• U.S.

Cinema: Looney Tune

2 minute read


Directed by GUY HAMILTON

Screenplay by RICHARD MAIBAUM and


This, the seventh movie in the James Bond canon (the heretical Casino Royale, which postulated a horde of 007s instead of one, doesn’t count), is in some ways the best of the lot. It is by all odds the broadest—which is to say wackiest, not sexiest. Indeed, the ladies of sinister sexuality (Jill St. John, Lana Wood) look like randy and overweight cheerleaders beside the likes of Domino and Pussy Galore. They furnish 007 with a few pleasant pit stops, but the real adventure lies elsewhere.

Bond is on the trail of that arch-meanie, Ernst Stavros Blofeld (Charles Gray), and a ring of high-placed diamond smugglers who operate in Las Vegas. Somehow mixed up in all this are an eccentric millionaire recluse (hello there, Howard Hughes), a wizened stand-up comic, a crooked mortician, a couple of campy killers named Wint and Kidd, and two bikinied bodyguards who call themselves Bambi and Thumper. They strike a gymnastic blow for Women’s Lib by effortlessly bouncing Bond, the sexist pig, off the four walls of a luxurious desert hideaway.

With its laser machines, fights to the death and exotic homicides, Diamonds Are Forever is like a Looney Tune. A chaotic car chase through the streets of downtown Las Vegas is the funniest scene of its kind since Roadrunner last boinked the coyote.

Bond seems to grow more resilient with age. Since 1962 and his first screen incarnation in Dr. No, several wars, untold natural disasters and the Beatles have all come and gone. Bond looks better than ever, partly because Sean Connery has returned to play him. During Connery’s one-picture absence, some fellow named Lazenby filled the role—the way concrete fills a hole. Connery, a fine, forceful actor with an undeniable presence, turns his well-publicized contempt for the Bond character into some wry moments of self-parody. He is capable of doing better things (The Molly Maguires, Mamie), but whether he likes it or not, he is the perfect, the only James Bond.

∎Jay Cocks

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