Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Film Review
Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Sean Connery, Jill St John, Charles Gray
by @Roger Crow
I’ve no idea what was in the water at 007 HQ when this was made, but I do know Sean Connery was ready to go out with a laugh. George Lazenby had decided to call it a day after one film, so other actors were considered, including Psycho veteran John Gavin and even explorer Ranulph Fiennes. Yes, really.
Eventually Sean was lured back to the fold by a large number of zeroes on his cheque, a percentage of the takings and freedom to launch other projects. It was one of the most lucrative deals in Hollywood history.
Whether in Amsterdam or Vegas, it’s more of a crime caper than a Bond movie, though a terrific fight in a Dutch lift (usually cut for TV) gives it a much needed sense of danger.
“Bursting with unusual moments”
Ian Fleming’s novel was adapted by Tom Mankiewicz, the twentysomething nephew of Citizen Kane writer Herman Mankiewicz (recently played by Gary Oldman in Mank). Connery liked his style, and unlike some Bond epics which felt disjointed at times, this had the irreverence and energy needed to carry 007 into a new decade.
Comedy killers Mr Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr Kidd (Putter Smith) became two of the saga’s most unusual assassins, while Jill St John’s Tiffany Case was a formidable love interest, even if at times she looks like Rita from the 1970s Corrie trip to Mallorca).
Natalie Wood’s sister Lana Wood adds bags of sex appeal as Vegas glamour girl Plenty O’Toole, and returning actor Charles Gray has a great time as Blofeld. Or should that be Blofelds?
John Barry once more pulls out all the stops with the score ‘(To Hell with Blofeld’ is sublime), and Shirley Bassey returns with that glorious title track; lyrics by maestro Don Black.
The movie is bursting with unusual moments, from the woman who turns into a gorilla in a freak show to Bond stealing that Moon buggy. (My first bit of Bond toy merch bought a few years later).
And then there’s that terrific chase through the streets of Vegas, when not even an alley and a car too wide for it can stop 007 from making an impressive getaway. Who cares if he goes in on two wheels on the right side and comes out on the left? Given everything else that happens, that’s arguably the most believable stunt.
Jimmy Dean’s reclusive tycoon Willard Whyte is a hoot, while acrobatic killers Bambi and Thumper might have succeeded in this plan of killing Bond, had it not been for that fact they’re apparently powerless in water.
Some Bond films tend to go on a bit if there’s an excessive battle scene or chase, and this blends just the right amount of comedy, action and downright strangeness to be more of a cult movie than a typical blockbuster. And that oil rig battle scene finale is terrific.
Connery’s final official 007 movie is a fine swansong for the much missed superstar. Like that Rihanna song, it still shines bright like a diamond. Okay, make that ‘Plenty’ of diamonds.