Diamonds Are Forever ★★

Part of:
Dr. No-vember or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bond Films

Welcome to Hell, Blofeld.
-James Bond

With George Lazenby leaving the franchise after only one film, the caretakers of James Bond decided it was the perfect time for a huge change in the series. This was partly do to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service's "poor" performance at the box office. The fact is, even though it was one of the lowest performing Bond films of the series, it was still one of the highest grossing films worldwide in 1969.

They made a conscience decision to "Americanize" James Bond. Cubby Broccoli, the producer of every Bond film thus far, offered the role of 007 to none other then Burt Reynolds, but thankfully he was unavailable. He then offered the role to Adam West, but he declined stating he thought it should be played by someone British. Broccoli, apparently not agreeing with West, signed on John Gavin to star as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever.

I can't help but think that Diamonds Are Forever came dangerously close to ending this franchise forever if it wasn't for David Picker who was United Artists' chief at the time. He was extremely unhappy with what was going on with the film and even though John Gavin had a contract to star in the film, he said he wanted Sean Connery to return with money being no object. Connery returned one last time to the role, and I can't help but think saved this film from being a complete bomb.

I think that for the simple fact that while the Bond films always contained some camp elements from the very beginning, Diamonds turns the camp level up to 11. The change of tone is quite drastic coming off of OHMSS and if you would have combined that with an American playing the role of the super spy I think people would have been completely turned off by it. Instead the film ended up being a hit, and I fully believe it was for the simple fact that Connery returned to the role.

While it's nice having Connery back, the rest of the cast isn't so exciting. Charles Gray as Blofeld is the worst portrayal of the character thus far. Not only does he add nothing to the character, but he takes part in what ends up being the lowest moment in the character's history. Jill St. John and the character of Tiffany Case is just plain annoying and out of place. She seems that she'd feel more at home in a Burt Reynolds film from the period funny enough. The character of Felix Leiter makes his fourth appearance and is played by a fourth actor. They don't even attempt to cast the same type of actor in the role which I find funny.

The characters of Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith ) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) have grown on me over the years. I think they'd be more fondly remembered if they would have shown up in the series during Roger Moore's tenure as 007. As the homosexual hitmen duo they certainly do make for some unique characters.

The film itself had a great start to it as it seemed like a blood thirsty 007 was going after Blofeld for revenge after the closing moments of OHMSS. Sadly that dark side of Bond quickly fades and is gone by the time the opening credit sequence plays. The amazing ending of the previous film is completely wasted when it could have been used to set up a dark revenge film and do something different with the character. Unfortunately the producers weren't interested in going in that direction at all.

While it's hard to criticize this film for it's tone because it's where the series was headed for the foreseeable future, but there's just too many elements here that just didn't work. It's title could have been James Bond in Slumming It. Even if you accept the fact that Bond is going to be very camp from here on in, there's very little memorable about this film in particular.

Mr. DuLac liked these reviews