Diamonds Are Forever
directed by Guy Hamilton
(United Artists/MGM, 1971)

Plenty O'Toole is perhaps the least fortunate of all the Bond girls.

Most of the beautiful, glamorous women who stumble across James Bond's path have incredible sex with the superspy before being killed in some horrible way. O'Toole (Lana Wood) had only just made it to his hotel room, with barely enough time to remove her top, before a gang of thugs hurl her from the window into the pool below. (When Bond compliments them on their aim, the leader says he didn't know a pool was there.) Then, when she comes nosing around the home of bad girl Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), O'Toole is drowned in Case's pool by assassins who, apparently didn't know what their target (Case) looked like.

Case, on the other hand, gets multiple trysts with Bond and she makes it out of the movie alive. Not bad for a woman who started out the movie on the wrong side.

Diamonds Are Forever was to be Sean Connery's final outing in the role (until years later, when he agreed to return during the Roger Moore years in Never Say Never Again). It's not his best effort, but it's a satisfactory conclusion to his nine-year stint as James Bond -- a character no one else has managed to play so well. And we're lucky to have it at all -- Connery had bowed out of the series after You Only Live Twice and was replaced by George Lazenby in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but it flopped so badly that the producers anted up enough money to lure Connery back for one more movie.

The movie begins with Bond's desperate search for Ernst Blofield, the head of SPECTRE (now played -- several times over -- by Charles Gray), an often violent quest for revenge which is apparently concluded on Bond's vacation time. Then, back at work, he's sent by a long-suffering M (Bernard Lee) on a mission to bust a diamond smuggling operation by impersonating a well-known felon. (The fingerprint trick is a clever use of the goodies supplied beforehand by Desmond Llewelyn as Q, but you have to wonder why the bad guys went to such trouble to verify his identity without ever looking at a photo of their contact.)

He's dogged along the way by Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover), a pair of smarmy assassins who are amazingly amoral, unfeeling, dry of wit and -- surprisingly, considering that it was filmed in 1971 -- gay without becoming a standing joke.

Bond has an amusing tussle with the lithe bodyguards Bambi (Donna Garratt) and Thumper (Trina Parks) and rescues the hostage billionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean). He leads the Las Vegas police on a merry chase, sets a casino and circus on end, upstages a simulated moonwalk, escapes cremation and scales the Whyte House. He demonstrates just how much fun a man can have with a crane.

Of course, Bond beats the bad guy, saves the world and ends the movie with the best-looking girl. Not a bad way for Connery to end an exceptional run.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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