James Bond
Diamonds are Forever

Starring: Sean Connery
16349DVD Z1
Certificate: PG
Available Now

James Bond goes undercover to trace a diamond-smuggling pipeline to its ultimate destination. He discovers an old enemy stockpiling gems for use in a deadly laser satellite...

The early 1970s 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 Connery was coaxed back into the role. So keen were they to revive the massive popular appeal that the Bond franchise had generated in the mid-1960s, that they endeavoured to pull together as many elements as possible from the formula that had made Goldfinger so successful 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)! These and other fascinating facts are included in the documentary features on this DVD - they reveal that, with regard to undermining the British-ness of James Bond, he got off lightly with Diamonds Are Forever!

The Las Vegas setting provides many memorable ingredients, including the wonderfully tacky Slumber funeral service; the Howard Hughes-style recluse, Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), who is abducted without anyone ever noticing; and the trend-setting smash-'em-up car chase. The wholesale destruction of police cars would become a staple ingredient of many a subsequent Bond film, as would the presence of an overweight American sheriff. Charles Gray also makes an excellent contribution, bringing style and refined wit to the role of Blofeld.

Other aspects of the movie prove disappointing, however, particularly where it glosses over the events of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, as though the production team wished to forget Lazenby's movie and its tragic climax. Diamonds Are Forever 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 Bond is particularly embittered or grief-stricken. Later on, Bernard Lee's M comments that, "The least we can expect from you now is a little plain, solid work," which seems extremely callous 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.

The DVD's extra features include four deleted scenes. One of these explains how Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood) ends up at the residence of Tiffany Case (played by 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 grateful they were cut in the first place!

A distinctly rough diamond, but exquisitely presented.

Richard McGinlay