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Diamonds Are Forever(1971)
Sean Connery stars as the dynamic 007, on the trail of a diamond smuggler who leads him on a nerve-shattering chase through Amsterdam, Los Angeles and eventually, glittery Las Vegas.
For more about Diamonds Are Forever and the Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray release, see Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on October 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot
Director: Guy Hamilton
» See full cast & crew
Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray Review
Connery's back for another adventure.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 5, 2012
The gadgets. The guns. The girls. The exotic locales and sexy cars. The white-knuckle action sequences. The suave flirting and cheeky double entendres. He's been played by six actors—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig—but there's only one Bond, James Bond. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. (Some men too, I'm sure.) He's the epitome of super-spy cool, and for fifty years now—fifty years!—he's been an indelible part of our pop-culture consciousness. In terms of universal recognition, Bond is right up there with Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader and Superman. Everyone knows his name, knows he likes his martinis "shaken, not stirred," and knows his favorite pistol is the compact Walther PPK. You're probably even humming or whistling the iconic 007 theme song to yourself right now, and if you aren't, I guarantee it'll worm its way into your brain sometime in the next five minutes. Instantly, more like. Admit it, it's playing on a loop in your head right now. Bond isn't just a franchise, it's a revered institution. Yes, there have been a few duds along the way, but over the span of twenty-two films—soon to be twenty-three, with the upcoming Skyfall—the series has defined the international espionage sub-genre, all the while reflecting the cultural and political changes of its times. Sure, in one sense, these are just action movies—popcorn entertainments— but for their fans, these films are the height of cinematic escapism.
Original 007 Sean Connery bowed out of the role after 1967's You Only Live Twice—after five films he said he was "fed up to here with the whole Bond bit"—and the part was recast with George Lazenby, who brought the franchise in a slightly more serious direction with On Her Majesty's Secret Service. When Lazenby took his own leave after only one film, the producers opted to quite literally bribe Connery back, offering him the then-unheard-of salary of $1.25 million to return. He obliged—giving most of the money to a Scottish educational trust—and donned a Savile Row suit once again for 1971's Diamonds Are Forever.
After the comparative downer that was Her Majesty's Secret Service—which has one of the bleakest endings in Bond history—it was also decidedly that Diamonds should bring the series back to the more fantastical tone of Goldfinger. It also seems to ignore the fact that Her Majesty's ever happened. The film's intro picks up in Japan—where You Only Live Twice was set—as Bond attempts to track down his old nemesis, Ernst Blofeld, played here by Charles Gray. He finds Blofeld in some subterranean facility and promptly drowns him in a vat of bubbling sludge. What we know—and Bond doesn't—is that Blofeld has been secretly creating clones of himself through plastic surgery, and that the real super-villain is still on the loose.
Meanwhile, 007 gets assigned to investigate a diamond heist operation seemingly led by a pair of homosexual thieves, Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kid (jazz artist Putter Smith), who are arguably among the dopiest Bond henchmen ever. In Amsterdam, our spy goes undercover and joins up—figuratively and physically—with sexy female smuggler Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), and the two jet to Los Angeles, and then Los Vegas, in pursuit of a cache of diamonds. Eventually, they follow the clues to a reclusive Howard Hughes-esque billionaire casino owner who hasn't been seen in years, and who operates a weapons research facility in the Nevada desert. If you're guessing Blofeld is actually behind this—ding, ding, ding!—we have a winner.
Diamonds Are Forever adopts a campy, comic vibe that's not always successful, but for those who enjoy Bond's more ridiculous adventures, it's packed with absurd gags. Bond steals a lunar dune buggy! Rides a three-wheeler! Goes to the circus! Meets a mortician named Morton Slumber! Kicks a cat! Hooks up with a girl named Plenty O'Toole! ("Named after your father, perhaps?") The one-liners and innuendos come at a rapid pace—"I'm afraid you've caught me with more than my hands up," Bond says when captured immediately before getting busy with Ms. O'Toole—but the pace of the action is oddly much slower than normal, with a few chase sequences that practically putter. Still, it's an enjoyable romp even if it does drag a bit in stretches. Like its Las Vegas setting, Diamonds Are Forever is glitzy kitsch. You wouldn't want this to be the only Bond film you watch—like you probably wouldn't want to live in Las Vegas—but it's fun to revisit every now and then.
Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like's it's new-to-Blu-ray predecessors, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever looks fantastic in high definition, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer restored by Lowry Digital. I'd even say these late '60s, early '70s Bond films look better than the Brosnan-era ones. (Especially the heavily DNR'd GoldenEye.) Diamonds' print is practically spotless, and the image seems entirely natural and faithful to its 35mm source, with no heavy noise reduction or visible edge enhancement. The anamorphic lensing yields a picture that's often terrifically sharp—the screen shots give don't quite do it justice—and compared side-by-side to the DVD, the level of clarity is greatly improved, with finer detail in facial features, closeups of props, and clothing textures. The sunny desert color scheme is handled beautifully too, with clean blues and well-saturated sand, balanced skin tones and spot-on contrast. Finally, sitting on a dual-layer disc, the film is free of compression issues. You really couldn't ask for more.
Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Along with the other vintage films in the series—made before multi-channel soundscapes were the norm—the original audio elements of Diamonds Are Forever have been lightly expanded into a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The results are satisfying, giving the film a newly immersive quality that especially heightens the action sequences. Diamonds isn't quite as engaging, audio-wise, as some of its predecessors, with most of the output still anchored up front, but the rear channels are used occasionally for ambience and effects. A helicopter moving between channels. Circus clamor. Insect sounds in the desert. You the idea. The 5.1 mix has the biggest effect on composer John Barry's score, which now fills all speakers when it swells and surges, and the innuendo-laced title song, sung by Shirley Bassey, who was brought back after Goldfinger. Dialogue is consistently clear and easy to understand, and the disc includes several dub and subtitle options; see above for details.
Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
MI6 Commentary: David Nailer guides us through a patchwork track consisting of interviews with director Guy Hamilton and various members of the cast and crew.
Declassified: MI6 Vault
Diamonds Are Forever Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Taking the series in a kooky turn after the comparatively moribund On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Sean Connery's Diamonds Are Forever is one of the kitschiest franchise entries, with waka-waka innuendo galore and some ridiculous chase sequences. (A getaway on a lunar buggy? Bond tooling around on a tiny three-wheeler?) It's no top-tier Bond film, but it's plenty of fun. And it looks devilishly good on Blu-ray too, with a new high definition transfer that's a more-than- solid upgrade from the old DVD release. The film is available in the Bond 50 set, but you can currently find the standalone release at Walmart as a timed exclusive. Recommended!
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