Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs.
Release Date: December 17th, 1971 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Guy Hamilton Actors: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot, Putter Smith, Bruce Glover, Norman Burton, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell
t may have been quite the negotiation to get Sean Connery back, but after previous Bond impersonator George Lazenby misguidedly abandoned the series, it seems only appropriate that the original is returned at all costs. And the opening scene features a vengeful 007 throwing people across rooms, strangling a woman with her own bikini, throwing scalpels at gunmen, and finally disposing of his longtime nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray) by dumping him into a vat of molten mud (oddly, there’s no reference to the murder of Bond’s wife, from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). If producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli thought even for a second that this would be the final Bond movie, it’s particularly fitting to dispatch the leader of SPECTRE – who was hunted by British forces in almost every other film – within the first few minutes.
MI6 Agent James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Holland to look into a diamond smuggling ring. He poses as shady transport consultant Peter Franks to meet with contact Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), who wants him to smuggle a large amount of product to Los Angeles (for the sum of $50,000). The precious jewels are hidden in the coffin of the real Franks, who Case believes is a murdered secret agent. Rendezvousing in Las Vegas at the Circus Circus Casino, with Bond in cahoots with the CIA, Case plans to steal the diamonds for herself, away from gangsters working for reclusive hotel billionaire (and end-recipient) Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean). Initially double-crossing Bond, Tiffany eventually decides to help him when an innocent woman is murdered in her stead.
This might be the last time for another several features that Bond actually feels like a secret agent. Hand-to-hand combat in claustrophobic settings, covert activities, jetting around the world, brandishing a tuxedo, utilizing fake identities, and, of course, the uncovering and foiling of plots to take over the world, are but a few of the key undercover spy components. This is complemented by creatively ludicrous yet genuinely fun-loving sequences, such as an escape in a moon buggy and a destructive chase through the neon-glowing streets of Vegas. Sadly, all of the action remains devoid of the thrilling Monty Norman theme music – an inexplicable first for the franchise – which could have increased the momentum and intenseness with ease.
Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) are laughably peculiar villains, and yet surprisingly appropriate for a James Bond adventure. Weird (and not because they’re subtly gay, though it makes them unique); almost emotionless save for sporadic, sarcastic commentary; in the habit of unsettlingly repeating their names to one another with glib remarks; and eerily accompanied by their own musical cue, this duo presents a creative choice for assassins (though their expertise is discouragingly intermittent). Connery, meanwhile, seems impatient and dismissive of his new lady luck, Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) – another airhead entirely too doltish to make for an equal companion – scripted to recite witty asides as if evolving into a less sincere governmental operative to cope with occupational stresses. It doesn’t help that supporting characters like Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks) are beyond absurd, and that the primary antagonist opts to toy with Bond to the eye-rolling point that the superspy discovers multiple opportunities to escape – and to repeatedly hinder generically evil schemes.
– Mike Massie