Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Review: Diamonds Are Forever Ultimate Edition DVD

Diamonds Are Forever was the first weak James Bond film. There are certainly weaknesses in all of the films before it but this is the first that's weak overall, saved only by an excellent score from John Barry and lots of shots of Las Vegas in 1970, almost making it a time capsule. It already had this quality in the early 80s when I first saw it, as the film has numerous shots of open desert outside the casinos, something my parents made great note of as we visited Vegas a few times around that time.

So what went wrong with this one? In the filmmaker's commentary, the screenwriter says it was the big car chase on the nighttime streets of Vegas happening in the middle of the film, which served as an early climax as it overshadowed the oil rig battle at the end. While that certainly was well done, there are other problems that are more serious. First of all, casting as the main villain a guy with no f-ing neck who not only wasn't very menacing (or even bald, like the previous Blofelds) but appeared as a good guy just 4 years prior. Connery gave the part the absolute minimum it required and the female lead was poorly written and played by a lesser actor. Series-wise, it seems to have no connection with the drama of the preceding film's end; Connery doesn't play the search for Blofeld as a man out for revenge as much as a cop who's eager to solve a case.

There are plenty of positives to this movie, with the elevator fight at the top of the list. Jimmy Dean was amusing and, unlike some, I never had problems with the henchmen Wint and Kidd, tho their homosexuality was creepily portrayed. And so nice to see Crispin Glover's father in the role of Wint, one can certainly see some of Crispin in him. There's a nice reveal of multiple Blofelds and a decent set of investigation by Bond to figure out what the smuggled diamonds are being used for. Again, great sets by Ken Adam and even one he didn't design, a real house I'd love to live in.

The DVD has another commentary from director Guy Hamilton and even includes a deleted scenes with Sammy Davis Jr., which would have been a rare celebrity cameo in a Bond film. The making-of material is quite candid, even mentioning the obvious crowds watching the Fremont Street chase and the "fixed" blooper at the end of the chase.

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