Diamonds Are Forever – 1.5 stars

We have started a new tradition at home when all four of us are present. One of us gets to pick the movie and the other three have no veto power. I was first up and showed this gem, primarily to discomfort my wife and daughter, but also because Sean Connery had just passed and the movie always had a soft spot in my heart. In the first minutes, Connery did not disappoint: he pulled off a woman’s bikini top and strangled her with it until she gave up information on how to find his nemesis Blofeld. He also popped another woman in the mouth. Not to get too far off track, but while I can see that James Bond is certainly no paragon of modernity, the fact that he smacks women around for information always struck me as one of his more proto-feminist qualities. He does not discriminate.  Blofeld first. Chivalry second.

I loved this movie when I was a kid because when my brother and I went to Puerto Rico, and we started to fight with each other, my abuela took him for the day, and my abeulo took me. I am certain that I got the better of the deal, because I had lunch at a restaurant in San Juan where my hamburger was brought to me on an electric train. Then we went to see a double feature: this second run flick was the opener to the first run feature about a killer octopus, Tenacles. We drank up Bond and left during the fish movie. 

My love for the film grew a little more because I married a doppelgänger to Jill St. John. Of course, one would never marry a woman based on the firm imprint of a beautiful Bond girl during adolescence. But it doesn’t hurt. 

To the film. It’s pretty awful. You can see that this entry of the series was the one most heavily relied upon by Mike Myers in his Austin Powers send ups. Bond is dead-to-rights on four separate occasions, and on each, rather than shoot him dead, the villains consign him to some elaborate end which he foils. 

Worse, contrary to almost every other Bond film, the picture is ugly. The closest we get to an exotic locale is Amsterdam, where we see a dead body pulled out of one of the canals. Other than that, it’s gruesome 1970 Las Vegas, a desert, some kind of hidden missile base, and a finale on a grubby oil rig. The interior decoration seems to be Playboy-meets-The Poco os. When your most picturesque locale in a Bond film is the 1979 Circus Circus casino, oof. 

The movie also makes absolutely no sense and attempts to rely on the comic to the exclusion of any intelligible plot.  Sometimes, it borders on an episode of The Monkees. Almost every other movie in the early series entries are better.  A dog, but near and dear to my heart.

9 comments
  1. Pincher Martin said:

    What was the family’s reaction to being made to watch this dreck? And had the younger ones seen any of the other Sean Connery Bond films so that they could make a comparison?

  2. My son (22) thought it was hilarious but he’s the one who hammered how unbelievably ugly it is. My wife and daughter (25) were looking at me like I was crazy, but we all did start to laugh, because it is sooo bad in parts, it seems drug trippy.

    I introduced my kids to Bond after they had been compromised by the Mike Myers movies, but they were kids and they were easy on the few we watched. We began to watch in earnest only with the Daniel Craig flicks (and I am a big fan of the first 3 of the 4 Craig Bonds). For them, I think those movies were more in line with their sensibilities, more Bourne than Austin Powers.

  3. I think I probably watched Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, and The Spy Who Love Me with my son when he was growing up. None of the Dalton ones (the first of which is good, the second not so much) or Brosnan (I thought he was the worst Bond and his films were dreck).

  4. Pincher Martin said:

    Well, thank goodness “Diamonds are Forever” wasn’t their first experience with the old Bond films or you might never have gotten to them to watch another Bond film again. You still have “Nr. No” and “Thunderball” you can show them.

    It is a little surreal to see some of these old films again with modern eyes. If I haven’t seen a movie I once liked in a couple of decades, I don’t even trust myself to show it to my wife. Sometimes they’re better; more often they’re not.

  5. Some movies do not travel well, and some are ravaged by time, but Bond is so of its time that for the most part, what it may lack in immediacy and pace it makes up for in camp and as a historical artifact. Amazon Prime has a lot of old, weird stuff available, and if you want to see movies that simply do not travel, you can find them easily (recent views for me have been Rollerball, Winter Kills, and even California Split, which is maybe too Altmanesque in its out-there-ness). That said, other recent views like The French Connection, Klute, A Bridge Too Far and The Eagle Has Landed are fresh and vibrant and feel nothing like ill-selected bell bottoms.

    Oh, what did you think of Tarantino’s last flick?

    • That said, other recent views like The French Connection, Klute, A Bridge Too Far and The Eagle Has Landed are fresh and vibrant and feel nothing like ill-selected bell bottoms.

      I agree with you on the first two films. The other two I have not seen in a long time, and so I’m not confident how I would view them today.

      Hud is a great old film that has a scene in it which makes for very uncomfortable viewing for contemporary audiences. Hud’s attempted drunken rape of Alma was supposed to be an uncomfortable scene, of course, but it feels unforgivable now. Hud is by design a flawed character, but in 1963 I bet that scene felt different to the audience than it does today. A more forgivable action in 1963.

      Oh, what did you think of Tarantino’s last flick?

      I think you and I already had a discussion about it right here at this website.

  6. Pincher Martin said:

    BTW, did you know we are now further away in time from the movie release of Oliver Stone’s film JFK than that movie was from the assassination itself? It’s true. I did the math. The same goes for Stone’s movie Nixon, which was closer in time to Watergate than the movie’s release in 1995 is to us today.

    Just something to make you feel old in case there weren’t already enough reminders during the day.

    • What really made me feel old was the fact that we had a long and spirited discussion about Tarantino‘s last film, and I completely forgot about it.

      • Pincher Martin said:

        Hahaha!

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