Diamonds Are Forever (1971) Director: Guy Hamilton
After the unexpected of departure of George Lazenby following On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Sean Connery returned one more time to reprise his role as James Bond. He was lured by a ridiculous sum of about $20M pounds in today’s dollars. The outcome was Diamonds Are Forever -likely the worst of the Sean Connery Bond era. The idea for the story came to Albert “Cubby” Broccoli when he had a dream about visiting his famously reclusive friend, Howard Hughes, only to find an imposter in his stead.
Throughout the film, Connery seems aged, tired, and according to legend the last scene Connery filmed shows him brutally beaten up, thrown into a coffin, and pushed into the crematorium. In the film, Bond is sent to track diamond smugglers incognito which leads him to an odd Bond girl named “Tiffany Case” (Jill St. John). She eventually brings Bond to the infamous Blofeld (flatly portrayed by Charles Gray) who is holding the world ransom while his nuclear-capable satellite threatens to blow up various locales (using diamonds). The film opens with Bond attempting to hunt down Blofeld to exact vengeance for the murder of his wife, though this is never explicitly stated (per the close of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Meanwhile, Blofeld is busy making clones of himself. Bond kills a clone of Blofeld, thinking he has killed the true Blofeld, and then Bond pursues South African diamond smugglers to complete the mission. However this pursuit leads Bond right back to the real Blofeld. There are several complex side plots: one involving Willard Whyte (a not-so-veiled reference to Howard Hughes), a Nevada businessman who allows Blofeld to use his properties; two henchmen women named Bambi and Thumper, both highly odd and off-putting guards over Willard Whyte; and also two ridiculous henchmen (their relationship to the plot was unclear to me) who are quite clearly gay, and also not very threatening. They are killed off in the end when Bond essentially sets them on fire. It is a mostly anti-climactic ending. As per a typical Bond film, the plot is outrageously confusing,
This was the final film focusing on SPECTRE until the 2015 film of the same name during the Daniel Craig era. Shirley Bassey sings the memorable lead song (she also sang the songs for Goldfinger as well as Moonraker).
Diamonds Are Forever is definitely not Sean Connery’s best Bond film. It is a segway between the sleek and impressive era of early Sean Connery Bond films, to the goofy and campy era of Roger Moore as James Bond. The plot of Diamonds Are Forever is extraordinarily difficult to follow, the acting is not particularly memorable, Blofeld’s character is not as dark or mysterious as earlier films, the introduction of cloning and diamonds is not particularly intriguing, and holding the world ransom is pretty ridiculous -and lastly, perhaps the worst part of the film, are the two gay henchman who are odd and not particularly frightening. Why are they included in the film? Their inclusion in the film is baffling. There are far better James Bond films than this one, I might suggest the James Bond of the early Sean Connery era or the Daniel Craig era.