Diamonds Are Forever emerged as a concerted attempt to forget about On Her Majestys Secret Service and roll the series back to what it had been with Goldfinger (1964). Diamonds Are Forever feels like a strenuous effort to craft another Goldfinger Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton has been brought back in the directors chair, Shirley Bassey tunes the title song again, while Richard Maibaums original script even featured Bond facing Goldfingers twin brother, before this was quashed and Blofeld brought back. Interestingly, the plot also originally featured the villain abducting submarines in a super-tanker, an idea that was later rehashed in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). (Diamonds Are Forever was also Blofelds last appearance as a villain apart from a cameo in the pre-credits teaser of For Your Eyes Only (1981) after Kevin McClory, the co-writer of the Thunderball (1961) novel with Ian Fleming, issued a legal challenge claiming that Blofeld was his creation).
Diamonds Are Forever followed the process begun with You Only Live Twice of fairly much abandoning the Ian Fleming source novel altogether. The plot in Ian Flemings 1956 novel about Bond pursuing diamond smugglers and becoming involved with mobsters was clearly too small in scale for the film it feels like the film has used scraps of Fleming as a springboard and then welded the series formula on top of this. About all that Richard Maibaum keeps from the book is the vague connection of Bond posing as Franks and tracing a diamond smuggling operation, the heroine Tiffany Case, the gay henchmen Wint and Kidd and a stopover in Las Vegas (which, when one thinks about it, is actually more of the source novel than all subsequent James Bond adaptations retain). Blofeld, Amsterdam, the orbital laser, the action scenes and the entirety of the plot is all an invention by the film. The laser satellite element feels out of place, as though it has to be there because the formula dictates that Bond have to deal with a world threatening menace. Moreover, Diamonds Are Forever throws out continuity to the rest of the series Bond is supposed to be obsessively pursuing Blofeld because he killed Tracy at the end of On Her Majestys Secret Service, but there is not the slightest mention made of her anywhere in the film. Originally, it had been planned that Diamonds Are Forever would start with Blofelds murder of Tracy that comes at the end of OHMSS, but here it is as though Broccoli and Saltzman want audiences to forget that OHMSS even happened.
People often point to Roger Moore entries such as The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Moonraker (1979) and A View to a Kill (1985) as the low-points of the James Bond series but Diamonds Are Forever offers ample evidence that the Sean Connery Bond films were not all masterpieces either. The script often verges on the incoherent. There are gaping holes why does Blofeld want to kill off the people in his own smuggling operation? Why does the CIA assist Bond in smuggling the diamonds and then after doing so so turns around to prosecute he and Tiffany? She also seems to go through the entire film without ever finding that Bond is not Franks. Like most of the Roger Moore films, the only thing that seems to hold Diamonds Are Forever together is the kinesis of connecting one action scene to the next.
However, with the exception of the car chase through the streets of Las Vegas (which does feature the amusing incongruity of Bond driving a car through an alley on two wheels and it emerging out the other end balanced on the opposite side to the one it went in on), the set-pieces are dull. There are a couple of good fight sequence between Bond and the real Franks in an elevator, and between Bond and two girls Bambi and Thumper. However, the big climactic set-piece around an oil rig is woeful, one of the weakest climactic set-pieces in the entire series the scene even seems to cut off in mid-flow. The effects are decent but the sets never before seemed so unimaginative. The photography is utterly flat, leaving the screen crying out for colour at times. Guy Hamilton had made the series finest entry with Goldfinger but in his return here, and with the next two entries, it is as though all the style and panache that made Goldfinger had entirely deserted him.
Charles Gray makes a terrible Blofeld maybe this was the worst performance of Grays career. As a super-villain, Gray radiates zero threat and is arguably the worst villain in the entire James Bond series. Jill St John demonstrates a remarkable lack of talent. Her Tiffany is one of the most empty-headed women to grace the Bond series and she has been called the worst ever Bond girl. That is not quite the case as that is a title that would have to be reserved for Lana Wood as the secondary heroine here. Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as the two gay killers are initially amusing but eventually become overplayed to the point of annoyance.
The other James Bond films are: Dr No (1962), From Russia with Love (non-genre, 1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majestys Secret Service (1969), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (non-genre, 1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (non-genre, 1987), License to Kill (non-genre, 1989), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (non-genre, 2006), Quantum of Solace (non-genre, 2008) and Skyfall (non-genre, 2012). Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983) are non-series Bond films.