I'm curious to know other members' thoughts here on the climax of Ian Fleming's fourth James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956). To me, it is rather anticlimactic in nature with James Bond shooting down Jack Spang's escaping helicopter (albeit rather reluctantly) with a Bofors gun as it looks more like cold-blooded murder, something we're told by Fleming he doesn't care for (his cold-blooded double-O recruitment hits quite aside).
In another sense however there is something very literary with a capital "L" about how the pipeline opens in the first chapter and closes in the last chapter. It may be a comment by Fleming on the open-ended nature of Bond's job as a secret agent or about the ongoing Cold War. Diamonds Are Forever is one of Fleming's most literary Bond novels.
If this scene had been filmed in a faithful film adaptation of the 1956 novel I think they would have had Jack Spang firing back at Bond and his military aides either with his gun (although not much competition there) or with a machine gun fitted to his helicopter so that it didn't appear quite so much like a one-sided chicken shoot with Bond in the best position to kill a basically defenceless Jack Spang in his fleeing helicopter. As it stands, it looks like Bond is symbolically shooting a man who is running away in the back. Perhaps this is the insidious influence of the Bond films leaching in in my mind to the quite different world and adventures of the literary Bond. Who knows? Once we've seen the Bond films we can't "un-see" them as it were.
It is notable though as a point in favour of my contentions about the finale of Diamonds Are Forever that Kingsley Amis no less in The James Bond Dossier (1965) wrote that,
"The clearest case of this type of dream stuff comes at the end of Diamonds Are Forever when Bond, having rolled up the entire smuggling pipeline in England and America, goes all the way to Sierra Leone merely, it seems, to bring down a helicopter with a Bofors. It feels like a fairly attractive if not compelling fantasy, pooping away with an anti-aircraft gun, though personally I should have preferred as target a winged aircraft that could retaliate." (1966 Pan paperback edition, p. 19)
So what do we think about this one? Do we view this one-sided climactic action sequence through the lens of the saturation of the film Bond or is this end scene wanting in terms of threat to Bond himself or his allies in the Freetown Garrison Force in Sierra Leone?
As an aside, it's interesting to also note how the finales of both the novel and film versions of Diamonds Are Forever (I'm referring to the oil rig battle) are equally anticlimactic in nature and leave one unsatisfied and wanting more rather like an experienced pipe smoker burning his tongue expecting more flavour to come from a mild pipe tobacco that has a low nicotine content. We're also left with a bad taste in our mouths in the denouement of the novel version of Diamonds Are Forever, or at least I am. Perhaps it's just not Bondian or cinematic enough for the modern reader of a 1950s novel and one can't lay any blame at Fleming's door for that of course.
As always, I'd love to hear your views on this subject!