Is Diamonds Are Forever the Best James Bond Film?

In December 1971, James Bond’s sole Las Vegas-based adventure arrived in American theaters, the seventh of what is now a 24-film series. Diamonds shines all the Bond buttons: an iconic title song, belted by the incredible Shirley Bassey (whose 1957 U.S. stage debut took place at El Rancho); gorgeous women (including Jill St. John and Lana Wood); dastardly deeds, perpetrated by Charles Gray’s Blofeld (the villain who returns in Spectre); black comedy, courtesy of Blofeld’s unambiguously gay duo, Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint (Putter Smith and Bruce Glover); an epic battle (aboard an offshore oil rig); and sexy sports cars (a Triumph Stag and a Mustang Mach I) speeding around intriguing international cities (Amsterdam and Las Vegas).

Despite some continuity errors (is McCarran International Airport really across from what is now the Westgate?) and a hokey moment involving moon-landing conspiracies, Diamonds is notable for getting some Vegas things right: “eye in the sky” surveillance; white and red casino house phones; and a tidy Technicolor travelogue featuring lounge shows, showgirls, clanging slot machines, a packed Fremont Street, miles of empty desert and a cameo by casino impresario Jay Sarno. In fact, the tour of Sarno’s Circus Circus is one of the film’s joys for anyone who remembers it as it was.

Diamonds Are Forever sits solidly in the upper-middle of Bond films, a pleasant trip to the past for any Vegas aficionado, even if the iconic desert home scenes were filmed in Palm Springs. Queue it after Ocean’s 11 (1960) and before Casino (celebrating its 20th anniversary November 22) for a decidedly Vegas triple bill.

Let Them Eat Chicken

My recent column about UNLV’s Moyer Student Union spurred a few folks to tell me that even though Chik-fil-A is slated to open its “first” Vegas location at Rancho Drive and Sahara Avenue, the restaurant already had a branded location in UNLV’s MSU in the 1990s. A little digging uncovered Frank Durand, an associate dean at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, mentioning in an interview that the chain was slinging chicken in the student union upon his arrival in 1998, further debunking a persistent urban legend that the socially conservative management of Chik-Fil-A would never bring it to Sin City. A lawyer said it, I believe it, that settles it.


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