Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Ian Fleming's Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Synopsis:

After killing SPECTRE’s Blofeld, James Bond (Sean Connery, The Untouchables) is assigned to investigate a series of mysterious deaths related to the diamond market. Bond’s mission takes him to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he teams up with a beautiful diamond smuggler, Tiffany Case (Jill St. John, Tony Rome).

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Curious how everyone who touches those diamonds seems to die.”

There really are two types of Bond movies: The gritty and slightly more realistic Bond films, and then you have the over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek Bond movies. Diamonds Are Forever, officially known as Bond 7th, clearly belongs to the latter.

Roger Moore has always been associated with the droll Bond, but director Guy Hamilton and actor Sean Connery are really the ones responsible for making the franchise campier. Hamilton and Connery conspired together to turn Goldfinger (1964) into a movie that’s nothing but mindless entertainment, and their second film together, Diamonds Are Forever, seems eager to follow in the footsteps of the 1964 movie.

Many fans think this is one of the weakest Bond films — it’s definitely not as good as Dr. No (1962) or From Russia with Love (1963) — but I liked it. The script by Richard Maibaum (No Man of Her Own) and Tom Mankiewicz (Richard Donner’s Superman) is witty, the action sequences are well-staged and most of the acting is good. I also loved Ken Adam’s production design. The elaborate sets are super-groovy — wait until you see one of cinema’s funkiest beds! It’s also cool to see Las Vegas in the 1970s.

After skipping one entry, the fascinating On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Connery was lured back for one last adventure. The actor agreed to make the movie because producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman offered him everything but the moon. Connery looks old and overweight (it’s hard to believe that he was only 40-years-old when he made the film!), but he seems to be enjoying himself.

Co-star Jill St. John seems to be having fun too. The homosexual henchmen, played by Putter Smith and Bruce Glover (beloved cult actor Crispin Glover’s dad), are a hoot. Charles Gray (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is a surprisingly dull Blofeld, though. Gray’s Blofeld isn’t very menacing — it’s almost like a parody of the real thing. Lana Wood (Grayeagle), Natalie Wood’s kid sister, plays “Plenty O’Toole.”

I also liked the title song, composed by John Barry (Born Free and The Lion in Winter) and with lyrics by Don Black, is sung by Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger). It’s a deliciously racy tune. The song per se is not great, but the great Bassey really knows how to sing a Bond melody! Oscar-winning cinematographer Ted Moore’s (A Man for All Seasons and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) work also deserves praise.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although it does belong at the very bottom of the Connery era, I think Diamonds Are Forever is a pretty enjoyable movie if you don’t take it too seriously — the film clearly paves the way for the more lighthearted Moore movies. In my opinion, Connery left the series on a pleasant note. Color, 115 minutes, Rated PG.

James Bond will return
in
Live and Let Die (1973)

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