Thursday, May 18, 2017

James Bond Book vs Movie - Diamonds are Forever

Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming
Setting:  Sierra Leone, New York, Las Vegas, Ocean liner on the Atlantic
Characters: James Bond, Tiffany Case, Felix Leiter, Jack Spang, Seraffimo Spang, Wintt, and Kidd

My Thoughts:  Well this was a bunch of craziness!  The book starts out from a scorpion's point of view on a landing pad near a diamond mine and then is off to the races quite literally at times.  The story itself was inspired by an article Fleming read about diamond smuggling and he later went on to write a nonfiction book on the subject (creatively titled The Diamond Smugglers published in 1957 and I'm now on the search for a copy.) as well as a trip to the US aboard RMS Queen Elizabeth which figures into the last part of the book.  There's diamond smuggling, gambling, horse racing, the American mob, a real old West ghost town and car chases.  There's even humor as Bond starts out completely dismissing the American mobsters and realizing later that that was a mistake.  Our old friend Felix Leiter has a role in this book and I think I was just as delighted to see him as Bond.  The now former CIA operative is just as funny as I remembered and is just as quick to tease Bond or just give him a hard time but is there in a tough spot without fail. While I don't think I enjoyed this book quite as much as I did Moonraker it did make for an entertaining read.  Tiffany is an interesting Bond girl.  She's smart and she's tough and she' brings out the sensitive side of Bond a few times which is always fun to see. Rating: Very Good

Diamonds are Forever (DVD)
Setting:  South Africa, Holland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Baha, California
Characters: James Bond (Sean Connery), Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), Ernst Stavro Blofield (Charles Gray), Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood), Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), Professor Metz (Joseph Furst) , Felix Leiter (Norman Burton)

My Thoughts: So if we're still playing the drinking game that was started while watching Moonraker where you take a drink every time something that happened in the book happens in the movie you might be kind of tipsy by the first half but you have the entire last half to sober up.  The movie starts off pretty similar to the book - there's even the scorpion which I thought wa a nice touch.  However, once Bond and Tiffany land in Los Angeles things take a dramatic left turn towards insanity and never looks back.  Suddenly Bond's fleeing from people on a moonbuggy (sure why not), girls are getting thrown out of 5th floor windows and landing in swimming pools completely unhurt, and there seem to be a few clones with voice boxes running around.  Since I'm going in order of the books not the movies this is my first Sean Connery Bond and I must say I found his portrayal much closer to the original Bond than Roger Moore's.  There's much less focus on gadgets and toys and more focus on either sneaking around or a flat out fist fight.  There are times where he's quick with a witticism which I really enjoyed despite book Bond famously lackng in sense of humor. Rating: Just Okay

Other Thoughts: I'm always interested with how Fleming treats the female characters in his books.  The Bond books and the franchise in general are known for their sexism but to me in the books I've read so far it's a little more complicated than that.  Yes, the women are discussed in a dismissive tone but so far they're not women who really let themselves be dismissed.  When we first meet Tiffany Case she is very clearly in charge of the situation and it is she that comes up with the way to smuggle the diamonds.  Later in the book she very much saves the day and Bond with it.  She's a woman who has managed to hold her own against the worst of mobsters over a period of years and her back story is horrific.  She doesn't trust men and makes no apologies for it and really is an interesting character in her own right.  As well while rape is lumped in with "light" crimes it is very clear that Bond is very adamantly against it as well as the ill treatment of women (which while doesn't mean he deserves a medal does put him head and shoulders about Connery's Bond who slaps Tiffany in the face).  The movie franchise is very different.  The movie version of Tiffany Case is decorative but not particularly bright.  She's often nervous and never seems to know what to do in a crisis without guidance.  Without the book Tiffany Case James Bond doesn't make it to the next day while without the movie version Bond sees one less woman in a bikini.

Overall - The movie is fun and silly with super villains and lots of girls in bikinis.  The book has far fewer girls in bikini but lots more danger and a plot that doesn't stray into complete science fiction.  If you want to watch a fun action movie and don't mind stretching believability there are worse ways to spend an evening than watching Diamonds are Forever.  If you want a good mystery about diamond smuggling and the Mafia give the book a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


  1. I love James Bond. I have seen most of the movies but I have never read the books. Great review and what a fun post too!

  2. It's always interesting to see how books/movies line up. I've never actually watched a Bond movie I don't think.

  3. You already know that I'm a serious James Bond fan and watch the movies over and over. Despite that, I've never read the books. Something about spy movies and books has always intrigued me. I seem to remember reading that when he started this series James Bond was a darker person, and women were very much minimized into just candy. It was good to see that changing as the movies progressed. I love this post. Hugs...

  4. The book version sounds fun! I admit I'm not a fan of the movie version of this one but I do like Connery as Bond, especially Dr. No and Thunderball (looking forward to your reviews of those if you get to them). And I learned something- about Fleming and his interest in diamond smuggling. Interesting!

    I think it's funny too how in the movies Felix Leiter is played by a different actor it seems every time! I'd be curious to see how he is portrayed in the books, consistently or not. Also the Bond girl treatment- not surprised I guess that the book version is more nuanced! I love the idea of Her saving HIM.

    the moon buggy scene does always crack me up though lol. He just sort of drives around while the bad guys drive right into dunes or crash...

  5. Not my type of books but you make them sound so interesting! I am glad you enjoyed the book and the movie. The movie for me could be awful as long as I can stare at Sean Connery for a while. His voice is very swoony. lol Great Review!!

  6. I've watched plenty of Bond movies but never even thought about reading the books...It looks like I am missing out!

  7. What a fun post! I love this idea to compare the book to the movie adaptation. (I would bet most of the time the book wins out.) I haven't read any James Bond before but have thought about it because I do enjoy the movies. I will give this one a try!

  8. I enjoy both the movie and book. They are actually quite similar in many ways. The main difference is Blofeld and his world domination plot (the latter part of the movie is different to the book). Another difference is the revenge-focused pre-title although the mudbath part is in the book as well but a jockey and not a Blofeld clone is the victim of being drowned in mud (but survived).

    Parts of the book that were not in the film include Bond's stopover in Ireland, the Wild West town and the racing (inspiration perhaps for 1985's A View To A Kill?). For the movie, it's best to watch You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty's Secret Service before it to really enjoy it. Regarding the book, it is best to have read Live And Let Die and Moonraker beforehand to know Bond's relationship with some key characters.