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“The One and Only… meets The Man With No Name”
Sean Connery's return as 007 was announced on March 2, 1971 and shooting on Diamonds Are Forever began the following month. Prior to the release of the seventh film in the series there were re-issues of three of Sean Connery's earlier James Bond films that had been out of circulation for over a year. The advertising campaign utilised the tag-line “The One And Only!” - as if to erase the existence of George Lazenby from the public's memory forever. Although made in 1964, A Fistful of Dollars, the first of Sergio Leone’s so-called ‘spaghetti westerns’, was not screened in London until May 1967, when it received less than rave reviews and a very limited release. After its success in the US and its sequel For A Few Dollars More (1965) [not released in London until October 1967], United Artists decided to re-release the two together on a double-bill at the London Pavilion in April 1969, and later also paired them with two James Bond films. Although advertised as a double-bill and posters were printed (basically the two double-crown posters for each film with additional text), cinemagoers had to be over 18 years of age to see the Clint Eastwood films as they were given an ‘X’ certificate when first classified by the British Board of Film Censors. Prior to July 1, 1970 cinemagoers had to be aged 16 or over in order to be admitted to an ‘X’ certificate film. A new category ‘AA’ was introduced on the same day restricting entry to those films for anyone under 14 years of age. This classification was abolished in 1982 when the BBFC overhauled all of its ratings in the wake of the videotape home entertainment boom, and was replaced by the more easily understood ‘15’ certificate.

You Only Live Twice/A Fistful of Dollars London Pavilion 1971

You Only Live Twice went out with A Fistful of Dollars and played for three weeks at the London Pavilion from Thursday May 6, 1971 (playing simultaneously at the New Victoria for the first week); whilst Goldfinger was paired with For A Few Dollars More and screened at the London Pavilion for three weeks from Thursday June 24, 1971 (also playing for one week at the New Victoria from Thursday July 8, 1971), before a general release across UK from mid-August until the end of the year.

Goldfinger/For A Few Dollars More - London Pavilion 1971
From Russia With Love/Hang 'Em High New Victoria 1971

Some provincial cinemas chose to play the double-bills in the evenings only, pairing the Bond film in afternoon performances with either The Magnificent Seven (1960), or its sequel Return of the Seven (1966) - both of which were classified as an ‘A’ certificate, thereby allowing children under 16 to attend unaccompanied by an adult. A third double-bill of From Russia With Love and Hang ‘Em High (a 1968 western also starring Clint Eastwood) played for one week from Thursday December 2, 1971 at the New Victoria cinema opposite Victoria Station, although had been playing provincially since November 7th, and continued to screen across the country until the general release of Diamonds Are Forever on February 27, 1972.

Goldfinger/For A Few Dollars More - London Pavilion 1971

“The One and Only… James Bond is Back!”
Diamonds Are Forever
opened at the ODEON Leicester Square on Thursday December 30, 1971 and was the only James Bond film not to have a premiere in London. The film was first released in Munich, West Germany on December 14, 1971 and in the United States four days later. Sean Connery had attended the London press screening at the ODEON Leicester Square on the morning of December 29th bringing Roger Moore as his guest, fuelling speculation that he would be cast as the next James Bond. In the weeks leading up to the London opening, London's Routemaster buses displayed double-crown posters on their front and rear panels alerting cinemagoers to the release date of Diamonds Are Forever. These double-crown posters usually featured a simplified version of the main artwork with very little text so the title would stand out at a distance.

Diamonds Are Forever double-crown posters on Routmaster Bus in Oxford Street

Sean Connery later attended the Gala Scottish Premiere that was held at the ODEON Theatre, Clerk Street, Edinburgh on Friday January 14, 1972. The premiere was held in aid of the Scottish International Education Trust, which Sean Connery had founded in 1971 using the $1.25-million fee he received for returning as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever. As part of its West End engagement Diamonds Are Forever also played for three weeks at the New Victoria from Monday February 7, 1972.

Diamonds Are Forever Odeon Leicester Square December 1971
Diamonds Are Forever release dates 1971/72

Sean Connery's comeback as James Bond was a huge hit before it even opened in the UK. The film first played in Germany before opening at US cinemas on December 17, 1971. Diamonds Are Forever set an film industry record by earning $15.6-million (then around £6.5-million) in its first 12 days of worldwide release.

Diamonds Are Forever once again broke box-office records at the ODEON Leicester Square, taking £34,866 in its first week (the highest weekly take for any British cinema at that point). Even the morning screenings grew in popularity, and on one day ODEON employees counted a queue of almost 700 eager cinemagoers waiting an hour before the doors opened for the 10.45am performance. Although it had played in several key cities in January/February, Diamonds Are Forever then went on general release across the UK from March 26, 1972 when the majority of its audience would see it. The trade announcement (pictured above) in Cinema TV Today (formerly Kine Weekly, soon to become Screen International) showed that Diamonds Are Forever would open at the London Pavilion on February 24, 1972 but this was not actually the case. In its place distributor United Artists initiated a season of Sean Connery's five previous James Bond films which started on Thursday February 17, 1972 and played for six weeks until Sunday March 26, 1972.

1972 James Bond Season London Pavilion

Dr. No opened the season and played each week on Thursday and Friday; Thunderball screened on Saturday and Sunday, From Russia With Love on Monday; You Only Live Twice on Tuesday, with Goldfinger shown on Wednesday. Each film was shown three times each day with an additional late-night screening of Thunderball on Saturdays at 11.00pm.

1972 James Bond Season London Pavilion

A very small number of posters were produced for display on the London Underground to advertise the six-week season of James Bond films that played exclusively at the London Pavilion. One of these posters can be briefly seen in the 1972 British cult horror film Death Line (known in the USA as Raw Meat), which was filmed whilst the season was screening. The poster can be seen in the platform exit in Russell Square Underground station, and has been defaced - adding large ears and a pair of spectacles to Sean Connery's face!

1972 James Bond Season poster Russell Square Underground Station

ABOVE: (right) Death Line (1972) was a surprisingly gory (for its time) British modern day horror film written & directed by American Gary Sherman, and released in a cut version in the UK in October 1972. The US release a year later was edited even further and re-titled Raw Meat. The film stars Donald Pleasence [Blofeld in You Only Live Twice (1967)], who shares one brief scene with Christopher Lee [Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)] in a cameo role as Stratton-Villiers, MI5. Also appearing is James Cossins who played Colthorpe in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974). Death Line was not released in its uncut form until 2006.

Diamonds Are Forever then transferred to the London Pavilion from Monday, March 27, 1972, after finishing its 13-week premiere engagement at the ODEON Leicester Square. Diamonds Are Forever then ended its 9-week run at the London Pavilion on Wednesday May 31, 1972, but was still playing across the country until October.

Diamonds Are Forever London Pavilion 1972 | Sean Connery at the Gala Scottish Premiere held at the ODEON Clerk Street, Edinburgh

ABOVE & BELOW:  Diamonds Are Forever played at the London Pavilion for nine weeks from Monday March 27, 1972 and the large exterior marquee featured the same display artwork used at the ODEON Leicester Square. [inset above] Sean Connery at the Gala Scottish Premiere of Diamonds Are Forever held at the ODEON Theatre, Clerk Street, Edinburgh on Friday January 14, 1972.

Diamonds Are Forever London Pavilion 1972

Sean Connery's James Bond films could then be seen in various combinations across the UK before the release of Roger Moore's debut as 007 in Live And Let Die. Whilst Diamonds Are Forever was still on general release, United Artists also paired Dr. No on a double-bill with Thunderball which played in North London cinemas from Sunday May 7, 1972, and South London a week later. The new pairing was accompanied by an eye-catching quad-crown poster utilising the Renato Fratini illustration from the original UK From Russia With Love advertising campaign, and also seen on the newspaper advertisements for the 1972 London Pavilion season. With Diamonds Are Forever now playing at the London Pavilion the Dr. No/Thunderball double-bill played for seven days from Thursday May 4, 1972 at the New Victoria. The same day Diamonds Are Forever opened at the Berkeley, Tottenham Court Road where it played for one week; and also at the Gala Royal, Marble Arch, where it went on to play for an unbroken 21 weeks until Wednesday September 27, 1972. Diamonds Are Forever had therefore screened continuously in London's West End for a staggering nine months!

Dr. No/Thunderball double-bill New Victoria

From Russia With Love was then paired with Diamonds Are Forever at the London Pavilion for three weeks from Thursday May 31, 1973, and finished this exclusive West End engagement just two weeks before the opening of Live And Let Die at the ODEON Leicester Square.

Diamonds Are Forever/From Russia With Love London Pavilion 1973

The double-bill later had a general release across the UK from November 1973 after Live And Let Die had finished its West End release, this time accompanied by a new quad-crown double-bill poster. This was not created for the London Pavilion engagement which utilised the 1971 Diamonds Are Forever quad-crown poster, and the 1965 From Russia With Love re-issue version. The National Screen Service produced quad-crown posters for many of these revivals, and also made composite advert blocks available to newspapers for other combinations of films that did not have a corresponding poster.


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