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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)  

Review: written 11th September 2007

Bond ingredients all present and correct - but not risen to the occasion

After Lazenby's departure from the role following the successful but not overwhelming On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Connery is back as Bond to give the series a boost of levity.

This was a change of pace for the Bond franchise. A very obvious effort is made to pander to the American market, the bulk of the action taking place in America, specifically Las Vegas. Having said that, you can almost see the producer's cogs turning as they figure out how to make the next Bond movie successful. `Wait, wasn't Goldfinger really successful? Let's get the director from that one back!' and ` Oh yeah, that singer Bassey, she worked too...'. And then add some quirky casting - the first American actress to be a Bond girl, Jill St John (That's a nice little nothing you're almost wearing..') and ex Playboy centrefold Lana Turner, as Plenty O'Toole (`named after your father perhaps?').

Humour has been successfully if forcefully reinserted, thanks to Tom Mankiewisc script - but that's not to say action has been overlooked. It has the signature car chase, one of the better of the series, in a growling Mustang made more alive in the remastered dts sound mix than ever before, amongst the casinos of Vegas ( watch out for how many times they drive past the same landmarks...). In fact, you have to give them credit, all the ingredients are here to while away a couple of hours nicely, thanks in no small part to the undeniable screen presence of Connery - he was worth the money.

However, it's all too clear that elsewhere all is not well. Charles Gray is about as bland an actor as could play the role of Blofeld, bringing nothing to the role except a plummy accent. In fact, none of the villains appear to be of any danger to Bond except for the brief appearance of the smuggler Peter Franks, played by the man who taught Connery Judo. Their fight in the elevator is closest in tone to any of the best moments of previous movies. Jill St John does very well, when her character is in charge - sexy and confident - until the shooting starts and all she is required to do is gasp and go `ooohh' and `ahhh' and be the butt of various sexist jokes (`what wonderful cheeks they are.. if only they were brains..' says Blofeld). And the climax is a let down. The final confrontation on the oil rig is embarrassingly small scale and the enemies ludicrously easily overpowered. It's a shame, since it starts out with helicopters swooping in to attack an oil rig, and it appears that a set piece akin to the finale of OHMSS is about to be recreated, the attack on the fortress at the end. Alas, a few obviously placed charges and swooping helicopters later, and all is over. It has been since suggested this was due to budget cuts to finance Connery's pay packet - what a shame. At least there is a humourous coda at the end, albeit in dubious taste.

All in all, not Bond's finest hour, but thanks in large part to Connery, a satisfying way to spend a couple of hours of action and fun.





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