Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Very Dusty, Mr.Bond.

Sean Connery returned as James Bond in the seventh installment of the series after one appearance by George Lazenby. This also was the Connery’s last appearance in the official series. The movie was rushed, without imagination and tries to achieve much but falls flat, despite some well executed sequences. Will be remembered for kicking off how Bond movies would look in the Moore age.

JAMES BOND – SEAN CONNERY (Sixth and Final Appearance)*

Directed ByGuy Hamilton Produced byHarry SaltzmanAlbert R. Broccoli
Screenplay byRichard MaibaumTom Mankiewicz Based On: Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
Theme Song performed bySherley Bassey
Release date: 30 December 1971 Running Time: 2 hours 1 minute
Bond Series: 7/23 Distributed byUnited Artists
Budget: $7.2 million Gross Revenue: $116 million
Preceded by: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Succeeded by: Live and Let Die (1973)

BOND GIRLS

JILL St.JOHN as TIFFANY CASE – A smuggler who wants to make it big, Case is the stereotypical Bond Girl. Not very bright, very hot, looks awesome in a bikini, searches Bond out to sleep with him and massages his ego though it is to forward her own plans. She is deceitful at first but runs back to him at the first sight of danger, content at being in his arms while he saves the day. St.John and Case will be remembered only for screwing up things and tripping over her own feet

LANA WOOD as PLENTY O’ TOOLE – Plenty is beautiful, well-endowed woman who latches herself to winning men to enjoy their spoils. More as a prop, she is thrown out of Bond’s hotel room window into a pool by gangsters and is later murdered (presumably by Wint and Kidd) mistaken for Tiffany. Her facepalm name is something that is indispensable of a Bond movie and Lana Wood was the apt choice, given her proportionate contribution to forwarding her character’s name, the only thing she does.

MI6 and OTHER ALLIES

BERNARD LEE as M

DESMOND LEWELLYN as Q

LOIS MAXWELL as MISS MONEYPENNY – Hopelessly heads-over-heels for Bond.

NORMAN BURTON as FELIX LEITER – Leiter is integral to the plot as James Bond’s CIA contact who does all the help around there. But he manages to be so inconsequential that I can barely remember his face.

JIMMY DEAN as WILLIAM WHYTE – The reclusive millionaire and owner of the Whyte hotel and casino, who is kidnapped by Blofeld and kept in a secret hideout while Blofeld uses his name, men and money for his operations.

ANTAGONISTS AND THEIR ANTAGONISM

CHARLES GRAY as ERNST STAVRO BLOFELD – Bond’s nemesis, Blofeld hasn’t given up on his megalomaniac plans of World domination. In the pre-title sequence, he is shown creating lookalikes of himself by plastic surgery. Bond infiltrates this facility and presumably kills Blofeld after throwing him into a boiling vat of mud, but it turns out Bond just killed a lookalike. His character is still the same as in the previous movies. He is shown defeated as Bond smashes his mini-sub into the control center at the end, but it is not explicitly shown whether he is killed or not. And Gray delivers a yawn-inducing performance.

MAIN VILLAIN HENCHMEN

BRUCE GLOVER and PUTTER SMITH as MR.WINT and MR.KIDD – These two are like twins, always shown to be together, killing on orders from Blofeld. They try hard to have a sinister air around them with their “heh-heh-heh” chuckles, one finishing the other’s sentences, ‘evil’ looks and so on. They are plain irritating and the gayish innuendos between them is not funny either.

OTHER VILLAIN HENCHMEN

  • Joe Robinson as Peter Franks – The smuggler whose identity Bond takes and kills after a fight in an elevator in Amsterdam
  • Leonard Barr as Shady Tree – Smuggler and stand-up comic who saves Bond from getting roasted. Killed by Wint and Kidd for the diamonds not knowing that they are fake.
  • Bruce Cabot as Bill Saxby – Pit boss in Whyte’s casino, part of the smuggling ring. Takes direct orders from Blofeld.

VILLAIN SCHEME – As with all Blofeld’s schemes, World Domination and earn a lot of money. This time it is to construct a satellite that can produce a laser beam (created by refracting light through a mirror of diamonds) which can be used to destroy targets on the Earth’s surface. It is already in orbit by the time Bond uncovers the scheme. Blofeld destroys American, Russian and Chinese military installations using the satellite before contacting World leaders proposing an international auction for global nuclear supremacy.

MODUS OPERANDI – A large stash of diamonds are required to build the refracting dish on the satellite, so Blofeld decides to steal them. Workers in South African mines hide discovered diamonds inside their false teeth which are then removed by dentists and sent on their way to Blofeld’s laboratory in LA through a world wide net of smuggling contacts. As soon as the last shipment of diamonds is sent out, Mr.Wint and Mr.Kidd start killing all the smugglers. Blofeld kidnaps reclusive millionaire William Whyte and uses his assets, money, men and contacts to run the operation, hiding out in Whyte’s penthouse and using a voice-translated phone to keep in touch with the outside World, making Bond suspect Whyte is the villain. Blofeld also has created a number of his clones using plastic surgery.

007 FACTS SHEET – DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

CARS – (No Official Bond Car) Ford Mustang Mach 1 (Bond – During the Las Vegas Chase), Triumph Stag (Bond drives to Amsterdam)

GADGETS – Voice Algorithm Recorder, Grappling Hook & Gun, Fake Fingerprints (Franks’), Casino Slot-Machine RPM controller

LOCATIONS – London UK, Amsterdam NL, Los Angeles USA, Las Vegas USA, Off Coast Baja California USA

STATISTICS – “Bond, James Bond” 1, Direct Kills 7, Vodka Martinis 0, Romps 1, Captures 2, Tight Spots 3, Fights 5, Chases 2

VERY PUNNY, MR.BOND (James Bond Quotes)

[to Tiffany while they are in bed] James Bond: Presumably I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast.

[While Tiffany appears wearing only in a transparent negligee] James Bond: That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.

Tiffany Case: Occupation: Transport Consultant? It’s a little cute isn’t it? I’ll finish dressing.
James Bond: Oh, please don’t, not on my account.

Plenty O’Toole: Hi, I’m Plenty.
James Bond: But of course you are.
Plenty O’Toole: Plenty O’Toole.
James Bond: Named after your father perhaps?

James Bond: Well, I’m afraid you’ve caught me with more than my hands up.

Blofeld: Right idea, Mr. Bond…
James Bond: …But wrong pussy.
[He meant Blofeld’s cat]

Bambi: [seductively] I’m “Bambi.”
Thumper: And I am “Thumper.” Is there something we can do for you?
James Bond: I can think of several things, off hand…

James Bond: Welcome to Hell, Blofeld.

STORYLINE (Caution, Spoilers)

After apparently killing Blofeld in his own facility, James Bond is assigned to a mission to bust a World-wide diamond smuggling ring. From South Africa to Amsterdam, many of these smugglers turn up dead as Mr.Wint and Mr.Kidd start killing them systematically. Bond travels to Amsterdam impersonating Peter Franks to meet his contact Tiffany Case. The real Franks also shows up and Bond kills him. Bond and Tiffany then travel to Los Angeles with Franks’ body and the diamonds inside it. Bond is met by Felix Leiter at the airport and they switch the diamonds with fakes. The body is then cremated at Slumber.Inc and the “diamonds” are passed on to the next smuggler, Shady Tree, who stops Bond from being killed by Wint and Kidd after realizing the diamonds are fake. Bond goes to Las Vegas and finds Shady Tree murdered by Wint and Kidd at the Whyte Hotel Casino. After the opportunistic Plenty O’ Toole is thrown out by thugs, Bond sleeps with Tiffany who tries to convince Bond to get the diamonds for themselves. Bond agrees and has her pick them up hidden inside a teddy bear at the Circus Las Vegas. She manages to give Leiter and his men the slip and passes them to the next smuggler. Later at her apartment she finds Plenty murdered in her place and afraid for her life agrees to lead Bond to the diamond. They tail Bill Saxby, pit boss of the Whyte casino who retrieves the diamonds and passes them on to Laser Refraction specialist Dr.Metz. Bond hides away in his van and reaches a research facility owned by, again, William Whyte, where he finds Dr.Metz building a satellite. After escaping from the facility and two wild chases, Bond and Case check in to the Whyte hotel where Bond reveals his true identity to Tiffany. Bond scales the wall of the hotel to confront the reclusive Whyte only to find two identical Blofelds there, who were posing as Whyte. Bond had killed a lookalike earlier! Bond manages to kill one of the Blofelds but is rendered unconscious by the other one, who was the real Blofeld. Bond later escapes from a pipeline where he was left to die by Wint and Kidd and finds Whyte’s real location and rescues him after a big fight. With Whyte’s help Bomd and Leiter realize Blofeld’s plans with the satellite and identify the oil rig where his operations are based from. Bond infiltrates the rig and switches the cassette tape with the control codes of the satellite with a music tape and gives them to Tiffany who was being kept hostage there. But she re-switches the tapes without knowing and was about to be killed when Felix and the CIA start a full-force assault on the rig. Bond foils Blofeld’s attempt to escape in a mini-sub, while the rig is destroyed. Later, while Bond and Tiffany head home on a ship, Mr.Wint and Mr.Kidd try to murder them with a bomb, but Bond senses this and kills them both. The satellite still orbits the Earth as a bright spot in the night sky.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER TRIVIA

  • Sean Connery’s return as James Bond after only one movie in which George Lazenby played Bond. This would also mark Connery’s last appearance as James Bond in an official production
  • Connery was then offered the unheard amount of 1.25 million dollars to act as Bond again.
  • Jill St.John became the first American Bond Girl
  • Last Bond movie to feature Blofeld as a villain. Till then, he was the main villain in 6 out of 7 movies.
  • The “mud pool” in the pre-title sequence was made out of mashed potatoes.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER SHAKEN AND STIRRED (Review)

What comes to my mind when I think of Diamonds are Forever is not the sparkling coolness of diamonds but heat, dust, sand, sun and the color light brown, the result of almost all of the movie taking place in the deserts of California and Nevada, which does not really make for the exotic locations most Bond stories take place in. This is just one aspect of the movie that has been panned for almost everything except Connery and the soundtrack by critics and viewers alike. And the ridiculous plot with a tangled up smuggling yarns, duplicate Blofelds and Laser generating satellites. But then again, anything should be expected from a Bond movie, right? We have seen stuff like “License to Kill” and “Die Another Day”. But the real highlight of the movie is the uninspired acting delivered by everyone except Connery, with Gray leading the pack playing the least evil and most bland Blofeld in history. Jill St.John epitomizes the raw, playboy sexuality of the late 60 and early 70s and Plenty is mandatory eye candy. Wint and Kidd, well, I just try to forget them. The rest of the cast isn’t even worth talking about. The film does not deliver at all, but could have done well if Blofeld was stockpiling diamonds to simply sell them and not build satellites. Why doesn’t this guy learn his lessons despite so many failures at World domination? But I sort of like the film, as it makes for good viewing with Bond playing up the high life.

All said and done, Diamonds are Forever is a good treat to watch for its individual moments of brilliance rather than for its overall well-rounded execution. Some of the sequences in it are so well done that one would wonder what had happened to the rest of the movie. The movie starts off on a solid pretext which announces to the World that Sean Connery is back after the previous, you know what. But it is all downhill from there, and the slightly long-ish movie is low on overall performance and high on details in individual sequences, with lose ends all over the place and looks rushed and hastily put together. The chase sequences were awesome, especially the Las Vegas street chase with the Mustang and the fight scene where Bond kicks ass with Bambi and Thumper. But the movie falls apart after Bond meets the Blofelds. By the time the movie reaches its end, it is all just stuff blowing up as if Hamilton just wanted to wrap it up and get it over with. The movie has an impatient and kind of rushed undertone, and also gets sillier by the minute it goes on, with puns like “I’m afraid you’ve caught me with more than my hands up” and the silly moon-buggy which looks like it popped out of a 5-year old’s imagination, Bond talking to rats and so on. The laughable surmise of the laser-satellite and Blofeld’s latest “world domination” scheme looked so forced and artificial that it was almost buried under all that Nevada dust never to be taken seriously. But there was one shining beacon of hope in all this mediocrity, and that was Sean Connery. Though his age was showing by now, he was still James Bond in all that he stood for, except in some of the sillier scenes. He made his last appearance memorable for being the only slick factor in this otherwise dusty movie. Blame the screenwriters for making the movie fall apart all over the place.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER? LEGACY

Diamonds are Forever, yes. But this movie will be remembered forever for both the return of Sean Connery for his last last (official) performance as James Bond in a movie that has the shoddiest screenplay in the series. The Bond makers seemed to be in a hurry to put the Lazenby-debacle behind them by moving on to the next one with the “original” Bond, Sean Connery, anxious to tell the World that all is well within the Bond-house. In the end, they ended up like a child who glues together a vase he broke and presents it to the parents with a “All is well” troubled grin on his face. Even the highlight of the movie, the Mustang chase is more remembered for the goof in between. Maybe they should have slowed down and gone easy on the movie. The main villain premise of “Laser Satellite to blow things up” was reused 31 years later in the equally disastrous “Die Another Day“, which got lambasted to such an extent that they had to reboot the series. Bond’s age had begun to show but his performance will still be remembered as one of the saving graces of the film. There is a popular sentiment about DAF that says “A Roger Moore Bond film starring Sean Connery”, which is true to an extent. The hallmarks of Moore’s movies which are their general lightheartedness with their silliness, convoluted plots, atrocious puns and double-entendres can trace their ancestry to this movie. And also the trend of including socio-political trends into the movies (The moon-landing enacting sequence thing). Maybe OHMSS had such an impact on the Bond series that they completely lost it. Anyway, this movie will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, sadly, especially since I sort of like it.

THE VERDICT

THE GOOD: Sean Connery, Many individual scenes, Chase Sequences, Tiffany Case in a Bikini

THE BAD: Everyone other than Connery, The Plot, The Climax, The Locations, No Bond Car.

BONDSCALE: 4 Stars out of 10, 17th Worst Movie out of 22

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