A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an evil plot involving a rich business tycoon.A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an evil plot involving a rich business tycoon.A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an evil plot involving a rich business tycoon.
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.
- Jul 26, 2001