After relinquishing the Bond throne to George Lazenby for one film, Sean Connery makes his return to the role in Diamonds Are Forever. Read on to see my reaction to the latest installment.
Wow. With so much to talk about, where do I begin? Diamonds Are Forever was by far my least favorite Bond film to this point, and I don’t mind saying that right up front. Everything, from the dialogue to the choice of locale to the Bond girl, were, in my opinion, subpar to the rest of the series. Even Connery himself, who hasn’t been the same Bond to me since he first blew me away with his slickness and bravado in Dr. No, seems to walk through the part nonchalantly. He isn’t James Bond so much as he’s just a dude who happens to be the main character. And that’s sad.
Furthermore, what in the world happened to Connery in the four years since he made You Only Live Twice? He’ll always be the mighty Sean Connery, but in Diamonds, his hair is graying, he’s gained weight, and he doesn’t have the same sparkle in his eye. Maybe the advent of drab ’70s fashion had something to do with it, or maybe he spent too many late nights partying it up with his groupies. Seeing him appear for the first time on screen in Diamonds, I was reminded of former NBA star Shawn Kemp, who finished a season cut early by a player strike looking fine, but returned the next year looking like Big Daddy Kane’s reflection in a funhouse mirror.
So let’s start at the beginning. I cannot express to you the exasperation I felt upon seeing that Blofeld had not only lost the eye scar this time, but decided to take on the appearance of Mr. Henderson, Bond’s first contact in You Only Live Twice, who received a knife in the back and, presumably, died. Did they simply assume I would have forgotten? Or did they think I’d forgive the offense if they just explained that Blofeld had gotten cosmetic surgery and found a way to clone himself? This is even before the opening credits roll, people.
So Bond sends Blofeld “to Hell” in that opening sequence, but of course we know that’s not the last we’ll see of him. It turns out the Blofeld Bond killed was a clone (of course), and the real Blofeld has assumed the identity of a reclusive Las Vegas hotel owner, and he’s holed up in the penthouse with yet another clone (with his very own cloned cat!); by this point, I’d pretty much given up on the movie. When Blofeld finally “dies,” we don’t even see it, so who knows if he’s going to show up again, maybe next time as Dr. No, or Pussy Galore, or Hulk Hogan. And I haven’t even mentioned Blofeld’s narrow cross-dressing escape a la Mrs. Doubtfire…
The cutesy names are back in spades… in Diamonds. The main Bond girl’s name is Tiffany Case, but there’s also a brief appearance from a Plenty O’Toole, as well as two gymnast assassins named Bambi and Thumper (adorable). And Tiffany is the only one who’s passable; the others are all terrible actresses. Terrible! I inclined to believe they drove to Vegas, picked up a few girls off the street, and said, “Hey, wanna be eye candy for the new Bond film?” To be fair, the men aren’t much better (Mr. Willard Whyte in particular).
There were just too many things I just couldn’t accept or comprehend about Diamonds are Forever. Bond balancing a car on two wheels, a voice masking device, the oddness of Blofeld’s two homosexual hitmen (one of whom eerily resembles a white, human version of Rowlf from the Muppets), Blofeld’s inexplicable refusal to kill Bond on several convenient occasions, etc. I’m curious to know exactly how much of this nonsense was in any of Ian Fleming’s books. Also, I expected to enjoy the campiness of the sillier Bond films, but after having seen this, I’m starting to wonder if that’ll be the case at all. I may just emerge from the Roger Moore years more frustrated and befuddled than entertained, and this worries me.
Favorite line: “You handle those cubes like a monkey handles coconuts.” Uh, what?
Favorite moment: When Bond escapes from a poorly conceived attempt to bury him in the desert and shows up at Blofeld’s headquarters in the middle of the ocean, what does Blofeld say? “Put him in the brig!” And “the brig” turns out to be a storage room with a hatch in the middle of the floor, allowing Bond to escape and wreak havoc with a crane.