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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
(Guy Hamilton . 1971)

 

“Well, as long as the collar and cuffs match...”

BOND 8 . DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Guy Hamilton .  1971

 

Wanted - urgent - another James Bond.

Even the old one will do.

Lazenby's agent had suggested his arrogance was perfect for Bond. It also proved his undoing. George had agreed to Diamonds. And before the truth dawned about his first outing, United Artists had offered him a five-picture contract and sent a first instalment cheque for $100,000. He sent it back the same day... Bond was old hat, he said, meaningless for the Easy Rider generation.

 

“There were 14 Tarzans,”

Broccoli reminded Lazenby

as his head swelled and ego burst.

  

(Clic to enlarge)

* The second Bond, George Lazenby,

had agreed to a second outing.  In fact,

United Artists offered a five-picture

contract and sent him a first instalment

cheque for $100,000. He sent it  back...

Bond was old hat, he said, meaningless

for the Easy Rider generation.  D'oh!

[Photo: © Eon Productions, 1969]

 

 

 

He (or his agent) next refused UA’s offer of a seven year’12 film contract (seven Bonds for $28m,  five others for $5m) - and demanded $35 million for the Bonds alone. Which explains why he wound up  in trhe 1970  Universal  Soldier drek with a huge moustache and one of Pussy Galore’s pilots, Maggie Wright. (This is also where George he met first wife, Chrissie Townsend).

Do I regret?  Some of it... I didn’t get the money that I was offered for the second one [laugh]. And people look at me like, ‘Oh, that’s the guy that failed. He’s the one that didn’t make it. He’s the only Bond that only did one. And they kicked him out.’ Bullshit. I was offered a million bucks on the table, any movie I wanted to do that United Artists had in between Bond movies, you name it, I could have had my own anything. But you have to look back at 1970 to know why I quit. I was in a suit; I had short hair. Everyone that was getting laid had long hair and bell bottoms. I’d go into a restaurant and I’d say “Waiter!” I looked like the friggin’ waiter, walking around with short hair. I was the only guy in London with short hair.

“I went to a psychic about it and she said: “Oh it’s just as well you gave it up. You would have had three houses in Beverly Hills with different wives in ‘em. You’d be a drug addict.” And I said ‘I had enough. I had got two wives and I was an alcoholic!’ ”

He laughed a lot about it during his Q/A session with Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin at the American Cinematheque  in June 2011. Back when he became impossible,  the producer said he’d finish up in spaghetti  Westerns. (In fact, it was sweet ’n’ sour kung-fu and warmed-over Emmanuelle).

Older, wiser, Lazenby turned up as a Bond type in Return of the Man  From  UNCLE, 1983.  Ten years later,  he was reduced to listening to Sylvia Kristel recounting erotic adventures acted out by the TV Emmanuelle, Marcela Walerstein. 

007 .  “I was under the impression we were going with a new actor after OHMSS,” (under) stated Guy Hamilton. New York Post critic Archer Winston, for one example,  had said that Lazenby’s acting was “non-commital to the point of being minus.” Roger Green tested (with Imogen Hassall)..Saltzman favourite Roger Moore was tied to low grade TV. And a certain Timothy Peter Dalton felt too young: “Bond should be in his mid-30s, a mature adult who has been around. I felt it’d be dumb, really stupid, to take over from Connery... particularly at 25.” (Much the same reason why Pierce Brosnan was relieved at not being able to make Dalton’s Living Daylights).

Saltzman took Terence Stamp to dinner at The White Elephant in Curzon  Street. ‘We’re looking for the new 007. You’re really fit and really English.’ Stamp (aka Modesty Blaise’s sidekick, Willie Garvin) was less flattered than downright shocked. So was Saltzman by the end of the meal. 

 

“I’m a tough, athletic Englishman! Might be nice

 to get back to the sadistic, license-to-kill image. 

 I’d be right for that!”

 

“Like most English actors, I’d have loved to be 007 because I really know how to wear a suit,” Stamp recalled in Evening Standard, May 9, 2013.  “I said Sean has made the role his own. The public will have trouble accepting anyone else. But in one of the books it starts with him disguised as a Japanese warrior. If we could do that one, I could start the movie in complete Japanese make-up. By the time it came off they’re used to me a little bit.’  He wasn’t impressed. I think my ideas about it put the frighteners on Harry. I didn’t get a second call from him.”

Of course not. For there is no such scene of Bond dressed as a Japanase warrior in any book (although Blofeld was in such garb in You Only Live Twice). Stamp might have muddled that with 007’s disguise as a Japanese fisherman in the film. Either way, Saltzman was hardly impresseed by a British actor  who did not  know Live and Let Die had  already been made!

Not yet one of the three hosts of the BBC’s kids’ show, Blue Peter (1967-1978),  Peter Purves had won his  first big TV role in 1965 - a stranded space pilot in Doctor Who, then played by William Hartnell. “I was in the show for 44 episodes, spread over two years. When I was told, that my contract was not being renewed, one of the very few parts I managed to get was that of a character who was strangled to death before the opening titles had even started rolling. Things got worse shortly afterwards when Sean Connery announced he was no longer playing James Bond, and I auditioned unsuccessfully for the role…at which point I was dumped by my agent.”

An ex-All Blacks rugby player, ex-sheep farmer and self-confessed “hard-drinking party animal and womaniser” called Roger Green (not Moore!) did his test with Imogen Hassall (up for Tiffany) and Bob  Simmonds (like, who else?) in the punch-up section.  One take was enough for Guy Hamilton.  “You  have a great chance of getting this part, we will get back in touch with your agent.” Need I say it! For this sheep farmer on extended holiday in the UK this was certainly an event to cause me to walk on air for the next threemonths.”

Broccoli took another pass at Michael Billington, now starring in the UFO series. And praised Michael Gambon. UA was wary of another newcomer. Besides, Gambon said he could  pass Cubby’s famous tit-test. Easily!

“I was given a smoked-salmon sandwich and a glass of champagne and Cubby said: ‘We’re looking for a new James Bond.’ And I started laughing. ‘James Bond, me? I'm not the right shape.’ He said: ‘Well, we have ice bags for Sean’s chest and [your jowls] doesn’t take more than two days and the recovery period’s a week. Teeth, well we can do that in an afternoon. And Sean wears a piece. I’ll get a toupee for you’!”

I should simply just add that Gambon  - Sir Michael, since 1998 – didn’t require such make-up assists when playing… Profesor Albus Dumbledore, Maigret or Churchill!. “I like being rough round the edge, a  big, interesting old bugger.”

  

Hamilton preferred “an affable gent called Burt Reynolds,

but the producers said he’s only a stuntman.”  

Although, if Burt had  been British...

 

“When Sean Connery held out for more money to play James Bond,” recalled Burt, “Cubby Broccoli came to me and said: We want you to play Bond!  In my stupidity, I said:  An American can’t play James Bond, it has to be an Englishman,  “Bond. James Bond. No, I can’t do it.’ Oops. Yeah, I could have done it and I could’ve done it well.”

“I would’ve liked to have had a shot at James Bond, if for no other reason, I’d be very rich now, and I could’ve had a good time with him,” Reynolds told Mike Fleming Jr at Deadline Hollywood, December 22, 2015. “I would’ve at least smiled once in a while, whereas the new guy [Craig] doesn’t even chuckle.”

Reynolds also understood the main problem: an American as 007! Not that he was worried about the accent thing. “I’ve got a good ear, and I can play a lot of different things, and I wasn’t worried about that. That wasn’t the reason. I just felt that, at the time, I thought there might be a resistance from the public. I don’t know. What the hell was the matter with me? I should’ve done it.

“Sean Connery was great, but I thought nobody else was close to what I think the character needed to be. Roger Moore was that guy…I mean Roger grew up knowing how to order a martini, and I don’t know the difference between a martini and a whatever, but I think I could’ve had a good time with Bond. I think that the problem has been that they haven’t found a guy who was ballsy enough as a character, but yet had a great deal of suave and knew how to handle himself. So, as a character, Roger Moore has all that stuff, but Roger’s a little bit cleaned and scrubbed, you know?”

 

“I’ve stood next to Burt Reynolds, Harry,” said Cubby.

“And he’s a shrimp…  

 

Actually, it was  Harry, not Cubby, offering a 007 deal.  And it was Cubby fuming.    "Over my dead body is Bond going to be anything but British. He’s not going to be American.”  Nor Australian. Mel Gibson, or his appointees,  let it be known he was keen on  one Bond film only - unless it made beyond $100m, and then maybe two. Said Cubby: “I don’t want a Mel Gibson movie. I want a James Bond movie.”

What was that, Cubby, about Bond would never be played by  an American…?   Because  who did the two producers  sign up for  Bond but John Gavin - more wooden than Gregory Peck.  Yet Cubby and Harry liked  the look of Universal’s second-string Rock Hudson and didn’t even care that Gavin had played the French Bond,  OSS 117.. Indeed, Niente rose per OSS 117 (UK: OSS 117 Murder For Sale; US: OSS 117 Double Agent), in 1968, seemed to work as a Bond testy for the wooden Gavin - opposite past, future and nearly 007 players (Luciana Paluzzi, Curd Jurgens, Margaret Lee). He would have been the first American Bond since Barry Nelson on CBS TV in 1954. His spy (how many Americans are called by 117’s real name: Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath?). was loved by French/Italian critics, tanked in America and sank to the bottom half of a UK double-bill). And was sent up something rotten in three satires starring the French Artist Oscar-winner Jean Durjardin, channeling Connery,  during 2005-2019.  

Terence Young, who should have known better, had a finger or two in the script A tout Cœur à Tokyo pour OSS 117(UK: Mission To Tokyo), 1966, when the hero was taken over by Frederick Stafford. More like Stifford. As Hitchcock found out during Topaze.

 

John Gavin (Hitchcock called him

The Stiff during Psycho) won without a test

- as UA secretly talked Sean into a sixth for $1.25m.

 

Gavin was kissed off with his full $50,000 fee. And became President Ronald Reagan’s Ambassdor to Mexico. (And then, like Reagan before him, Gavin was President of Screen Actors Guild, 1971-1973).

And asked by The Den of Geek website if he ever regretted nixing Diamonds Are Forever,Adam West said: “Not really. No, wait a minute. Yes [laughs]; one night, when I heard somebody saying that they liked Bond better than Batman. Then I thought: Well, why can’t I do both?’ [laugh]. But I thought that was a little greedy.”

Poor Simon Oates thought he’d got it. He recalled beng applauded by the crew for his test. “Things looked very positive. Cubby Broccoli was talking terms with my agent Then, Cubby phoned. “Sorry, Simon. Sean’s coming back.

It was David Picker at UA again who persuaded the Scot into returning and “saving the franchise.”  He signed on for $1.2m .  (For Dr No, remember, Sean got $25,000). He gave most of it - $800,000 - to his Scottish International Educational Trust for Scots actors, painters, poets, writers– as long as they stayed in Scotland. The fee was so high, the SFX budget had to be greatly trimmed.

And then, Sean rejected the script...  “We need a rewrite,” said Cubby.  He  wanted an Amercan writer ‘because it takes place in Las Vegas and the Brits write really lousy American gangsters.“ (When?). The he or she had to be be able to write British as well, ”because we’ve got Bond and Moneypenny.”  (He forgot M and Q).  Oh and he or she had to be young. “We gotta get young.”

By happenstance the UA  production chief, David Picker, had seen the new  Broadway musical based on the1965  UK film, Georgy Girl – the  show was written by Tom Mankiewicz. “I don’t know him,” said Picker,“so he must be  young  and he’s American  but all the  [musical’s] characters were  British . And I thought it was written really well.”

Tom met  Cubby and Guy Hamilton and settled for  $3,000 for two weeks. “Rewrite the first 30 pages and hand them in and let’s see what we do.”  Tom saw it a his biggest test. “You ought to be able to write James Bond, he told himself. “You think you’re this wonderful kind of cocksman [lovers included Elizabeth Ashley,  Kate Jackson, Suzy Kendall, Margot Kidder, Carol Lynley (fromhis first filmed script, TV’s Runaway Boy), Stefanie Powers, Dorothy Provine, Tuesday Weld,  Harry Saltzman’s assistant Sue Parker, even the  ex-Mrs Connery, Diane Cilento)]. You loved the movies You think you write good dialogue…’  And, of  course,,  he came from The Hollywood Royal Family of Scenarists:  Thomas F’s father, Joseph L , writer-directed  All About Eve, his  uncle Herman J  wrote Citizen Kane,  cousin Don  wrote the Ironside and Marcus Welby MD pilots and  the the youngest Mank, John, the bulimic  cousion, was among the writer-producers of  House and The Mentalist

Tom  dutifully sent in his 30 pages. Cubby came on the line. Two words and he was gone.  “Keep going.”   Sean loved the first 60 pages  and was back in. “Most of his questions were about other people’s parts. I’ve never met such an unselfish actor.”

Connwery  had unwarmed to Harry and had a new clause in his contract:  “Mr Connery is never to see Mr Saltzman while he’s working.”  Harry  found  out. ”No actor  is gonna tell me whether I can be on the set of my movie or not.”  (Only technically his; actually, Cubby and  Harry took it in turns to produce the moves until  Harry left and Cubby did them all up top his death, then his daughter Barbara and  stepson Michhael G Wilson.… And so, Harry crashed a meeting in Connery’s trailer. . Sean went up  to hkm, “Harry!” and kissed him on both cheeks. Harry left Vegas the nert day

 

Guy and Sean almost said nothing,” said Tom. 

Sean knew the way to play it.”

 

Blofeld . With so much energy being spent on finding a Lazenby successor - or nailing Connery to a deal -  the SPECTRE boss was allowed to slide. And so the villain became the weakest link in the chain. There had been some small debate about Richard Maibaum’s OHMSS’ idea ofGert Fröbe coming back as Goldfinger’s (half?) brother.  British stage star and Oscar nominee Frank Finlay was then short-listed. Although  Skyfall’s co-scripter John Logan reckoned Charles Gray was an “underrated Blofeld,” the  familiar character actor was an uninspired, campy (above all, cheap) choice. Each time  Fröbe's comeback had been mooted, his replacement was a washed-out cliché.   Gray had been more effective  as a good guy, 007’s Japan contact, Henderson, in You Only Live Twice.

Tiffany Case . Jill St John, who had been  dating George Lazenby,  was  first offered Plenty O”Toole.  However, her tests impressed Guy Hamilton. She also had  Mafia connections (and the filming needed Mafia help in Vegas) and, therefore, won  Tiffany over strong opposition (Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda and a “too animal” Raquel Welch) to become  the first American  Bond Girl. Also the first to let slip a bare breast.  Apres-coitus with Bond, she says “Twenty years to life?” and whoops…

Plenty O'Toole .   And with Jill St John gone to Tiffany, screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz’s suggestion led to Lana Wood as...  “Hi, I'm Plenty.” “But, of course, you are!” “Plenty O'Toole.”“Named after your father, perhaps.”

Mr Wint of the gay Mr Wint and Mr Kid hit-man double act was given to Paul Williams, the diminutiveUS composer, singer and sometime actor. As if he wasn’t royalties-rich enough, he wanted more money on the table and thus, Mr Wint rapidly became Mr Bruce Glover. - “very surprised” because he had been seen as too normal for “a deformed Peter Lorre"! Mr Kidd remained the jazz musician Putter Smith. Mr Williams got more money - but for two jobs, actor and composer - during  Phantom of the Paradise, 1974).

American critic Pauline Kael was right  “This picture isn’t bad, it’s merely tired.”

But Sean went out with a bang, having affairs with both leding ladies Jill St John and Lana Wood.  (They were then  feuding for years).

Shooting had started on April 5.  And Sean finished his final Bond (in his coffin) in  August , on  an unlucky Friday the 13th  for Bond fans.   “Never again!“ he said. “Of course, the films will go on. But who will play me, I just don’t know.” He couldn’t guess it would be him never saying never again in 1983.






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