From the late 60s to the early 70s, the figure of James Bond changed hands between 3 different actors like some cinematic spy version of musical chairs. Within this final call for the SPECTRE brand, up until the Daniel Craig movie of the same name, we get to see Sean Connery for one final time in the well-shined shoes of 007.
STARS – Sean Connery, Charles Gray, Jill St. John, Putter Smith & Bruce Glover
DIRECTOR – Guy Hamilton
RUN-TIME – 120 minutes
BEST LINE – This film features the zany yet gentlemanly spoken tactics of murderers Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, who dispatch one liners for every hopeful kill. It’s a triple threat after they think Bond has been sent to death by cremation with them quipping “very moving,” “heartwarming” and “a glowing tribute” in snappy succession as the perfect villainous Laurel and Hardy.
BEST GADGET – Even with the brains of Q being around a bit, there isn’t much to go on in the way of gadgetry. The only useful yet simple method of espionage utilized is a thin skin-like material which Bond uses to pretend he has someone else’s fingerprints on his hand.
EEK MOMENT – James in Kidd and Wint’s entombed means of possible extermination is not a pleasant way of exiting this mortal realm and as the coffin shuffles along the conveyor belt to fiery quarters, the sense of claustrophobia is well used even if this sequence is over before it really begins to fill you with dread.
00 UH-OH – A mild confusion appears over you as some acting astronauts keep in zero-gravity character instead of apprehending Bond and the subsequent moon-buggy chase is shaky and comical. Yet, it’s the later moment of the British agent kicking a cat that’s one bullying and brutal tactic against Blofeld too far and I don’t stand for that feline abuse.
ICONIC MOMENT – As Bond and Tiffany Case are part of a Las Vegas car chase, they hurtle along the strip and through a car park rife with sirens and screeches, concluding with the sight of James being forced into an alley and somehow tilting his vehicle from one angle to the other as he squeezes through a tight space—a moment any 007 fan should know about.
REVIEW – It is a shame that the emotional beat and last image of Lazenby’s solo outing is dismissed as Scottish-born Connery returns to the fold. Obviously there is some enjoyment and silliness to revel in thanks to the humor which, spoiler alert, gets increased madly by the imminent arrival of Roger Moore, but there’s something about this 007 feature that is fine, but not much else.
You’d think that getting back the director and singer for Bond gem Goldfinger would save the day, but Guy Hamilton and Shirley Bassey aren’t quite enough to make this a rocketing triumph like that gilded treat was. Saying that, there is the steady gruff charm of Connery and the campy performance of future Time Warp narrator Charles Gray, seen at some point in shocking Party City value drag to help the movie along.
This film does have some nice differences such as seeing Moneypenny out of office, and a glitzy casino set Vegas location which is practically the perfect backdrop for the suited spy. Then there’s the dual-handed efforts of Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint which spices up the henchman quota, even if they do lack any connection to Blofeld and are seemingly forgotten about before a cruise scene gets stitched on to see their characters bite the dust.
Along the diamond hunt plot are a good many over-egged zooms which are less dramatic and more clunky, but this cheesy technical tension is forgivable as it seems the whole film is gearing up to set Austin Powers in motion; the theatrics of Blofeld, some cloning, the schmoozing of Bond and names like Plenty O’Toole and a funeral director called Slumber, with that the mood of the film is fully summed up.
There does come strange gym happy acrobatic fighting lasses named Bambi and Thumper after desert set chases, space missiles, Amsterdam stop-offs and circus stalking which makes this movie feel somewhat disjointed as random confrontations try to amp up the tension but have you thinking the SPECTRE organisation has had its day. The diamond trail is the simple and easy excuse the filmmakers have in darting from scene to scene.
The Bond Girl is useless, Connery seems to phone it in and most aspects feel very chaotic but even with the almost pointless excursion to retrieve diamonds eventually lost to space there is fun and glamour to sit back and let wash over you.