Diamonds Are Forever
Cast & Credits
Sean Connery James Bond
Jill St. John Tiffany Case
Charles Gray Blofeld
Lana Wood Plenty O'Toole
Original running time: 2 hours
Directed by Guy Hamilton
After On Her Majesty's Secret Service, George Lazenby left and the producers were left without a Bond. What were they to do ? They went on extensive search for a new Bond and decided on the unthinkable. They wanted to appeal more to the American audience and decided to cast an actor from the U.S. Believe it or not, the actors considered included Adam West and Burt Reynolds. Thankfully, both of these men were sane and said that James Bond should be British. This didn't deter the Bond people from continuing their search though. They went on to hire American actor John Gavin to be the next Bond. In the early pre-production of Diamonds Are Forever they decided to make one last offer to Sean Connery. He agreed to come back for the then record sum of $1.25 million and an agreement to have two films funded. John Gavin was released, but not before being paid his contract. I personally think that Connery coming back probably saved the Bond franchise. An American Bond? This could have made for a great issue of the old What If? comic book. Well... let's forget that nightmare and look at the film that was made instead, shall we?
After the gunbarrel sequence we see that Bond is still steaming mad over what happened at the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and is "interrogating" a man about where Ernst Stavro Blofeld is. He directs 007 to Cairo where Bond "persuades" another gentleman in a casino to tell him more. Next, Bond approaches a young woman named Marie about the leader of SPECTRE and proceeds to choke her out with her bikini top until she lets him him know what he wants. We are then taken into Blofeld's hideout where he is having henchmen get plastic surgery to look like him. While in disguise as one of Blofeld's subordinates, Bond kills one of his doubles. Next, Bond's nemesis appears with a couple of henchmen. With a little help from a gadget, knives, and some brute force our hero takes care the nefarious Blofeld once and for all. "Welcome to hell, Blofeld!" This leads into the titles which feature the theme song which is sung by Shirley Bassey (who also sang the theme for Goldfinger). The theme song is good, but I liked Goldfinger better. The soundtrack on the whole is pretty average. Don't get me wrong, it's very good just not for John Barry. The titles themselves are pretty standard too. Shadows dancing in front of diamonds. Cool, but nothing out of the ordinary for the series
After the titles, we see Bond and M being talked to by a man named Sir Donald about how a sustantial number of diamonds are being smuggled from South Africa. While this converstation is going on, we are actually seeing what's going on in South Africa. The whole sequence is well done and keeps things moving along quickly. Some of the miners are visiting a dentist with diamonds in their mouths and getting paid off for doing so. Next, we see the dentist meeting up with Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (who finish each other's sentences). They seem to be very polite and well mannered until they throw a scorpion down the back of the doctor's shirt. After they kill another group in a helicopter, we are witness to a great reveal. Wint and Kidd walk off together hand in hand. They are gay. I actually think that Wint and Kidd are two of the more interesting characters in the Bond series. These are not effeminate stereotypes. They are ruthless and evil men who just happen to like other men. As the conversation with Bond wraps up, he is told that he is going to pose as diamond smuggler Peter Franks and meet up with one of his contacts in Amsterdam.
Bond, posing as Peter Franks, meets up with Tiffany Case. She hires him to move diamonds for her into Las Vegas. What Bond does throughout this next section of the movie is follow several links of the diamond smuggling pipleine to get closer to the final destination. He gets into an awesome fight with the real Peter Franks in an elevator, travels to Las Vegas, nearly gets burned alive in a coffin at a funeral home, smuggles diamonds through a stuffed animal in Circus Circus, and follows a man (Dr. Metz) who picks them up and takes them to a base outside of Vegas owned by Willard Whyte (while we watch Wint and Kidd brutally slaughter anyone that comes near any of the diamonds). After looking around for a short while posing as an employee, Bond sees an entire table filled with diamonds next to a satellite dish. James is soon discovered to be an imposter and chased. He finds a moon machine and escapes. Bond and Tiffany get back to Vegas in her Mach 1 red Mustang and are soon chased down the strip by police. This is one of the better car chases you will ever see. Eventually they wind up in a parking lot chased by several squad cars. Only one car gets out, and it does so on two wheels...
Soon Bond and Tiffany meet up with Felix Leiter and stay at the bridal suite in the Whyte House. Willard Whyte lives in the penthouse of this massive building in downtown Las Vegas and hasn't been seen in years. 007 decides to investigate by getting to the top from the outside with a lot of ingenuity and a little equipment. When he gets to the top and inside he realizes that Willard Whyte is not Willard Whyte at all, but his arch-nemsis Ernst Stavro Blofeld. It turns out that Bond didn't kill Blofeld at the beginning of the movie. It was one of his doubles. In fact there are two Blofelds at the top of the Whyte House. Bond eventually disposes of one of them (once again the wrong one). After being gassed unconscious, being buried alive by Wint and Kidd, and escaping; Bond finds out that Whyte is being held captive in his own house outside of town. He goes there and meets a couple of expert gymnasts named Bambi and Thumper. They proceed to beat the crap out of Bond because he's wearing a pink tie. That is until they throw him into the pool. Unfortunately for Bambi and Thumper, they did not see all of that underwater footage in Thunderball and didn't know that he is unstoppable once he's submerged. So much for Bambi and Thumper.
Bond meets the real Willard Whtye (Jimmy Dean - the sausage king) and explains to him what's going on. They figure out that Blofeld has an oil rig off the coast of Baja California in Whyte's name. Whyte also explains that Dr. Metz is an expert in light refraction. It turns out that the diamonds are on the panel of a satellite in outer space and that an enormously powerful light beam is able to be fired from it. Did I mention that Blofeld escaped to the rig and kidnapped Tiffany? Anyhow, a missile silo in the U.S., a base in China, and a Russian sub are all burnt to a crisp. 007 eventually makes his way to Blofeld's oil rig and finds out that Washington D.C. is the next intended target. Will Bond be able to stop him in time? Will Tiffany stop being a gold digger? Will we see Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd again?
In the end I have to say that Diamonds Are Forever is a very well made movie. The script is very well written and it the film well paced. The problem though is that it seems to be the first movie in the series influenced by movies that were influenced by the Bond phenomenom. It seems to draw as much inspiration from it's parodies as it does it's source material. The filmmakers seem to be big fans of the Matt Helm and Derek Flint type stuff. While I respect those movies for being great at what they are (Bond parodies), I don't think that the Bond series should go down that road. That being said, the movie is very funny. It has some of the best one liners in the series and does what it seems to intend to do. I guess what I'm saying is that it's better that it's intentionally funny rather than unintentionally funny like some of the later Bond films. Strangely, this movie kind of works like the first Roger Moore movie as the movies in his run as Bond play up the laughs quite a bit. It's almost as if the Bond people thought that Diamonds Are Forever was the best Bond movie. I do not...
3 out of 5 - average for a Bond movie. Sean Connery is back for his last official performance and is great once again. He shows that he still has the same charm, class, and sophistication as he did in the earlier films. The drawback of the film to me is that it's too campy for it's own good. While it's well made and funny, it comes across more as a comedy than a real Bond film in many ways. Fans of Austin Powers should check this out.
Cool thing to check out: Sid Haig, the actor who plays Captain Spaulding (the clown) in the Rob Zombie cult classic House of 1000 Corpses is on the screen for a pretty long time in an uncredited role as a gangster.
Another cool thing: Mr. WInt is played by actor Bruce Glover. He is the father of Crispin (earth to McFly) Glover.
James Bond will return next Monday in Live And Let Die.
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