James Bond goes undercover to trace a diamond-smuggling operation
to its ultimate destination, but what starts out as a relatively
simple matter becomes something far more outlandish. Teaming
up with the beautiful Tiffany Case, 007 discovers that an
old enemy has been stockpiling the gems for use in a deadly
early '70s witnessed an Americanisation of the Bond movies.
This is often attributed to the influence of director Guy
Hamilton or to the series' new American co-writer Tom Mankiewicz,
but the truth is that these individuals were only part of
a deliberate policy decision to appeal to the US market. In
fact, the producers even cast an American actor, John Gavin,
to take over as Bond, before Sean Connery was ultimately coaxed
back to the role.
keen were Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to revive the
massive popular appeal that the Bond franchise had enjoyed
during the mid-'60s that they endeavoured to revive as many
elements as possible from the formula that had made Goldfinger
such a success back in 1964. An early draft of the script
even brought back Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger's twin brother
(perhaps having changed his name by deed poll to Diamondthumb)!
and other fascinating facts are included in the documentary
features on this DVD. Together they reveal that, with regard
to undermining the Britishness of James Bond, in fact he got
off lightly with Diamonds Are Forever.
Las Vegas setting provides many memorable elements, including
the wonderfully tacky Slumber Inc funeral service; the Howard
Hughes-style recluse, Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), who is abducted
without anyone noticing; and the trend-setting smash-'em-up
car chase. The wholesale destruction of police cars would
become a staple ingredient of many subsequent Bond films,
as would the presence of an overweight American sheriff. Charles
Gray also makes an excellent contribution, bringing style
and wit to the role of Blofeld.
aspects of the movie prove disappointing, however, particularly
where it glosses over the events of On Her Majesty's Secret
Service. It is as though the production team wish to forget
about Lazenby's movie and its tragic climax. The film opens
with Bond seeking out and apparently killing Blofeld, but
there is never much of a sense, either in the script or in
Connery's performance, that 007 is feeling particularly embittered
or grief-stricken. Later on, Bernard Lee as M comments that,
"The least we can expect from you now is a little plain, solid
work," which seems incredibly insensitive under the circumstances.
Similarly, the request made by Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) for
Bond to bring her "A diamond... in a ring" from Amsterdam
is not the sort of thing one would say to a man who has recently
lost his wife.
with the majority of the '70s and '80s Bond movies, only the
title and certain character names are retained from Fleming's
original book. As such, the movie could be novelised as part
of the literary canon with relatively minor changes. (Indeed,
a prose adaptation, by Vic Davis, was published in the Daily
Express newspaper during December 1971, but was prematurely
curtailed.) The names of Blofeld, Wint, Kidd, Tiffany Case
and Shady Tree would all need to be changed, since their characters
are very different from their counterparts in Fleming's books.
Blofeld could be replaced by the new Number 1 from You
Only Live Thrice - 007 could be chasing him
at the outset in order to exact revenge for his role in the
murder of Aki. Alternatively, since Gray's characterisation
is almost completely different from that of Donald Pleasence
in You Only Live Twice, he could be an entirely different
Are Forever is the earliest Bond film for which proper
deleted scenes are known to exist. One of these four scenes
explains how Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood) ends up at the residence
of Tiffany Case (a feisty Jill St John), but two of the others,
including an appearance by Sammy Davis Jr, are blighted by
such stilted acting that one is actually extremely grateful
that they were cut in the first place! Disc 2 also includes
additional footage, new to DVD, from the laser satellite sequences
and the oil rig attack, plus a 1971 BBC interview with Connery
(though these were not supplied for review).
movie is a decidedly rough diamond, but it's exquisitely presented.