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007: Worst Of Connery – Diamonds Are Forever

James Bond - Worst Of Sean Connery - Diamonds Are Forever

As we lead up to the release of Spectre, myself and fellow Movie-Moron contributor Dalmatian Jaws are delving into the massive catalogue of Bond movies to look at the high and low point for each actor. We continue our series by taking on Diamonds Are Forever, which saw Sean Connery reprising the role of Bond one more time (officially) after George Lazenby took over for a single outing. Here’s the original trailer:

DalmatianJaws: So what are we doing today? Diamonds are Forever?

DNWilliams: That’s the one. This was my face whilst watching the film:

James Bond - Worst Of Sean Connery - Diamonds Are Forever
DJ: Great pic. I’ll start: first off, I watched this “out or order” meaning, I watched it before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service because I didn’t realize they switched to George Lazenby then back to Connery for one more film. Anyway, the quickly paced “wrap up” intro where he’s stalking Blofeld was HILARIOUS to me. Like a Pink Panther movie. Plus, it made no sense.

DNW: I had the same reaction. Watching this after Dr No is jarring, Bond hunting Blofeld is just a really rapid succession of interrogation scenes that feel really awkward and rushed. They also make what I consider to be a mistake – they presume you care about all this stuff. Now obviously, Bond is a big deal, most people won’t be coming into this movie cold, but there’s no build-up. The music seems to be compensating for tension that really isn’t there. It’s just a flurry of stuff. You complained about the pace of Dr No, but surely you preferred that.

DJ: I totally enjoyed this. From that shot of Connery bursting through the wall to the bra-choking scene to the ridiculous mud bath death, it’s just totally mesmerizing in how ridiculous it is. But it’s not “good” in terms of drama … something that plagues the Roger Moore instalments. From this point on Bond is very, very silly.

DNW: Yeah, I have my limits when it comes to silly. It’s about context, and like I said, back to back with Dr No this is indefensible to me, it really misses the mark. It wants to be cool and fails miserably. I definitely didn’t enjoy it on any level, it was too poorly edited for me to even find it entertaining even in a look-how-bad-this-is kind of way. But then once the farce is over we do move into classic Bond territory: Shirley Bassey.

DJ: I like how I totally agree with your critique but had a totally different reaction. Though, my first Bond movie was GoldenEye, where Bond pulls a Peter Pan and manages to fly into the door of a falling plane, so silly was always a part of Bond for me. And this is a total non-fanboy question: who is Shirley Bassey again?

DNW: Haha, are you serious? The singer of the opening theme!

DJ: Had to look her up.

DNW: My goodness. Well, yeah, she’s synonymous with Bond themes, essentially. The movie has fairly generic titles by Bond standards. Diamonds and girls, unremarkable stuff. The song is cool though. I have to shamefacedly admit that my enjoying it is due in no small part to Kanye West’s sampling it.

DNW: I mean, Shirley Bassey isn’t the coolest singer to be into…but it’s a memorable, well orchestrated track. You Only Live Twice has my favourite music of the Connery movies I think.

DJ: Oh wow, I’m re-watching it on YouTube now. I forgot it starts by zooming in on a cat’s eye, which then turns into a diamond, which then turns into a giant diamond pendant that’s hanging from a naked lady’s naughty bits.

DNW: Pussy galore.

DJ: The first big thing I noticed with Diamonds was the two horrible actors they hired for the gay henchmen: their entire thread is incredibly odd and a HUGE misstep in my opinion. They’re not scary at all and the fact they one-up Bond just makes me annoyed with our hero. I watched the special features and at least one of those guys was a non-actor and you can tell.

James Bond - Worst Of Sean Connery - Diamonds Are Forever
DNW: They do just look so lame. It’s possible it’s just the balding moustachioed one dragging the other guy down, but really. Why make them look like this? What possible reason could there be? Is it supposed to be comic? I can’t believe they picked a non actor too, there’s nothing they bring to the roles that would justify that. You’re totally right about them undermining how awesome Bond is supposed to be.

DJ: Like when they hit him over the head with an urn? He doesn’t even notice them? Lame. And then he almost gets burned to death in a casket and survives by blind luck.

DNW: We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, but yeah, I was not happy with that. It looks like he gets tapped once on the neck and just passes out. Then he wakes up just as he’s getting cremated with NO sane way out of the situation, before the other bad guys just free him when they discover he used fake diamonds. So I guess he kind of saved his own skin, but…ugh.

DJ: Yeah. Sorry, I tend to jump to the highlights. What happened before that?

DNW: There’s a brief Moneypenny bit and an intro to Tiffany Case.

DJ: Oh that’s right.

DNW: Did you still consider the Moneypenny scene a highlight like you did with Dr No? Where she’s all ‘BRING ME A DIAMOND RING’ and Bond is all ‘maybe a tulip’?

DJ: I don’t really remember it, but I still really like that actress and the concept of the character.

DNW: Fair enough. So after Moneypenny’s pathetic display of desperation he’s off to rumble a diamond smuggling ring by posing as a diamond smuggler and we are introduced to the Bond girl, Tiffany Case. Not the best of entrances for her. She just changes wigs and takes Bond’s fingerprint, albeit half naked.

DJ: That’s always a plus. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the details on this one, the next thing that really struck me was him getting off the plane in Nevada and how weird it is to see Bond in an American desert. He feels so out of place.

DNW: Why do you think that is?

DJ: He’s so suave and regal, the scenery is so barren and Las Vegas is so low rent.
DNW: I kind of know what you mean. I actually think Vegas is a good setting for Bond, it’s just all about excess and a veneer of glamour, which is a great fit, thematically. It’s the way it’s portrayed that stops it from working. My favourite scene in the movie takes place before they reach Nevada, in Amsterdam – the fight in the lift with the smuggler that Bond is posing as. It’s a damn cool looking lift, it’s a confined space so they’re grappling more than darting around, the lift stops and starts, shards of glass are used as weapons.

James Bond - Worst Of Sean Connery - Diamonds Are Forever
DNW: It’s a great fight. It took 20 minutes for something cool to happen, but it was cool. And the European setting may have contributed to that to some degree, but there’s no real reason they couldn’t have presented Vegas in a similar way. The lift fight was essentially a hotel fight, and when they get to Vegas they’re in hotels again, but they just treat Vegas like a circus. I mean, what is up with the old comedian bit? It’s the LEAST Bondlike thing ever! Of all the things to do in Vegas…

DJ: I totally forgot about the elevator fight, that was cool. But yeah, they literally treat it like a circus cause they film most of it IN the hotel Circus. I think they just love to portray Americans as loud and fat and dumb. Like how they use Joe Don Baker later on in The Living Daylights, he’s a lot like the Boss Hog rip-off sheriff in this one.

DNW: Well funny you should say that, we do meet our loud and quite possibly dumb (but not fat) secondary Bond girl in Vegas: Plenty O’Toole. How do you think the two Bond girls compare? They’re both American.

James Bond - Worst Of Sean Connery - Diamonds Are Forever
DJ: Plenty O’Toole is TERRIBLE. The acting is pretty much awful across the board in this one, but she’s really shrill and forced.

DNW: I much prefer her to Tiffany Case.

DJ: She’s utterly gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but a bad actress. Which means she was hired.

DNW: I mean beyond her being completely perfect looking though. As a character. She has a real personality, which Tiffany completely lacks. She has a great introduction, which Tiffany didn’t. I kind of wish they merged the characters and Plenty was more functional, but as it stands she exists solely to raise the stakes by dying. Or at least, if cared about the possibility of Tiffany dying, she would have raised the stakes. Plenty had a creative death though, where she’s tied to the bottom of a pool. It’s no gold paint, but it’s creative.

Part 2 (Of 2) >

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  • Al said

    Shirley Bassey has and always will be considered “cool”. Look back on her amazing career!

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    This is the Bond that was always half on in the background during Christmases when I was a kid. It’s full of disastrous ideas and boring sequences but there are parts of it I really like. I love Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, the look of them, the way they act, creepy and comical, I’ve never seen villains like them. The wedgie at the end is brilliant. And here’s a fact that will blow your mind – Mr Wint is played by Crispin Glover’s dad.

    The worst Connery is easily Never Say Never Again, though it’s not an official one obviously. What a betrayal by Connery to even do that movie, opening the same year as Octopussy. Originally it was going to open the same day.

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  • But-but-my-nuggut? said

    This was the rare phase in Connery’s life when he was neither Young ‘n’ Cool, or Old ‘n’ Sleek. Here, he looks like someone’s tired Dad.

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    • dnwilliams said

      I never thought of it that way, but he really was caught during an awkward transitory period here!

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  • gd smith said

    DAF is almost my favourite Bond film! The theme tune is great. The gay hitmen are almost like proto-yuppie nerds. It has a streak of genuine nastiness and is actually sort of creepy. Plus the cinematography is sometimes stunning. Also cuz it’s the 70s a lot of the stunts look more authentic. The same is true of Live and let Die. That boat chase is real boats. For all the campiness of the set up and humour both these films have a visual grit that is uniquely 70s.

    To me the weakest of the Connery Bond’s is Thunderball. The underwater stuff is interminable the theme tune sucks and it just fills like another year another Bond, more of the same type film.

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    • dnwilliams said

      That’s the interesting thing about Bond – it’s varied so much over the decades and different aspects of it appeal to different people. I totally agree with you that the theme tune is great and some of the photography is pretty decent. The hitmen thing…I just can’t go there. They’re way too non-threatening for the role they play in the movie. It’s the last thing I want from a Bond film.

      Thunderball gets a lot of flack for the underwater scenes, but I like them quite a lot. Really unique action – the kind that would prevent me from ever being able to consider it ‘yet another Bond’, in fact. It’s a shame we didn’t get to review it.

      It’ll be interesting to see what your opinion of Skyfall is when it hits.

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    Rewatched this last night, as it had been a few years. I still stand by my earlier comments, but the thing that is so striking is how utterly disastrous Blofeld is in this movie, everything from the horrible miscasting (and WHY make him the same actor that was Bond’s Japanese contact two movies earlier?), to the utterly pointless/ridiculous cloning idea, to the pointless/ridiculous phone voice-changer, to his rushed plan, to where we leave him in the story. There isn’t a single good thing about him in this film. If he had been cut out completely and Mr.Wint and Mr.Kidd had filled in the gap it would easily have been better. Blofeld and that pair are oddly detached anyway, as if they’re operating in different movies.

    In fact the Bond team never got Blofeld right in any of the movies. Donald Pleasence looked the part but completely overplayed it. Telly Sevalas is a good actor but was badly miscast, he didn’t come across as an extremist in the slightest. Charles Gray didn’t work on any level. The only time Blofeld was effectively done was five minutes in the background in Thunderball. I haven’t seen From Russia With Love yet, but I expect it’s similar to Thunderball in this regard.

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  • Lee said

    I was taken to see DAF by my parents on its general cinema release when I was about ten years old and since then I have seen it several times on TV. It’s really a movie composed of set piece killings such as the scorpion down the back, the dredging up a body in an Amsterdam canal and the beautifully shot drowning of Plenty O’Toole. Everything else is rather like a cartoon. Sean Connery was far too old to play Bond. It’s action packed but runs out of energy at least 30 mins before the closing credits. Shirley Bassey was the real standout.

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