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Diamonds (1975)

Before Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus took Hollywood by storm in the 1980’s making Cannon Films a staple of low budget action films among other genres thus capitalizing on the VHS age they delivered this so-so heist film that gave us an interesting combination of actors up on the screen.

Globus is a credited producer but it’s Golan who produced, wrote and directed this time out as well. The film teams Robert Shaw and Richard Roundtree forming an uneasy alliance to open a high security vault containing millions in just what the movie’s title promises, Diamonds.

diamonds half sheet

Meeting Roundtree as he exits prison at the start of this Euro feature is girlfriend Barbara Hershey. Here billed as Barbara Seagull. Unknown to them is a man sitting in a car nearby. Tailing them is Mr. Shaw. Wisely he sets up an accident where they’ll come to him for repayment of damage incurred on their car. The duo think they’re playing Shaw but it’s he that is moving them like pawns around his own imaginary chessboard.

barbara-seagull-hershey-diamonds-1975-pic-5

Surprisingly, Shaw actually plays dual roles briefly here as twin brothers. One designs high tech security systems and the other playing our leading role here doesn’t much like his brother. Therefore he has set out with his new partners to crack the high security vault in Tel Aviv to more or less rub his brothers nose in the fact that he’s better at cracking them then his twin is at designing them.

Upon entering Israel, Roundtree and Hershey are made as suspected criminals and promptly put under police surveillance. It’s all part of Shaw’s master plan as this will allow the trio to set up a decoy operation to keep the locals occupied. This permits director Golan to put plenty of chase scenes on camera to fill out the running time. Then there is the stormy relationship between Hershey and Roundtree for some added melodrama.

shaw in diamonds

Shaw plays it all as a tourist who unfortunately for him and us as well runs squarely into the annoying presence of Shelley Winters as tourist on her own who keeps popping up and chatting with Shaw as he goes about the Holy Land. It’s roles like this that has generally led me to be a non supporter overall of Miss Winters. As I have already pointed out, I just find her generally annoying and far from leading lady material though she did have her day in the sun. Golan-Globus would bring Winters on board for Cannon Film’s 1985 star studded action fest The Delta Force.

With the heist films we’ve seen since the release of this movie, the actual robbery depicted on screen looks about as tough as opening a can of sardines. It’s not the most exciting heist job and just seems to easy for Shaw and Roundtree to crack. But then there’s the double cross which adds some flavor and justification to the whole venture as the film comes to it’s final sequence which I did find somewhat gratifying.

diamonds-1975

The film’s trailer included on the Anchor Bay DVD release is interesting in that it draws on the two leads previous films in it’s ad campaign. Richard “Shaft” Roundtree stars with Robert Shaw. “The shark hunter of Jaws is after an even bigger catch.” Surprisingly it didn’t mention that Barbara Hershey was perhaps better known at this time as Boxcar Bertha. We don’t see this type of trailer anymore making it another lost bit of advertising style from the past movies. Imagine hearing today, “starring Tom ‘Forrest Gump’ Hanks in Bridge of Spies from Steven ‘E.T.’ Spielberg.

By no means a memorable film but it’s got Robert Shaw and sadly we don’t have to many films gracing us with his screen presence. This alone makes it a worthwhile endeavor to give it a look.

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