Plot: What’s it about?
It seems as though large uncut diamond shipments have been lost of late and due to the frequency, the British government has decided to send in an agent to investigate. If the diamonds were simply stolen, then they would show up again on the resale market, but once these beauties go, they’re never seen again. So an agent is sent in to get to the bottom of this mystery and who better to tackle this mission, than Agent 007 himself, James Bond (Sean Connery)? This seems like an odd mission to Bond, as he thinks common smugglers are involved and as such, someone else should have been given this one. But he soon discovers this case is much deeper than he thought, taking him all the way to America, where he will visit scenic Las Vegas. Bond has information that leads him to believe a casino owner is behind this scam and he plans to shut him down, one way or another. But when he learns the owner is his arch nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray), all his mind can think about is revenge. Can Bond put his anger to the side and eliminate Blofeld’s operation, or will this most personal mission turn out to be his last?
In Sean Connery’s return as James Bond, the producers went all out and created a visually potent and action packed vehicle. But then again, who would expect less, when so much time and money was spent to lure Connery back to this role? Is this my favorite of the Bond flicks? Not even close, but it offers a wild ride, quick pace, and of course, it’s good to see Mr. Connery with the reins again. This installment in the series leaves storyline and character development out from the start, focusing instead on action and excitement. This is an action driven series after all, so I suppose that isn’t such a bad idea in the end. I do wish a little more time went into the subtle points here and there, but overall, you could do a lot worse for mindless entertainment. The set pieces rock the house, especially the Las Vegas strip sequence and for action lovers, this is probably one of the best Bond adventures. Not as strange as Moonraker, explosive as Goldeneye, or dynamic as Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever is still a competent entry into the series and more than worth a look (or purchase) for any fans of the series.
After George Lazenby’s departure from the series, no expense was spared to locate a replacement, but in the end, the producers came full circle and hired the original James Bond. It wasn’t cheap or easy by any means, but Sean Connery reprised the role that made his famous and it doesn’t seem as though he misses a step. I myself prefer Pierce Brosnan in the role, but most people I know will take Connery over the others in a heart beat. I am a Connery fans also, so I can understand why and this film certainly doesn’t hurt his claim to the being the best James Bond. He lacks the “make love to her, then kill her” edge he has in previous films from the series, but Connery still displays the attitude and demeanor needed to play the part. Other Connery classic performances can be found in Goldfinger, Entrapment, Thunderball, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Marnie, and The Rock. The cast also includes Lois Maxwell (Live And Let Die, A View To A Kill), Charles Gray (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Longitude), Jimmy Dean (I’ll Tell The World), Bruce Glover (The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Chinatown), Lana Wood (Satan’s Mistress, The Searchers), and Jill St. John (The Player, The Concrete Jungle).
Video: How does it look?
Diamonds Are Forever is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a mixed bag in terms of quality, as some scenes look terrific and other seems downright bad. A few (infrequent) scenes display heavy grain and wear, which hamper the image to extreme points, but these are few and far between. When it looks good though, it looks very good and well defined in all respects. Colors appear bold and free from errors, contrast is sharp and well balanced, and on the whole, the image looks better than I anticipated. Some pops and debris emerge at times, but nothing to be worried about and compression errors are minimal. I wish those few poor scenes were cleaned up, but this is still a very good transfer in the end.
Audio: How does it sound?
As action packed as this movie is, you’d expect a full blown dynamic audio track, but this disc uses the original mono track instead. I always like to see the original option included, but this disc screams for a full 5.1 surround sound remix. In terms of mono though, this one sounds good and shows no major problems I could detect. The sound effects lack the range I would have liked, but this is due to format limits and not flaws within this audio presentation. I didn’t notice much distortion within the musical score, which ends up sounding quite crisp and clean here. I had no trouble with the dialogue at all, vocals were sharp and no volume errors surfaced at any time. This disc also includes English captions and Spanish & French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is another special edition disc in the Bond Collection and as such, it is loaded with terrific supplemental materials. You’ll find two theatrical trailers (one a Christmas teaser), five television promotional spots, and five radio advertisements. I love these extras and I am glad MGM has included them here, as they shed some light on how the film was marketed around the time of release. Also on this disc is a selection of four deleted scenes, including one with Sammy Davis, Jr. None of these are that ground shaking by any means, but it is still nice to have them on this disc. Next is a pair of featurettes, Inside Diamonds Are Forever and Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond, both of which make for an interesting watch. Inside Diamonds Are Forever runs about thirty minutes and contains interviews, behind the scenes footage, and even some glimpses into how a couple sequences came to be. This is as in depth as I would like, but it still has a lot of good information tucked inside. Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond is a forty-five minute look at the career of producer Albert Broccoli, which makes for a very interesting span of time. This looks as his personal and profession lives, including a bulk of non Bond related topics. The final supplement is an audio commentary with Guy Hamilton and various other cast and crew members. This is not a screen specific commentary, but still has a ton of information and if you’ve heard other Bond commentaries, then you’ll know what to expect.