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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray 
Director:  Guy Hamilton
Audio:  Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
Video:  1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio:  MGM
Features:  See Review
Length:  120 Minutes
Release Date:  October 17, 2000

Film ****

The year was 1970.  Bond had made six successful films, each more and more critically successful.  But there was a problem: who would play James Bond now that Connery had left after You Only Live Twice and the new Bond (George Lazenby), had decided unexpectedly not to return to the series after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service?

The filmmakers scrambled desperately to find a replacement and brainstormed on dramatically changing the series and its formula, with many believing Bond too British and his rich lifestyle “passé.”  The filmmakers decided that they would make a more American Bond by using John Gavin (known mostly for his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho).  But just as the format was about to be changed, and I would argue, ruined, Sean Connery stepped in and offered to do the movie after all.

By this point, Bond films had already made such a major impact with their over-the-top antics, notorious villains, and wonderful gadgets, that the series was a well-oiled machine.  Diamonds are Forever was supposed to be a turn back towards Goldfinger, the film credited with giving Bond unquestionable blockbuster status.  And it was.  The look, style and even direction (Guy Hamilton), are all brought back to put this film solidly in the former mold. 

Diamonds once again brings Bond (played by Sean Connery) up against his very persistent evil nemesis, Ernst Stavros Blofeld (played by Charles Gray, the third actor in this role).  In Diamonds, Blofeld once more has a scheme for world domination, this time involving the stockpiling of diamonds to put into a satellite that will kill all those in nations who don’t disarm their nuclear weapons (who would’ve thought that a head of an evil organization could be a humanist?).  So once again it is up to Bond to stop Blofeld and his evil assistants Mr. Kidd and Mr. Witt. 

I quite enjoyed this film as the plot of stealing diamonds to bring the world to its knees was not only new and refreshing at that time, but is still copied today (Under Siege 2: Dark Territory anyone?).  The story itself is also well told and moves at a nice pace, keeping the viewer in suspense as to what will happen next, only knowing that somehow Bond will prevail in the end.  Connery’s last Bond film affirms what made him a star; he is very comfortable and polished in the role, and once more convinces me he is the best James Bond.  The villains are played well too; Mr. Witt and Mr. Kidd are two weird and scary psychopaths.  Unfortunately, the girls in the film are once again lifeless, if gorgeous, but I guess acting really isn’t necessary if you’re the female lead in a Bond film.  

Video  ****

The video quality presented here is just as good as From Russia with Love.  Having not seen this film since video, I was pleased to see that MGM had done a great job with it.  The colors look very lifelike, especially for a film made thirty years ago. 

Audio **

Noooooo!  Why MGM why?  Once again, even though this Bond film started production in 1970, eight years after the From Russia with Love, the improvement in sound quality is negligible.  Meaning, the sound only comes out of one speaker.  Its funny, I guess they can’t do anything about the sound in the film.  But at least the menu uses all my speakers…Sigh.

Subtitles are included in Spanish and French, hope no one that buys this DVD sold in the US is hearing impaired.

Features ****

From the cool opening menu screens to all the nice added features, this disc is a better special edition “supplementally speaking” than even From Russia with Love (a stellar effort in its own light).  This disc included a 30-minute “Inside Diamonds are Forever Documentary.”  Also included on this wonderful disc is a documentary on Albert “Cubby” Broccoli (who produced all the Bond films from Dr. No to Goldeneye), entitled “Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond.”  The disc also includes a somewhat unconventional Commentary Track with remarks taken out of context from past interviews, all in all though, very informative.  Finally, rounding out the disc are five television spots, three radio spots, two trailers and finally deleted scenes, one of which containing a cool Sammy Davis Jr. cameo. 

Summary:

In conclusion, this DVD, while certainly not delivering up a reference quality disc in terms of audio, has pretty good video quality, is rich in supplements, and has a fascinating premise (you gotta wonder, if Saddam doesn’t idolize Blofeld).  For a price of only $19.99 at Best Buy you can have all the thrills of seeing Sean Connery in his last and great James Bond film.  Recommended.