Diamonds Are Forever was never my favourite Bond film: Jill St John played one of the weakest Bond girls ever, Sean Connery seemed bored all the way though and Ernst Blofeld looked like a camp grandfather rather than world's most dangerous criminal. It stands out, however, for one unexpected thing: Bond decides to investigate Willard Whyte's desert home and encounters a stunning-looking black woman with a toned physique sitting on a rock in a bikini who announces herself to be Thumper, while an equally-toned and hot-looking white woman introduces herself as Bambi. Thumper announces, "We're gonna have a ball," to which Bond would assume sex, and who can blame him?
The "ball," though, Thumper means is a lethal game of karate and judo. Bond soon realises that her toned phsyique has been achieved through martial arts training and he receives a very painful- possibly lethal to anyone else but 007- volley of kicks, punches and near strangulation in a judo lock from the heftily-thighed Bambi, before being thrown in the swimming pool, where he manages to get the better of the two muscular women before handing them over to the CIA.
This really set the pace for women in Bond films - especially black women, who had been almost invisible in previosu films. True, we had Pussy Galore who was a judo black belt in Goldfinger, but her judo was used for a jokey love scene rather than to inflict any damage. Trina Parks as Thumper introduced a new type of woman to the Bond series: a beautiful woman who was a match for any man in karate and judo and as deadly as 007. Although Rosie Carver was a retrograde step in the next Bond movie - a hopeless CIA agent who gets killed - female villains and allies became steadily tougher. I am sure Mayday, a martial arts expert and assassin, was inspired by Thumper, as was Jinx in Die Another Day.
Although Thumper was only in this film for two minutes - and Trina Parks doesn't even get credited - her role was far more important than most people realise. She moved women in Bond films away from being sexual conquests and incompetent villainesses (Helga Brandt) into new territory.
I must admit the scene in the Elrod/Lautner house is my favourite in Diamonds Are Forever. Diamonds is not one of my favourite Bonds, but is a film which had already broken a few conventions by having two assasins who were gay - unheard of in Bond movies until then - and had Blofeld dressing up in drag, again something one didn't associate with an asexual megalomaniac.
On first seeing the movie way back in the seventies, however, when Bond wanders into the house and encounters Thumper who asks him, "Is there something we can do for you?" you expect him to try and seduce her and Bambi. When Thumper says, "We're going to have a ball," you expect something "romantic" to start off there and then.
As soon as Bond takes Thumper's hand, however, she lands a very hard knee to his groin! Then a battle breaks out. Thumper and Bambi kick and toss Bond and Bambi throttles him with her legs. This is the most unexpected scene in the whole film and a break with convention. In earlier films, Bond would have no doubt gleaned some information from the two women and decided to take one of them to bed - not in Diamonds Are Forever!
Also - apart from the first use of female villains who didn't look like obvious villainesses (like Olga Klebb did) and the way the scene jumps suddenly from what seemed to be a love scene to a martial arts-style fight that would do well in a Bruce Lee film - Trina Parks was black. Black women previously, to my knowledge, had almost no input into the series. Certainly, the use of a black woman to beat up Bond was novel. Indeed, the use of two women who (at least for a while) got the better of Bond was the highpoint in the series to that time for strong women. The judo scene in Goldfinger was very brief and quickly turned into a love scene between Bond and Pussy Galore. Bambi and Thumper set a trend in the Bond films of women characters who were adept at handling themselves.
Rosie Carver may have been inspired by Thumper in the next Bond film, Live and Let Die, as she was black as well. Rosie, however, was very incompetent for a supposed CIA agent and was killed early in the proceedings.
Thumper's character must have been a huge inspiration for the deadliest Bond girl/villain ever, Mayday, who was a very effective assasin and martial arts expert. After seeing A View to a Kill in 1985, I joked on the way out that maybe Mayday was Thumper's younger sister and learned some of her craft from Thumper. It's possible, as neither character was given a surname and Mayday was a more-modern Thumper with the same lethal talents. With regard to good Bond girls, there are echoes of Thumper in the character of Jinx, another black woman Bond character who can more than handle herself.
So, despite the fact Thumper is a minor character in Diamonds Are Forever and Ms. Parks was uncredited (as was the actress playing Bambi) her influence on later Bond films is a lot larger than most people realise. Although Trina Parks is little known in Britain and most people would only know the actress as Thumper, whenever they watch better-known actresses like Grace Jones and Halle Berry battling away in later Bond films, the inspiration for their roles comes from an uncredited actress who appeared in Diamonds Are Forever.
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