Purim is a holiday celebration like no other
When M gives James Bond the mission of intercepting a diamond heist, the spy protests, “But surely, sir, there’s no need to bring in our section for a relatively simple smuggling matter.” Little does Bond know that this “simple smuggling matter” will involve super villain clones, the threat of mass destruction and a giant diamond-powered laser -- all against the backdrop of the Nevada desert. Would 007 fans expect any less?
The 1971 film Diamonds are Forever saw Sean Connery return to his role as the international spy with a license to kill, a part he walked away from four years prior (after having completed five films for the series). “Bond is back!” the movie posters trumpeted -- to the considerable excitement of the many fanatics who felt strongly that Connery was always the best man for the job.
In Diamonds are Forever, the actor’s illustrious return takes him to two dens of debauchery: Amsterdam and Las Vegas. From the glistening canals of the former to the shimmering lights of the latter, these locations fit the film like a glove.
Bond begins his mission in Amsterdam, where the picturesque River Amstel reveals the dead body of an elderly missionary from South Africa who was involved in the diamond smuggling ring. Visitors can enjoy the river via canoe, kayak or powerboat, or bike or hike the surrounding countryside, where 17th-century houses dot the green landscape. For a room with a view of the canal, the Amstel Canal House offers cosy accommodations with a modern aesthetic in the heart of the city.
We meet the first Bond girl of the film (in various states of undress) in her apartment, located at Reguliersgracht 36 on the third floor. After you snap a few shots of the building, which appears more or less unchanged since the movie was shot, head across the street to Barney’s Lounge for the full Amsterdam experience. Located in a 500-year-old building, this stylish coffee shop features a chic interior and a different DJ nearly every night.
Posing as a diamond smuggler, Bond visits the Slumber Mortuary, a fictional Las Vegas-area morgue that serves as the criminal operation’s front business, where the bad guys plan to burn Bond alive in a crematorium. Just as the flames begin to engulf our woeful hero, the henchmen discover that the diamonds he gave them are fakes, and they are forced to open the chamber in order to find out where the real ones are. Exteriors for the scene were shot at the Palm Boulder Highway Mortuary and Cemetery in Henderson, about 15 miles outside of Las Vegas. According to the Internet Movie Database, some parts of this sequence were shot around the Las Vegas Visitors Bureau, today the Las Vegas Visitors Information Center -- a great place to find out about shows and events taking place in town.
Much of the film Diamonds are Forever takes place in the ever-shiny Sin City, with a heavy focus on the glitzy hotels and casinos that Bond and Bond fans have come to know and love. Several of the iconic hotels featured in the movie have long since closed, including the Sands Hotel, the Dunes, the Landmark, the Mint and the International Hotel, which plays the part of the Whyte House, home to millionaire Willard Whyte (who ultimately helps Bond foil the evil plot of his arch nemesis, Blofeld). The International, Sin City’s first megaresort, had only been open for about two years when the movie was released. The property today is a new hotel, the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
Still around today, though, are the Riviera Hotel and Casino -- where another Bond girl, the none-too-bright Plenty O’Toole gets thrown out of a window several stories up -- and the Tropicana, where Bond stays.
For a mere $6,800, you and your favourite Bond girl (or guy) can experience Las Vegas in much the same manner as 007 might with the Secret Agent 702 Tour. The trip includes a private helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon (complete with Champagne for two, of course), a 3,800ft zipline adventure, the chance to race Ferraris on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and a stay in the boutique hotel on the top floor of the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, HOTEL32.