CommanderBond.net
  1. The 007th Minute is Forever – Jim is back!

    Las Vegas Hilton by CaDeltaFoto/Larry Eiring (c)

     

    Jacques Stewart is back, bringing you his take on DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER’s 007th Minute.

     

    Suggested for mature readers above 40. Readers below must be accompanied by a  parent, guardian or spouse.   

     

    Feel welcome to share your feelings here

     

     

     

     

     

    Untroubled by any pretence at accuracy, the others in this series are available “on our website” which is always a lazy thing to say and assumes everyone has access to this posh Ceefax thing, but on the basis you’re reading this you must, so one must cease one’s snivelling, and onwards.

     
    “Snivelling” though, delicious and underused word as it is, seems to be the emotion generated by the seventh Bond fillum. By no means universal – it was United Artists, and I can’t believe I’ve done that “joke” – but the current thinking, such as can be extrapolated from the internet amidst all the pørn and copyright infringement, has it as an aberration that does not follow faithfully the principal plot set up by On Her Maj. Given that continuity isn’t an express intention of the series – and would it have lasted as long if it were? I doubt it – is this actually a problem of the film as a piece of nearly-entertainment, or an imposition of a desire for continuity in hindsight? It’s not as if this film was a commercial failure by sashaying down its particular course. So used are we all now to clever / ludicrous / ultimately forgettable “story arcs” and box-sets of themes to scrutinise and pick over and type furiously about, that we may risk undervaluing the attitude that runs “sod it, it’s some light entertainment and I might actually enjoy it if I give both it and myself a chance”. Can we cope with something that has no particular motive other than what it shows us? Imposing a criterion that it can’t have sought to achieve can’t genuinely be a sustainable, nor fair, manner in which to approach it. It’s like kicking the cat because it can’t speak Gaelic or expecting The Actor Piers Brongnong to act. We may be expecting too much and if it cannot manage our retrospective, forty-years on, stampy-feet demands, one wonders whether that’s really its fault. I accept that if that proposition of blamelessness holds, the Pearce Brosmin example is not a good example.

     


    One supposes that the point, invented here for the sake of batting it down with something equally specious (this is how the internet works) – is that other hugely popular fantasy/action fiction series – Jones, Wars, Trek, Who, Fox News – have continuity as part of their being, riddled through them like maggots in a Sainsbury’s chicken, so we cannot now contemplate – nor, it seems, accept – that another successful series wouldn’t have dared not to do it. Accordingly, contrived continuity must be imposed and irrelevant bleating about its ostensible absence has merit. To which one would politely observe – oh, just knob off, you lice. Less politely, those series and others, many others, like them regularly implode and disappear up their own poo chutes in the pursuit of being cleverrr and in seeking the approval of those who would nod sagely and then argue on the internet about the significance of all those tomatoes and that you’re not a real [insert name of “show”] fan if you haven’t appreciated the link between the scene where the hero picks up a new-born Labrador puppy and bites its spine out and that bit in the umpteenth series when someone was nailgunned to an ocelot. Turn up at the seventh episode of some current-idiom television show, without having seen the preceding six, and picking up the plot is a challenge. Watch James Bond 7 and you get the basic idea of who he is pretty quickly. Every Bond film is its own entry point to the series.

     
    Fifty years of not caring that much about continuity and Bond persists. Perhaps that’s how it’s done. I suppose there is a parallel with the long-running The Doctor Who Children’s Show as that seems to reboot itself every few years / every few contract renegotiations and budget rethinks, although it does appear at the moment to be gently meandering up its own colon, slightly disconcerted by being pretty certain it hadn’t eaten that much sweetcorn.

     

    Strange how, over the years, probably as a result of gathering up these films on various formats and wearing them out in the pursuit for truth and continuity and jurrstice, a common perception that OHMSS was the odd-one out, the curiosity, seems now to have passed on to Diamonds are Forever, such that its status as an abomination is only matched in its self-determined abominationhood by that stuff about wearing a polycotton shirt, sporting a flat nose, nibbling some prawn toast, enjoying a hearty bumming or having a haircut. OK, so it isn’t evidently a continuation of the previous film but given the reaction at the time to OHMSS (fair or otherwise), it was never actually going to be, was it? It’s a harder than diamonds business decision and it worked. It had to work. It doesn’t appear that at the time anyone was clamouring for more like The Australian One. Artistically perhaps a missed opportunity not to follow the story through; doing so would, I suspect, have meant the commercial missed opportunity to make sixteen more Bond films… and coun-Ting.

     

    Give the people what they want. It was popular and it had the utterly unforgiveable temerity to entertain (the nerve of it) those who went to see it and the audience doesn’t appear to have been all that worried that Bond had a ) largely forgotten about the wife and b ) had gone a bit chunky and c ) did you actually see the last one? No, but I hear it was dreadful and all about koalas; I did like the one with the space rockets though and MY GODFATHERS, HE’S WEARING A PINK TIE.

     

    And anyway, the mad wife woman in the last one was married to the Other Other Fella. That colonial man was, after all, very keen to point out as early as the 007th minute that he wasn’t the same person, so it would be a bit weird for this guy, Double-Cream Seven or whatever it is, to go about moping.

     

    “Don’t expect consistency” appears to be the “theme” of Diamonds are Forever, should it have such a thing and not just be my retrospection (I am allowed it, others aren’t (this is also how the internet works)). The lack of overall consistency applies within, too, much of which is ably demonstrated before we hit the 007th minute. We’ve had Bond on a roaring rampage around Pinewood that may set up some sort of expectation that this is going to be a brutal film about avenging the death of another man’s wife. Fortunately for all of us it doesn’t actually turn into Licence to Kill, which is a major plus for this film. That the first scene is supposedly Japan could birth the suspicion that it’s all meant to follow on from the spaced-out one with the volcano and that Bond has spent the last four years out there, going sumo. It all looks a bit indoorsy and set-bound so far; given that the previous pre-titles was beaches and surf and sunsets and fightiness and splashipops, this is disappointing but, still, look at the way that man can say the word “Cairo” without moving his lips; what a daffy old hoot beating people up is. Chap in fez, must be in Cairo, everyone in Cairo wears a fez, fezzes are cool, and isn’t the molestation of culture funny? Yeah, ask Marie. It’s all jolly so far, this’ll be nice, MY GOD WHAT’S HE WEARING?, that’s a dreadful, dreadful shirt; you could house a family on that collar. OhmyGod he’s strangling her and has an utterly demented look on his face whilst he does so. It was all funny and now it’s really brutal. This never happened to the Other Other Fella; he was positively docile, probably tired after all that fightin’. I mean, if he wanted to borrow her bra he could have asked more nicely, looks like he needs it, old Double-D-cup Seven. Now he twists it further; this is really quite upsetting. I thought this was meant to be funny and bland and harmless yet it’s actually shot through with a callous streak. “Consistency”, eh?

     
    Then we have a silvery-haired middle-aged poorly-dressed codger turn up, and who’s he meant to be? Oh yes, James Bond, that’s it. Additionally, Charles Gray, which is a highlight of any film (would have made a smashingly kinky Penelope Smallbone; bet he’s got great legs) seems to be giving us a Blofeld who has adopted the demeanour and mannerisms of Ted Heath, albeit considerably more friendly. I do like the cigarette holder; that’s butch. Always nice to vada his dolly old eek. The complaints that this is nowhere near the Blofeld of the previous films seem misplaced; in the books Blofeld went from thug to refined silver-haired gent to whacked out loon. The last three films have mixed up the order but it is True. To. Fleming. Well, ish. Something has to be. What’s not True. To. Fleming. is the astounding garb they have Bond in – Chocolate brown jacket (which he tried to eat) and black trousers? No wonder Blofeld looks so amused. He seems nice, good, it’s back on sitcom, OHMYGOD that finger trap is really unpleasant, that’s utterly savage, I’m now upset again, although it may be the sight of that man’s extraordinary sideburns that have done it. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are without doubt in the 1970s, a decade that produced absolutely nothing of merit apart from me. That’s it, have a gentle, undemanding fight – it’s not really tumbly-surf and knee-drownings and vicious anchors, is it? – and bung a few scalpels around, bit weary. It’s not a film with many punch-ups. Fry-ups, yes. OK, dump him in the mud – that’s fairly True. To. Fleming. and a neat combination of how he killed Blofeld off and the mudbath sequence from the “inspiration” for this glorious drivel, quite clever in “fact”. Maddeningly unclear how lying about in mud turns one into a fantabulosa dandy although it’s still more plausible a means of getting there than “DNA Replacement Therapy” and just typing that in the context of the villain changing his appearance reminds one what a grotty fish-breathed binbag of listless “homages” DUD really is.

     

    Hang on, he’s just killed Blofeld. So surely that is consistent with the dreaded “continuity”? That’s True. To. Fleming. in that he’s burning in some hot sulphurous mud, yeah? That Bond then proceeds to kill him twice more in the film is surely in some way satisfactory? No? Dear oh dear, what do you want, you bloodthirsty lot, literal transcriptions of the books onto film? They gave it a go in the last one, but that was worth doing because On Her Maj is a damned good book. The slippery-slope argument that everything Fleming wrote must appear would lead us to Bond 36: All Women Love Semi-Rape (not an easy lyric for the theme song). The often repeated statement by those making the films that a lot of Fleming’s stuff was “unfilmable” may have been a euphemism for “not that great”, and the novel Diamonds are Forever is firmly in that camp. Camp, of course, being the operative word here.  “Welcome to Hell” then rather than “Here’s mud in your eye”, which is a shame.

     

    Right, so “welcome to Hell” being for many seething Bond “fans” as much a breach of the fourth wall as references to the Other Fella, SEAN CONNERY is back for your entertainment and your adoration and again he was playing SEAN CONNERY not James Bond, therefore it makes perfect sense he’s not avenging any wife because it was James Bond who married the ker-azy lady from the last film. I have now inflicted continuity on the film and I feel wretched. Anyway, imagine him going around talking about “Tray-Sshee” and it would have been most peculiar, and possibly a bit spitty. SEAN CONNERY’s starring in Doughnuts are Forever and it does appear that that thing about a moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips, is pretty much spot on. We’ve learned that Miss St. John’s costumes were by Don Feld, whose brother Blo had his ballgowns done by Danny LaRue. We have been invited to touch it, stroke it and undress it. Sounds not so much like a gemstone as some sort of foodstuff, but hard to say which, unless she’s singing about a tummy banana. And on that point, we come to

     

    0.06.00 – 0.07.00 Diamonds are Forever

     
    The main title was designed by Maurice Binder it’s all fairly calm and stately after crazy dots, spunky spurtiness, slick lava pouring over Geishas, then clocks and eggtimers and things whizzing about all over the place. Suits the tempo of the film; it’s all very subdued (and in a different temper I would write “thunderingly unexciting”), and it keeps us sedated in the relaxed / arthritic mood of the surprisingly brief pre-credits sequence. It’s very 3 a.m. jetlagged peep-show seedy, and as such fits the challenging depiction of Las Vegas that comes later in the film. If it’s intended to reassure the audience that this isn’t OHMSS all over again, then I suppose it’s as oddly comforting and firesidey as any parade of naked women cavorting over gemstones will ever be. There’s no particular urgency on show and, again, this fits the film rather well, bearing in mind that there’s not much plot to bother us until about half an hour to go, the rest of the film following a line of free-form improvised scat jazz until the show bothers to start. When the film finally decides it had better give us a proper tune, y’know, one that you can follow, by then all the abstract noodling has hopefully distracted you from noticing that the supposed story isn’t particularly coherent either.  Diamonds are Forever doesn’t really build to a crescendo, it just ambles along until they bring the lights up and it all stops and, had that not occurred, it could have gone on for about a week, by the end of which no-one would still quite have understood what was meant to have happened, but there were some good moments here and there.

     

    Some, patently, would suggest that this is quite “meta” in that it fits the (very, very lovely) loungey score and the atmosphere of the casinos and the (on the record) interest of Guy Hamilton in this sort of nonsense “music” and Putter Smith turning up to give a quite startling acting performance. Some others would suggest I’m making this up to find something to defend what is, basically, a random series of individual incidents where the caustic bantering has more energy than the ostensible action. The idea, that they were just let loose to busk something up, might explain why there is so much variety in tone and it’s hard to fix on the film as being one thing or the other (the “one thing” being “rubbish” and “the other” being “utter rubbish”). I don’t know – I think I’m steadily beginning to convince myself that it may all be an elaborate joke along these lines, a jamming session with a hairy pig driving a moon buggy shoved in there to provide some fresh air.

     

    That bit on the “Making Of” when Connery burbles on about the construction of the script and it having a definite beginning, middle and end… well, it’s “some fibbing” isn’t it, but his faraway look, not meeting our gaze as he does so, is a giveaway and also tends to indicate that they were holding up a big creamy gateau just out of shot, promising him it as long as he said something nishe.

     

    The production was managed (albeit given the theory above, more “coped with, just about”) by Claude Hudson and Milton Feldman and although doubtless all of these things are a technical challenge, there is a bit of a whiff of cutback. Loads of it takes place indoors at a gentle, play-for-the-day pace, which is something of a comedown after the previous three widescreen sea, space and skiing ultra-spectaculars. The locations, perhaps Amsterdam aside as it’s pretty, all look a bit bashed about – Las Vegas itself looks horrendous and not even the sort of place one would threaten one’s children with –  but perhaps that’s the idea. Moving from that total grothole to an oil rig is an improvement, and I’m under no illusions that setting off explosions like that must be tricky, but it’s not readily evident that SEAN CONNERY moved very far in his portrayal of Double-Chin Seven beyond a series of sets / the catering bus. Maybe he went to one or two locations and in that, there’s another DUD homage – a fat Bond, Double-Helpings Seven, goes practically nowhere in a meaningless pebbledash of loose ideas. In defence of this film, however, it’s not really showing me places I’d want to go to either.

     

    Right, here we have a green Buddha girl – presumably a reference to SEAN CONNERY’s godlike body – with gemstone in her navel. The final scene of DUD was a homage to this, as well as to blatant utter dreadfulness. OK, so Shirl’s telling us that Diamonds ARE forever, as if we were in much doubt; she seems very insistent about the point. Calm down, honeypie. Unlike men, she now tells me, the diamonds linger. Oh, I know, lovey. They just use one, don’t they? The bastards. Even when you’ve given your all, when you’ve touched, stroked, undressed, tolerated the [xx]censored[/xx], watched them eat a fried egg and realising the magic’s evaporated, wondered about whether your mother was right after all and considered taking a breadknife to their Brownjohn, they don’t “linger”, do they? Speaking as a “man”, I’m not sure that’s fair. I would dearly love to linger, usually on the sofa with a bucket of wine, but Mrs Jim keeps throwing me out of the house to take the children swimming or to rugby (the game, not the place: we actually quite like the children and wouldn’t do that to them) or if I’ve done yet another “bad thing”. Additionally I’m not convinced that the given qualities of any diamond is its tendency to “linger”, seems a slightly odd capacity to hold in such esteem given that it is an inanimate object, statutory Sean Connery comment….here, unless of course she’s actually said “blinger”, which would be appropriate but deeply ghastly at the same time.

     

    The editors were the magnificently old-fashioned-namey Bert Bates, and John W. Holmes A.C.E. (Ace!) – presumably not the Big John Holmes of adult entertainment fame but this being Diamonds are Forever I’m making no assumptions either way. Quite who could really have edited some life into all this and tried gluing it together is unclear, really. It’s evident that a fair old chunk giving purpose to the character of Plenty O’Toole (beyond a solid joke) was sliced out and therefore when she does end up in the pool of a house we didn’t know existed, or somewhere or something, it’s not particularly impactful. I’d forgotten about her. And oh, for some shakycam to liven things up a bit. The car chases go on forever, forever, forever and eeeeever and evaaaaHHHH, and the oil rig fight doesn’t really catch fire, not even when it finally does. It may sound that I’m laying into the film – I’m trying not to, I like it in small bites, but I doubt anyone could really eat a whole one in one sitting. Cue “this doesn’t appear to have stopped Sean Connery” non-comedy “observation”.

     

    Ken Adam. It doesn’t really become a flippant piece about a forty-one year-old harmless bit of nonsense to even begin to provide criticism, albeit it would be hugely appreciative, of the work of Ken Adam and his making of the look of the Bond series.  I suppose for the sake of coming up with something new in this contrivance of picking one minute of a film and using that as a springboard for laboured comment, the funny – and I think deliberate – aspect of the design of this film is that all the (let’s not shy away from this now) staggeringly camp and theatrically showy settings – the penthouse, the fantastic bridal suite, the cruise ship balcony – are not the property of the “arch” villain Blofeld and his dressing up box, but that of Willard Whyte who, with his total non-interaction with any female character and determination to hang around “the john” for reasons better left uninvestigated, represents the nice face of committed bachelordom, rather than the sort that lifts your shirt only to shove a grumpy arachnid down there.  Blofeld’s lair, in comparison, is an oil rig which, with its predominately male environment exerting themselves for the next greasy gush, is about as thunderingly heterosexual a place as there could be.

     

    Men are mere mortals who are not worth going to your grave for. It’s a great line, that and it’s a fun song, and at least Shirley’s not singing about a man who murders women this time, but instead singing from the perspective of Willard Whyte. In bringing back Shirley Bassey is this an attempt to reassure the audience (especially on the basis there was no “theme song” as such last time out)? Well, perhaps, but then I’m not sure anyone else could really have sung this. It’s more mellow than the barkyshout brass of Goldfinger, but again that’s true of the film generally.  With Connery, Hamilton, the largely American setting and Shirley Bassey, the let’s go back to Goldfinger parallels / intentions / accusations aren’t surprising, but the product doesn’t really end up being a rehash and thankfully they dropped the idea that the villain would be Goldfinger’s twin: Gert Frobe in drag would have been enough for anyone to question their sexuality and go off and live as a celibate hermit. It may have brought about the extinction of the human race; although a more time- and cost-efficient method than having to build a space station and spitefully chuck orchids at folk.

     

    Director of Photography was Ted Moore B.S.C. (Back! Sean Connery). Trouble is, he’s made everyone and everywhere look completely horrendous in this one although I can accept that the raw material wasn’t particularly glittering to begin with. Double-Dough Seven himself looks knackered, coaxed into shot by a bacon double cheeseburger on a bit of fishing line, and the locations aren’t particularly eventful. There are some nice shots of the death laser from space hovering over the Earth but this sort of random thing aside (and it is random – how do we really get to a death laser from space, other than “we do”?) most of it’s just people standing around sets lobbing some really withering put downs at each other but not actually going anywhere or doing anything. If it was the intention to make Las Vegas look like the dull dumping ground of the fat and terminally poorly attired, he succeeded. From time to time there are some nice scenes displaying the wide open, featureless and barren spaces of “South Africa”, the USA and between Felix Leiter’s ears but it’s hard to put one’s finger on what they were actually after here. It’s possible that had it been more expansive some of the snappiness of the badinage would have been lost; there may be something in this.

     

    I don’t need love, for what good will love do me? Oh Willard, shush. You have lots of money and quite a nice flat and some amusing phallic projectiles with which you could have fun; you’ll find a chap one day, you’re really a bit of a catch although – bit of advice – installing CCTV in the lavatory could disturb. The song goes a bit lounge Vegas now, all very smashing but still doing nothing to jigger the generally languid approach. John Barry composed AND conducted AND arranged the music and after all that – and there’s much splendid sleazelounge stuff here although he’s not really called upon to produce action music because there’s not much action to music – it’s not surprising he needed a lie down and not do the next one. Black Donald’s lyrics are very entertaining, he does do this sort of thing very well (generally – one shudders at imminent Lulunacy), and it’s interestingly diverse to have the song written from the perspective of a gay man; nothing in the hiring of Shirley Bassey to deliver this torch song does anything much to dissuade me from this view.

     

    Associate producer Stanley Sopel appears quite a lot on the “Making Of…” going into the background to getting Connery back, although SEAN CONNERY seems to have misunderstood that “several hundred thousand pounds” wasn’t the desired fighting weight. What comes across in the various histories of the film, official and otherwise, was a determination to prove that Bond was BACK! and confidently so. Quite to the contrary, what one sees is a spectacle terribly unsure of its identity. Is it camp one-liners and sassy broads, or vicious drownings and bolt guns to the brain? In seeking to produce both the comedy and the sadism, it goes to the extremes in each without treading that delicate middle-ground balance deftly followed by the preceding entries. It’s confused in its own body. So heavily dependent is it on SEAN CONNERY, fat jokes aside he’s photographed and dressed to look huge here, towering and glowering over everyone else, one really is left wondering what it would really have been like with John Gavin. Without doubt, much more of a mess. I’ll give him his due (but not more cake): Connery’s worth every penny he earned and, in giving it away, worth many pennies more. Keep your mind and eyes fixed on him (try not to look at the after-sundown white dinner jacket or the purple lapels on his black one; ugh, both) and the rest of the discordant nonsense fades. Lose that concentration and you are left wondering why on Earth various things are happening and whether you’re really very interested in them doing so.

     
    Two silhouetted women very nearly spinning a diamond around; the motion of the diamond is distracting one from the fact that the women are patently naked. And that they’re the same woman. Good old Mo.

     

    Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz. This is where Diamonds are Forever shines; it’s a better film to listen to than to watch. Everyone’s at top rat-a-tat-tat turbobanter speed, most of it is extremely amusing and deft, it just snaps around and is of itself a hell of a stunt to pull off. Finally, one realises what this is. The 1970s, the era of the Bond films taking the piss out of other genres including themselves, starts with what is basically a gangster film-[xx]censored[/xx]-smartmouthed screwball comedy (little else explains the hilarious blacksuited garb of the Brains Trust and the development of the initially quite sass-ay Tiffany Case into a gibbering imbecile) with a penchant for cross-dressing and camp and a surprisingly violent streak and a death laser from space: it’s Some Like It Hotter. I have to admit it took me years to realise this but a lot of the tics are there – it has an unfathomable plot, like The Big Sleep; it has characterful henchmen with suggested (OK, it’s overt here) sexual deviancy as a twist, like The Maltese Falcon and its ilk (Mankiewicz is on record as saying he imagined Greenstreet and Lorre as Wint and Kidd, so this is not me making up science facts here) and it has goons and broads and machine guns and it basically takes the Hays Code and jams its fingers in a trap and flings scalpels right in its silly old face. The even more sophisticated thing the screenplay does is, of course, to take Fleming’s bitty, episodic road trip (with some fighting) and basically gives us that, not to the letter, I accept, but definitely in the spirit of what Ian Fleming was doing in his book. He gives us a romanticised picture of the American gangster, a mocking scrutiny of American habits and places, a slightly clichéd “hardened woman” and a peek into the “underbelly”, which he saw as America being full of diners and this film interprets as SEAN CONNERY having eaten everything in them, and Fleming’s vision of America being full of colourful characters being interpreted here as it being gaily awash with homosexuals, which experience dictates I agree with. Fleming’s work a fond pastiche of Chandler’s books, this film simply does the same thing, except taking its lead from films. OK, it adds a death laser from space which patently takes things beyond this notion and into an idea marked heavily in red pen as “A Bad One”, but in principle I would argue that what it begins to demonstrate is that they didn’t have to stick slavishly to what Ian Fleming had written to be able to get his ideas across, and therefore, proclaiming that this was SEAN CONNERY in Ian Fleming’s Diamonds are Forever isn’t as daftly untrue a statement as it initially reads. As far as that’s a tenable argument, this is a faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming.

     

    Whilst that suggestion sinks in, Willard Bassey is reminding us that diamonds are forever, forever, forever… and we reach

     

    0.07.00

     

    It’s a strange film, this. It has cracking dialogue but it seems proud to be sedentary, although if you accept the “gangster/screwball” idea above, they’re not that action-packed either. Quite a lot of bugger all happens from hereon in – as an example, we seem to spend hours at CircusCircus for no evident purpose, which is really not at all interesting. Save, of course, for the abundant and out-of-control cruelty. Another proposition, gang – is the Bond seen in the four Hamilton films (and especially in the three Mankiewicz/Hamilton films) actually that appealing? Frankly, he’s a bit of a stinker and there’s an awful lot of threatening of women going on in each of the films. It’s a popular, if lazy, suggestion that the Bond of the books is a much darker creature than that of the films; granted, the Bond of A View to a Kill is a genial quichy duffer but in these four films, I’d say, surrounded by all the cheery harmless nonsense that happens in each of them, he’s actively, deliberately, unpleasant at times. Man-talk. Pussy in the barn. Marie. Slapping Tiffany about. Threatening Rosie. Deceiving Solitaire. Slapping Andrea Anders about. I’d say that’s going further into grim areas than the man in the books but it seems to go generally unacknowledged because – look! – a moon buggy! Cool. Hmm.

     

    There’s a lot more to this than I expected, and I’m not just talking about SEAN CONNERY having bigger tits than his leading lady. Diamonds are Forever, a pastiche gangster novel, produces Diamonds are Forever, a pastiche gangster film brought up to (dated) date with stuff like Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, who seem very close and the way they walk off hand-in-hand suggests to me that they are brothers. It’s safer to think that way; the thought of the actual coupling in which they engage will now enter your subconscious and is safely planted to emerge at a most inopportune moment, possibly when a-coupling yourself with a loved / bought one. Yes, they were in the book, but that was 50s suggestion, a park-bench fumble in a damp raincoat of a life. This Wint and Kidd are celebratory: here, queer and fill you with fear, although probably not the last one in all honesty. They probably went through a period of being highly offensive; now it’s a sort of historical document to be looked on with fondness. The troubling thought that can’t be shaken is how Blofeld recruited them. But let’s not dwell. Not even on the fact that I initially wrote “how Blofeld came across them”, because that would be mucky. Ignore also the nagging concern about why a patently HomoBlo keeps a double of himself hanging around his home. Bad thoughts, naughty thoughts. Get back on track with worrying yourself about why SPECTRE’s not mentioned and whether Blofeld is now in his “Consultancy” years and they dumped him as an embarrassment once they found out he’d spent the budget letting out the seams on Irma’s dresses so he could fit in them. Oops, naughtier thoughts.

     

    The same old gang are here and for whatever reason Q is flown out to Las Vegas and that’s All. Such. Fun. and Moneypenny proves herself wretchedly heartless by asking for a diamond in a ring. Dear oh dear, you brutal cow, you could at least wait until his mentally-ill-death-in-car-sabotaged-by-sinister-agencies-wife was at least cold, but I suppose it’s one way of us finding out your first name, Camilla.

     

    Bathosub, Chinese man going “Aieeeee!”, Bambi and Thumper being “athletic women with some time on their hands, training partners, what rumours?” an administration unto us of Shane Rimmer and you know the rest; pick your favourite bit. It’s easier to do than thinking about the film as a whole, because that just makes one’s brain go hurty trying to work it out.

     

    The 007th minute of Diamonds are Forever, of itself, is still a set of credits. In picking a lone minute, though, it’s an exercise in the watching of this seriously mixed-up kid. You could pick random minutes of it and find that the tone is “patchy”, to say the least. It’s not the lazy drift back into old routines that some would assert: it’s actually an experimental film, disguised as popular entertainment, in which “they” are using two hours of our time to try to establish what they should now be doing to keep the CircusCircus going. That it does entertain is happily incidental to its proper purpose which, burned by the reception of the last one, is to shove random things out there and see what appealed.

     

    Fortunately, much did.

     

    Anyway, it’s late, I’m tired and there’s so much left to do.

     

    James Bond will return in the 007th minute of Live and Let Die. Jacques Stewart has no desire to be held up, caressed, touched, stroked and undressed. But has been known to change his mind.

    Helmut Schierer @ 2012-11-02
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