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Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever – 1971
Guy Hamilton

Ian Fleming – novel
Richard Maibaum
Tom Mankiewicz

Albert R. Broccoli producer
Harry Saltzman producer
Stanley Sopel associate producer

Sean Connery – James Bond , Jill St. John – Tiffany Case, Charles Gray – Ernst Stavro Blofeld , Lana Wood – Plenty O’Toole , Jimmy Dean – Willard Whyte, Bruce Cabot – Albert R. ‘Bert’ Saxby , Putter Smith – Mr. Kidd , Bruce Glover – Mr. Wint , Norman Burton – Felix Leiter , Joseph Fürst – Dr. Metz (as Joseph Furst) , Bernard Lee – M , Desmond Llewelyn – Q, Leonard Barr – Shady Tree , Lois Maxwell – Moneypenny, Margaret Lacey – Mrs. Whistler, Joe Robinson – Peter Franks, David de Keyser -Doctor , Laurence Naismith – Sir Donald Munger , David Bauer – Mr. Slumber , Tom Steele – W Technologies Gate Guard

Review by John Rouse Merriott Chard

Such a pity. All that time and energy wasted, simply to provide you with one mock, heroic moment.
Diamonds Are Forever is directed by Guy Hamilton and adapted to screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz from the novel of the same name written by Ian Fleming. It stars Sean Connery, Jill St John, Charles Gray, Bruce Glover, Putter Smith, Joseph Furst, Norman Burton and Jimmy Dean. Music is scored by John Barry and cinematography by Ted Moore.

Bond 7 and 007 is assigned to find out who is stock piling all the black market diamonds. This leads him to a sinister weapon being manufactured in space that can destroy major cities, the architect of such vileness? SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the man who murdered Bond’s wife and someone Bond thought he had already located and killed.

With George Lazenby withdrawing from the franchise after just the one film, off to massage his ego and take further bad advice from those around him, Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Saltzman set about making Bond sustainable box office in the 1970s. American actor John Gavin (Psycho/Spartacus) had signed on to fill the tuxedo, but armed with wads of cash the producers managed to entice Connery back to the role he had previously fell out of love with. Helped, too, that Connery’s post Bond movies, his last outing had been You Only Live Twice in 1967, had hardly set the box office alight. It seemed a long shot, but Connery stunned the movie world by agreeing to once again play the role that many would come to know him for.

Back came Connery, back came director Guy Hamilton and back came Shirley Bassey to sing the title song (a true Bond classic it proved to be as well), these were reassuring signs, as was having Blofeld remain on villain duties. However, stung by the criticism of Lazenby’s humanesque On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the drop in box office profits compared to Connery’s latter Bond films, the makers decided to play this Bond as fantastique, something that would define Bond until Timothy Dalton tried something different at the end of the 1980s. Roger Moore would replace Connery as Bond two years later and it’s widely thought that his arrival as 007 ushered in the “ridiculous” era of overt humour, preposterous sight gags and cartoonish escapades, not so, it began with Connery’s Diamonds Are Forever. The moment Bond drives a Ford Mustang on two wheels, all bets were off in the franchise.

Artistically “Diamonds” is a disappointing movie, fun for sure, but the screenplay refuses to let the film take itself seriously. It’s often camp and the picture lacks dramatic thrust and spectacular action, with the finale a rather tepid affair. Connery’s presence gives the film some warmth, but his charisma and vocal delivery can’t detract from the fact he looks to be doing it purely for the money. His weight, like his hair colour, fluctuates, and much of the vibrancy of his 60s Bond portrayals had disappeared. Charles Gray turns in the worst Blofeld of them all, saddled with a screenplay that has him cloning and cross dressing, Gray has Blofeld as charming and wry, gone is the menace and machismo so wonderfully portrayed by Pleasence and Savalas respectively in the previous two Bond movies. Felix Leiter in Norman Burton’s hands has been reduced to being a bit of a doofus, the baddies are either too fey or over the top, while Jill St John’s main Bond girl, Tiffany Case, descends from being a steely femme at the beginning, to a voluptuous caricature.

On the plus side. Barry’s score and Ken Adam’s sets are still franchise joys, the byplay between Bond and M (Bernard Lee again) reminds us of once great characterisations, while Desmond Llewelyn’s Q is nicely sent out in the field for a change. Action wise there’s some fine moments. The pre-credits sequence as Bond chases down Blofeld starts things off excitingly, a fight in a lift is up with the best of the Bond movie dust-ups and the dirt bike and Mustang chase sequences are well put together by Hamilton. Good gadgets, too, if you like that side of Bond? There was enough good parts here, and the return of Connery, to ensure Diamonds Are Forever was a monster success at the box office, where it grossed over $115 million worldwide. It proved that Bond had longevity, but with a new actor to come to the Bond role in two years time and the big shift to comedy action over tough guy missions, would Bond turn off the movie loving public? 6/10

Review by Noel Bailey

The franchise stops at this point, from here-on in Bonds are “cloned”,
Well well, this one has really elicited some polarised opinion! Connery returned here for three principal reasons. Despite the box-office success of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, Lazenby’s post-production antics and monetary demands cost him a job. US actor John Gavin (mercifully) declined the role in this film and thirdly public demand and an offer he couldn’t refuse (something to do with truck-loads of cash), induced Connery to slap on the old hairpiece once more!

Looking visibly older, though not in any way detrimental to the role, Sean revels in what obviously (to him) was his swansong as 007. Almost a complete turnaround in style from his established mega-serious British Agent in his previous five outings, Bond is having FUN! Virtually a total send up of the entire franchise to date, Bond veritably dribbles double entendres unloading on the audience probably the rudest and funniest dialog of the series. Pick of the flick? “I’m Plenty O’Toole” to which Bond quips, “Named after your father are you?”

The plot is more or less made up as they went along and is just plain incidental to the Movie. Campy beyond belief, even to the extent of having a pair of confrontingly homosexual killers who bumble their way to annihilation at the film’s conclusion. Most Bond purists choked on their martinis with the release of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.

The way to enjoy this one is to let it flow….don’t compare it! Have no expectations and let Connery entertain you. One right out of the bag here. If you want it to fit a pre-conceived mould, you’re in for a major disappointment. For God’s sake how seriously could you take a Bond film starring singer Jimmy Dean, not to mention a couple of beefed up exquisitely proportioned female minders called Bambi and Thumper?

One of the Bonds that has improved with age AND multiple viewings. RIP James!

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70s Films

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