After a brief fling with another man, the Bond franchise slinks back to Sean Connery with its tail between its legs. This time Bond gets wrapped up in an elaborate plot involving Blofeld, diamonds and satellite heat rays.
How do you replace the man who replaced Sean Connery? You re-hire Sean Connery, of course. Diamonds Are Forever marks the return of the burly Scot to his signature role, while also acting as his farewell to 007 (officially at least) . His contribution to the franchise is hard to overstate. Quite simply he made the character; the series’ longevity would be impossible without the initial success of Connery’s early films. So let’s raise a glass and celebrate the man, because we’ll likely be clinging to his memory as we trudge through some of Roger Moore’s later efforts.
Originally conceived as a Connery-free film (he actually ousted the already cast American actor John Gavin at the last minute when offered a record $1million salary by panicky studio heads) Diamonds Are Forever is tonally closer to the Moore films than Shur Shean’s earlier efforts. The tone is tongue in cheek and eccentric; the design tacky and slightly ramshackle. The quips, the innuendo, the larger than life villains and schemes: it’s almost like Connery is priming the audience for the lightweight silliness of Roger Moore’s tenure as Bond.
After seemingly killing Blofeld in the pre-credits sequence (drowning him in a tank of brown goo) Bond is tasked with tracing diamonds smuggled out of Africa. Posing as master criminal Peter Franks, Bond joins forces with the beautiful fence Tiffany Case as he follows the stones from Amsterdam to Las Vegas. However a pair of sinister assassins are also following the progress of the diamonds; killing everyone along the way to keep the true purpose of their theft a secret, and Bond and Case are next in their sights. It’s a reasonably low-key starting point for a 007 film, but as the story progresses things become weirder and more far fetched, incorporating surgically altered body doubles and diamond powered heat rays.
In some ways Las Vegas is the perfect setting for Diamonds Are Forever, a glitzy town where old-timers come to cash in on their iconic status for one big payday. It’s a bit campy and plastic but at times it’s a lot of fun despite being profoundly more interested in style than substance. Yet on the other hand it’s hard to reconcile the old world sophistication of Bond with the kitsch, neon horror of Sin City, and Connery never seems fully comfortable with the goofier aspects of the film. It’s not quite Connery’s Bond and not yet Moore’s, but by falling between the two it’s actually one of the stranger, more interesting failures in the series. Just maybe don’t say that to John Gavin.
Bond theme: Shirley Bassey is back on theme duties for the second time, making her the only performer to have sung more than one Bond theme. This time around the title song is innuendo-laden and silly, trading in the glamorous swagger of Goldfinger for something a bit more groovy.
Best one liner: Upon first meeting Tiffany Case Bond is surprised when she returns from the bedroom with dark brown hair after having long blonde hair moments before. When he asks her about this Case asks Bond which hair colour he prefers. His reply: ‘Well as long as the collar and cuffs match’
Glamorous locations: Despite a brief visit to Amsterdam, Bond spends most of his time in Las Vegas, hanging around tacky casinos like Circus Circus.
Girls: The main Bond girl Tiffany Case is the first American Bond girl in the series. Like her predecessors she too has a silly name, but when the other Bond girl is called Plenty O’Toole, she gets off lightly.
Gadgets: Bond doesn’t really have a lot of gadgets in this one, in fact Blofeld and his SPECTRE goons have most of the flashy ones, but Bond does wear some fake fingerprints and he carries around a razor sharp mouse trap in his pockets in case any baddies try and search him for weapons.
Classic moment: In a film that is far more kitsch than previous entries in the series Bond doesn’t get that many standout moments. However, a car chase through the streets of Las Vegas (including an amusing detour into a tiny car park) still holds up well and marks the first time that a Bond film features a modern, sleekly edited car chase instead of actors waggling steering wheels around in front of dodgy back-projection.
On the other end of the scale of automotive action there’s the sequence where Bond escapes from his pursuers in a moon buggy. It looks utterly ridiculous and they stick with it for far too long. The sight of Bond’s head encased in a little plastic bubble as he bounces around the desert in a silly looking prop is a bit like seeing your grandad in his pyjamas. Just wrong.
TELSTAR’S BIG BOND COUNTDOWN WILL RETURN WITH… LIVE AND LET DIE