It's good to see him back.
Name Rank and Number
I think he got the Point
- ”My name is Bond. James Bond,” Connery says the immortal line to Marie. Although “My name is…” is more casual than the usual, “The name is…”.
- ”Making mud pies, 007?” Blofeld says. Blofeld enjoys calling Bond “007”, I’ve noticed.
Do all those vodka Martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed?
- Bond throws a man through a wall. “I shan’t ask you politely next time,” he quips. li>
- Bond takes blackjack quite literally. “Hit me”, the Cairo agent says. Bond obliges. What a wag. I wonder how long he was there waiting for the villain to say that, before jumping in. I like to think he spent several hours watching him going round the Roulette tables, praying he’d start a game of blackjack, just so he could do that.
- “There’s something I’d like you to get off your chest,” he says to Marie, before pulling off her bra. Marie seems rather excited by this. I’m not sure in real life that line would work. By the face my girlfriend pulls, she doesn’t seem to think so either.
- “Making mud pies, 007?” Blofeld asks, as Bond hoses down the not-yet-Blofeld. It’s not the funniest line in the world.
Listen Carefully 007
- Bond throws three scalpels into one man, which I think kills him.
- Bond kills one of Blofeld’s doubles thinking that it’s the real Blofeld. I wonder what salary Blofeld was paying him. Clearly not enough; later on Blofeld complains that “After his death, volunteers were, understandably, rather scarce.”
Perfect for relaxing after a hard day at the office
- We learn that Blofeld is converting some of his soldiers into duplicates of him. It’s quite a clever plan really. So clever that Saddam Hussein tried something similar.
SP will return…
- Bond has a mouse trap that he keeps in his pocket. He needs to remember that he has that; it would be embarrassing if he snapped himself.