Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
The world of Bond …. James Bond comes to Mike’s Take on the Movies for the first time. Sure I’ve seen every Bond movie and I’m a card carrying wanna be member of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Why has it taken me so long to feature one of the Bond titles? Truthfully I generally stay away from films that I feel I have little to add to what others have said and reported on. But dammit I hadn’t actually watched a Bond film in maybe five years so it was time to unwrap the blu ray box set that was released for the 50th year celebration of Bond.
I went with this one because I realized I recalled very little about it. It’s probably the least seen of the Connery titles in my home growing up. The first thing that grabbed me in this Guy Hamilton film that returned Connery to the role after the Lazenby effort is the wonderful cast of actors that filled in the roles beyond Sean, Bernard, Lois and Desmond.
Taking over the role of Blofeld from the previous owner, Telly Savalas, is the very capable Charles Gray. In the customary pre-credit sequence Connery is going to at first verbally spar with Gray before seemingly sending him to a muddy grave. Seemingly being the key word. Now it’s time to put Bond back to work and Bernard Lee’s M does just that having Lois Maxwell send him off on a diamond smuggling caper that’s going to bring Sean full circle to where this adventure began. At the doorstep of Gray’s Blofeld.
After the tag team of Bruce Glover and Putter Smith are introduced as a pair of hired killers with a penchant for black humor, Connery is off to Holland to meet his all new Bond girl, sexy Jill St. John. Connery is undercover and has to kill the man he’s impersonating. Shrewdly he switches wallets and St. John can’t believe that her new contact has killed THE James Bond. Connery is of course amusing and quick with the quips, “Is that who it was? Well just goes to show, no one’s indestructible. “
From Holland it’s off to Vegas and the casino nightlife where Connery gets to meet Lana Wood portraying Plenty O’Toole. She’s looking to bring a little luck to those playing the tables and Connery finds her hard to resist. And why not…..
Vegas brings Bruce Cabot into the story as a pit boss who is also under the employ of Gray and we’ll also see good old boy Jimmy Dean appearing as a patsy for the villains. I had to pause and wonder if Jimmy Dean Sausage is on the buffet menu in the mornings to the strings of his hit song, Big Bad John.
I believe I saw Laurence Naismith and isn’t that Sid Haig and long time gangland favorite Marc Lawrence dressed in black looking like mob soldiers? Connery doesn’t seem worried and though he flirts with Plenty, it’s Jill that’s going to be in on the traditional shootout staged on an oil rig with the customary explosions and no name characters that will serve as target practice for James Bond. Maybe he’ll even put an end to Blofeld’s evil reign and attempts at world domination when the explosions die down.
Connery will memorably tangle with Bambi and Thumper and don’t touch that dial before Glover and Putter put in one deliciously final appearance. It’s worth the wait. “Mouton Rothschild IS a claret. And, I’ve smelled that aftershave before, and both times – I’ve smelled a rat. “
From the opening theme song by Shirley Bassey to Connery and company, this is another wonderful throwback to the days when Bond films were fun. That’s F-U-N. Something I’ll admit to being critical of in the most recent films. I find they’ve been to influenced by the success of the “harder” Bourne films. While Connery delivers the goods for the last time in the “official” Bond series, it doesn’t hurt to be joined by the cast that accompanies him on this mission for God and Queen. Sean would famously return to the role in 1983’s Never Say Never Again going head to head with Roger Moore’s Bond film Octopussy. Following Diamonds, Moore would take over the role for 1973’s Live and Let Die and carry the role into the mid 80’s.
Sure I love the Bond girls and Gray’s take on the Blofeld role but aside from Connery, for me the highlight of the film is the interaction between Glover and Putter and by extension whoever their intended victims are.
No original poster here in the vault but I’d sure love to have one. For more on that, give this a look.