Because I’m only focusing on the official Sean Connery Bond movies this month, I’m actually skipping one here. Between You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service released in 1969. Connery declined to reprise the role in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, leading to George Lazenby taking on the role. After Lazenby refused to return to the role, Bond movie producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli tested other actors. But studio United Artists wanted Sean Connery Back. They even paid Connery a then record $1.25 million for him to return.
Shirley Bassey, who sung the Goldfinger theme song, also returned for the title song played in the opening credits sequence.
Interesting enough, Adam West of Batman fame was considered for the role of James Bond for this movie at one point. It’s also worth noting that Bruce Cabot, who portrays a casino owner in league with SPECTER head Ernst Stavro Blowfeld, died shortly after the movie’s production. Diamonds Are Forever ended up being his final film.
Wanting to have Diamonds Are Forever recreate Goldfinger’s commercial success, they also hired Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton (his second of four Bond movies). One of the major events in Her Majesty’s Secret Service was that Bond married a woman, only to have her killed later in the movie. They first wrote Diamonds Are Forever as a revenge movie, ending with a giant boat chase. At one point, they also considered making the villain Auric Goldfinger’s twin brother, himself seeking revenge.
The movie’s plot ended up being about Bond infiltrating a diamond smuggling operation. Of course it started with Bond going on a rampage, trying to find Blowfeld in the aftermath of his wife’s murder. The diamond smuggling ring end up tying into the SPECTER story arc, with Blowfeld using them to help focus a destructive laser embedded into a satellite.
Diamonds Are Forever ended up earning $116 million on a $7 million budget, making it another sizeable success, but not quite to the degree of the previous couple movies with inflation kept in mind. The reviews were also mixed, with some critics criticizing the movie’s slightly campy tone. One particular moment was Bond driving a moon buggy with antennae through an in-universe movie set. However Roger Ebert praised the movie, most notably the Las Vegas car chase scene. The lead bond girl has also been criticized as mostly useless. However the movie did receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound, losing to Fiddler On The Roof.
Personally, I find this movie just ok. There are some neat concepts in the movie, and I like the idea of Bond working undercover. Some of the action scenes, like the close quarters fight in the elevator, and the previously mentioned car chase, are intense. Others are more forgettable. In fact, there were times when I found it hard to focus on this movie. And as much as Sean Connery is still a good actor in this, you can tell at times that he kind of doesn’t want to be there. He famously said at some point around the making of this movie that he’d never play James Bond again.
The somewhat campy direction this movie took would not only continue in the Roger Moore era of the Bond movies, but in some cases, the camp factor would be ramped up to the point of absurdity. But we’ll get to that some other time.
Bond kills – 7
Other’s kills – 42
Total kill count – 49
Sean Connery’s total kill count 72
All in all, Diamonds Are Forever is just ok. It has its moments, but there’s a bit of a disconnect between the more dramatic side of James Bond’s rampage earlier in the movie and the campy mood set in the middle of the movie. Apart from Blowfeld, the villains in this movie are just not that interesting. The main Bond girl, the diamond smuggling Tiffany Case, is just kind of there. And while Connery does have his moments, there are times when he doesn’t seem to care all that much. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching if you like the Connery bond movies. It just means that it’s the least good of the bunch.
This month, I’ll be looking at 6 or so Dreamworks movies, likely starting next week. Then after that, I’ll be looking at Bond movie odds and ends, and that’s when I’ll look at On Her Magesty’s Secret Service. Why am I breaking these blogathons up like this? Because Dreamworks doesn’t have nearly the track record that Disney has with its animated movies, while watching 24+ Bond movies in a row and writing about every single one of them will start to feel very repetitive after a while. I don’t want to get sick of them.