Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saturday Is Bond Day #7: Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever is where the Bond Movies tip over into self-parody; fittingly, this is the first movie to be made in the '70s. For all of the flaws of On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- and it certainly was flawed -- it was at least in the vein of the earlier movies, with a tough and steely James Bond. Diamonds is a premature Roger Moore Bond; Connery returns here four years after his last outing as Bond looking at least a decade older and slower. The tough, toned young Connery of the first five movies -- four of which were filmed within four years -- has softened, and there's a slowness in his step and a hint of gray in his hair. If the movie took note of that, or acted as if the last movie happened (other than Bond's monomania against Blofeld), that would be one thing. But it doesn't; it pretends that this is what Bond always was like.

There are those who prefer the half-seen Blofeld of Thunderball and From Russia With Love. There are those who admire Telly Savalas's hard-edged portrayal from Secret Service (though I found Savalas far too American, and far too different from the previous actors). And there are the wise, who know -- with me -- that Donald Pleasance as the facially-scarred Blofeld from You Only Live Twice is the epitome of the character. But I very much doubt if there's anyone now -- even if there might have been a very few in the early '70s -- who would give preference to Charles Gray as the multiple Blofelds of Diamonds. (For one thing, it's impossible to see Gray now and not see him spinning a globe and taking us on a strange journey.) Gray's Mao jackets -- though less embarrassing than some of the '70s wear sported by other members of the cast, and undeniably super-villain-esque -- are also not particularly intimidating.

The plot is silly and makes little sense; even Bond objects to his being dragged into a routine diamond smuggling case. And then the movie bogs down in Las Vegas for most of its length, including an inexplicable moon-buggy chase in the desert. The major henchmen -- Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd -- are creepy in a bad way, and never seem to be a serious threat to Bond. (And the killer bimbos, Bambi and Thumper, are just hang-your-head embarrassing.)

It's a '70s Bond movie, and the template for the ones to come. Moore does this kind of Bond better than Connery does, and gets better set-ups to act against. But this was definitely the harbinger of things to come, sadly.


Anonymous said...

How did your boys like this one? I'm betting they enjoyed it. It was my first Bond movie, as an adolescent, and I thought it was phenomenal, at the time.

Jeff P.

Unknown said...

Yah, I loved it as a kid too...a moon buggy!

But man, I saw it over Christmas, and it is pretty bad...

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