The coolest of the ‘James Bond Originals’ at the Colony, #7 of the first eight James Bond films presents a mod, 70’s primer on all things hip, while taking us on a multi-continent search for stolen stones. Out to eliminate the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld (a sinister, smiling, pipe-chomping Charles Gray), the cool Connery Bond (after Lazenby) is back. Alas, this action-packed adventure marked the final outing for Sean Connery as (a young) agent 007.
Assuming the identity of a hapless expendable dealer, Bond again looks suave and debonair, armed with a dinner jacket, vast wine expertise and irresistible British charm. His partner in crime for this rocky ruse: the not-so-innocent Tiffany Case, (a gorgeous, yet goofy Jill St. John). Beyond scantily-clad go-go dancers and bedroom playthings, the women here are big-time crooks — grand larceny, or what might otherwise be termed henchmen. The most alluring and frightening: ‘Bambi’ and ‘Thumper,’ who instead of revolvers, promise jujitsu in bikinis.
Classic yet ahead of its time, this sparkling storyline was the first Fleming film to even hint at a non-traditional relationship between two gentleman – professional killers — who, between their touching kindness to one another, employ everything from explosives to scorpions. The creepy couple turns up at every location — Holland, Las Vegas, at sea — ever threatening our hero as he zeros in on the diamonds. A sign of the times: the fee for transporting the hot stones: a meager $50,000. Yes, it was 1971. Another quaint novelty – the savvy superspy travels by Hovercraft.
The missing link, played by a pre-sausage Jimmy Dean: Willard Whyte, a wealthy entrepreneur whose research has been hijacked by a villainous crew. Dean’s Southern drawl, particularly when conversing with proper-Scot Connery, is a delightful interlude between the bombs and battles.
Pretending to be Whyte, Blofeld takes over his operation and proceeds to destroy rocket guidance systems, re-position space satellites, blow- up submarines or oil rigs, and generally wreak havoc with the entire Western military. Laying the groundwork for “Moonraker,” the diamonds are used like lasers, with devastating results. In a nod to the then-thriving space program, Bond leads his nemeses across a manufactured, yet utterly real looking lunar landscape at Whyte’s laboratory from inside a pre-shuttle ‘Moon Buggy.’ Top speed: approximately 30mph, yet still nail-biter exciting and suspenseful.
Off to Vegas to unravel the smuggling operation, Bond takes full advantage of the games and gals galore. The now-glamorous Strip appears downright dusty and seems dreadfully underdeveloped. What hasn’t changed, the gaudy entertainment: shows with glitzy costumes, leggy ladies, and of course, gambling — craps, slot machines, roulette. Only here, Secret Service techno-wizard ‘M’ has devised a way to beat the system well ahead of George Clooney and his pals.
It’s enough to make you appreciate Tiffany’s timeless reason for why, as Bond notes to his boss, diamonds are indeed a girl’s best friend: “Diamonds never lie…”
by Caren Ostrow
Next up: A new James Bond: Roger Moore in the last of the James bond Originals, Live and Let Die.
Screenplay written by: Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz, based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
|Sean Connery||…||James Bond|
|Jill St. John||…||Tiffany Case|
|Charles Gray||…||Ernst Stavro Blofeld|
|Jimmy Dean||…||Willard Whyte|