Now that Lazenby’s had his one and only hurrah as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, it’s time to bid Connery farewell for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.
First off, it’s great to see Connery back in the role of Bond, though he’s still showing signs that he’s a bit tired of the franchise. He’s definitely happier to be here than he was in both Thunderball and You Only Live Twice (I’m sure the £1.25 million he got for returning didn’t hurt), but he’s not quite giving the role his all. Though, you could equate his aloofness to the fact that he’s still recovering from the tragic events of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which, I’m not going to lie, would have been far more resonating had Connery starred in that one as well.
One thing I’ve loved about watching these early Bond films is the continuity. Yes, each film can easily stand on its own, but you’re rewarded for watching them all back to back. As much as I enjoyed it, OHMSS fumbles that a bit, simply in switching the actor and breaking the illusion.
Like OHMSS, Diamonds is a lighter Bond film, with some pretty ridiculous plots thrown in. Not only is Blofeld back (played this time by Charles Gray, who’s not as good or intimidating as Savalas), but he’s… stealing diamonds to use on a space laser. And giving extensive plastic surgery to both himself and his goons. That’s something that feels like it was taken right out of an Austin Powers movie.
Diamonds also sports the series’ worst Bond Girl to date: Jill St. John as Tiffany Case. Case starts out strong but ends the film by acting like a complete buffoon. Not only does she ruin everything James tries to do, but fires a machine gun wildly, with her eyes closed, before falling off of an oil rig. She’s definitely a step down from OHMSS‘s Tracy Bond. That’s a hell of a rebound for 007…
We’ve got plenty of campy moments too, provided by two new goons Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, who I found incredibly annoying. Also, Bond goes up against two female circus performers, Bambi and Thumper, in what is perhaps Connery’s most embarrassing fight sequence of his 007 run.
Despite all this, I still found a lot to like in Diamonds are Forever. It’s definitely no Goldfinger, and not as well balanced as OHMSS, but I always like seeing SPECTRE and, having grown up in Nevada, it’s cool to see 007 take to the streets of Las Vegas. It felt a bit like Ocean’s Eleven with a world domination plot thrown in. It’s a pretty weak sendoff for Connery though – and I wish the emotional impact of Tracy’s death and Bond once again coming face to face with his nemesis resonated a bit more. Such a missed opportunity there.
I’m guessing Blofeld is dead now, unless of course Bond took out just another body double on that oil rig. I guess we’ll find out for sure when Bond returns – played by Roger Moore this time – in Live and Let Die.
Having gone from never seeing Connery’s Bond to watching six of his films in just two days, I have to say that I’m sad he’s leaving, and nervous about starting a new chapter in the franchise. I think I still like Craig’s Bond more than Connery’s, but man was he good in the role and truly set the bar high for everyone else.