Sean Connery returns as Bond in Diamonds are Forever! The question is: should he have? We still don’t have the Connery of the early films. But we also do not get the bored Connery who is phoning in his performance in You Only Love Twice. We get the opposite. Here, he barely can take the proceedings seriously. A lot of blame is given to Roger Moore for the Bond films slipping into silliness and camp in the 70s however it really starts here: a cartoonish plot with characters that barely register any type of realism.
My biggest grief is what could have been. Bond on a revenge epic to seek out the man who murdered his wife would have been a gripping story. Licence to Kill 18 years early. Instead, we get a brief, vague write off of the plot line in the pre-credits sequence and for the rest of the film, Bond shows mild annoyance at the man he cannot kill. I get they wanted to distance from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and its disappointing box office and actor change, but to go from such a powerful ending to a rushed “payoff” is so jarring.
It doesn’t help that the supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Jill St. John starts out strong as Tiffany Case however by the end she’s essentially played as the bimbo whose aloofness somehow saves her and Bond. Charles Gray is an okay Blofeld. I always ranked him the worst and I still do but I do think his performance is still good. It’s probably the closest to the Blofeld we saw before YOLT, calm, mannered but ready to order lethal force when needed. Diamonds does have, hands down, the worst Felix Leiter, who is little more than a bumbling cop and far removed from the suave Jack Lord in Dr. No.
The story is fine. The diamond smuggling plot line is little more than a macguffin to get to Blofeld’s latest ransom plot. The special effects however are some of the worst in the series. A lot of the explosions appeared to be painted onto stock film. The end battle was completely lackluster and never seemed as if the stakes were that high. One high point was Jimmy Dean as the folksy Willard Whyte, who appears just briefly enough to leave you wanting more.
I don’t have much to say with this one largely because the film seemed a meager effort. They got Connery back but then seemed unsure what to do with him. There are a few good bits. The pullback shot of Bond riding the top of the elevator outside the Whyte House, the silly moon buggy chase and even the Bond on a rampage beginning were some of my favorites. A special shoutout to the car chase in Las Vegas, specifically the parking lot portion. I liked how you got an overview shot of the cars weaving in and out to show the precision driving. Of course, it then ends with one of the biggest goofs in the entire franchise, the car on two wheel stunt where it switched sides between entering and exiting the alley. 🤦♂️
I’m going to give Diamonds a 5/10. It was exciting to get Connery back, even for a lackluster affair. It closes out the SPECTRE thread without any real resolution as legal battles would prevent it from being used again until Craig was in the role. What could have been a thrilling story was merely average. I was never bored but I also was never really engaged. As Connery departs for the second and “official” final time, we end one Bond era and begin a new.
1) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
2) From Russia with Love
5) Dr. No
6) You Only Live Twice
7) Diamonds are Forever