Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Okay, this is another Bond film about which I probably part ways with most James Bond fans, because I absolutely love Diamonds Are Forever, even more than Thunderball.  If it weren’t for Daniel Craig’s movies, this would probably be my all-time favorite James Bond film.  That doesn't mean it's a great film, it just means it's a personal favorite.  This is, by far, the funniest Bond of them all, and I spend the whole movie laughing, in the best way possible.



This film is intrinsically tied up with family memories as well.  It's not just my favorite, but my sister's and my parents love it too.  We watched this one on video an awful lot growing up, mostly because it was so amusing.  It's the only Bond film we quote on a regular basis.  Nearly daily.  And not just a couple lines, but tons of dialogue from it.  It is SOOO quotable.  I can't say that about any other Bond film.  Oh, there's usually a few one-liners from any given film, but the entire movie isn't quotable the way this one is!  "Would you settle for a tulip?"

I particularly admire the extremely effective intro to the problem at hand.  While Bond and M listen to a verbal explanation of how the diamond industry works, we see what’s really going on visually.  Scenes like that just makes me bounce with writerly joy.  It’s such a great way to streamline the story.  We’re also immediately introduced to Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, this movie’s hilarious henchmen who single-handedly take out half a dozen people and nearly kill Bond three times, while talking in nothing but wisecracks the whole time.  “Heartwarming, Mr. Kidd.”  “A glowing tribute, Mr. Wint.”  They’re here from start to finish, and every time they’re around, I start laughing just anticipating what they’re going to say.  They’re perfectly cast too.  Putter Smith and Brian Glover are like the least likely looking bad guys and that just makes them even funnier.  Okay, maybe not Brian Glover.  He looks kind of creepy.  But Putter Smith just looks like a used car salesman or something.  Together, they're just priceless.



A big part of what I love so much about this movie, and what I find hilarious, is how often Bond pretends to be someone else throughout the film.  He pretends to be Peter Franks, pretends to be an Amsterdamer, complete with accent and lines my family quote all the time:  “I speak English!  Who... is your floor?”  He pretends to be a grieving brother.  He pretends to be Klaus Hergersheimer...  It’s too funny.  Bond rarely puts on an act, particularly not a whole string of them in the same movie.  He usually just goes in and does the job, or when he does impersonate someone, it's usually someone serious, like a businessman.  Except in this movie.  Connery seems to be enjoying his turns in Bond's different disguises way too much, and that enthusiasm is infectious.  I think this is the only Bond movie I start grinning just thinking about it.

Then there’s all the other crazy and awesome characters in this movie.  Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd I already talked about.  But there’s Morton Slumber, and Shady Tree, and Jimmy Dean as Willard Whyte (“Baa-ah-ha-ah?  I don’t have anything in Baa-ah-ha-ah!”  Actually any time he opens his mouth, he’s funny.  “Burt Saxby?  Tell him he’s fired!”)  Bruce Cabot plays Burt Saxby!  Marc Lawrence plays a henchman (“I didn’t know there was a pool down there.”)!  These guys are just so distinctive and so great.




Now, let’s get the things I don’t like out of the way...  Plenty O’Toole.  Bambi and Thumper.  The car chase with the cops (although I do like the way the sheriff approaches the car looking all grim and serious and Bond just reverses the car and peals away.  But the rest of the chase?  I’m really not fond of when cops are portrayed as stupid, and I'm not overly fond of chases that really don't do anything but show off stunts.

But besides those few moments, everything else is just plain, awesome fun.  “I was just out walking my rat, when I seem to have lost my way.”  “Your troubles are all behind you now.”  "Weren't you a blonde when I came in?"  "You just killed James Bond!"  Why yes, the dialogue is one of the biggest selling points of this movie.

Our Bond girl this time out is Tiffany Case.  I used to think I just tolerated Jill St. John as Tiffany Case, but I've come to realize she’s quite perfect in this particular movie and I love her here.  I can't imagine anyone else in the role, and she fits with the general tone of Diamonds Are Forever.  Same with the Las Vegas setting.  Not a place I like, but it fits this movie.  Bond climbing around the outside of the Whyte House makes me cringe.  Not so fond of the heights!



I also quite like Charles Gray as Blofeld.  He also fits in well with this movie.  None of the other Blofeld actors would work here.  Well, Telly Savalas might have worked.  I'm always amused when Blofeld escapes from under the CIA's nose by dressing up as a woman, carrying his cat, and walking right out.  Hee.



Favorite parts:  Bond impersonating Klaus Hergersheimer, and the real guy coming in to the lab after Bond leaves.  Bond nonchalantly stepping on top of the outside elevator to ride it up.  Bond using Blofeld's mini submarine to destroy the place.  The fight in the elevator with Peter Franks.  The "brain trust."  Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd.  Tiffany Case's last dress/robe outfit.  The fact that none of the construction crew notices an unconscious man in the tubing they are laying.  Q cheating at the slot matchines, but only really interested in seeing how well his gadget works.  Bond bored stiff while listening to M read off info about the diamonds in the case. Bond pretending to make out with a non-existent partner.



Music:  Great, particularly love the “driving into Las Vegas” theme.
Theme song:  Fabulous
Credit sequence:  Cool... has a cat with a diamond necklace!
Bond girl:  Really like her
Bad guys:  Like Blofeld, and the henchmen are spectacularly funny
Felix:  I like this Felix.
Overall personal rating:  5 out of 5 stars

8 comments:

  1. Y'know, I don't know if I have ever seen this whole movie in one sitting. It seems like I always started watching it on t.v. after it had been on for awhile, and thus my recollection of it is choppy, as well.

    I do love the henchmen - their quips are awesome! I think I need to sit down and watch this one again from start to finish.

    I did watch Skyfall on my brand new BlueRay disc last Friday and loved it even more than I did in the theater.

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    1. Yay for Skyfall! I still have to pick up a copy.

      Diamonds Are Forever isn't for everybody. I know a couple friends who think it's one of the worst Bonds, but it tickles my funnybone. It is probably the Bond film I've seen the most times.

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  3. You know that James Bond films aren't really my thing and that I've only seen 2 of them (Roger Moore) in my entire life; however, I am going to be reading all your reviews, simply because I love your writing! You have such a great way of expressing yourself, and it is a joy to read what you write.

    I regularly march to the beat of my own drum when it comes to movies. Some films I love, many classic film fans think are over-rated, and certain movies I hate, are extremely beloved. My philosophy is "what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another, and that is okay."

    I love quotable movies. I think you know already...our family's most quotable film is probably "Stalalg 17."

    Have a great day!

    (I re-did my comment after posting it, because I discovered a typo. I ought to have proofed it first!)

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  4. According to the book Box Office Hits by Susan Sackett, Diamonds Are Forever was one of the Top 5 hit money-makers of 1971. No doubt audiences were happy to see Sean Connery play Bond again.

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  5. Immediately thought of you when I saw this:

    Blogger is Smitten by Britain. And her post says this: "I'm also looking for a James Bond blogger who would like to write about 50 years of Bond. I would like at least one post per month. Again- only serious committed equiries please. Email me at smittenbybritain at hotmail dot com. Thanks!" Her blog is here:

    http://www.smittenbybritain.com/

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  6. I think I've only seen this one once. You have me wanting to go back and take another look at it now!

    Bruce Cabot in a James Bond film?! Who knew?! Not me!

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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  7. ARGH! I have never seen this movie! That's it, off to see if the library has it.

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