Well look who’s back! It’s Sean Connery ladies and gentlemen! Fun story, in the process of finding a Bond to replace Lazenby we almost got an American Bond. Better than that one man considered for the role was none other than Adam West. Wonder how fans would take that. History shows they’re more concerned with the look than the nationality, based on how many people were outraged that we’ve currently got a blonde Bond. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to imagine just how amazing Adam West would have been as Bond. I’ll be back to the review after the link.
M would be all like “we need to call in the CIA Bond!” and he’d be all like “There’s no time. Contact the mayor and tell him I’ll need his men to be extra vigilant tonight, for tonight, is the night that menacing misfit Blofeld blows his last breath. Come Q, to the Bondcave!!!”… or something.
So Diamonds Are Forever is a diamond heist movie that around 1 hour through remembers it’s a Bond film. Bond then attempts to stops Blofeld (Charles Gray), who he kills twice in this film thanks to the appearance of some plastic surgery enhanced body doubles, from using a load of smuggled diamonds to fire a super space laser at various nuclear weapons and landmarks. There’s something about him wanting to take over the world with this threat but it’s lost in the jumble of some of the most random events seen so far in a Bond film.
Early on Bond takes a man’s identity in order to steal some diamonds that are part of a suspicious diamond smuggling operation. It’s believed that a man named Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean, yes the singer) is behind this smuggling ring. Spoilers, he’s actually being held captive in his summer home by a pair of acrobatic ladies named Bambi and Thumper under orders of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Blofeld has been using Whyte, a reclusive Howard Hawks figure, as a front for his operation taking advantage of his wealth and various business ventures. Because no-ones seen Whyte in years Blofeld just has to disguise his voice over the phone to fool everyone. Under his command are a pair of very overtly gay hitmen, Mr Wint and Mr Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith) who manage on multiple occasions to accost Bond from behind and send him to a potential death in one convoluted and slightly irresponsibly managed scenario after the other. So that’s quite a bizarre mix of villains even for a Bond film, especially one pre Roger Moore.
So along the way to stopping Blofeld Bond drowns 2 men in mud, plays the least interesting game of craps ever with pointless Bond victim Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood, more on her later) and makes an escape from a space research lab in a moon buggy with the most ineffective looking robot arms ever conceived. He meets Tiffany Case (Jill St John) who manages to be introduced as an intelligent woman who seems to take no crap yet leaves the film as an incredibly stupid bimbo who manages to potentially screw up everything for Bond and then falls off an oil rig after being knocked back by the recoil of a gun she fires. Now about Plenty. She’s a girl that hangs around casino’s looking to sidle up to winning players and hopefully earn some money be being their good luck charm for the night. For some reason she gets treated in a really horrible manner and yet not a single character reacts to this. She gets thrown out of Bonds bedroom window firstly to which he makes a joke. Then she is next seen drowned in a pool by hitmen sent for Tiffany and Bond seems to show no compassion for the death of an innocent woman. She’s apparently killed by Wint and Kidd after they mistake her for Tiffany when Plenty goes to her house to look for her. Why she goes there I’m not really sure seeing as she would have had no idea Tiffany was the one that got her men to throw her out the window earlier. The thing is she seems like the character that should be getting drawn into this story when she first appears but then gets discarded in a mean manner.
Now to the film’s credit there’s quite a few good sequences and shots. Bond casually riding atop an lift on the outside of a building being one of them. A fight in a lift reminds me of the confined train car fight in From Russia With Love but in a smaller still confine. There’s a car chase through Las Vegas that does a good job of showing off the streets and being one of the first Bond car chases to not rely entirely on back projected images behind Connery sat in a static car. That gives the chase a more kinetic feel than any previous car chase in the series. Ken Adams’ set design is, as usual, brilliantly perfect for the era. There’s no incredibly over the top sets such as Fort Knox in Goldfinger or the volcano base in You Only Live Twice but the designs manage to be a genuine extension of the characters they are for. One striking location though wasn’t actually designed by Adams but you’d honestly thing it was. Willard Whyte’s summer home, where he is held captive, is a modernist piece of art carved into the side of a mountain complete with natural rock formations inside the building. This is an actual building that exists which I’ll post a link for HERE.
Guy Hamilton, director of Goldfinger, returned on this project and he really does do a fairly decent job of keeping the film relatively on track. The pacing is actually some of the smoothest so far in the Bond series with the exception of the more measured From Russia With love. He went on to direct the next two Bond films, Live And Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun, which are two of the better Moore efforts. I think he struggles with maintaining the tone of a film though, being quite prone to slapstick and camp humour in the midsts of a story that begins with Bond seeking revenge for the murder of his wife at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Well we assume he is seeing as no actual mention of those events come up.
Overall the film is confused about what sort of movie it is and filled with some slightly too outlandish and odd moments to be considered amongst the better Bond films. Connery is on top form here looking refreshed after his break, if a little older, but many of his co-stars lack strong enough acting talents to hold their part of the film up. Poor characterisation from a number of characters also gets in the way. Charles Gray’s version of Blofeld doesn’t carry enough threat but I do enjoy that he made no attempt to play the character like he was when portrayed by Donald Pleasence or Telly Savalas. Diamonds Are Forever has it’s good points for sure, but ultimately it’s an unsatisfying adventure for Bond. Next up we enter the era of Moore with Live And Let Die.