Aug. 3, 2007

filmsgraded.com:
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Grade: 60/100

Director: Guy Hamilton
Stars: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray

What it's about. British secret agent James Bond (Jill St. John) is after rich bad guy Blofeld (Charles Gray) once again. Blofeld's latest plan to conquer the world involves stealing diamonds for use by a killer space satellite. Bond must foil Blofeld's plans, as well as steal his girlfriend Tiffany (Jill St. John).

How others will see it. Diamonds Are Forever is the seventh Saltzman-Broccoli Bond film, and the smell of formula was becoming stronger. By now, we know that Bond will save the world and win the girl, even though he barely escapes death on several occasions and is captured two or three times by the bad guy, who gives him the grand tour of his headquarters instead of killing him, despite his experience with Bond in the franchise's previous two adventures. Luckily, Diamonds Are Forever manages to partly compensate for its formula boundaries with charm and humor, epitomized by an elephant playing a slot machine and winning.

No, it's not as good as From Russia With Love, but its leagues better than the more preposterous Bond films that followed, headed by the comparatively stolid and rigid Roger Moore. All that's missing (for the most part) are the Bond bon mots, which are instead given out to two inseparable murderous villains, Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover).

How I felt about it. Diamonds Are Forever has its share of groaner moments. Bond gives a $5,000 gambling chip to a prostitute, said prostitute falls ten stories into a swimming pool and yet is unharmed, Bond correctly identifies the 1855 vintage of a sherry, a kidnapped Jimmy Dean has been held as a prisoner by two hottie gymnasts named Bambi and Thumper, a guard with a machine gun can't shoot a weather balloon, an aged comic named Shady Tree doubles as a diamond fence, and so on, and so forth.

But the humor is there. Connery's eyes get big when he gains consciousness in a coffin in an oven. How's he gonna get out of this fix? Never fear. There's a chase scene involving Bond driving a moon buggy in the Nevada desert. Bond drives a car sideways through a narrow alley (don't try this at home). Blofeld's doubles include one for his cat. After Bond breaks into Blofeld's bathroom, Blofeld suggests he use the facilities. Bond seems rather casual about leaving Plenty O'Toole floating dead in the pool (I guess an attempt at CPR was out of the question).

Diamonds Are Forever is a retro Bond movie. It has a retro villain (Blofeld), a retro Bond (Connery), a retro save the world plot, and even a retro theme song singer, since Shirley Bassey sang "Goldfinger" seven years before. All this helps explains why the movie is better than the Roger Moore films that followed, and also why it is weaker than the franchise's best films, from 1962 to 1964. Connery's hair is turning gray, and the formula is also showing its age.


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