Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Bruce Glover, Putter Smith
Film matched beverage: Diamond Fizz
Synopsis: Members along the chain of a mysterious diamond trafficking ring are turning up dead. It is up to Bond to follow the diamonds down the pipeline, and determine their eventual destination. Suspicion falls on the recluse Willard Whyte, an American millionaire whom conducts all his business by phone.
There is no question that Connery defined the role of Bond, and he is an actor whom for both his work as Bond and for his subsequent work that I greatly admire. So one would think that Connery returning for one more go at Bond would be a good thing. Unfortunately, there is something that Connery’s acting could not hide, and that is how much he had actually aged since You Only Live Twice. He almost looks like a different man in this film, and there is even something about the performance which shows that Connery had not spent time inhabiting the character of 007 in a while. That said, these elements are certainly more pronounced in non-sanctioned Thunderball rip-off Never Say Never Again, a film that was a true travesty in every sense.
Otherwise, this is quite a fascinating film, and I can’t help but wonder how the film would have looked had Lazenby retained the role for one more chapter. The elements of humour that creep through seem to resonate a bit more with the Lazenby aesthetic and in that way feel like they were written more for Lazenby’s portayal. St. John’s Tiffany Case is annoying, and would have been regardless of her leading man, but Lazenby would have been a better match, both in personality and to avoid the seemingly May-December relationship which we get in this film.
The rest of the supporting cast is a colourful, interesting mix, however. Mr Windt and Mr Kidd (Glover and Smith) are two openly gay assassins whom are not shy for a pun over their executions. They are fun characters, and that is how I try to think of them, despite my current feelings that the portrayal at the time may very well have been to both demonise and parody homosexuality. Viewed through a modern, objective lens, however, these characters provide a lot of entertainment, and I hope only a small portion of today;s society would take a bigoted view of homosexuality as a result.
Whyte is a good character, and his mysterious nature, when revealed for what it is, is a fantastic twist in the story. He is stereotypically American, and the sheer prevalence of American accents in this film does jar against the usual British accents on display in a Bond film, but that is just a personal opinion. Nothing against Americans of course, thew whole film just feels less for Queen and Country and more for Commander and Chief.
Being a Bond film, there are large action set pieces, and they do not fail to disappoint. Bond leading a number of American police on a rollicking car chase is a lot of fun, and seeing this action now in high def is the icing on the cake. Nothing beats a car going on two wheels to navigate a narrow gap, even if a continuity error means the car enters the gap on its right wheels and exits on its left wheels!!
Diamonds Are Forever is a great film that is sure, but it is not the best Bond film. A few thinks irk throughout, but the biggest crime is seeing Bond age (without it being a major plot point, anyway, all reports are they address this issue head-on in Skyfall quite successfully). The simple fact is that Connery was no longer Bond when he took this picture on.
3 stars out of 5
Diamond Fizz recipe
1 shot fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Champagne or sparkling wine.
Shake gin, lemon juice and sugar over ice and strain into a highball glass. Top with Champagne.