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Section: Reviews
Diamonds Are Forever Movie Review

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Title: 'Diamonds Are Forever'

Released: 12/17/1971

Budget: $7,200,000

Gross (US; Worldwide): $43,819,547; $116,000,000

Producer: Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Satlzman (MGM-UA)

Writer: Richard Maibaum & Tom Mankiewicz

Director: Guy Hamilton

Based On: 'Diamonds Are Forever' book , written by Ian Fleming.

Stars: Sean Connery as James Bond 007, Jill St. John (as Tiffany Case), Charles Gray (as Blofeld), Lana Wood (as Plenty O'Toole), Jimmy Dean (as Willard Whyte), and Putter Smith and Bruce Glover (as Mr. Kidd/Mr. Wint); Also Starring Bernard Lee as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

Plot: The movie begins with Bond beating up thugs, demanding to know where Blofeld is. He eventually leans where he is, and goes there. While inside Blofeld’s little lair, out of the corner of his eye, he sees a gun being aimed at him from the inside of a muddy bathtub. He ducks out of the way and drowns the gunman in mud. Then in comes Blofeld and his goons. Bond takes care of them easily, and then Blofeld is all his. He straps Blofeld down on a hospital card, and wheels him into some boiling substance. Thus, the end of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Now Bond can concentrate on other missions. M assigns him to investigate a diamond-smuggling business, which 007 poo-hoos at first. But his view changes when he learns how, for the past two years, exponential amounts of diamonds have been disappearing despite top-notch security measures and have mysteriously not resurfaced on the market, suggesting a possible stock-piling operation. (how the smugglers are actually getting by: workers place little slivers of diamonds in their mouth, then go to a dentist, who removes them and pays them). They do have on lead, however: a careful eye has been kept on known smuggler Peter Franks for some time, and they believe he may be part of the operation. While Franks is detained at the airport, Bond flies to Holland…as Peter Franks. He calls on a Miss Tiffany Case, and to make sure he is really who he says he is, she runs a fingerprint check. It confirms he is Peter Franks. But then actual Peter Franks shows up! Not to worry, for Bond takes care of him, and places his own driver’s license on him, making Tiffany think he just killed James Bond. Bond (as Franks) is supposed to take the diamonds to Los Angeles, and he finds the perfect hiding place for them: inside Bond’s (Franks’s) carcass. So they load the casket on the plane, with 007 accompanying. After arriving in L.A., Bond drives over to a little wedding chapel on the outskirts of Las Vegas. There, they cremate the body, and give Bond the urn of ashes (the urn of diamonds). Bond then places the urn in its little "wall grave," and after doing so, is clubbed by two men. The next thing Bond knows, he’s in a casket – in the oven! – with fire all around him. Then suddenly, the fire ceases. The casket is pulled out and the top is opened. An elderly man yells that the diamonds are fake, and demands to know where they are. Bond will not divulge any information, and heads out. Being in Las Vegas, he goes to a casino, where he sees a poster of the elderly man, advertising his comedy act. After his act is finished, he is visited by the two men, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (the ones who clubbed Bond), and they put him to rest (as they do will all the links on the pipeline: they can’t leave anyone around to talk). The manager of the hotel is also in on it, but didn’t give Kidd and Wint the news before hand. Now they’ve killed the elderly man and still don’t have the diamonds. Gambling, Bond is taken a liking to by a young casino dweller. He gives her some of his winnings, and his room key. They head up to his room, but before he can get her pants off (he got the shirt off right away), he notices some thugs in his room. They throw the girl, Plenty O’Toole, out the window, then leave. In the bedroom Bond finds Tiffany Case. She says she has been ordered to find out where the real diamonds are. But Bond changes her mind, convincing her to join forces with him and they can split the loot. Now both of their heads are up for grabs. They eventually learn that Willard White, eccentric billionaire and owner of the hotel the Whyte House, is behind everything: only Willard White isn’t really Willard White – he’s Blofeld! Blofeld has kidnapped Whyte and taken over his massive organization – but no one’s the wiser, since no one has laid their eyes on Whyte for three solid years, so no one will miss him. Bond didn’t really kill Blofeld, but one of his twins. So now the real Blofeld is still around, and so is another twin (until Bond mistakenly kills the twin, that is). And what does Blofeld want with all these diamonds: With the help of a scientist considered to be the world’s leading expert on laser refraction, Blofeld has made for him a space-based laser weapon using the diamonds to refract the laser light and shoot the beams towards Earth. Blofeld convinced the scientist his motive for constructing such a weapon is to blackmail the world into disarmament – thus creating peace. But what Blofeld really wants: Money. Either he gets it or he plays Darth Vader with the laser weapon.

Commentary: ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ is another underrated Bond flick – but one that is more difficult to relay my feelings and musings on – for some reason, it just does it for me. Of course, I will take the time to dissect my brain and tell you exactly what is so damn special about this film. First and foremost, the storyline of this film has a different feel and texture than the rest of the movies: unique pace and delightfully unexpected plot twists put this film in a class of its own. After the perfectly fitting "death of Blofeld" teaser with an understandably vengeful Bond, the film goes in a new direction, concentrating on what at first seems like an out-of-place diamond-smuggling plot. But it turns out to be anything but out-of-place, with Bond doing the most detective and investigating work since ‘Dr. No.' It was a breath of fresh air and enjoyable to see Bond on a regular mission, where his main goal isn’t killing Blofeld. Bond impersonating Peter Franks was a novel idea – and went much smoother than when Bond donned the guise and persona of a genealogist in ‘OHMSS.’ And then we meet Tiffany Case, the second highlight of the movie. The first thing I noticed about her was not her body, but her originally dry and agitated personality. She may have not been the most likeable person in the world, but she was such a change from all the other Bond girls that I did like her. Of course, as the movie went on, and she grew and expanded, her likeability increased. Although in the realm of babe-status, Jill St. John doesn’t quite have it. But to make up for that we have Lana Wood in her depressingly short role as Plenty O’Toole. And Charles Gray is a remarkable villain, but a remarkable Blofeld is another thing. Still, he was a major force that propelled this film to the top. And as for Mr. Went and Mr. Kidd – a seemingly odd choice for henchmen but they turned out to be eerily good. Blofeld’s plot – the most fantastic to date – was really quite intriguing. A very imaginative mind was responsible for this, and he made it work and seem like new despite the fact Blofeld blackmailed the world powers with two devices previously. The atom bomb bit in ‘Thunderball’ seems too cliché, and the germ warfare in ‘OHMSS’ was just stupid. Gadgets were all over the place in this film, but for the first time, it didn’t seem to matter; I was just having so much fun I put aside my disliking for their excessive use. The moon buggy was so absurd it was wonderful, and provided for a rather slapstick yet thrilling chase scene; the car-bashing fest on Freemont Street was also comedic and exciting. But like any good movie, there were still great scenes not peppered with high-tech gadgetry. Bond and Frank’s bout in the elevator was marvelously staged and kept me on the edge of my seat, and is the best fight scene of the entire series but for the ‘Russia’ train scene. And the whole explosion of action at the film’s end was another high point. Bond’s bashing of Blofeld’s mini-sub (with Blofeld in it) using the crane was a wild hoot! I really enjoyed it, and Bond seemed to be getting a kick out of it also. But my favorite aspect of the entire film was the revelation that Willard Whyte was in fact Blofeld. I never for once considered this possibility, so once it happened, it was a truly pleasing shock. Although I might have preferred better still if Willard Whyte was actually the villain; just seeing Jimmy Dean in control would have been very interesting. He would have made for a very different villain – ah, the possibilities! But, alas, it was not to be. Throw out the few bad aspects of the film – an unneeded Felix Lighter played by yet another actor (bad, again) and having yet another personality (bad, too) and the presence of Sean Connery’s sideburns (and a little uneasiness along with it – hell, he was still much better than Lazenby) – and you have a flawless Bond film. Of course, everything has flaws, but this diamond is barely scratched at all: it’ll go on forever and forever and forever as one great movie!

Verdict:
1.5/4.0

Also in the Diamonds Are Forever dossier:   Allies | Gadgets | Girls | Pictures | Reviews | Villains
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