Review: Diamonds Are Forever

dar_cov.jpgYear: 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Starring: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 36

James Bond investigates a diamond smuggling operation and stumbles onto an extortion plot led by Ernst Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE.

Quick Review
On so many levels—action, plot, acting, pace, characters—Diamonds are Forever just feels lost, which is sad way for Connery to end his run as Bond.

Full Review
It was with a sense of loss that I sat down to watch the final Sean Connery Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever. I’ve made it a goal to review all of the James Bond films, in order, and Diamonds Are Forever is Connery’s last round as Bond. I’ve generally enjoyed the first six films, with Thunderball getting the best score so far. My least liked film, You Only Live Twice, still managed a respectable 50 points overall. With Diamonds are Forever, however, the Bond series reaches a new low. This is a bumbling, wandering film with little emotional force.

dar2.jpgAbout halfway through the film I found myself struggling to stay focused and wondering why I was so bored. Then it dawned on me: Diamonds are Forever has no direction until the last thirty minutes. For an hour and a half, the film essentially concentrates on Bond investigating a diamond smuggling ring, but this story drags aimlessly. Finally, in the last forty minutes or so, Blofeld enters the movie, the film picks up some direction, and the pace accelerates. Even then, however, there is little sense of urgency to the film, little emotional investment from the actors, and even less sense from the plot.

Much of the blame for the failure of this film falls on the actors and acting. With few exceptions, everything is covered in cheese. Supporting actors deliver lines with little conviction. There is a distinctly amateur feel to the dialog in many places. Actors sleepwalk through their parts. Charles Gray, playing the uber-villain Ernst Blofeld, struck me as particularly lame. He runs SPECTRE as if he is sitting down for tea biscuits at the country club rather than driving a malevolent force for the world’s destruction. As for the exceptions, Jill St. John brings life to her role as diamond smuggler Tiffany Case. Sean Connery seems more engaged as Bond, and does a respectable job. Putter Smith and Bruce Glover add a touch of twisted humor in their roles as the killers Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, respectively.

Bond films generally suffer from some sort of plot zaniness, but Diamonds Are Forever has a particularly bad case of the Dopeys. At times illogical, at times choppy, at times just plain stupid, this film has it all. In one spot, the good guys lose the tail of Tiffany Case. In the next scene, Bond is sitting by her pool at her house and waiting as she walks in. Huh? How did Bond know where she lives? No explanation is given. Elsewhere, Bond is drugged and left in a construction pipe to be dar3.jpgburied alive. Amazingly, no one sees his body lying in the pipe before it is buried. More amazingly, why wouldn’t they just kill Bond before doing this? You can give villains in the Bond films some leeway to do stupid things, but even in a Bond movie this is exceptional. Lastly, we have a candidate for Stupidest Action Scene in a Movie. Normally I wouldn’t want to spoil this for you, but bad stuff can’t spoil, so here goes. Blofeld has a satellite that fires a laser that can destroy anything on earth. A program on a cassette tape controls this satellite. This tape is housed in a tape player on Blofeld’s secret base. Anyone can walk up to the tape player and punch the eject button to remove the tape. Heck, you could accidentally hit the button and remove the tape. We haven’t seen such a blatantly silly concept since the vulnerability of the base in Dr. No.

Even the action feels a cut below normal. The final battle carries little sense of danger or motion. Fights scenes, with the exception of a moderately good battle in an elevator, lack the vigor of previous Bond films. In another scene, Bond calmly holds two outstanding female fighters underwater with one hand each, although just moments before they were mopping up the floor with him. There is one well shot car chase in a parking lot that perked me up a bit, but otherwise, dar_st_john.jpgI’m hard pressed to remember a Bond film with such little zip to it in the action department.

Regarding babes and hunks, Jill St. John does a solid job as Tiffany Case. She plays a sexy, smart diamond smuggler, and brings solid energy to her role. Lana Wood (Plenty O’Toole), Lola Larson (Bambi), and Trina Parks (Thumber) add some more points to the babe rating as well. Sean Connery, as Bond, looks much better than he did in You Only Live Twice, when he played a dubious undercover role as a Japanese peasant. This helps the hunk rating significantly, as he doesn’t get additional support.

In conclusion, on so many levels—action, plot, acting, pace, characters—this film just feels lost, which is sad way for Connery to end his run as Bond.

Fun Fact
Sean Connery donated his salary from Diamonds Are Forever to charity.

Pace: 31
Plot: 28
Action: 26
Consistent Premise: 46
Script/Quotes: 53
Characters: 57
Acting: 53
Villain: 36
Body Count: 43
Time to First Dead Body: 2 minutes, 43 seconds
Babes: 62
Hunks: 81
Explosions: 26
Special Effects: 19
Stunts: 41
Ending: 34

Overall: 36

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