The Skinny Bridge – Amsterdam

In Diamonds are forever 1971, Bond travels to Holland, posing as diamond smuggler Peter Franks in order to find the smuggler’s contact in Amsterdam – Tiffany Case. The establishing shot over Amsterdam pictures “The Skinny Bridge” which connects Kerkstraat with Nieuwe Kerkstraat on either side of the river Amstel. The bridge is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.  

                                 “- I always fancied a trip to South Africa…

                                  -You’re going to Holland!” 

Tiffany Case has received the diamonds from Mrs Whistler and is waiting for Peter Franks to arrive. The two gentlemen assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are killing off everyone involved with the diamonds on Blofeld’s orders, hence Mrs Whistler ends up in the canal after delivering the diamonds to Tiffany Case. They are standing on the Skinny bridge taking pictures of the dead Mrs Whistler who is fished out of the canal by the police at the time of Bond’s arrival. Tiffany’s house is located not very far from the bridge and her apartment can be found on Reguliersgracht 36.

“Mrs Whistler did want some pictures of the canals for the children.”

We only see the city in the first scene when the canal boat is going under the bridge and immediately after when Bond drives Peter Franks’ Triumph Stag up to Tiffany’s house. But Amsterdam is a beautiful city with its 17th century canals and since Bond’s visit is rather short, the town is not shown to its full potential. Amsterdam as a location is a bit wasted in the film and in my opinion, this is characteristic for all three of Guy Hamilton’s films from the 70’s (Diamonds, Live and let die and Golden gun). Beautiful cities like Hong Kong, Macau, Amsterdam and New York are used without a single panoramic view or a nice establishing shot. Just compare Bond’s arrivals in Rio, Corfu or India with the boring airport scene later in Diamonds where simply a loud speaker is announcing Bond’s arrival to Los Angeles. The Amsterdam scenes struggles with the same problems, beautiful surroundings are missed out or ignored. The film itself has bigger problems than that, for example the Blofeld character, Felix Leiter, the poor cutting and lack of serious story but that is better discussed elsewhere.

The present bridge was built in 1934 but it originates from 1691 when the first bridge at the site was constructed. It got its name from the locals, calling it Magre Brug because it was very narrow. Unfortunately after almost 200 years the bridge was demolished and replaced with a new one due to the very bad state. 50 years later the new bridge also needed repairs but it was replaced with a new, slightly bigger bridge, that looked the same. A story told to tourists about the original bridge is that it was built by two sisters who wanted to visit each other every day, but ran out of money and that is why it was called the Skinny Bridge. There seems to be very little truth to this story.

In the film the tour boat is going north through the bridge and Mrs Whistler is probably fished out of the canal at the same location as the boats to the right.

Diamonds is by many considered a classic, but the only thing that should be considered a true classic in this film is the magnificent title song, sung by Shirley Bassey and the soundtrack by John Barry. Also the production design by Ken Adam is worth mentioning.

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One thought on “The Skinny Bridge – Amsterdam

  1. I agree with the comments about Guy Hamilton’s direction style and this film in particular. “Diamonds” is, for me, part of the classic Bond canon (a tranche of films which I regard as running from “Dr. No” until the reins passed from Cubby Broccoli to the younger Broccoli clan) but it is definitely one of the weaker ones and the worst of the 1970’s. I think this was because Connery wanted no overruns on filming and the script was hastily written with the idea that his return alone would carry the movie, strong or weak. The Amsterdam scenes are fleeting and I think the main goal of the producers in this one was to produce a flavour of the West Coast of the US which actually worked ok but yes, Amsterdam was underused.

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