What's your opinion of the novel version of Diamonds Are Forever. What did you think of it?

edited May 2013 in Literary 007 Posts: 8
Just read the novel (Well the Simon Vance audio book) and I really enjoyed it. Very different from the movie ( IN A VERY GOOD WAY). I'm surprised they didn't follow the novel a lot closer. Oh well. What did everyone else think of the book?
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Comments

  • Posts: 12,634
    Not my favourite Fleming, but vastly superior to the movie in every way imaginable.
  • That's what I keep hearing. It's not the best novel. I thought it was great. My only complaint is that there were not memorable villains and I hate to say it, but I enjoyed Wint and Kidd more in the movie VS the book.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Would agree with all the above.

    The novel is obviously way better than the film despite it being by far the weakest of the first Fleming era (CR-FRWL) and arguably the weakest overall (although TSWLM and probably TMWTGG are worse).

    The main problem is the villains. The Spangs are pretty pathetic and Wint and Kidd are just a pair of run of the mill hoods and nowhere near as much fun as the film versions.
  • Posts: 12,634
    Would agree with all the above.

    The novel is obviously way better than the film despite it being by far the weakest of the first Fleming era (CR-FRWL) and arguably the weakest overall (although TSWLM and probably TMWTGG are worse).

    The main problem is the villains. The Spangs are pretty pathetic and Wint and Kidd are just a pair of run of the mill hoods and nowhere near as much fun as the film versions.

    I think TSWLM and TMWTGG are better actually. The first was a more successful attempt of Fleming as American harboiled crime drama. DAF has some interesting scenes, but does not feel as genuine. I think Fleming was uncomfortable with crime fiction.
  • Posts: 2,469
    I love the film. Unique, devastatingly witty, strangely dark, full of bizarre minor characters, and set in Las Vegas when it was set to go into decline. Easily the most underrated Bond film.

    And I would say the novel is also underrated. Certainly not Fleming's best, but there is still much to love between the covers.
  • Aziz_FekkeshAziz_Fekkesh Royale-les-Eaux
    Posts: 391
    I have to disagree. DAF is one of my favourite Fleming novels. Such great prose and I just love the escalation of events in it. The film unfortunately chooses not to use one of the most bizarrely memorable set pieces from the novels--Spang's Old West hide-out, Spectreville.
  • Posts: 12,634
    I love the film. Unique, devastatingly witty, strangely dark, full of bizarre minor characters, and set in Las Vegas when it was set to go into decline. Easily the most underrated Bond film.

    And I would say the novel is also underrated. Certainly not Fleming's best, but there is still much to love between the covers.

    Oh, there is a lot to love in the novel DAF. But the film? Blofeld a caricature? For this only I don't know if I can even start not disliking it as much as I do. It was more of a spoof than a Bond movie.
  • Posts: 2,469
    The charicaturing of Blofeld began with YOLT. And at any rate, Grey's Blofeld, although hardly the strongest of cinematic Bond villains, scarcely dents what is the most fascinating, if not the most technically sound, Bond film ever made.
  • edited May 2013 Posts: 12,634
    The charicaturing of Blofeld began with YOLT. And at any rate, Grey's Blofeld, although hardly the strongest of cinematic Bond villains, scarcely dents what is the most fascinating, if not the most technically sound, Bond film ever made.

    That does not excuse the caricature of DAF. I am not sure what you mean by technically sound, you would need to explain. DAF has maybe the worst action scenes in the series, until DAD came out.

    And we are utterly off topic. So to come back to it: the novel I think was a good attempt of Fleming to go Chandler, but he never totally convinced me.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 13,395
    I'm writing a piece on a certain aspect of DAF at the moment and I find Fleming's prose in this novel nothing short of excellent. The piece, on the (ironic) anti-gambling message contained in the novel, will appear on The Bondologist Blog soon.
  • Posts: 2,469
    I said not the most technically sound.

    And, yes, the prose is excellent, Dragonpol. Particularly in the Saratoga and Nevada settings.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    And, yes, the prose is excellent, Dragonpol. Particularly in the Saratoga and Nevada settings.

    This is what I think elevates it far above TSWLM and TMWTGG which have the feeling of being fairly rushed and unpolished efforts (TMWTGG for obvious reasons).
  • Posts: 12,634
    I said not the most technically sound.

    And, yes, the prose is excellent, Dragonpol. Particularly in the Saratoga and Nevada settings.

    My mistake. And I was really wondering what you meant by it.
    And, yes, the prose is excellent, Dragonpol. Particularly in the Saratoga and Nevada settings.

    This is what I think elevates it far above TSWLM and TMWTGG which have the feeling of being fairly rushed and unpolished efforts (TMWTGG for obvious reasons).

    Am I the only who thinks TSWLM is a better ''crime fiction'' Bond? It is atypical, but I love the simplicity of it. That said, yes, the prose of DAF is probably better.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited May 2013 Posts: 9,117
    Ludovico wrote:

    Am I the only who thinks TSWLM is a better ''crime fiction'' Bond?

    Fraid so. TSWLM is horribly cliched from Viv's early life to the caricatures of 'hoods' in Sluggsy and Horror.

    This was debated somewhere else quite recently (cant remember the thread) but often Flemings portrayal of American crime is rather poor almost to the point of being embarrassing. It is clear he is making a lot of it up compared to the stuff about espionage, fine living and women which he had experience of first hand.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 13,395
    Well, Raymond Chandler no less complimented Fleming on his handling of his American characters and what he saw as the authenticity of their dialogue. So who am I to argue with that?
  • Posts: 12,634
    Dragonpol wrote:
    Well, Raymond Chandler no less complimented Fleming on his handling of his American characters and what he saw as the authenticity of their dialogue. So who am I to argue with that?

    But Chandler was refering to DAF.

  • Posts: 12,634
    Ludovico wrote:

    Am I the only who thinks TSWLM is a better ''crime fiction'' Bond?

    Fraid so. TSWLM is horribly cliched from Viv's early life to the caricatures of 'hoods' in Sluggsy and Horror.

    This was debated somewhere else quite recently (cant remember the thread) but often Flemings portrayal of American crime is rather poor almost to the point of being embarrassing. It is clear he is making a lot of it up compared to the stuff about espionage, fine living and women which he had experience of first hand.

    I agree with most of it. I do think Fleming was not comfortable with American crime fiction, and the Spangs while not weak are somewhat blander villains.
  • Posts: 1,142
    It's been a few years since I've read this one but its not one of my favs. It feels like a drag at times. Like others have said above, not the best of Fleming but in any event, far superior than the movie made in its name.
  • Posts: 2,469
    I consider Gun to be the least of Fleming's works. It is simply too derivitive of his earlier efforts. Clearly, his creative well was at low ebb, but he knew he didn't have much time left to crank out another Bond. Gun, a rushed and unoriginal novel, resulted. That said, it is still a better thriller than most thriller authors' best work.

    As to Spy, I like it. It contains some of Fleming's most lyrical prose (viz the storm sequence at Dreamy Pines), and Sluggsy and Horror are terrific villains. If you want poor depictions of American gangsters from Fleming, read Goldfinger.
  • Posts: 12,634
    I think Sluggsy and Horror are no more cliches than most gangsters in the hardboiled genre of the time. Heck even today I see characters like that! TMWTGG had something I found very original: a henchman as the main villain.
  • Posts: 2,469
    I particularly loved Sluggsy. If I ever have a son, I think I'll call him Sluggsy.
  • Posts: 12,634
    I particularly loved Sluggsy. If I ever have a son, I think I'll call him Sluggsy.

    It may be off topic, but I think Sluggsy is more traditional than cliche.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited May 2013 Posts: 13,395
    I think the hidden brilliant qualities of Diamonds Are Forever are there to be revealed. I've certainly found some of them myself.
  • edited May 2013 Posts: 388
    I'm currently re-reading all the Fleming novels and, coincidentally, have just finished Diamonds Are Forever. I have to agree with the majority of posts above... there's some good stuff but it's a real come down after CR, LALD and MR and definitely one of the weakest novels.

    The Spangled Mob are certainly Fleming's dullest villains, maybe that's partly because they're clichéd Italian-American mobsters but it's mainly because they're so thinly sketched. Jack and Seraffimo probably speak no more than 200 words between them in the entire novel and there's nothing exceptional or even particularly interesting about them. It's notable that Fleming has almost every character Bond comes into contact with (Tanner, M, Tiffany Case, Leiter, Ernie Cureo) stress to Bond how the Spangs are so much more frightening than they seem; it seems he doth protest too much.

    The plot is also pretty thin and quite mundane. Bond poses as Peter Franks and smuggles some diamonds into the States completely successfully and with no real hitches. He then spends the rest of the novel waiting around to be paid, travelling to Saratoga (getting involved in a pretty jarring subplot) and Vegas. Spang discovers that he's not the real Peter Franks and has him beaten up. He escapes. The end. Fleming's prose is fantastic throughout but it feels like he's often having more fun than the reader and I think @myworldisenough's comment that it drags is spot on. The epilogue set on the Queen Elizabeth is definitely the best and most exciting section (even though it requires us to believe Bond has the memory of a elderly and particularly forgetful goldfish to not recognise the two men who kicked the *!&@ out of him only two days earlier.)

    Good stuff: The prose, particularly Fleming's wonderful travelogue of mid-50s Vegas; Tiffany Case is great with the banter and one of Fleming's sparkiest Bond Girls; Wint and Kidd are pretty interesting (although not as good as the film version); Shady Tree is awesome and it's a real shame he doesn't come back.

    Observations: It's the first mention we get of Bond's licence to kill (although it's not named as such); and Felix Leiter has recovered from his horrific injuries, resigned from the CIA, been hired by Pinkertons, become an expert on horse racing and race fixing, and figured out that Shy Smile's a ringer all in the space of five months!

    P.S. I have a bit of a soft spot for TSWLM which I think is pretty good if you view it as a bit of an experiment like QoS, THR or OP rather than a "proper" Bond novel.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 13,395
    Interesting review. I of course agree on your last sentence re the experimental nature of much of Fleming's stuff.
  • edited May 2013 Posts: 388
    It's also, I think, the only Bond story to feature a flashback to an earlier story when Bond dreams of his underwater swim to destroy the Secateur
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 13,395
    I'm writing a thing on how Fleming handled the gambling scenes of ordinary Americans - he was very critical of these people and the system that ensnared them at Las Vegas. I think that is worthy of an article as it's one of Fleming's very best mini essays and, as such, it deserves a lot more attention than it has hitherto received. The film version of DAF, awful as it is, ironically gets much more of the attention, so it is most fun to tip the scales somewhat in the other direction for once. That's what The Bondologist Blog is really all about!
  • Posts: 1,848
    I quite liked this novel. I really like the book when Bond arrives in Vegas. It's nice to read some of the hotels that are still on the strip now existed back then (Sahara and Tropicana).

    It's not as bad as TB, which I class as Fleming's worst. As for TMWTGG, its actually one of my favourite novels, but I know I'm probably on my own with that opinion.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "Better cold with them on, than dead with them off, I always say."Moderator
    Posts: 11,482
    I didn't like it at all, it's currently 22/23 in my Bond literary ranking. The only story that is beneath DAF is 007 In New York, which feels more like a long winded apology to the people of New York, than a story. Fleming didn't get it right all the time, and DAF imo, is an example of when he got it wrong.
  • edited May 2013 Posts: 1,848
    I didn't like it at all, it's currently 22/23 in my Bond literary ranking. The only story that is beneath DAF is 007 In New York, which feels more like a long winded apology to the people of New York, than a story. Fleming didn't get it right all the time, and DAF imo, is an example of when he got it wrong.
    I feel that way about TB. It reads too much like a movie-based novel (as it originally was based on a screenplay). I find it quite plodding in parts.

    But I agree DAF is down there too. TB, TSWLM and TB are all in the lower ranks for me. I know TMWTGG is usually thought of in the same token, but I put that novel up there with OHMSS as one of Fleming's best.

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