Written by Ian Fleming, Richard Maibaum, and Tom Mankiewicz
Directed by Guy Hamilton
There are very few things in life that are pretty much sure things. For the producers of the James Bond films, Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, their sure thing was to being back the production team from Goldfinger and also bring back the man who had portrayed Bond so successfully through the first five films, Sean Connery.
Connery is starting to look a bit older here. There’s gray in his sideburns, and when he takes off his shirt he doesn’t quite have the same impact that he used to. However, he still conveys the suave sophistication of the super-spy. There’s also a degree of intensity that he brings to the role, which falls in nicely with the ending of the previous film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Bond is looking for Blofeld once again. His particular intense pursuit likely has a lot to do with the death of his beloved Tracy. In the opening sequence, it looks like Bond might have finally got his man. However, just as soon as he’s breathing a sigh of relief, it seems that Blofeld is still alive as he steps from behind a curtain. Bond’s pursuit must truly have Blofeld nervous as he’s created a series of look-alikes through surgery to act as decoys.
Bond is then dispatched by M (portrayed by Bernard Lee) on the trail of some diamond smugglers. It seems that someone is stockpiling the diamonds and it could potentially destabilize the market eventually. On the verge of being found out, suddenly those involved in the smuggling operation are being eliminated.
Bond impersonated a Dutch diamond smuggler, Peter Franks, and hooks up with Tiffany Case (portrayed by Jill St. John). She hires him (believing he is actually Peter Franks) to smuggle a significant amount of diamonds into the United States.
In a complicated but well-paced sequence, Bond and Case follow the path of the diamonds back to the buyer located in Las Vegas – Blofeld! Again, it would seem that Bond kills his arch-enemy, but another Blofeld appears and turns the tables on the super-spy.
It seems in many ways this is where the franchise definitely starts turning into tones of a comic-book superhero rather than a super-spy who uses intelligence and cunning above all else. The campiness is quite evident and something that there are no apologies made for. One of the highlights that were also pretty funny was the two gay assassins. The subtleness of how Putter Smith and Bruce Glover perform their roles as Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint stops it from becoming too absurd, but at the same time is entertaining and a bit of diversion from the action.
There’s also a poke at noted recluse Howard Hughes who was still alive at the time in the character of Willard White (portrayed by Jimmy Dean). This is a reference that is dated to younger generations who view the film as most of them won’t know of the stories surrounding Hughes and some of his more eccentric qualities.
For me, it was funny to see Las Vegas then as opposed to now. The setting was supposed to be very glitzy and glamorous, but compared to the Las Vegas of today it just looks sort of seedy.
The strength of Diamonds Are Forever is the performance of Sean Connery. Connery was the highest-paid actor for a single film at the time of this film’s release, and it was worth it to bring him back. He has the right degree of coolness and self-assuredness in the role but can descend into a romantic figure just as easily. This isn’t his finest performance as Bond, but it’s refreshing and makes me wonder even more how much better On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would have been, had he taken on the role.
Jill St. John surprised me with how well she handled the role of Tiffany Case. I’d only seen her in subsequent television roles and hadn’t really thought much of her until watching her opposite Connery. The two seem to have definite chemistry and she more than holds her own opposite him, rather than coming off as a woman who will serve only as an arm decoration. That role goes to Lara Wood as Plenty O’Toole. It’s an unremarkable role that really says nothing about her acting ability.
The consistent return of the supporting cast back at MI6 is a good constant to the series. The ever-changing Blofelds seem to be a distraction, and Charles Gray does little here with the role.
Diamonds Are Forever is a lot of fun and I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. The return of Connery alone is worth viewing and even with the issue of his aging, it would have been nice to see him continue especially if the scripts could have stayed more like this. Much of the Roger Moore era involved scripts becoming more and more outlandish and far-fetched, while the Connery era seemed to want to keep the stories somewhat grounded in reality. It’s definitely worth checking out in the series if only for the fact that it’s Connery’s last appearance in the official Bond series.
• Inside Diamonds Are Forever: An Original Documentary
• Cubby Broccoli – The Man Behind Bond
• Audio Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton and
• Deleted Scenes
• Television Spots
• Radio Spots
Previous film in the series (link): On Her Majesty’s Secret Service