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Diamonds Are Forever is often described as a Roger Moore film starring Sean
Connery, but it goes even farther than that. Whereas Moore ushered in
ironic/silly codings, Diamonds contains the most overtly camp humour the
series ever indulged in. The film also contains the most amount of nudity,
and arguably the rudest jokes of the franchise. The title quote is
quip to a girl with ever-changing wigs, while later we get the immortal
afraid you've caught me with more than my hands up."
There's the sense of the odd, or uneasy, about this one all the way through. From the theme title (and what a great song!) precipitated by a cat's cry to the homosexual henchmen Mr.Wynt and Mr. Kidd. Their unnerving air is not the result of their gay, slightly homophobic, portrayal, but in Putter Smith's performance as Kidd. Not a trained actor, but an accomplished jazz bassist, this off-kilter playing creates an unconscious, unsettling atmosphere.
It's this juxtaposition which compels throughout. Like seeing Britain's top espionage agent doing the childhood "snogging with yourself" routine then smashing a man's head through a window just seconds later. It's a superficially lightweight film, but with a nasty, almost bitter undercurrent. Connery's obvious resistance to the role actually serves it well here, given that this is the first post-wife Bond movie. Bernard Lee plays an unusually terse M to complement this abrasive 007. Such a starch display cuts through the smug underpinnings of the character and makes the cheesy one-liners more palatable. He looks older than in any of his other Bond films - Never Say Never Again included but this also fits his anguished, bereaved state. In line with this most misogynistic of Bond pictures, Jill St. John's character development passes from intelligent, through to devious and down into simpering bimbo.
Incidental music is a bit disattached, and often feels like it belongs to another film. It works against, rather than with, the picture it's there to support. Yet although not quite the best of the series, this and the following Live and Let Die are the most distinctive in look, feel and style. They're light, pacy, poppish takes on the format, full of comicbook verve and wit. Guy Hamilton's direction is also very good; making the most of the LA location with use of expansive aerial shots.
The plot seems fairly complex, though maybe that's because it's underdeveloped and submerged beneath slightly irrelevant setpieces. I had to smile at the line "Get him off that machine, that isn't a toy" as Sean boards the moonbuggy. I remember after the film it became one, a primary-coloured Dinky version with a spinning radar. Brings back memories, that.
Blofeld, who has now taken up cloning and cross-dressing, is played here by Charles Gray. Although at the time it was four years before he would become the criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the two are now inseparable, in my mind at least. As if this wasn't enough high camp to go round, there's also Connery being demolished by Bambi and Thumper, a couple of sadistic female gymnasts.
If something about this quirky, offbeat Bond (and some sources list it as the seventh least successful in terms of gross) doesn't quite gel, then it greatly improves on repeat viewings.
DAF is one of the weakest, laziest movies in the franchise.
For a start, where is the action? Apart from a good close quarters punch up in a lift, there is hardly any. What remains is lacking in energy and played mainly for laughs. 007 beaten up by two acrobatic women - until he just holds them underwater in a swimming pool. An awful slapstick car-trashing chase in Vegas. And the big finale is anything but. We have a few of Blofled's henchmen fighting a few helicopters. Bond does almost nothing except swing Blofeld's escape pod around with a crane.
Which brings us to another point - this is without doubt the least serious Bond movie ever. It is borderline comedy throughout, clearly influenced by the likes of The Man from UNCLE and the Batman TV show. Blofeld dresses in drag at one stage. Most of the supporting characters are comic relief. The sinister henchmen, Wint and Kidd, would stand out in any other movie due to their extreme black humour, but here they are just wasted. Jill St John's Tiffany Case is amongst the worst Bond girls, silly and helpless.
We even see Q - in Vegas - cheating on a slot machine.
At least Connery is back right? Wrong. He's clearly on set, but equally clearly thinking about his next round of golf. Even his delivery of 'Bond, James Bond' is awful. He isn't helped by some awful costume decisions, including a brown tweed suit, and a pink (!) tie. Connery's huge payout for this film means everything else looks cheaper than before; by the climax you have embarrassing helicopter explosions, clearly animated, that would have been superbly detailed model shots in previous (and later) movies.
There is virtually nothing good to say about Diamonds. The film is so lacking in energy or excitement that only the plot manages to pull it along. It's a series of weird and comedic scenes that hardly feel like a Bond movie in any way, and it's hard to believe this came after On Her Majesty's Sceret Service. The film scrimps so much on the action that you are left watching a bizarre, parallel universe version of Bond where nothing remotely Bond-ish seems to happen. It feels almost like a live-action version of a Saturday morning Bond cartoon, watered down for the kids (Bond never even uses his gun).
Two plus points; Shirey Bassey's theme tune is superbly atmospheric and mysterious. Jill St John is very sexy. That's it. Connery came back, the director of Goldfinger came back, and the result was this farce.
You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them
according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things
one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual
effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that
make a Bond film a Bond film and how DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER rates on a
scale of 1 to 10:
Title: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER: A slight perversion of the once popular ad line used to sell wedding rings, this title suggests romance, but certainly that is the last thing on the film's agenda. It's a wonderfully deceptive title. 10 points.
Pre-Credit Teaser: Bond "kills" Blofeld, which supposedly seems to tie up major loose ends from ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. But considering that when last we saw him, Blofeld was murdering James' new bride, such a confrontation should have immense power. An important turning point in the series slips past with no acknowledgment. Though the opening does serve to show that Sean Connery is back and George Lazenby has been released from Bondage. 2 points.
Opening Credits: Maurice Binder's style of opening montage is wearing just a tad old and predictable. Pretty enough with its diamond-studded theme for 4 points, but not good enough to do justice to the:
Theme Song: It is said that originally the film was to be a followup to GOLDFINGER, with his brother taking up where Goldfinger left off. That never came off, but certainly "Diamonds are Forever" is a perfect companion piece to the earlier theme song. It, of course, has the fabulous Shirley Bassey doing the vocals again, but it also repeats the cynicism of applying sensuous lust to material wealth. It's an anti-love song, much like "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," only it doesn't hide its hard-edged avarice under a bouncy tune. It is, I think, even better than "Goldfinger," and may be the prefect James Bond song: amoral, stylish and seductive. 10 points
"Bond, James Bond": Connery is back, a bit chunkier and a tad grayer, but apparently his extended vacation from the role of 007 paid off. Personally, I think this is his best Bond work as Sean strolls through the film with relaxed charm and a complete understanding that this film, if not the entire series, is a comedy. Bond purists tend to disregard DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER because of its flip attitude, but that is what makes it my favorite. 10 points.
Bond Babes: Lana Wood, Natalie's sister, is on hand as the mandatory eye candy, and is all-too-disposable as Plenty O'Toole. But someone had the bright idea of making the main Bond Girl someone with a flair for comedy. Enter maturing starlet Jill St. John, the epitome of 1960's cheesy, Playboy sexuality. Whatever her limitations as an actress, St. John certainly had the knack for using her sexuality as an amusing toy and still maintain the edge that she is a lot smarter than she looks. As Tiffany Case, her intelligence seems to diminish as the film wears on (it seems the women Bond beds all end up dead or dumb), but her ability to fill a bikini remains indisputable. 9 points.
Bond Villain: Ernst Stavro Blofeld is back again, though only his love of fluffy, white pussycats remains constant. The intense geek of Donald Peasence and the uncouth thug of Telly Savalas are replaced by Charles Gray, who opts to play the part with droll, bemused wit and -- radically -- a full head of hair. Gray never gained iconic stature as Blofeld (that would come later as the Blofeld-like narrator in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW), but for my money he is the best Blofeld, a villain of classy arrogance who is singularly unimpressed by Bond. 10 points.
Bond Baddies: Ah yes, Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint; as played by Putter Smith and Bruce Glover, they are the Chip and Dale of Bond assassins; two more gracious and well-mannered killers would be hard to find. The film has been accused of homophobia for including a pair of gay killers, but considering the sheer number of assassins to cross Bond's path, it would be more discriminatory to exclude them based on their orientation. Wint and Kidd are at once gay clichés and yet surprisingly non-stereotypical. Nonetheless, they glide (prance? skip?) through the film with cold-blooded assurance and a rather endearing affection. And if they aren't butch enough, there's always Bambi and Thumper (Lola Larson and Trina Parks) on hand to beat the tar out of James. 9 points.
Plot: Blofeld hopes to corner the diamond market to use them on some sort of outer space laser with which he can -- again -- hold the nations of the world for ransom. Doesn't this guy ever learn? They even do the "you've killed James Bond" bit again. 5 points.
Production values: Bond's globetrotting brings him to the glitz and pseudo-grandeur of Las Vegas in all of its tacky glory. It makes for a nicely surrealistic backdrop, appropriate for the film's self-mocking attitude -- though a major chase scene is marred by the large number of tourists standing along the route, watching the filming. 7 points.
Bonus Points: The Bond producers' love of unorthodox casting pays off with the selection of country singer and sausage maker Jimmy Dean as the reclusive millionaire based on Howard Hughes. It is such a bizarre choice, yet Dean's country boy charm is a wonderful contrast to both Hughes' nutty behavior and to the bemused sophistication of Bond. 5 points.
Summary: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER is a turning point in the series; the gritty, pseudo-realism of the early films is gone in favor of slick comic book sci-fi gloss. Whatever the series loses in thrills it makes up for in fun.
Bond-o-meter Rating: 81 points out of 100.
When it comes to Bond films I watch with trepidation, as I either really like them or absolutely hate them. Diamonds are Forever falls in the former category although I'm not totally sure why. It's like after the serious action-packed 60's they decided to just calm down and relax, this is the most chilled out and mellow Bond film there is. It has that air of coolness that only early 70's films seem to have. There is a plot of sorts but there's no rush to get there. John Barry's score is his most jazzy and laid back. You feel this was the Bond film that most inspired Tarentino. Do you think so Mr Wint, I do Mr Kidd. Connery seems to really enjoy himself playing Bond again, now surprisingly looking older than his forty years although he was still younger than Roger Moore when he played Bond for the first time the following year, the role seems to fit him even better than before. It's a cool...(7/10).
In this 7th Bond movie, there is little of Bond's prowess in sex and
violence... Connery's return to his role for a final throw is simply
disappointing... Seeking a diamond smuggler, Bond has adventures in
Amsterdam, in a Los Angeles crematorium, in various Las Vegas gambling
parlors, and in a secret factory in Nevada desert...
For that Bond receives an urn containing a hoard of gems; leads the police on a wild chase; drives a Moonbuggy and a tiny Mustang convertible on two side wheels; wins at the Craps table; struggles superbly with two hot-tempered vixens; rips off a woman's top bikini; substitutes a fake computer tape; tries to escape from a blazing coffin; and knocks what he thinks is the real Blofeld // For the audience, it's intended to function as a glorious reinstatement of Connery-Bond, avenging Tracy's murder...
Jill St. John is the free agent who defies Bond's charm, but is reduced to a weak heroine, as she displays none of the class we've come to expect of a Bond girl... Nevertheless this redheaded diamond smuggler becomes the first American Bond beauty who does know how to wear a 'nice little nothing.' Jill inspires the best line in the movie...
Charles Gray becomes the third actor to portray a wildly sophisticated Blofeld on-screen following Donald Pleasance and Telly Savalas He succeeds as the reclusive tycoon Ernest Stavro Blofeld who creates doubles of himself to confuse Commander Bond... He hates martial music and takes no chances with his staff... His hit men are "gay and fun," Mr Kidd and Mr Wint... Putter Smith is the sadistic Mr Kidd and Bruce Glover is his sinister sidekick Mr Wint Jimmy Dean plays the multimillionaire Willard Whyte unaware that his company is being improperly used by Blofeld for his devil scheme for world domination...He is held prisoner in his desert mansion which is protected by two female karate experts nicknamed Bambi and Thumper...
Lana Wood becomes the glamorous society girl who meets Bond at a Las Vegas crap table One night she barely had enough time to remove her top, and gets an undeserved but chilling sendoff...
Desmond Llewelyn is Bond's gadget man, Q, who tries out an electromagnetic controller for his own amusement that makes an entire raw of slot machines hits jackpots...
Lois Maxwell is, as always, the loving Moneypenny in emigration uniform, this time, who still is aching for a diamond ring; Bernard Lee is the imposing 'M' who assigns 007 to infiltrate the smuggling ring and find out who was stockpiling stolen diamonds; Norman Burton is the CIA agent Felix Leiter who greets Bond and asks which part of the stiff holds the gems; Joseph Fürst is the brilliant scientist Dr Metz, who thinks that Blofeld is a mankind's benefactor, and a believer in world disarmament; and Bruce Cabot is Whyte's treacherous right-hand-man...
In 1967 Sean Connery quits the role of James Bond. Panic! Producers
replace him with Australian born George Lazenby, who makes "On Her
Majesty Secret Service". This film does reasonably well at the box
office, but not as well as the previous episodes... Furthermore, a big
part of the audiences and many critics savage Lazenby's performance,
rather pale compared to Connery's Bond portrait. "OHMSS" has been
revalued since, but at the time of the release it's perceived like a
In '71 producers hire American actor John Gavin for "Diamonds are forever" (DAF), but at the very last minute Sean Connery decides to come back to the role for one time only...
The film is a kind of remake of "Goldfinger" -there is Sean, of course; director Guy Hamilton; Shirley Bassey sings the theme; the story takes place in America; here too we have glamorous elements (diamonds instead of gold).
The movie is funny, Sean looks amused and quite relaxed in traveling between Amsterdam and Las Vegas to investigate about a diamond illegal traffic.
Nevertheless it's the "worst" of his Bonds... It's his less interesting outing as 007. When we think about him as Bond we think about the episodes of the Sixties, when the series was at its beginning. "Diamonds" has not the classical atmosphere of "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball" -the rhythm of DAF is not constant, there are also too many jokes, and a more American humor of the movie spoils the "Britishness" of 007. The first part of the film is boring, the second half has more action -although the final battle scene is not very well done.
Sean is Sean, but here he looks older than his age -curiously he looks fitter and more charming in "Never say never again", an "unofficial" Bond done 12 years later! By the way his presence in this film saves the show completely and a good entertainment is guaranteed.
After the relative commercial failure of On Her Majesty's Secret Service,
and the subsequent departure of the unlamented George Lazenby, the Bond
producers were desperate to lure Sean Connery back for just one more
as James Bond. Connery was reluctant, but the huge sum he was offered to
come back was too good to resist, and Diamonds are Forever thus became
last official Bond film. Sadly it is a thoroughly unworthy exit, for DAF
an inane, flabby film that suffers from lazy scripting and an excess of
humour, reducing Bond to the level of self-parody.
It seems that the aim of this film was to rekindle the spirit of Goldfinger, after audiences did not take kindly to the relatively serious OHMSS. Not only did Connery return, but so did Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton and other crew members who had worked on that film; even Shirley Bassey was back to sing the theme tune, which is one of the few good things about DAF. However, it lacks either the wit or elegance of Goldfinger, relying instead on a succession of bad puns and tedious chase sequences, including a particularly stupid one which sees Bond being pursued across the desert while driving a moon buggy. The decision to set most of the film in Las Vegas does not help matters, for it is a very un-Bond like place which just serves to make the film feel even more cheap and tacky.
The casting is a mixed bag. Connery never gave a bad performance as OO7, but he is at his most detached and uninterested here, going through the motions but never looking as if he is doing it for anything other than the money. Even though he was only 40 when he made it, he also looks rather old in this film, which does not help credibility. Charles Gray is OK as Blofeld, but plays it far too camp and never seems the slightest bit menacing, which is not a good idea if you are playing Bond's arch-enemy. Jill St John's Tiffany Case is a spirited Bond girl, but unaccountably she becomes more and more stupid as the film goes on, and never becomes as strong a character as she should have been. Wint and Kidd, Blofeld's homosexual henchmen, provide quite good comic value, even though they are outrageous gay stereotypes; nevertheless, their antics seem very out of place in a Bond film, being more suited to Are You Being Served. As for Jimmy Dean's Willard Whyte, I found him to be one of the most irritating characters in any Bond film, though thankfully he does not get much screen time.
There are some good points in the film, including an effective fight between Bond and Peter Franks in Amsterdam, and a memorable scene in which OO7 has to grapple with two striking young women called Bambi and Thumper. In general, however, DAF feels tired, trying to compensate for the lack of a decent script with its childish humour and endless stunts. It is all a long way away from the classic Connery Bonds of the early 60s, and indeed DAF is much closer in tone to the jokey Roger Moore films that would follow it during the rest of the 70s, although most of those have more going for them than this film. All in all, DAF is more of a feeble exercise in camp comedy than a stylish spy thriller, a sad way for Connery to leave the part that had made him a star. Of all the Bond films, probably only Moonraker is worse.
MASTER PLAN: steal a lot of diamonds to fashion an orbiting super-duper
laser to, guess what, blackmail the world! The pre-credits teaser
functions as an epilogue to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," with
Bond hunting his arch-nemesis, Blofeld, in a quick series of scenes
throughout the world. The filmmakers tried to recapture the best of
"Goldfinger" in this one, using the same director and singer Bassey on
the credits again. Ending up with even a pale imitation of the best
Bonder is not such a bad thing, but it also points to the lack of
originality besetting the series by this time. This one probably breaks
the record for unusual types of killings, mostly courtesy of gay
assassins Wint & Kidd, who go through a bunch of victims very quickly
early on. The odd flavor and juxtaposition (detail of diamond smuggling
over surreal liquidations) is an attempt to make Bond edgy & relevant
now that the seventies began. The danger with all the attempts to be
unusual, whether in regard to deaths or chases, is that it dips into a
cutesy atmosphere a bit too far. Those fans fond of the seriousness in
the previous film would probably not be amused, since it comes across
as a dark parody of the usual spy stuff. That being said, Wint & Kidd,
who represent the worst excesses of this film, end up as the
highlights. From their very first scene in the desert, where they seem
to draw inspiration from a scorpion, these two oddballs have the
audience guessing on what they would do next - they are goofy, yes, but
also lethal - interesting because they are somewhat original.
Bond's mission, tracking an involved diamond smuggling operation, takes him briefly to Amsterdam, but he ends up in Las Vegas for most of the story. A subplot involves a missing billionaire, obviously patterned after Howard Hughes, who was still living as a recluse at this time. M and, especially Moneypenny, have less screen time in this one, though Q pops up in an amusing scene testing one of his gizmos on some one-armed bandits (Vegas is no match for Q). Though the scenes in Vegas itself are less exotic than those of most Bond films, the film also makes good use of the surrounding desert terrain and there are numerous grand sets, notably a huge futuristic lab building, complete with tests of a fake moon landing, as well as a house built into the rocks. There is a good auto chase on the streets of Vegas, which has the infamous 'two-wheely' by Bond thru an alley. The two weird assassins pop up every now and then; they even have their own theme score, an eerie yet playful little tune. One of them looks very strange (Smith, a jazz musician with no acting experience), while the other (actor Glover, father of Crispin Glover) looks more normal but has very strange inflections to his speech. Every time they show up, a strange tension surfaces for the viewer. Besides Wint & Kidd, other outrageous foes for Bond include Bambi & Thumper, two wild martial arts girls who nearly knock his teeth in. Their scene has a lot of energy and you won't soon forget them. The story is well-paced for the most part, with less of those slow spots that afflicted many of the later Bonders. However, a couple of deleted scenes with the Plenty character makes things a bit confusing for her character arc.
Connery is, of course, several years older since his last Bonder, but he looks pretty much the same as he did in "You Only Live Twice." There may be a hint of grey around the edges and, in his scenes with M, it no longer comes across as 'the old man and the wiseguy kid' repartee, despite their best efforts. But Bond is still the ideal male here and it's still believable that femme fatale Tiffany falls for him by the end. She's a curious mixture of flaky girl and worldly woman, usually flippant in her approach, sort of reflecting the trivial nature of this Bonder, where nothing happening is really of grave import. That's why, when Blofeld's (him again) real plan is revealed, it's a bit out of left field; all of sudden, we see a super laser detonating missiles around the globe and everything has changed into matters of international import. Blofeld, as played by Gray, is more urbane and effeminate than the previous two versions, more attuned to a villain planning world domination, but he's also too civilized, too polite to Bond in the climactic sequence, diffusing his threatening presence. CIA liaison Leiter recalls the non-descript Leiter of "Goldfinger," as well. The climax on that oil rig sea platform in Baja is not very well done, with Blofeld's end especially disappointing (he would not return, except in the teaser of "For Your Eyes Only"). But, the epilogue is excellent. Bond, but not Connery, would return in "Live and Let Die." Bond:8 Villain:7 Femme Fatales:7 Henchmen/women:8 Leiter:6 Fights:8 Stunts/Chases:8 Gadgets:6 Auto:7 Locations:6 Pace:8 overall:7
Well well, this one has really elicited some polarised opinion! Connery
returned here for three principal reasons. Despite the box-office success
ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, Lazenby's post-production antics and
monetary demands cost him a job. US actor John Gavin (mercifully) declined
the role in this film and thirdly public demand and an offer he couldn't
refuse (something to do with truck-loads of cash), induced Connery so slap
on the old hairpiece once more! Looking visibly older, though not in any
detrimental to the role, Sean revels in what obviously (to him) was his
swansong as 007. Almost a complete turnaround in style from his
mega-serious British Agent in his previous five outings, Bond is having
Virtually a total send up of the entire franchise to date, Bond veritably
dribbles double entendres unloading on the audience probably the rudest
funniest dialog of the series. Pick of the flick? "I'm Plenty O'Toole" to
which Bond quips, "Named after your father are you?"
The plot is more or less made up as they went along and is just plain incidental to the Movie. Campy beyond belief, even to the extent of having a pair of confrontingly homosexual killers who bumble their way to annihilation at the film's conclusion. Most Bond purists choked on their martinis with the release of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. The way to enjoy this one is to let it flow....don't compare it! Have no expectations and let Connery entertain you. One right out of the bag here. If you want it to fit a pre-conceived mould, you're in for a major disappointment. For God's sake how seriously could you take a Bond film starring singer Jimmy Dean, not to mention a couple of beefed up exquisitely proportioned female minders called Bambi and Thumper?
One of the Bonds that has improved with age AND multiple viewings. RIP James!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember seeing this film years and years ago and always had in my mind the image of a body disappearing into bubbling mud ( gold mashed potato ). This film on first viewing appearts bizarre and weird but actually grows on you after several viewings. It has many weird facets - not least the background music you hear playing on the very first shots of the Willard Whyte Towers ( I wonder what the building really was - presumably some office block in Las Vegas ), weird also the two homosexual killers who are in fact very frightening in their modus operandi, thank God they got their just desserts on the boat at the end - I was waiting for that one. And there's old "No-neck" Charles Gray with his superb upper class english accent (like me !) who plays a weird villain, not credible all the time but nevertheless amusing. And there's those two weird Girls Thumber and Bambi who prance around like monkeys at WW's summer house ! And there's Willard Whyte himself, God, what a strange accent he has, sound's like a 1970's cowboy. It seems incredible he has been locked up for five years in a flat and never managed to escape. When I compare this film to the rubbish they put into Goldeneye and The world in not enough, I actually found it better than I thought on first viewing. Also the plot is a bit complicated and rather disarms on first viewing. But having watched the film four times, I now find the action sequences very good, especially the shoot out on the oil-rig at the end. Bond's female companion JSJ is absolutely gorgeous and seems to have aged well like good wine ( on the dvd there is an interview with her today ). So all in all I think the film will age well and gain value in time to come whereas when it came out, it was probably considered rather Obsure. True, Connery's performance itself is less good than in previous Bonds, but the rest makes up for this. Note also the superb theme song by Shirley Bassey and the graphically beautiful opening credits which are amongst the best of all the Bond Films.............
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