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MGM Studios DVD presents
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

"My name is Bond. James Bond."
- James Bond (Sean Connery)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: October 06, 2000

Stars: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray
Other Stars: Lana Wood, Bruce Glover, Putter Smith
Director: Guy Hamilton

Manufacturer: Digital Video Compression Center
MPAA Rating: PG for (violence, brief nudity, adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:59m:40s
Release Date: October 17, 2000
UPC: 027616853929
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+A-A- A

DVD Review

Diamonds Are Forever was the seventh James Bond film (not counting Casino Royale), marking Sean Connery's near-final appearance as Ian Fleming's superspy, following a one-film hiatus (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) and a sizable salary increase. This time around, Bond is on the trail of ruthless diamond-smuggling thugs under the command of his recurring nemesis Blofeld, played in this instance by the venerable Charles Gray (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). En route, Bond encounters the voluptuous criminal Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), Howard Hughes-inspired millionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy "Pure Pork Sausage" Dean), thugs (and lovers) Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), and the latest in a long line of suggestively named Bond girls, Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood). Almost everyone who comes into contact with a particular cache of smuggled diamonds ends up dead, and Bond has his hands full dealing with a constant stream of adversaries, including the beautiful but deadly Bambi (Donna Garratt) and Thumper (Trina Parks).

Diamonds Are Forever was intended as a return to the style of Goldfinger, opening with a wonderful half-brassy, half-torchy title song (performed by Shirley Bassey) and featuring the traditional gadgetry courtesy of 'Q' (Desmond Llewellyn), fistfights, Bond's near-cremation, a moon buggy and a high-speed chase down the Las Vegas strip. The script by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz has a terrific sense of humor, with some great one-liners (not exclusively delivered by Bond) and an over-the-top sense of the absurd. Guy Hamilton directs with flair, handling the expected Bond set pieces skillfully—action is tightly edited and occasionally innovative (as in a close-quarters fight in an elevator), the beautiful people look great and the whole affair proceeds lightly and efficiently. There are a few continuity issues (the relatively short length of the Las Vegas strip requires an extended chase to pass the same buildings repeatedly) but there's nothing to truly complain about here—the special effects are superb, and the performances, sets and action are classic Bond.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: MGM presents Diamonds Are Forever in its original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, with a fine anamorphic transfer. The source print has some white flecking here and there, and a few darker scenes suffer from middling black level and grain clouding, but the digital transfer looks just great overall, with solid color, sharp detail and no distracting compression artifacts. MGM obviously respects its United Artists Bond assets, and has done fine work on this 1971 film.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Diamonds Are Forever features a Dolby Digital 2.0 monophonic soundtrack, preserving the audio from the original theatrical release. The soundtrack is nicely mastered, with surprising richness and depth; an optional 5.1 mix might have been fun, but the film sounds just fine through the center speaker. A few dialogue scenes betray minor hiss, but frequency range is sufficient, low-end bass is solid, dialogue is clear, and I can't imagine this nearly three-decade-old film sounding better.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 TV Spots/Teasers
4 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Guy Hamilton, David Naylor et al.
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:19m:47s

Extra Extras:
  1. Radio Spots
Extras Review: MGM presents Diamonds Are Forever in style, with 32 chapter stops, French and English subtitles, excellent Bondian menus and a bevy of substantial supplements:

Trailers:The film's marketing is thoroughly covered, with the theatrical Teaser (2.35:1 non-anamorphic) and full Trailer (1.85:1 anamorphic); 5 TV spots (1.33:1 full-frame); and 3 radio spots (audio only). Nice transfers all around, despite some print damage on the TV spots.

Inside Diamonds Are Forever:

A fine 30-minute documentary about the making of the film, featuring archival film clips of Sean Connery discussing his decision to return to the series and recent footage of many people involved with the film, notably Guy Hamilton, Dana Broccoli, Jill St. John, and Lana Wood. The anecdotes are entertaining and the history well-researched, and this is a fine addition to the DVD.

Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond:

A second 44-minute documentary (non-exclusive to this disc) profiling Bond's pioneering producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, who passed away in 1996. His business colleagues and family members contribute fond memories of his life and working approach. Broccoli's career lasted from the relatively early days of Hollywood to the 90's, making for historically interesting viewing, and the documentary is a fitting tribute to the man who oversaw the Bond films for over thirty years.

Deleted Scenes:

MGM has come up with four "never before seen" vintage deleted scenes in good condition, presented in nonanamorphic letterboxed 2.35:1 format. Two scenes feature the luscious Plenty O'Toole; one is a bad take of a stunt scene, and Sammy Davis Jr. appears in an extended Vegas cameo not used in the finished film.

Commentary:

A feature-length commentary, assembled from interviews and edited to be reasonably screen-specific. Historian David Naylor bridges the comments with pertinent notes, and the end result is very rewarding with little "dead air," marred only by a heavy-handed, unnecessary disclaimer at the beginning of the track (to the effect that these are personal recollections and opinions, not official history). Informative, substantial and well-organized.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Diamonds Are Forever is a fine entry in the long-running James Bond series, filled with panache, humor and smooth Connery goodness. MGM's DVD is a superb presentation, with an excellent transfer and solid supplements. Not to be missed by Bond fans.

 


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