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Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
This time around, Britain's favorite spy is tracking down a stolen case of diamonds from South African mines. While two assisins are out killing everyone involved in the smiggling ring, Bond goes undercover as diamond smuggler, Peter Franks, to get closer into the traitourous insiders. Of course, upon immersing himself in the action, he discovers that none other than the evil Blofeld is behind it all, yet again! Avoiding temptation from the beautiful smuggler-ess, Bond does his best to take down Blofeld once and for all!
Written by: Ian Fleming (novel) and Richard Maibaum.
Directed by: Guy Hamilton.
Tagline: "Diamonds never lie to me…"
This time the movie begins in medias res (in the middle) with Bond on the hunt for a certain Blofeld (Charles Gray). Meanwhile, unknown to Bond, however, Blofeld prepares for the first steps of a “plastic transformation”; the latest of his schemes which involves turning one of his agents into his phenotypical twin. No sooner does debonair British secret service agent Bond (Sean Connery) infiltrate Blofeld’s operation, however, than the latter seems to meet his demise at the hands of justice. Still, one has the odd feeling that Blofeld is too prominent a character too be killed off so soon in the film…but more of that later. A brief interlude ensues with your classic hormonally driven credits, featuring a milieu of scantily clad women donning gargantuan diamonds while the film’s theme song blares in the background. Yay, yet another typical Bond film; the credits never disappoint with all their nostalgic, cheesy glamour.
Action resumes with Bond back at the British offices where he and M are talking “ice” with a precarious agent. While Bond gets the 411 on the major diamond operations in South Africa, the film pans to two interesting individuals, Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), who have a particular fascination with…scorpions? After a brief glimpse at the two men’s destructive work, the film pans back to Bond long enough to learn that his latest assignment involves investigating the man responsible for potentially corrupting the diamond market with all their murders and potential diamond smuggling; whoever could it be…?
So, Bond’s first stop is Amsterdam where Bond will first fraternize with a Miss Tiffany Case (Lana Wood), who happens to be rather deft with spy tactics as well what with her chameleon hairdos and her hefty spy equipment. Under the alias Peter Franks, Bond talks “ice” while drinking “rocks” and passes the false identity test with the cautious woman. So it seems the alleged Peter Franks is involved in helping Miss Case smuggle some diamonds for a purse of $50,000. Facing off with the real Franks, Bond gets macho in an elevator while Miss Case watches in eager anticipation. Another hilarious instance of mistaken identity ensues when Miss Case believes none other than James Bond has finally met his demise. With the corpse of the real Peter Franks now stashed with the diamond loot, however, Bond heads to America where the CIA welcome the pricey corpse with open arms. While Bond drives to Nevada to restore the diamonds upon the cremation of Mr. Franks, the nefarious Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd strike again: Bond is about to be cremated when fate and an angry diamond consumer intervenes.
So the action continues at the Shady Lounge where “Shady Tree” gets the devout pleasure of meeting a certain Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd whose plans to off the senior are halted by news that their alleged diamond con resulted in the kidnapping of nothing more than a bunch of fakes. While Bond wheels and deals the crap tables and the women, Miss Tiffany Case pops up her “red” head to inquire about the location of the “real” diamonds, and seek a little romantic interlude in the process.
After some caddy pillow talk, however, its time for some more action at the circus; Circus Circus, that is! Between some trapeze flying and water balloon games, Miss Tiffany Case arrives at a precarious pad where she discovers the unlikely company of Mr. Bond, whose real identity is still a mystery, and the late Miss Plenty O’Toole. As Bond explains the deadly fates of all those involved in the mysterious diamond network, the two team up to unravel the identities of those responsible for the string of recent murders.
Needless to say, Bond’s quest leads him to yet another mysterious locale somewhere in the deserts of Nevada where a nefarious diamond operation is underway. At the helm of the project, so it appears, is Professor X . While Bond peruses the facility and provokes yet another mistaken identity scenario, a somewhat comical but classic chase scene is underway with Bond doing his best to avoid capture via the assistance of a precarious moon buggy. However the juvenile chase is quickly outdone by a more extensive one along the lighted streets of the Las Vegas strip with Bond behind the wheel of a souped up red muscle car. While Bond and Tiffany take a breather from all their wild affairs, it seems all Bond’s savvy P.I. queries lead him back to the “Whyte House” where a precarious Mr. Willard Whyte seems the man behind the diamond murders. Of course Bond is lucky enough to garner an invitation for an up close and personal invitation with the nefarious man. As Bond walks into the room the last person he expects to find sitting behind Mr. Whyte’s desk is Blofeld…rather, two Blofelds. So Bond learns that Mr. Whyte, the hermit, has been taken hostage via Blofeld and his “clones”. Though Bond is permitted to chitchat with the nemesis, all the same, the latter’s intentions concerning the diamonds are still to be determined.
With some help from the CIA, Bond heads to Whyte’s penthouse where the owner is being held hostage. Once inside Bond is greeted by an army of bikini baring karate babes, including Bambi and Thumper all “suited” up for action. Several cat fats later and Bond rescues Mr. Whyte from his alleged execution and brings him back to his lab so as unveil the final plans involving the diamonds. But before the mysterious diamonds can be addressed there must first be answers as to why all of the government’s missiles are being mysteriously blasted from autopilot satellites in outer space. So the U.S. is being held ransom and has only 24 hours to pay up. While Bond infiltrates Blofeld’s operation headquarters, the CIA swoops in on the “oil rig” with the intent to destroy. Meanwhile the countdown begins for operation “Destroy D.C.”; meanwhile Blofeld waits for his perverse plan to culminate world terror. Meanwhile, however, the diamonds have gone missing, or so it seems…So the film concludes with Bond and his girl pontificating how in the world they intend to “get those diamonds down again.”
“Diamonds are Forever” hosts Sean Connery as the supreme British secret service agent on the hunt for diamonds, murderers, and political nefarious political magnates. Once again the dialogue in “Diamonds” centers on classic puns, both sexual and ironic, as the harbinger of the film’s comic air. In fact, I don’t recall ever watching a film where even the characters names are so blatantly pun driven: from the appropriately named Mr. Slumber cast as the staged mortician, to the curvaceous Miss Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood), to the diamond heiress named as Miss “Tiffany”; then again, maybe I do. Though the dialogue was semi-witty at times, that it was so classically mimetic of all the Bond films: ironic, dry (as in humor), pun-filled, cliché, and deadpan, for the most part it was rather flat compared to other classic Bond flicks.
Likewise, the plot is typical of your Bond film: Russians, Germans, nuclear missiles, political hostages and American victims, and of course, your “Bond girls.” Still, the acting in this film is, sorry to say, sub par to most. The overly theatrical (read: over the top) deliveries by most of the actors, save for your reliable Sean Connery, make the film completely anticlimactic. Although, here not even Sean Connery is wholly free from guilt. From the cheesy escape stunts to the multiple knockout scenes (how many times did he not see the enemies coming!!), in this film Bond seemed less the debonair agent hero as much as he often appears semi-incompetent.
Yes, though it’s hard to admit, this much beloved film is, sadly, one of the less impressive in the Bond series. “Diamonds are Forever” is a haphazard film with a lot of loopholes in the plots (namely the entire focus of the “diamonds” gets skewed into some political nuclear (predictable) catastrophe that leaves the end of the film scrambling to tie together loose ends concerning the bad guys (which were killed far too easily, anticlimactically, and haphazardly), and most importantly, the diamonds! I felt like the film got on a tangent and never regained its focus on the primary plot- (sorry, can’t say it enough!).
*Note: might it be suggested that, if you’re not yet privy to the world of Bond and goons, you might not want this to be your first flick from the lot. It’s entertaining, but that’s about it. “Octopussy” and “Live and Let Die” are much better selections. Though you won’t see Connery in the action (Moore stars as Bond in these two), still, they are extremely entertaining, versatile, and some of the more solid examples of the international capabilities of British secret service agent 007.
Sean Connery plays James Bond.
Charles Gray plays Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Desmond Llewelyn plays “Q.”
Jill St. John plays Tiffany Case.
Lois Maxwell plays Miss Moneypenney,
Bruce Glover plays Mr. Wint.
Putter Smith plays Mr. Kidd
Lana Wood plays Plenty O’Toole
Jimmy Dean plays Willard Whyte
Mr. Kidd: If God had wanted man to fly…
Bond: What can I bring you back from Holland, Miss Moneypenny?
Bond: If you see a mad professor in a minibus, just smile.