Bond: Diamonds Are Forever
After the relative failure of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE at the box office, Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, & Harry Saltzman had to reconsider the direction the Bond series was heading in. After some soul searching, they decided to scale back the series, deciding to shoot the new film in the U.S, and hiring American actor John Gavin to play Bond (their first choice, Burt Reynolds, was unavailable). That’s right folks- James Bond just about became a Yank, until the bosses at United Artists put the kibosh on these plans- and told the producers to do whatever had to be done to get Sean Connery back in his tux.
Eventually, Connery and UA reached an agreement, where Connery would be paid an unheard of 1.1 million GBP, and given an option to do two non- Bond films for UA (only one such film, THE OFFENSE, was filmed). At that time, Connery’s career was in a bit of a rut. His first post-Bond films, the western SHALAKO, and the big budget THE MOLLY MAGUIRES, had both been flops. Suddenly Bond didn’t look so bad to the actor, and he signed on. In a surprise move, he donated his entire salary to charity, using the money to establish the Scottish International Education Trust. With Connery back on board, the bargain basement approach was dropped, and the film became another massive production, although they kept the idea of shooting the film mostly in the U.S, setting the film primairily in Las Vegas. The question remained- would the producers be able to lure back the fans that abandoned the series?
PLOT: Bond, thinking that he’s rid the world of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, takes on a seemingly routine diamond smuggling case- leading him to Las Vegas, where he discovers that Blofeld is far from dead.
REVIEW: DIAMONDS ARE FORVER is not one of my favorite Bond’s. Recently, I gave it another shot, and realized that it’s practically a Dean Martin/ Matt Helm film with Connery, instead of Martin in the lead. It’s really like a spoof of itself, which is extremely disappointing as the previous film laid some serious dramatic groundwork.
This is one of the few Bond films that I don’t often revisit, as there are many things about it that annoy me. The fact that Bond was married and widowed in the last film is NEVER addressed, and it seems that the filmmakers were trying to pretend the last film never existed- and that this was really a follow up to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. People criticize the Roger Moore films for being too silly, but obviously those people haven’t seen this film, which is probably sillier than any Moore film (except maybe MOONRAKER). It puzzles me why the producers dumbed down the franchise so much here. Obviously they were trying to make another GOLDFINGER, but that film, while light and fluffy- was never dumb. I mean, c’mon- Blofeld clones? Really?
That said, the film is not all bad. After all, it does have Connery in the lead, which says something. It also has a nifty, if brief, fight in an elevator. I also really like the teaser- which promises a wicked, lean and mean Bond on the warpath film, but sadly the tone changes completely after the main titles. What a shame…
Connery is better in this than he was in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Obviously, having four years away from the role agreed with him, and he seems re-energized. However, it must be said that Connery, despite only being forty, really let himself go during his early post Bond years. He’s quite paunchy in the film- which is not helped by the fact that he often goes shiftless, and sports a set on man-boobs. Still- it’s Connery…
The babe-a- licious Jill St. John as Tiffany Case. I’ve always had a thing for this smoking hot actress (as did Connery- supposedly they were going at it throughout production, as Connery was undergoing a divorce at the time, and she had just dumped Henry Kissinger). Despite her extreme hotness, the character is a pretty air-headed Bond girl, and she spends the last half hour in the film running around in a bikini (wait a second- what the hell am I complaining about?). We also get Lana Wood as Plenty O’Toole.
Interestingly, Lana Wood is the younger sister of Natalie Wood, who was married to Robert Wagner, who is now married to St.John. Natalie Wood died a rather mysterious death aboard Wagner’s yacht- and Wood always claimed Wagner had a hand in her death. Of course, this is a ludicrous suggestion, as Wagner was supposedly so distraught when she died that he spent a year in bed. Also- Christopher Walken was aboard the yacht, and totally backed up Wagner’s alibi, and the fact that Wagner was NEVER even a suspect in her death according to police. Still, Wood has been shooting her mouth off about Wagner for years, and when she ended up in a Bond girl photo shoot with St. John a few years ago, the two supposedly got into a huge fight, which led to the shoot being cancelled.
BOND MUSIC: John Barry’s score is good, but not one of his best, as it’s a little too swingin’ for my liking. Not bad though- with a decent theme song by Shirley Bassey.
BODY COUNT: 8- most of whom buy it in the big oil rig shoot-out at the end.
NUMBER OF WOMEN BOND SLEEPS WITH: Get this- Bond only nails one chick in this. WTF- with Connery in the lead- how can this be? To be fair, Bond ALMOST sleeps with Plenty O’Toole, but she gets chucked out a window by some mobster- so what’s a guy to do?
BEST ONE- LINER: After kicking Blofeld’s cat (which he’s probably been waiting to do for three films now), which turns out to be a clone (sigh)-
Blofeld: Right idea, Mr. Bond...
James Bond: ...But wrong pussy.
BEST DOUBLE ENTENDRE: This is where the film really excels- there are a few good ones here. My favorites:
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?
[to Tiffany while he's in bed with her]
James Bond: Presumably I'm the condemned man and obviously you're the hearty breakfast.
[Tiffany Case opens the door almost nude]
James Bond: That's quite a nice little nothing you're almost wearing. I approve.
BEST GADGET: Q himself actually uses his best gadget- which is a magnetized doodad that lets him cheat at the slots while in Vegas. Now we know what Q does during his time off.
RECEPTION: DIAMONDS ARE FORVER was the hit producers were hoping for, making $43 Million in the U.S, and $116 Million world-wide. Despite the success, Connery still left the series (until 1983- when he returned for the “renegade” Bond- NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN- more on that later), and producers hired Roger Moore to take over. This time, Moore had Connery’s blessing (the two were actually pals offscreen, and there’s a famous photo of Connery planting a big wet one of Moore’s lips during a charity golf match), and the series finally found someone who could (almost) fill Connery’s shoes.
GRADE: 6/10- far from terrible, but one of the more mediocre installments.