Wednesday, 21 October 2015

007 - Diamonds Are Forever

James Bond finds himself in Las Vegas for Diamonds Are Forever, a boozy caricature that depicts a world ran entirely on corruption. 007 is packed off to the states on behalf of a wheezing old goat who, via some asides set in Sierra Leone, is portrayed as profiting off some pretty grim mining conditions. In short, the (first) world-threatening worry concerns a phantasmic super-criminal who's stockpiling precious stones in such quantities that he could, theoretically, flood the market and threaten this elderly British gentleman's diamond monopoly.

Sean Connery is back as 007 thanks to George Lazenby's sudden departure and a lot of United Artists' money. Connery looks noticeably rougher, a lounging thick-set millionaire who couldn't care less about his greying temples. His suits no longer make him look like a well-dressed arrow either. James Bond finally has the body to match his boundless consumption. Diamonds makes it clear that youth and vim went out with Lazenby. Somehow we've ended up with a film that resembles the terminally cynical fantasies of a middle-aged banker.

Despite the rather vicious material, Guy Hamilton seems convinced he's making a comedy. There's a sense the director is hovering around behind the camera, imploring his actors to smile through the carnage. If the intense grinning is supposed to be a salve it doesn't work. Instead, it ends up lending the film a mood of real mania. Hamilton's anti-panache framing coupled with Bert Bates and John Holmes' slack fight editing invests every confrontation with a kind of ghoulish delight. It's as if Bond knows he's a character in a film and no harm can ever come to him.

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