The 'Diamond-A-Day' competition was run over ten days up to Christmas Eve. Readers had to select eight essential qualities and place them in order of importance. Entries were judged by a panel of experts (the identities of those experts were not given), and the winning entry – one for each day of the competition – was that considered to be the most 'meritorious'.
|The Diamond-A-Day entry form|
However competitors were eliminated to leave only one (for each day), it was worth the prize: a diamond. But there was more for the winner who was judged to have had the best entry across the entire competition: a cruise on P&O Canberra, the ship on which some scenes for Diamonds Are Forever were filmed.
So what were those essential qualities? They were:
- Prolonged excitement
- Fantastic gadgets
- Good direction
- Sean Connery as James Bond
- Fabulous and exotic locations
- Theme music
- Excellent casting for supporting roles
- Tense script
- Romantic interest
- Ian Fleming's original stories
- Subtle humour
- Abundance of gorgeous girls
We might want to modify some of the terminology (the last item is of its time somewhat), but overall, few would argue that those qualities are not still important ingredients in a Bond film. That said, the inclusion of 'romantic interest' may have been influenced by the previous film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), in which the romance between Bond and Tracy is a significant plot point. Otherwise, romances do not seem to play an important role, at least not until Casino Royale (2006), which charts Bond's relationship with Vesper Lynd.
We must naturally replace Sean Connery with the latest incumbent, but the characteristic nevertheless holds true – whoever plays Bond is important. There are some Bond fans who have been drawn into the series by Daniel Craig's portrayal, and others who don't admit the existence of any other Bond except Connery's. And of course, prospective candidates for the role continue to earn many column inches in the press and generate huge debate on social media.
Even the quality of 'Ian Fleming's original stories' continues to have relevance, possibly more so today than it did in 1971, as the scriptwriters of recent films, not least Spectre, take inspiration from Fleming's novels and short stories.
While the Bond films have seen many changes through its 50-year history, judging by the 'Diamond-A-Day' list published in the Express in 1971, the essential qualities of Bond films remain much the same, testament to how the creative team has remained faithful, both deliberately and subconsciously, to the earlier entries.