Apr 9, 2014

Review: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

This is my second time watching Diamonds are Forever as I've been going through the series for fun once again. For the first time, I wasn't all that impressed with Diamonds even though it was considered a huge victory getting Sean Connery to come back as James Bond. A record-setting $1.25 million salary was what it took to get Sean back in the fold, despite his insistence that he didn't want to do Bond anymore. According to the US Department of Labor, that's $7.2 million in 2014 dollars. Quite a far cry from the $20 million salaries we see today.

So as I was saying, I wasn't that impressed with Diamonds Are Forever back when I first saw it. It isn't very original and it still isn't the second time watching it. Does that make it any less fun? I don't think so. My opinion of Diamonds has definitely softened for some reason. As far as Bond movies go, this is far from the best but it gets the job done.

Sean Connery was 41 when DAF came out but he honestly looks a little bit older. It opens to a prelude of Bond attempting to kill his old foe Ernst Stavro Blofeld. These intros are usually pretty fun but this one is a bit awkward at times. The camera avoids showing Sean Connery right away in order to build anticipation for his exciting return. Back then it could have maybe been exciting but now it just seems choppy.

I'm glad they brought back Shirley Bassey to do the title song though. DAF's opening credits aren't the most breathtaking but there are some pretty nice parts. However, Shirley Bassey's singing is what makes this sequence good.

The story involves James Bond on a mission to track a diamond smuggling operation. It would appear that the goal of the operation is to lower the prices of diamonds on the market. Or it could be something else more nefarious, who knows right?

Compared to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, DAF is a total departure. I think that producers Saltzman and Broccoli wanted to pretend OHMSS never happened because it grossed only half of You Only Live Twice and critical reception was really harsh. That's changed if you look at reviews today. At the time though, the desire to erase OHMSS is unfortunate for certain things.

For starters, Diamonds is definitely more campy overall. The action isn't as amazing as the ski chases in OHMSS but it's definitely passable. It's set for the most part in Las Vegas and I like choices of American cars. I'm a big car guy so seeing the Mustang Mach 1 in a chase is pretty cool. There's also a ridiculous moon buggy chase through the desert that's actually pretty amusing.

Tiffany Case who is the Bond girl this time comes off as a self-assured woman but seems to lose this quality as the movie progresses. In comparison to Tracy from OHMSS, that's pretty disappointing. Tracy is without a doubt the strongest female character seen in a James Bond movie but it looks this approach has been totally abandoned.

Despite this negativity, I did enjoy DAF quite a bit all the same. We're not quite at Roger Moore campiness yet but the groundwork is being laid out. One thing I liked a lot were the two villain characters of Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint. They're just there to spit out funny lines but it works. They're actually quite good at their jobs so they're not there just for show.

Diamonds Are Forever is the weakest of Sean Connery's Bond movies but after seeing it a second time, I've warmed up to it. Before OHMSS, a James Bond formula was being created and is now back on track. Whether this is a good or bad thing, James Bond transcends regular criticism and even though DAF isn't terribly original, it's a fun ride and it was nice to get Sean Connery back for one last time (Let's not talk about Never Say Never Again unless we have to).

6.5/10