With the departure of George Lazenby from the series, and OHMSS not being a huge success, production still continued on the next Bond adventure, “Diamonds Are Forever”. Although originally intending to cast another new actor, eventually the producers decided to play it safe: Bring back Guy Hamilton, the director of “Goldfinger”, feature a slightly similar plot (although this time involving a different bauble) and most importantly, bring Sean Connery back for one last Rodeo-with one heck of a payday of $1 million which Connery donated to a Scottish group.
After the gunbarrell-which hasn’t changed too much except it’s back to the standard Connery and features a bit more of a lens flare-we open on what looks like a quiet Japanese house, sort of going back in tone to “You Only Live Twice”, perhaps to remind viewers of the last time they saw Connery’s Bond. However, the peace is broken as Bond attacks a man, a man who then leads him to a Cairo casino, where he does a similar shakedown.
He leads him to Marie, possibly Blofeld’s “moll” (There’s no trace of what happened to Irma Bunt, maybe Bond already got revenge on her) and of course we get the line.
It’s not the best debut look for Bond in the movie; he just looks a little odd I think in the film. Connery’s obviously wearing a toupee and his hair is a bit grayish, and he seems a bit more disinterested, although maybe a bit less than in “You Only Live Twice”. After nearly chocking the info out of Marie with her own bikini, Bond finally figures Blofeld’s location.
We see some Doctors looking over some wax heads of Blofeld. Many fans have used this scene to explain how Blofeld looks different every movie, although in the context of the film I think it’s mainly used to demonstrate how his ‘doubles’ are made. Here we’re given a new Blofeld once again in Charles Gray, who previously played Henderson in You Only Live Twice. He’s the first Blofeld with hair, although he still of course has the cat and the suit. The smoke’s not exactly the way Savalas had it though.
Bond infiltrates the muddy operating theather-where Blofeld is using some kind of plastic surgery to create doubles. This sequence is actually sort of in the book, although in that case Wint and Kidd kill some guy in some New York mud therapy thing which has nothing to do with plastic surgery.
After dispatching a double-in-progress trying to kill him with a gun that would’ve probably jammed anyway with all the sludge in it, Bond is discovered by Blofeld and two of his men. It’s not stated if they’re SPECTRE or not; SPECTRE’s not even mentioned in the film. The only distinguishing feature of his grunts in this one is that they were hardhats with lightning bolts on them (as shown from this still from later in the film)
Gotta love Bond’s slightly campy “hands up” here.
As he’s being searched, turns out Bond actually is armed with a trap that quickly makes quicky work of the hand of one of Blofeld’s men. Bond quickly kills the other one with surgical knives, but then has to face the villain himself, who briefly tries to hack Bond with another knife, but Bond gets the upper hand, strapping Blofeld to the gurney and sending him into a pool of boiling mud, with the quip “Welcome to hell, Blofeld!”-getting his revenge for Tracy-possibly-she’s never mentioned in the film, but fans mostly assume this is the reason for his zealousness in the opening.
Naturally, Blofeld’s cat isn’t too pleased about this development, and becomes the focus for the title sequence, featuring Shirley Bassey’s title song; which sounds more mysterious, intimate and jazzy than her previous “Goldfinger” but it’s still an excellent song. Here, scenes of the diamonds, Blofeld’s cat and of course the women are placed against a black background, giving a slight eeriness to things (Which sort of carries over a bit too the film itself).
For a film that’s quite heavy on showcasing Las Vegas’s casinos, it’s surprising that there’s pretty much no hint of that in the opening sequence at all (“Licence to Kill” and naturally, “Casino Royale” would make heavy use of the Casino motif, and I’m pretty sure I’m missing at least one or two other sequences.