Diamonds Are Forever: Connery’s 007 checks out
Connery's last roll5
Ivan Radford | On 12, Sep 2021
£1.25 million. That’s how much money it took to bring Sean Connery back into the Bond fold, after he bid farewell to the 007 tux with You Only Live Twice. It’s a price tag that’s never really justified, with Connery sluggishly going through the motions in a script that matches his pace.
There’s perhaps something in the way the film presents Bond, James Bond as old and out of shape, almost out of his depth in a glitzy world of gambling and showbiz – the largely Las Vegas-set action feels a long way from the relatively understated spying days of Dr No. Except that there’s no sign that Diamonds Are Forever is conscious that it’s even doing this – Goldfinger helmer Guy Hamilton returns to direct, but the reunited duo never manage to recapture those golden days, and don’t manage to come up with anything else moderately interesting in its place.
The result is a disappointing U-turn away from daring notes of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and it does usher in the 1970s – the decade when Bond started to lose its way. In Roger Moore’s hands, the franchise would slip into arch humour instead of grittier violence or gripping espionage. But when it comes to punchlines, Connery is no Moore, and that becomes increasingly clear as the bloated film moves slowly through the formulaic beats
There’s the bit where a man is dressed up as a woman. The bit where Blofeld turns up (Charles Gray – strikingly unmemorable after Donald Pleasance). The bit where a giant laser in space has something to do with anything. And the bit where Bond is double-crossed by a woman (Jill St John’s entertainingly ruthless redhead – one of the few good things in the film).
As for the elements that the film tries to make its own, they’re even less successful: a set piece involving a lunar buggy chase through the Nevada desert – which should be a playful riff on the idea of the moon landings being faked – is laughably dull, while the climactic sequence involving an oil rig is a bland affair compared to the Ken Adam-designed hollowed-out volcano in Connery’s last outing. A fight sequence in which “Bambi” and “Thumper”, two deadly acrobats, whale on Connery’s Bond, is just painful to watch.
Perhaps the worst thing, though, are the two henchmen who repeatedly pop up throughout the film’s runtime: Mr Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr Kidd (Putter Smith), who are ostensibly in the employ of the funeral parlour Slumber Inc – a front for a diamond-smuggling ring. We never see them take any orders from anyone, however, with their screentime instead taken up by terrible one-liners, bad puns and irrelevant proverbs. “If God had meant man to fly…” says one, after blowing up a helicopter. “He would have given him wings,” comes the reply. They’re curious relics of 1970s kitsch, and their apparently gay relationship makes them a potentially interesting addition to Bond canon, but they’re wasted here, never managing to be threatening or funny.
The result is glitzy trash that’s not knowing enough to get away with it, and is perhaps best summed up 15 minutes in, when Bond hides from an enemy by pretending to make love to himself in a dark alley. This is what Britain’s top spy has come to. Roger Moore couldn’t arrive soon enough.