“How far does your expertise extend into the field of diamonds?”

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

THE VITALS

Director: Peter R Hunt
James Bond: George Lazenby
Notable villain(s): Ernst Blofeld
Notable Bond girl(s): Tracy di Vicenzo

Sean Connery was always going to be a difficult act to follow but, to be completely honest, I don’t think that Lazenby did a bad job.

He suited this version of Bond, the version where Bond gets married and has to don a disguise in order to infiltrate Blofeld’s Swiss hideout. I’m not really sure that Connery would have suited going undercover as the London College of Arms’ genealogist, Sir Hilary Bray…

The reason that I have given On Her Majesty’s Secret Service only two stars is down to its plot. At 2hrs 20 it is a long film, and in the second third I really felt myself switching off. I never really understood Blofeld’s desire to claim the title ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’ either. If I was him I would have concentrated on my attempts to destroy the world’s agriculture instead – NB You Only Live Twice (1967) mixed up the chronological order as the book was, in fact, the sequel to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Visually, it does looks brilliant: there is plenty of eye candy in the form of Blofeld’s brainwashed Angels of Death and the Swiss Alps are very picturesque. The ski chase adds life but, for me, it was too little too late. I would have preferred to have seen more of Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) as well.

★★

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

THE VITALS

Director: Guy Hamilton
James Bond: Sean Connery
Notable villain(s): Ernst Blofeld, Mr Wint and Mr Kidd
Notable Bond girl(s): Tiffany Case

Connery returns for his sixth and final outing as Eon’s Bond in Diamonds Are Forever – he would return in 1983’s Never Say Never Again but, as it isn’t one of the official films, I won’t be watching it. Blofeld is, once again, the main villain and this time he has his eye on some diamonds.

For me, Diamonds Are Forever is a return to form for the series, though it is far from my favourite. It is certainly very entertaining and there are some very memorable characters, including the very odd assassins Mr Wint and Mr Kidd. Their methods are very creative, especially when they sealed Bond in a coffin and sent him into a crematorium furnace…

The lead Bond girl, Tiffany Case, in very attractive with a bubbly personality though a little too dumb for my liking, especially when compared to Tracy di Vicenzo from the previous film.

Blofeld, however, is excellent. His latest scheme – building a giant laser satellite using the diamonds – is inspired. It involves a string of smugglers and the kidnap of a multi-billionire entrepreneur, Willard Whyte.

★★★

Current order of preference: GoldfingerThunderballYou Only Live TwiceDr. No, Diamonds Are ForeverFrom Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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5 thoughts on ““How far does your expertise extend into the field of diamonds?””

  1. I’d probably rate OHMSS a bit higher than you, Claire. It is not my all-time favorite, but it’s come up significantly for me through the decades (I didn’t like it much when it first arrived). I think the blogger/writer Mr. Peel’s article covers a good bit why that is (if you look at the comment I left there, you’ll see that you’ve finally answered the complaint I registered — thanks). It’s far from perfect. Lazenby is nowhere close to my favorites in the role (Connery and Craig) and Telly Savalas’ Blofeld is entirely too thuggish, but the story (which might be the best in the entire series), direction, Barry’s score, and of course Diana Rigg have overcome a lot.

    Diamond Are Forever was like comfort food for me. It was great to see Sean Connery back, even if he was getting long-in-the-tooth for the role. Strange but I found him looking better in the role twelve years later for the poor Thunderball remake (Never Say Never Again). No matter. We agree are what makes DAR a good and fun last hurrah for the original movie Bond.

    Well done, Claire.

  2. I haven’t seen either of these Bonds for a long while but I do agree with your assessment of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. George Lazenby didn’t do it for me as Bond. Diamonds Are Forever is one that I like a lot though – I think there’s a madcap quirkiness to it that makes it stand out. The girls and those two strange contract killers are examples of its offbeat nature.

  3. I also think I rate OHMSS higher than you Claire; I think Lazenby is a good Bond, and Savalas finally brings some personality to Blofeld (even if his plans are a bit suspect).

    I think Diamonds are Forever is good for one thing only, Ken Adams’ set design. Otherwise I think Sean looks bored, there’s a lot of not much going on, and then Charles Gray’s Blofeld dresses in drag! Shudder.

  4. I’m 180 degrees from you on this. OHMSS is really the best film of the series even without Connery (in fact I’m not sure he could have done the final scene) precisely because of the plot – i.e. it follows Fleming’s original pretty closely. And as for the music especially in the ski chase – Barry was never better.

    Diamonds has dated badly – the bits lifted from Fleming are still good but the rest is really unengaging – the flip-flop car sequence is horrid. Why didn’t they just flip the image?

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