After killing SPECTRE's Ernst Blofeld in the opening scene of
1971's DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, James Bond objects to being called into a
case as simple as diamond smuggling. But there will be much more at
stake. SPECTRE plans nothing less than an international auction
amongst rival nations with nuclear supremacy going to the highest
The Bond films keep changing the actors who play Blofeld. This
time it is Charles Gray replacing Telly Savalas, who in turn came after
the much better Donald Pleasence. Although the series's other
principal actors, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, Desmond Llewelyn as
Q and Bernard Lee as M, had long duration runs, Bond's archrival
Blofeld, SPECTRE's #1, is played by frequently changing actors.
(The Bond film's usual dramatic opening credits are much more
prosaic this time with various shots of twirling and glistening
diamonds plus a few mundane dancers -- a big disappointment for those
of us fond of its normal high energy and visually attractive
After the disastrous George Lazenby, Sean Connery, definitely the
best Bond ever, comes back again to act his signature role of James
Bond. But his heart does not seem in it anymore, and his acting
quality in the Bond movies decreases dramatically after THUNDERBALL.
Jill St. John, playing a ditzy blonde, brunette and redhead named
Tiffany Case, shows lots of cleavage and gives just the right reading
of her role as a diamond smuggler and Bond companion.
Lana Wood plays the small part of Plenty O'Toole -- love those
Bond film names so full of sexual innuendo. Plenty is another of
Bond's love interests in the movie.
Easily the most bizarre and out-of-place characters are Putter
Smith as Mr. Kidd and Bruce Glover as his sidekick Mr. Wint. They
follow the diamond smuggling chain and kill off the operatives after
the diamonds have been passed along. Looking and acting like a couple
of pseudo-country bumpkins, they seem to have wandered by accident from
the adjoining sound stage into the filming of this movie.
As a Howard Hughes type recluse named Willard Whyte, Jimmy Dean
gives an unusual performance that would have been better cast if the
role had been given to a crotchety, older actor. The Las Vegas hotel
where he lives is named the Whyte House with Ian Fleming's usual
flourish for names.
CIA agent Felix Leiter, this time acted by Norman Burton, does not
wear the standard issue, dark spook glasses from previous Bond flicks.
They never make any sense, but I miss them anyway since they were so
Technology this time includes transparent fake fingerprints so
Bond can impersonate a diamond smuggler without being suspected.
Another gadget changes your voice to sound exactly like someone else's.
For once Q gets to use his own materials when he tries out a tiny
transmitter that allows him to beat the slot machines in Las Vegas.
The movie does have its frivolity, especially in the chase scenes.
One race of great, silly fun has Bond in a stolen lunar vehicle being
chased by cars and dirt bikes across a moon-like Nevada desert. As the
cars bite the dust, their doors and frames fly off as the moon craft
speeds away in front of them.
In a night-time chase scene Bond drives a fire-engine red Mustang
through the neon-lit streets of Las Vegas with a half dozen cop cars in
hot pursuit. The technique for his escape down a narrow alleyway,
smaller than his car, is a classic.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER runs 2:00. It is rated PG for a half dozen
mild profanities, cartoonish violence and sexual innuendo and would be
fine for kids around nine and up.
My son Jeffrey, almost 9, complained about the picture's cuss
words. He liked the movie but said his favorite of the first 7 Bond
films is still THUNDERBALL. He hated the two stupid characters in
this one, Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes