Saturday 13 October 2012

Movie Review: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Sean Connery comes back to the role of James Bond after a one film hiatus, and he really should not have bothered. Diamonds Are Forever is a tired, lacklustre entry into the series, distinctly lacking in any elements that rise above the mediocre.

The diamond supply chain between South Africa and Europe is being disrupted, with many diamonds going missing. Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) are two criminal middle-men, collecting a large quantity of diamonds and killing off the competition. James Bond (Connery) is sent to Amsterdam to investigate, and for a cover story he impersonates diamond smuggler Peter Franks. Bond connects with Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), a diamond smuggler who wants to hire Franks to transfer a large shipment of stolen diamonds to the United States.

The investigation leads to another middle-man, Las Vegas entertainer Shady Tree (Leonard Barr), but Wint and Kidd are hot on the trail, attempting to kill everyone in the supply chain to take control of the diamonds. With Tiffany seeking to keep the jewels for herself, Bond realizes that his old nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray) is not only not dead, but is orchestrating the diamond thefts for his latest world-domination plot, operating out of the top floor of a Vegas casino owned by reclusive tycoon Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean).

After George Lazenby's turn as Bond proved to be a one-off, United Artists and producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli paid Connery a record $1.25 million to reprise the role in Diamonds Are Forever. In return, Connery thanks them by going through the motions and although only 41, looks painfully too old and out of shape.

The script by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz finds no inspiration, and stumbles on some pretty dreadful ideas, including Bond tangling with Bambi and Thumper, a couple of bikini babes in an utterly non sequitur scene. Multiple Blofelds, an irrelevant appearance by Lana Wood as Plenty O'Toole and an inexplicable chase scene involving a lunar landing module add to the sense of depressing intellectual depletion.

The Vegas casino setting is scuzzy rather than glamorous, director Guy Hamilton failing to add any gloss to the proceedings. The Tiffany Case character starts out hot and sexy, but by the end of Diamonds Are Forever she is reduced to dumb floundering decoration, barely one step above a humour device. The climax on an off-shore oil rig is just as limp.

The good moments revolve around Tiffany's first scenes, meeting Bond, checking his identity and changing into almost-there lingerie. O'Toole being thrown out of a hotel room window, the classic theme song by Shirley Bassey, an ok car chase scene through Vegas parking lots that ends with a (botched) car-on-two-wheels stunt, and Bond trapped in a coffin about to be cremated are among the other highlights. But these are too few and far between to save the movie. Diamonds may be forever, but sometimes they can also be just dull.

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  1. You take it to was great to have Connery come back. Opinions are just that...opinions. Diamonds happens to be my favorite Bond,I've read all of Flemimg's books as well and although the story line is different it was meant to be an escape..y'know fantasy? Entertainment? At any rate every Bond from Dr.No to No Time to Die has something unbelievable going on, but to me that's part of the fantasy, the magic that takes you to a different place. Any way that's my opinion, thanks for yours.

    1. For sure, every Bond movie has its fans, and that's part of the fun and charm.


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