nobody movie_Diamonds Are Forever is the most underrated James Bond film of all time

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Sixty years after its theatrical debut in the 1962s dr No and James Bond is in excellent health. Daniel Craig, the sixth and arguably best of the “official” Bond actors, ended the strongest series of Bond films in the last year no time to die The film was a critical and commercial success that managed – finally – to pull Bond into the 21st century with a newfound focus on family and the sheer weariness of saving the world over and over again.

Of course, for many, no one does it better than the original Bond the Late Sean Connery, who originated the role in six films between 1962 and 1971. From secret volcanic caves and gyrocopters to henchmen with killer bowler hats, there’s plenty to celebrate in this original run. There’s also plenty to despise, in the form of occasional racism, misogyny, and classicism. As a result, the Connery films have rightfully been re-evaluated and recently overlooked in favor of George Lazenby’s On Her MajestyThe Secret Service, A one-off for the actor re-evaluated as an underrated classic.

But there is another bond that deserves a reappraisal. Based in part on a 1971 dream by producer Albert R. Broccoli Diamonds are forever was one of the most widely viewed Bond films upon its release, with reviewers criticizing the film’s slow plot and less-than-exotic locals. It is indeed one of the best in the series.

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In case the movie got to your mind, let’s recap. Bloated after 1967 You only Live Twice, Sean Connery was firmly done with the role that made his name. An unknown Australian model, George Lazenby, stepped in and the series tried to do something different. In On Her MajestyThe Secret Service Bond marries and eventually loses his wife Tracy at the hands of archenemy Blofeld. Opinions were divided on the film, but the producers still really wanted Lazenby to come back. The only problem was that, on the advice of possibly the worst agent in Hollywood, Lazenby had only signed on for one film. After much back and forth, Connery was tempted to come back and was awarded a then record $1.25 million (which he used to set up the Scottish International Education Trust, which funded Scottish artists). Almost a decade after his debut, Connery was back.

What follows is one of the most understated bonds ever written on celluloid. The film sees Bond travel to Amsterdam and then to Vegas on the trail of diamond smugglers. Of course, after many twists and turns, it turns out that the big culprit is Blofeld, who uses the diamonds to create a satellite laser beam capable of destroying the Earth. Yes, that “huge friggin’ laser beam” and subplot involving Blofeld surgically altering Deputy to look just like him no doubt inspired Austin Power’s nemesis Dr. Evil and his clone, Mini Me. Thankfully, there’s no such thing as a bad-tempered sea bass.

las vegas 1971 actor sean connery poses as james bond in a scene from the united artist film diamonds are forever in 1971 in las vegas, nevada photo by donaldson collectionmichael ochs archivesgetty images

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The bombastic Austin Powers send is hilarious but wrydiamonds… is arguably Connery’s most subdued Bond film. There are no volcanic caves. Nobody is covered with gold paint. There’s no henchman with a poisoned blade in her shoe, and Connery definitely, absolutely doesn’t influence the “Asian face” in one of the most ill-conceived plot devices in film history.

Instead, we get a low-key affair that’s more akin to the kind of existential thrillers that would define the 1970s. The film deliberately pokes fun at the moon landings, with Bond hurtling through a secret film set on the moon, and the film’s unraveling takes place not in Fort Knox or a remote island base, but on an oil rig. Before Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig, this was a welcome attempt at grounding a Bond film.

I do not say diamonds… is Three Days of the Condor or marathon man, but they share some DNA. Trade Swiss mountains and Jamaican islands for the desert of Nevada, diamonds sees Bond largely gadget-free on a low-stakes mission. The muscle car chase through the streets of Vegas will whet your appetite Bullitt while a brutal elevator fight is on par with anything Craig — or John Wick, for that matter — can throw at us. And while the tackiest of early Bond tropes still exist to some degree — see Plenty O’Toole being thrown out of a hotel window — the film takes an unusually progressive approach to its queer henchmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, arguably two of the show’s best villains. Meanwhile, the gymnastics opponents Thumper and Bambi show – shock! – Women can also put Bond in his place.

Diamonds are forever

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The early ’70s aesthetic is also a treat. Connery’s tailoring was loosened up without straying into the full-blown safari suits of later Roger Moore excursions. Here his bow tie and lapels are larger, his hair a little shaggy; His bone white suit and pink tie combo could be your new summer wedding look. The film also celebrates some great architecture. It’s a delight to see the mid-century brilliance of John Lautner-designed Elrod House in Palm Springs as the cast-concrete dream home of casino mogul Willard Whyte. Likewise, 1970s Vegas is full of gorgeous neon signs — a far cry from the garish circus it’s become.

Part of the reason the film works so well is undoubtedly due to the return of golden finger Director Guy Hamilton (Connery’s enthusiasm for the role at this point is debatable). But it’s the inimitable and gorgeous dame Shirley Bassey who really elevates the film with one of the greatest Bond songs of all time – certainly one of the reasons the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Soundtrack.

All in all, Diamonds are forever might be the Bond film most remembered. It’s not perfect – there’s a lot that’s problematic about it. But the film, set at the start of one of cinema’s most exciting decades, moves away from the swagger of earlier 007 installments and shows that even an older, reluctant Bond could delight without the gizmos and cartoonish schemes of the earlier (and later) films . Far from being the worst film of Connery’s run, it’s actually one of the most grounded, stylish — and fun. Whatever happens to Bond next, his producers would do well to remember this overlooked diamond in the rough.

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