MI6 trawls the archives to see how critics of the day received Sean Connery's return to the role of James Bond in the 1971 film "Diamonds Are Forever"...

Time Tunnel: Review Rewind
23rd November 2007

New York Times - December 18th, 1971
"Diamonds Are Forever," the seventh to be produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and the sixth to star Sean Connery, is a nostalgic journey down memory lane - by jet, by helicopter, by hearse, by moon machine, and by bare foot across deep-pile rugs to king-sized beds in hotel rooms as big as Nevada.

A lot of things have changed since "You Only Live Twice" (1967), the last real Bond adventure, but 007 has remained a steadfast agent for the military-industrial complex, a friend to the C.I.A. and a triumphant sexist. It's enough to make one weepy with gratitude. I mean, not everything must be mutable.

"Diamonds Are Forever" is also great, absurd fun, not only because it recalls the moods and manners of the sixties (which, being over, now seem safely comprehensible), but also because all of the people connected with the movie obviously know what they are up to.

This includes Mr. Connery, who must reconcile himself to the fact that nothing becomes him as much as the character he wanted to leave; Guy Hamilton, the director, whose "Goldfinger" was the best of the earlier Bonds; Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz, who know exactly when a screenplay should make sense and when it's a waste of time, and Maurice Bender, the designer of the main titles that so brilliantly reflect the make-belive violence, vulgarity and humor of the film that follows.

The story, which may or may not have much to do with Ian Fleming's novel published here in 1956, begins as a conventional diamond smuggling caper but quickly evolves into another one of the positively immortal Blofeld's schemes to dominate the world, this time by something that I can only describe as a death-ray-carrying, diamond-encrusted sputnik.


The locales shift from London to South Africa to Amsterdam, before more or less settling down in Las Vegas, which, with its disposable facades, its arbitrary payoffs, its magnificent assortment of available women, and its implication that this is civilization's end, is the perfect setting for the kind of doomsdays that always threaten Bond's world.


In addition to several Blofelds (all played by Charles Gray), the characters include a nice little old lady named Mrs. Whistler, who teaches school to South Africans when she is not smuggling diamonds to Europe; two gentle gunmen, who are fond of their jobs (and in love with each other); a mysterious Las Vegas millionaire named Willard Whyte (played by Jimmy Dean); a couple of butch beauties named Thumper and Bambi, and Lana Wood and Jill St. John, as the two principal women in James's life.

The movie's momentum is such that one never has much time to react to its lack of reason, only to its sensations of speed and narrow escape, and to the splendor of its crazy gadgets and décor. It may be that I've become jaded, or that I've forgotten the details of all but the last (and worst) Bond film ("On His Majesty's Secret Service," which featured a vivid sequence in which a man got chopped up by the blades of a snow-removal machine), but "Diamonds Are Forever" does seem comparatively benign. I'd almost call it a movie to play hookey for.

Variety - December 15th, 1971
"James Bond." that Indestructible superspy and satyr more familiarly known as Agent 007, is back, which should mean plenty of shekels for United Artists and film theatres. Character still packs a lethal wallop in all his cavortings, still manages to surround himself with scantily-clad sexpots. Yet. "Diamonds Are Forever" doesn't carry the same quality or flair as its many predecessors.

Apparently, Messrs. Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who have made a fortune producing these Ian Fleming-inspired mellers have reached that point where a sustained story means little in prepping an 007 picture. That is what this latest in the series lacks, and for this reason there can be no suspense. But action there is plenty of it in the familiar Bond manner.

Escapist it is, too. What starts out to be an International diamond smuggling caper ends with a nuclear attempt to destroy the world. That few of the situations are related doesn't seem to matter, except the audience is in a perpetual state of amazement trying to cope with what': going on up there on the screen. Plottage more nearly resembles a series of violent clips and blackouts, to enable Agent Bond a chance to show he isn't slowing down, than being an exciting meller rolling on to a wild finish.

Sean Connery is back In the role as In five previous Bond entries and he still has his own way both with broads and deeds. Jill St. John is an agent for the smuggling ring in an attempt to smuggle a fortune in diamonds into the U.S., and Charles Gray the head of the organization with all the most advanced stages of nuclear energy at its disposal. Somewhere in the telling diamonds are forgotten, never to be recalled. while Agent Bond valiantly tries to save the world-one guesses.


Producer, however, insert comedy and novelty in more than goodly measure. The diamond caper takes Bond and his lovely companion to Las Vegas, where one of the funniest sequences in memory focuses on Bond trying to elude the police in downtown Vegas. There is a sequence where Bond is jumped by a pair of bikini clad karate cuties and the darndest fight ensues. Up-to-the-minute scientific gadget use is made again by the producers when Bond steals a moon machine at a simulated lunar testing-ground in a wild drive across the Nevada desert dunes to escape pursuing enemies


Then, an extra fillip, one of the character is a certain mysterious Las Vegas billionaire, who hasn't been men In three years and believed to be hiding out in his penthouse. Bond saves him from his fate as only Bond can do.

Direction by Guy Hamilton of the Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz screenplay maintains a fast tempo and is bright dividual scenes. Ken Adam garbs film with rich production design John Barry's music score is of the proper Bond genre and Ted Moore's photography Is expert, as are the reminder of technical credits.

Lana Wood, sister of Natalie gets good mileage from her brief exposure as Plenty O'Toole, a Vegas casino chip follower. and Bruce Glover and Putter Smith play the fey but ruthless murder team. Jimmy Dean, the country western singer, goes straight as the Vegas billlonaire who even has his own hotel, Donna Garratt and Trina Parks are the karate kids and Bruce Cabot Is a Vegas casino manager. Repeaters, of course, as Bernard Lee as "M," and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

Time - January 10th, 1972
This, the seventh movie in the James Bond canon (the heretical Casino Royale, which postulated a horde of 007s instead of one, doesn't count), is in some ways the best of the lot. It is by all odds the broadest—which is to say wackiest, not sexiest. Indeed, the ladies of sinister sexuality (Jill St. John, Lana Wood) look like randy and overweight cheerleaders beside the likes of Domino and Pussy Galore. They furnish 007 with a few pleasant pit stops, but the real adventure lies elsewhere.

Bond is on the trail of that arch-meanie, Blofeld (Charles Gray), and a ring of high-placed diamond smugglers who operate in Las Vegas. Somehow mixed up in all this are an eccentric millionaire recluse (hello there, Howard Hughes), a wizened stand-up comic, a crooked mortician, a couple of campy killers named Wint and Kidd, and two bikinied bodyguards who call themselves Bambi and Thumper. They strike a gymnastic blow for Women's Lib by effortlessly bouncing Bond, the sexist pig, off the four walls of a luxurious desert hideaway.

With its laser machines, fights to the death and exotic homicides, Diamonds Are Forever is like a Looney Tune. A chaotic car chase through the streets of downtown Las Vegas is the funniest scene of its kind since Roadrunner last boinked the coyote.

Bond seems to grow more resilient with age. Since 1962 and his first screen incarnation in Dr. No, several wars, untold natural disasters and the Beatles have all come and gone. Bond looks better than ever, partly because Sean Connery has returned to play him. During Connery's one-picture absence, some fellow named Lazenby filled the role—the way concrete fills a hole.


Connery, a fine, forceful actor with an undeniable presence, turns his well-publicized contempt for the Bond character into some wry moments of self-parody. He is capable of doing better things (The Molly Maguires, Mamie), but whether he likes it or not, he is the perfect, the only James Bond.

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