Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – After the dark times of the George Lazenby era (which totaled exactly one Bond film), Sean Connery makes a triumphant return to the role which he will forever define. Actually the producers were willing to have Lazenby back for whatever reason, but he opted not to return as he felt the Bond franchise would not last much longer. Ha. They tested other actors. They considered many, including future Bond Timothy Dalton who had been offered the role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but turned it down as he felt too young for the part. In the end they gave Connery a record-setting $1.25 million to play James Bond one last time (in the official EON films anyway). Starting with the classic Shirley Bassey title song (though Kanye West got stuck in my head this time when I heard it), Diamonds Are Forever goes for all the classic Bond elements. Unusual for a Bond movie, it somewhat follows on the events of the previous film…

At the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (spoiler), Bond (Lazenby) marries the vivacious Tracy (Diana Rigg) but she is murdered on their wedding day by maniacal genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas). At the beginning of Diamonds Are Forever, Bond (Connery) is searching for Blofeld with a fiery intensity. He finds Blofeld (now played by Charles Gray, who played an unrelated role in You Only Live Twice) in the process of having a double surgically altered to look like him. Bond dispatches Blofeld and the double before the credits even start. Bond moves on to the case of some diamonds that are being smuggled… but everyone involved in the smuggling winds up murdered by a pair of hitmen Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint (Putter Smith and Bruce Glover, Crispin’s pa) as soon as the diamonds leave their possession. Bond must team up with a morally ambiguous jewel smuggler (Jill St. John) in order to find out just who wants these diamonds so badly…

Diamonds Are Forever leans quite heavily on camp, as some Bond films are wont to do. For example, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are fairly obviously implied to be a homosexual couple (and not in a particularly nuanced way). There is also a pair of bikini-clad assassins calling themselves Bambi and Thumper (Lola Larson and Trina Parks). Also, in a scene I can’t do justice to, Bond walks up to a woman who has just seemingly betrayed him and simply says “bitch” in that Sean Connery accent without any particular anger in his voice. I cannot explain to you why I find this so hilarious but I do, I really do. I still think that Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice was the quintessential Blofeld, but Charles Gray is not bad as Blofeld and his assorted doubles. Furthermore this is the last of “official” EON Productions James Bond movies to feature the first and greatest of them all, Sean Connery. It’s not the highlight of his tenure, but it’s a nice enough swan song before the uneven period of Roger Moore in the role.

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