This is the Seventh outing for superspy James Bond, and marks a return to the series for Sean Connery, for the last time.
After George Lazenby's departure (he feared he would be typecast) the producers managed to tempt Connery back into the fold one more time with a $10M paycheck (which Connery gave to charity) and the opportunity to make a film of his own choosing (the powerful `Offence').
This time out Bond is investigating the smuggling of diamonds, and finds that Blofeld is yet again manufacturing some weapon with which to hold the world to ransom.
The film is big and lavish, and marks what I consider to be the start of a downwards slope for Bond. The emphasis is less on plot, and more on big stunts and humour. The stunts are big exciting and the humour (especially Mr Kidd and Mr Wint are generally well done, but the tone is very different to the glory days of `From Russia With Love', or even the preceding `On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. There is less atmosphere, and less of a feeling that Bond and the world are really in any kind of danger. Personally it is not wholly to my taste.
The guest stars shine - Charles Gray is an effective Blofeld. Slightly camper than his predecessors in the role, but he still manages to exude an aura of evil genius. Jimmy Dean (a country singer who originally sang Big Bad John) makes a decent good ole country boy Texan millionaire and Jill St John makes a decent Bond girl, a bit less of a damsel in distress than most which makes a pleasant change. Three stars for the film itself.
This ultimate edition really is the best version of the film I have owned. The picture has been lovingly restored and cleaned up, and looks amazing. Really, I am not just saying that. It looks superb. The sound has been similarly treated and there is an option to listen to it in 5.1 DTS surround, which is truly exceptional.
As well as the superb presentation of the film, there is also a host of extras, original trailers, informative audio commentaries and the such. These are exhaustive and some of them quite interesting. But these really a garnish for the main course, which is the film itself.
This is an excellent release, and does the film justice. This series of `Ultimate editions' really sets the standard for film releases. It really does not get any better.
Diamonds Are Forever is directed by Guy Hamilton and adapted to screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz from the novel of the same name written by Ian Fleming. It stars Sean Connery, Jill St John, Charles Gray, Bruce Glover, Putter Smith, Joseph Furst, Norman Burton and Jimmy Dean. Music is scored by John Barry and cinematography by Ted Moore.
Bond 7 and 007 is assigned to find out who is stock piling all the black market diamonds. This leads him to a sinister weapon being manufactured in space that can destroy major cities, the architect of such vileness? SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the man who murdered Bond's wife and someone Bond thought he had already located and killed.
With George Lazenby withdrawing from the franchise after just the one film, off to massage his ego and take further bad advice from those around him, Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Saltzman set about making Bond sustainable box office in the 1970s. American actor John Gavin (Psycho/Spartacus) had signed on to fill the tuxedo, but armed with wads of cash the producers managed to entice Connery back to the role he had previously fell out of love with. Helped, too, that Connery's post Bond movies, his last outing had been You Only Live Twice in 1967, had hardly set the box office alight. It seemed a long shot, but Connery stunned the movie world by agreeing to once again play the role that many would come to know him for.
Back came Connery, back came director Guy Hamilton and back came Shirley Bassey to sing the title song (a true Bond classic it proved to be as well), these were reassuring signs, as was having Blofeld remain on villain duties. However, stung by the criticism of Lazenby's humanesque On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and the drop in box office profits compared to Connery's latter Bond films, the makers decided to play this Bond as fantastique, something that would define Bond until Timothy Dalton tried something different at the end of the 1980s. Roger Moore would replace Connery as Bond two years later and it's widely thought that his arrival as 007 ushered in the "ridiculous" era of overt humour, preposterous sight gags and cartoonish escapades, not so, it began with Connery's Diamonds Are Forever. The moment Bond drives a Ford Mustang on two wheels, all bets were off in the franchise.
Artistically "Diamonds" is a disappointing movie, fun for sure, but the screenplay refuses to let the film take itself seriously. It's often camp and the picture lacks dramatic thrust and spectacular action, with the finale a rather tepid affair. Connery's presence gives the film some warmth, but his charisma and vocal delivery can't detract from the fact he looks to be doing it purely for the money. His weight, like his hair colour, fluctuates, and much of the vibrancy of his 60s Bond portrayals had disappeared. Charles Gray turns in the worst Blofeld of them all, saddled with a screenplay that has him cloning and cross dressing, Gray has Blofeld as charming and wry, gone is the menace and machismo so wonderfully portrayed by Pleasence and Savalas respectively in the previous two Bond movies. Felix Leiter in Norman Burton's hands has been reduced to being a bit of a doofus, the baddies are either too fey or over the top, while Jill St John's main Bond girl, Tiffany Case, descends from being a steely femme at the beginning, to a voluptuous caricature.
On the plus side. Barry's score and Ken Adam's sets are still franchise joys, the byplay between Bond and M (Bernard Lee again) reminds us of once great characterisations, while Desmond Llewelyn's Q is nicely sent out in the field for a change. Action wise there's some fine moments. The pre-credits sequence as Bond chases down Blofeld starts things off excitingly, a fight in a lift is up with the best of the Bond movie dust-ups and the dirt bike and Mustang chase sequences are well put together by Hamilton. Good gadgets, too, if you like that side of Bond? There was enough good parts here, and the return of Connery, to ensure Diamonds Are Forever was a monster success at the box office, where it grossed over $115 million worldwide. It proved that Bond had longevity, but with a new actor to come to the Bond role in two years time and the big shift to comedy action over tough guy missions, would Bond turn off the movie loving public? 6/10
on 29 January 2015
In my view, Sean Connery is definitely the best actor for the role of Bond. He manages the difficult task of looking both urbane and hard enough for the job, simultaneously. However, he is too often let down by the banalities of the script and the woodenness of the acting around him. Some of the interiors for 'Diamonds Are Forever' are excellent - particularly for Blofeld's hideout on the upper floors of a Las Vegas hotel - but too often these interiors are wasted on the banality of what is said and done within them.
Jill St John as 'Tiffany Case' certainly looks the part, but her acting skills are on a par with the worst of amateur dramatics. Charles Gray does a good turn (possibly the best) as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The word 'feline' comes home to roost with him. And the film does have some interesting elements. Notably a pair of gay killers and the duo of stunning-looking female assassins. I also enjoyed the fight in the lift, or elevator, which takes place towards the beginning. But as so often with a Bond film, I came away from 'Diamonds Are Forever' with the feeling of potential unrealised. It could have been so much more effective had it been made with more intelligence, flair and imagination. The plot is both formulaic and preposterous, and one loses interest in it some time before the film ends.
By the time of 'Diamonds Are Forever', Sean Connery is visibly pushing middle-age, and Lois Maxwell, Bernard Lee and Desmond Llewellyn all look too old for their parts. I also found that what passes for witty banter in the film now sounds just vulgar and embarrassing. It would not be until 'Casino Royale' that we would catch a glimpse of what a Bond film could be. Right through the intervening years (and possibly from the start, actually) the demands of the franchise - that the film be formulaic and conventional - effectively stifled creativity and imagination. What this means is that although the films turned a profit at the time, in retrospect they do look more than a little stilted.
Oh, and I enjoyed the 1971-ness of the film. In terms of style and design, that happens to be one of my favourite periods, which is why I chose to watch 'Diamonds Are Forever' in the first place.
Connery's last Bond film for Broccoli and Saltzman is very familiar stuff. Diamonds Are Forever is one of those once popular Bond films whose reputation among the faithful seems to drop every year as OHMSS's rises. Certainly it makes for a poor follow-up and the weakest of the `Blofeld Trilogy.' Its biggest sin is the incredibly lazy pre-title sequence of Bond tracking down and disposing of one Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Aside from the lazy TV-movie look, this isn't a man hunting the murderer of his wife but someone having a bit of a laugh at work. The sequence only really makes much sense if you regard it as a sequel to You Only Live Twice that's determinedly pretending OHMSS never happened after Lazenby incurred the producers' wrath by walking out on the series.
Once you can get over the massive shift in tone from the previous film, or the fact that the film rarely makes much of an effort in its determination to part you from your money, it's still moderately entertaining in its very undemanding way. But there's no disguising the fact that after the first half the film becomes increasingly reliant on Connery's starpower, leaving a shoddy patchwork of half-hearted setpieces and weak puns as the filmmakers imaginations dry up. Unfortunately Connery walks through it all with the satisfied laziness of a man who knows he's being paid too much and is on triple-overtime while Guy Hamilton directs like a man determined to finish on the dot of 6:00pm come hell or high water rather than lose those restaurant reservations. It's particularly telling that when Bond trips slightly when walking with M after the title sequence they didn't even reshoot the scene - too much of the film has a "Nah, that'll do" feel to it.
It's also one where the rejected motive for the film's diamond smuggling - to stockpile enough to perpetually blackmail all the diamond companies with the threat of flooding and destabilizing the market - is rather more promising than the giant space laser-weapon that they opt for instead. It's not helped by the distinctly unthreatening villains, who take camp to new lows. Despite having a few good quips, by turning Charles Gray's Blofeld into a virtual standup comedian it's hard to take him seriously long before he turns up in drag, while the film's pair of camp killers, Wint and Kidd, are an even more unmenacing pair, played purely for cheap laughs. The sight of Putter Smith shuffling towards the camera with a pair of burning kebabs in the post-plot murder attempt that became a regular feature of Moore's outings and which here looks seemingly tagged on as if an afterthought, certainly qualifies as one of the series lowpoints. Still, there are a few nice moments like the opening smuggling montage or the fight in the elevator, John Barry delivers a nice score and there are a couple of nice Ken Adams designs - particularly the Slumber Chapel of Rest, designed like a stained-glass diamond. Connery's worst Bond film is still better than Moore's worst, but you really need to dial your expectations down low for this one.
The two-disc Ultimate edition boasts a fairly modest upgrade in extras from the previous release - a 1971 BBC interview with Connery, a featurette on the elevator fight, a few alternate and expanded angle scenes, some test footage and an additional couple of deleted scenes.
on 22 November 2000
This is a very entertaining film on its own, and maybe it's just me, but it's Bond's casual meeting with the man who murdered the only woman he ever loved that annoys me. And it's not the first film to utilise American locations, as your synopsis says; unless Kentucky has changed continents since Goldfinger...
on 4 July 2013
I'm not going to review the film but to say I'm glad it is now on Blu-ray, the effects are limited to the age of the film and Blu-ray doesn't really help that but the picture quality is very good and the sound is improved. Jill St John in high definition! Worth buying for her alone!
on 18 October 2013
Listed as one disc, this particular cover art delivered the Ultimate 2-disc Edition. Can I just say, having now viewed several newly remastered Bonds, these versions are so pristine, so pictorially perfect, viewing can easily overcome any associated negative criticism. It is very much like being there during filming. And really, DAF is an awful lot of fun, plus a ton of Extras.
Note: I just finished watching GoldenEye. First sight of Brosnan as Bond. Nothing more than an imitation of Connery that didn't work for me. Connery-Dalton-Lazenby. Craig is up there with Connery but an altogether different man. Whomever, enjoy these new sets!
I'll start with a fact: most serious Bond fans HATE Diamonds Are Forever. I used to watch it when it was on TV in the eighties (when I was a child) and I loved it. Nowadays, I guess I can see where people are coming from. It is a bit of an odd-one-out among the franchise.
Sean Connery returns as Bond (after the unsuccessful George Lazenby took over the titular role for a single outing). Now he's older. And it shows. Plus it doesn't really carry on from On Her Majesty's Secret Service; it feels like it's more a continuation of Connery's last Bond film, You Only Live Twice. Also, due to Lazenby's Bond not being financially profitable in American, Diamonds Are Forever is conveniently sent almost completely in the USA (including the first ever American Bond girl). Also, to add a few more pennies to the film's takings, we have plenty of product placement throughout. Therefore, Diamonds Are Forever seems to have its share of oddities before you even get to the plot.
Bond chases diamonds to America and ends up getting tangled up with his arch enemy Blofeld (again). There's not much to the story, but that doesn't matter too much as it flows along nicely. However, one criticism that was always applied to Roger Moore's Bond films was that they couldn't be taken seriously. People seem to prefer Connery's more serious outings. However, almost every line has a - naughty - double meaning to it and some of the situations do border on the comical.
Then, just when you think you're in a smutty comedy, you have two of the creepiest hitmen ever seen on screen thrown in there. By today's standards, they're not too politically-correct. But whether it was then or now, they still seem to have been airdropped in from a much darker story.
Diamonds Are Forever is a mixed bag. Most serious Bond fans will hate it. I only like it because I remember it from my childhood and I never really got all the plot holes and silliness that came with it.
Don't hate it too much. It's not that bad, but it certainly is the `odd Bond out' from Connery's time as the secret agent. You may only watch it once, but if you like Roger Moore's `lighter' Bond, you may get some enjoyment out of this.
on 11 April 2008
Coaxed out of early retirement to resume the role of Bond one last time, Sean Connery might be pushing sixty in this film but he still looks the part. Curiously, my father auditioned for the role of Bond but lost out due to his lisp, stutter and limp. Father says the producers did like his take on Bond though and especially liked his improvisation and ad libs in auditions, where he started dancing on M's desk and singing 'From Russia With Love'.
Diamonds sees Bond on the search for a missing bag of jewels in Arabia. Armed with just a map and a keen sense of smell, Bond has only twenty four hours to find the bag of jewels. Connery apparently disliked the Arabian heat. You can visibly see his toupee glue trickle down his face at numerous points in the film, no doubt caused by the hot weather.
The Bond girl is not that exciting as Bond girls go, I believe Cilla Black plays this one. A mouthy woman with a shrill laugh. Bond quite rightly refuses to kiss her throughout the whole film.
The bad guys are a mixed bag. Blofeld is back and played this time by Sidney Poitier. Understandably Bond does not recognise Blofeld from the previous film. Blofeld does little except sit in a dimly lit room, chainsmoke and stroke his gerbil (which has replaced the cat.) Curiously the gerbil was nominated for best supporting actor.
Not a bad Bond film, but it feels laboured in parts and Connery does not seem to be enjoying himself. He apparently only took the role so that he could extend his conservatory.
on 15 September 2013
This isn't the best Bond film - not up there with From Russia with Love, OHMSS, For Your Eyes Only et al - but nor is it as bad as some have said. The source material - vastly changed except for a few characters (Tiffany Case, Wint and Kidd, Peter Franks, Leiter) is not the best of Fleming's novels. There's an odd scene where three gangsters confront Bond in his hotel room, throw Plenty out and then inexplicably disappear when Bond stands up to them. What's that all about ? Nor is there any sense of continuity with the previous film (no reference to the late Mrs Bond). Leiter has only a minor role as ever . In the books he's a good pal of Bond and they socialise together a lot. Not in the films.
Yet it does move with a good pace. Wint and Kidd are very deadly henchmen throughout and Charles Grey's Blofeld is sufficiently menacing in his scenes. The fight with Franks is pretty good, though Tiffany Case is rather ineffectual and tends to live up to the stereotyped Bond girl image - good looking but silly (most Bond girls are not incapable idiots). The final fight scene is exciting as is the helicopter battle, with its ambiguous ending for one of the villains. And the music of John Barry and Shirley Bassey is among the best of the films, too.
It is an entertaining film, not the best of the Bonds, but by no means the worst (see Quantum of Solace and Skyfall).