Published Oct 25, 2012After George Lazenby left the Bond franchise after On Her Majesty's Secret Service, citing creative differences and a lack of respectful treatment, producers paid Sean Connery an unprecedented $1.25 million salary to return to the role, similarly hiring on Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton in an effort to recapture that magic.
The resulting diamond smuggling action-comedy, Diamonds are Forever, had a slightly different tone than its predecessors, embracing the sleazy camp aspect of Goldfinger while overlooking the more grounded spy elements. In such, this seventh installment in the Bond franchise—and Connery's final portrayal of the MI6 agent—falls into contextual mediocrity for the series, having some amusing moments but not quite living up to its predecessors.
In part, the overt departure from the more serious tone of the Lazenby entry was almost too obvious and ham-fisted, finding Bond impersonating a diamond smuggler and murderer in an effort to uncover a smuggling ring. After some jet-setting and a near death experience at the hands of Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), he winds up in Vegas where he meets the opportunistic Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood)—presumably named after her father—and starts up with the man-whoring.
With goofy close-ups of elephants reacting to slot machine wins and knowing shots of visible nipples through wet white shirts, the central mystery comes across as a joke. Once Connery winds up seeking out reclusive millionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean)—thought to be behind the nefarious plan to use diamonds to make a giant space laser—and fights two acrobatic vixens named Bambi and Thumper, it's clear that this 007 mission is intended as pure comedy.
Still, some of the car chase sequences are quite kinetic and Bond girl Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) was more charismatic than some of her predecessors. Short of greatness, Diamonds are Forever is still an entertaining—albeit cheesy—diversion.
Diamonds are Forever screens as part of The Bond Blitz: Bond vs. Blofield retrospective at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Screening initially at 5:30am on October 27th, 2012, it will return to the Lightbox in December for additional big screen viewing opportunities. (MGM)