Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Guy Hamilton

Oh, James, you are incorrigible. There’s only a handful of James Bond movies that are legitimately any good and Diamonds Are Forever isn’t one of them. And yet, they survive, because the formula is so tested and so true and provides a little bit of everything that makes a movie fun; cartoon violence, cool stuff, cheesy quips and a little misogyny.  This is a picture in which our hero strangles a woman with her bikini top, reacts cavalierly when a woman he was about to bed is thrown from a high rise and later calls a woman a bitch before shoving a tape cassette into her knickers. But who can be bothered by that, it’s part of the Bond routine.

The Bond movies are like the song Happy Birthday, not the height of Western music by any stretch, but when it comes around it’s hard to do poorly and it generally means good things are about to happen. In fact, the most troubling trend in the recent Daniel Craig Bond pictures is that they take themselves seriously, they go away from the camp and fun that admittedly had become bloated by the end of the Brosnan era. Diamonds Are Forever represents the end of the Connery era and the camp and the fun are in full force and the movie is all the better for it.

It’s a shame that Hitchcock never directed a Bond movie, as MacGuffins can typically be found in what passes for the plots. This time it’s diamonds, passing hands all over the world until they can be in the clutches of the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray), leader of the criminal organization SPECTRE and Bond nemesis supreme (this is Blofeld’s third appearance in a Bond movie, he’s later criminally killed off in For Your Eyes Only because “that’s what happens in the book.” What a crock. If the new Bond movies are stylistically troubling, it’s encouraging that they seems to be setting up a new dastardly organization that will carry from film to film). Blofeld plans to use the diamonds in satellites and harness their reflected heat from the sun to explode nuclear missiles on Earth. Obviously. Connery, as Bond, is there to stop him, teamed with the sexy Tiffany Case (Jill St. John, a top 3 Bond girl* for my money), who’s motivations and allegiances are never clear.

All the plot machinations are silly and to be cast aside, what stands out are the typical Bond fixtures; the chases, the villains (Putter Smith and Bruce Glover as the dastardly Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, a couple of the weirdest assassins in the history of movies) and girls. On top of Tiffany Case we get Plenty O’Toole. Well not on top, but in addition to…too many double entendres. Diamonds Are Forever is fun and gets the touches right if not extremely well. Although, I don’t recall James having a shaken not stirred martini, which is interesting because I believe that is the novel from which the line is taken. Well, you have to change it up a little, don’t you?

*Ursula Andress and Diana Rigg are the rest of the top 3.

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