|No, I'm not kidding...|
Sadly, the terrific ending of the previous film is all but forgotten. We might as well have jumped straight here from You Only Live Twice, because nobody mentions the late Mrs. Bond and we find 007 with just as much determination to hunt down Blofeld as he did before the baldy face-changer assassinated Tracy. Apparently achieving his mission before the opening titles, Bond gets a new assignment- to uncover a covert diamond smuggling ring, which is tied up with reclusive billionaire mogul Willard Whyte.
I'll give the film this- it opens strong. The Lazenby-shaped four year gap since Connery last played James Bond means that he looks quite a bit older than he did in You Only Live Twice. This is masked quite nicely by the quick but brilliant sequence of Bond travelling the world, hunting down Blofeld's associates and methodically squeezing information out of them. The next bit with Blofeld and the super-heated
We're also introduced to gay henchmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, played somewhere between sinister and comical. This is the start of the henchman becoming more of an interesting character than the real antagonist. You can almost see the era of Roger Moore crowning, throughout this film, but at least it's considerably less laboured than then-recent outings like Thunderball.
Considering it's Connery's (official) swansong in the role, it's a shame he doesn't go out with much of a bang. Similarly, even less thought than usual is given over to the film's female attractions. Jill St. John is a sassy redhead who compares unfavourably to Luciana Paluzzi from Thunderball, by being another of those women on Blofeld's team who are just dying to be swept off their feet by Bond. And then there's a "character" called Plenty O'Toole, who doesn't even make it to bed with Bond before she's accidentally killed by the baddies.
In the film's defence, it gives Blofeld his most plausible plan yet, very topical and of its time, and administered by the mastermind posing as the aforementioned Mr. Whyte. If you're taken in by the idea that Bond finishes his mission from the last two films in the first two minutes of the film, you might believe that Whyte's behind it all for exactly as long as the film wants you to.
#7- Blofeld is so unconvinced by his own drag act that he has to keep his pussy firmly in hand the whole time.
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The Mad Prophet Will Return, With Live And Let Die... in August