Friday, May 22, 2015

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) | Villains

So they brought back Blofeld one more time and it's once too many. I love the idea of bringing him back for Bond to get his revenge, but not like this. Not with this tone and not played by Charles Gray.

For years I thought I hated Charles Gray, because he kept getting miscast in Bond films. I recently, finally saw a movie that I loved him in though. He plays the leader of a Satanic cult and battles Christopher Lee in 1968's The Devil Rides Out. It's a perfect role for him, because he can be as prissy and cowardly as he wants and I'm supposed to despise him. But those traits make him a lousy Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice and a worse Blofeld. He's a stunning disappointment after Telly Savalas' tough guy in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

When he escapes Bond by dressing as a woman, I don't even blink an eye. That's exactly the kind of thing this Blofeld would do. But just try to imagine Savalas or the Blofeld of Thunderball doing that. Heck, try to imagine Donald Pleasance doing that!

One thing he has in common with Pleasance's Blofeld though is that they're both dumber than their cats. There are a couple of times when Blofeld has the opportunity to destroy Bond in Diamonds and doesn't. Having Wint and Kidd just drop him unconscious in a pipe and leave it out in the open - hoping that it gets buried the next day by random workers - is ludicrous. And later, when Bond shows up at the oil rig, Blofeld again passes up having him shot.

Admittedly, it's too late on both of those occasions for Blofeld's plan to succeed. Thanks to Bond's competent - if not especially impressive - detective work, too many people have all the information they need to shut Blofeld down. But Blofeld at least has the chance to rid himself of Bond once and for all, then escape to plan another caper. He doesn't care though. That's a recurring motif in this movie.

Wint and Kidd are memorable henchmen, because they're so odd and disturbing. Especially jazz musician Putter Smith as Mr. Kidd. Apparently, the producers wanted both killers to be played by musicians and originally went for Paul Williams as Wint, but they couldn't reach an agreement about the money. So they hired Bruce Glover to play Wint instead. They originally told Glover he looked too normal for the role, but the actor makes up for it with the same, innate creepiness he passed on to his son, Crispin Glover.

Wint and Kidd are gay like they are in the novel, but it isn't their attraction to each other that makes them so disconcerting. And interestingly for 1971, no one even comments on it except for Bond's criticizing Wint's cologne. Like everything else about them though, Wint and Kidd's gayness is played really weird. They call each other by their surnames and could not look less natural holding hands. They're completely bizzare as a couple and I'm endlessly fascinated trying to imagine their home life when they're not on an assignment.

And speaking of assignments, just who are they working for when they try to kill Bond at the end of the movie? And why are they trying to use flaming skewers and a bomb? They seem like competent assassins earlier in the movie, but between putting Bond in that pipe and the pointless attack on the ocean liner, they turn out to be not that good.

You know who else are pointless and not that good? Bambi and Thumper are completely lame with their crazy dance moves and sort of taking turns attacking Bond. They don't even really take turns, because one of them will just slither around a little or do some cartwheels before throwing it back to the other. And then Bond defeats them because apparently the fight's gone on long enough and it's time for it to end.

Top Ten Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love and Thunderball)
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
4. Doctor No (Dr. No)
5. Emilio Largo (Thunderball)
6. Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love)
7. Kronsteen (From Russia With Love)
8. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (You Only Live Twice)
9. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Diamonds Are Forever)
10. TBD

Top Ten Henchmen

1. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
2. Grant (From Russia With Love)
3. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
4. Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5. Miss Taro (Dr. No)
6. Professor Dent (Dr. No)
7. Morzeny (From Russia With Love)
8. Hans (You Only Live Twice)
9. Helga Brandt (You Only Live Twice)
10. Vargas (Thunderball)

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