Diamonds Are Forever!

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Let’s get the caveats out of the way first. Judged against the usual checklist of  Diamonds Are Forever is not a great James Bond movie. Sean Connery’s last official outing as 007 lacks the radioactive virility of his first three assignments. Nor, for that matter, does it possess the playful snap and panache of the first three Roger Moore vehicles that followed. Diamonds is the Bond series’ unlucky number seven: punch-drunk and paunchy, wanton and woozy. I think it may be my favourite.

Connery thought he was out but the studio pulled him back in – offering a then-unheard sum of £1.25m (equivalent to £20m today) to re-engage the actor’s services and thereby salvage a stuttering franchise. And yet Connery clearly does not want to be there. He shuffles through the motions like some ageing heavyweight show boater, flirting with disaster, his toupee slipping. When Bond is not fighting for his life and banging his he’s being kicked to hell by a pair of self-regarding girl acrobats in the Nevada desert. He’s knackered, out of shape, halfway through the exit door. Legend has it that the very last scene Connery actually filmed was the one at the crematorium, in which Bond is knocked senseless, dropped inside a coffin and pushed towards the flames.

But the genius (intentional or otherwise) of Diamonds Are Forever is in the way it takes its lead from Connery’s bruised, jaundiced performance. The later Roger Moore missions (Octopussy, made the mistake of variously disguising or compensating for Bond’s advancing decrepitude and wound up looking ludicrous. Diamonds, by contrast, matches the star’s tone and tempo quite beautifully.