My Name is Bond Series: Diamonds are Forever (1971)

13 11 2012

Copyright 1971 Eon Productions

★ ★ ★

After a one picture hiatus in which Australian model/actor George Lazeby briefly picked up 007’s licence to kill, Sean Connery returned for his final portrayal as Bond, at least, his final portrayal that falls into the official canon of Eon Productions films. He did pick up his Walther PPK one more time in 1983’s Never Say Never Again, an interesting re-take on Thunderball that only came to fruition because of some sticky copyright dealings.

One of Bond’s arch enemies, Ernst Blofeld, this time portrayed by Charles Gray, is supposedly murdered early on in the pre-title sequence. However, with experimentations in facial reconstruction surgery, it soon becomes apparent that Blofeld was not as easily killed off as originally thought. In the meantime, Bond is assigned to a case involving a supposed smuggling ring in the South African diamond industry. To intercept the targeted diamonds, Bond travels to Amsterdam disguised as smuggler Peter Franks. It is here that he meets the primary “Bond girl” of this film, Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), a liaison in the smuggling circle. When the real Franks shows up, Bond kills him, and switches identities in Case’s eyes by saying the dead man is British agent James Bond. The diamonds are then smuggled to Los Angeles via the real Franks coffin, and later, through to Las Vegas. As he becomes involved deeper in the disappearance of the diamonds, he realizes that the true cause is much deeper than just depressing the diamond industry as originally thought. The diamonds are being used in a contraption within a top secret base that belongs to billionaire recluse Walter Whyte (Jimmy Dean, taking cue from real life billionaire Howard Hughes). As Bond digs deeper, he realizes his supposedly deceased foe, Blofeld, may in fact be behind the whole operation. Furthermore, he has a pair of sadistically witty, homosexual assassins, Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (bassist Putter Smith) on his tail.

Whew, gotta love writing a synopsis for a Bond film. This one might be more convoluted than most, however, with a story that kind of weaves in and out of direction as the movie progresses. Of all of Connery’s performances as Bond, this might be one of the weakest, if not the weakest. The villains aren’t particularly novel, Jill St. John is not a very well-rounded Bond girl as neither really an adversary, nor a solid ally, and the suspense that Bond gets himself into is not particularly exciting. It’s not a terrible film, but it doesn’t capture the magic of early Connery movies like Dr. No, From Russia with Love or Goldfinger. Directed by Bond alumnus Guy Hamilton, this is a novel effort to recapture the magic of Connery’s early era as Bond, but somehow misses the mark and falls short of full potential.


My Name is Bond Series: Dr. No (1962) Review

13 10 2011

In wake of the recent announcement that Javier Bardem will be the villain in the upcoming 23rd installment of the Bond franchise, I have decided to create a new series for the blog here detailing reviews of all, yes all, 22 previous installments of the British super spy.  Yes, I have seen all 22 previous movies, I can name all 22 movies in chronological order and tell you all six actors who played Bond and the years they played him off the top of my head.  In short, I am a huge James Bond fan, so this will be a fun series to work through.  To start it off?  Well, let’s just go in order shall we.  

Copyright 1962 Eon Productions

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

This is the first entry into the official canon of Bond films produced by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, based on the novels of Ian Fleming.  Nearly everything we have come to know and love with the series began in this film: first introduction to 007, first appearance of SPECTRE, first Bond Girl, exotic locations, Aston Martins and even CIA pal Felix Leiter.  Outside of missing the lovable Q, everything else is in place for the perfect mix of espionage and action.

Directed by multiple Bond director Terrence Young, this film stars Sean Connery as Bond, who still to this day many consider the best interpretation of the role.  I love Connery in the role, but we will find further as we move through the series who my favorite Bond actor was.  Following British Station Chief John Strangway’s death in Jamaica, 007 is sent to investigate.  After several run ins with mysterious persons on the island, 007 find out that CIA operative, Felix Leiter (Jack Lord of later Hawaii Five-o fame) is on the same mission regarding radio jamming of American rockets.  Quarrel (John Kitzmiller), a boatman, is working with Leiter and reveals that Strangway had requested several trips from him to nearby islands for mineral samples.  He also reveals a little about reclusive Dr. No, who owns the island of Crab Key.  Finding some radioactive traces in Quarrel’s boat from Strangway’s samples, Bond insists he be taken to Crab Key.  Once there, Bond and Quarrel meet the beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), a beachcomber who collects and sells shells.  Ryder leads Bond and Quarrel up the swamp, further into the compound.  Further inland, the group is attacked, resulting in the death of Quarrel, and Bond and his new found beauty are taken captive.  Without detailing too much to spoil the excitement, Bond and Honey Ryder are escorted into dining with SPECTRE operative and first nemesis Dr. Julius No (iconically portrayed by Joseph Wiseman).

If Bond is your cup of tea, then what more could you ask for?  Everything that came to make the series beloved is in place; Ursula Andress is smoking hot in her white bikini, the gadgets and cars are awesome, Connery is suave and daring as Bond and Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No is a perfect, eccentric villain.  Though not my favorite Connery-era bond film, you can’t argue with how essential it was to defining the rest of the series.

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