Out with the new, in with the old. Lazenby quit the Bond job after the last film and the studio managed to pay Sean Connery enough money to come back. Turns out that was a lot of money - nearly 20% of the budget went into getting him on board. In today’s money that’s £25 million pounds, Mr. Bond.
It’s probably just as well he got a good deal; Diamonds are Forever is a bit of a mess. The producers were trying to reproduce the Goldfinger magic by getting Guy Hamilton back on board, and even writing Goldfinger back into the script at first.
Sadly the film comes off as more of a mockery than a return to form. Its camp tone and poor plot are difficult to warm to, and bar one car chase Hamilton doesn’t seem to care about what he’s doing.
I didn’t think I’d be saying this so soon but this is possibly worse than the Lazenby film. It’s on par in a lot of ways but it’s missing the creative technical aspects.
Admittedly Connery is a real actor and it shows. In the opening scenes Bond goes on a mini-rampage to find and kill Blofeld. It’s entertaining and somewhat brutal, serving as a sort of mouthwash from the flaky last film. The very first shot of chump getting thrown through a Japanese-style screen door is really fun.
Unfortunately the ‘Bond is back’ feeling dissipates quickly as things unfold. It becomes apparent that Connery is getting on a bit now, and the weariness we saw in You Only Live Twice has worsened.
They fixed the costumes but everything else in the film is far camper than any previous instalment. There’s a moon buggy chase for fuck’s sake. Heavens only knows why they thought that would be a good idea.
Blofeld’s tenure as criminal genius is tragically over. He’s gone from a mastermind who steals, schemes & holds the world to ransom to an idiot trying to make a solar laser beam out of diamonds.
Talking of plot, it’s incredibly convoluted. Blofeld is trying to smuggle diamonds to make a space laser and is doing it by making plastic surgery clones of himself (and his cat), kidnapping a Howard Hawks type character and doing something with a submarine on an oil rig.
Also, what happened to making Bond girls people who can fend for themselves? It’s about being attractive, sure, but a huge part of that appeal is the air of danger or wit around them. Diana Rigg is a great example, as is Honor Blackman, Ursula Andress etc etc…
Here Jill St. John plays Tiffany Case, a hapless idiot serving only as eye-candy. You may laugh and say all the women in the films are like this but I have to disagree based on what we have seen so far. Bond is a misogynist, but the films as a whole (up to this point) tend to favour more independent characters, and they prove to be the more memorable roles.
Diamonds are Forever is Connery’s worst (official) Bond film by quite some way and possibly the worst film we have seen so far; a disappointing end to his career as the spy.