Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Diamonds (1975)

          A dreary heist thriller noteworthy for its eclectic cast and for having been coproduced by American and Israeli companies, Diamonds comprises 108 very long minutes of anonymous people doing inconsequential things. Even with four big-name actors playing the leading roles, the picture is a chore to watch and offers no special rewards at the end of the journey. Only those deeply interested in the careers of the stars and/or those determined to see every heist movie ever made need bother. It’s not hard to determine where the blame for this picture’s lifelessness should fall, since producer/director Menahem Golan spent most of his career making schlocky movies for the international market; although he occasionally produced (or executive produced) a quality picture, nearly everything that Golan directed was substandard. Diamonds, therefore, is par for the course. The great Robert Shaw, clearly participating only for the paycheck, stars in dual roles, and Golan’s reliance on the old gimmick of one actor playing twins is not a good omen. Shaw’s main role is that of Charles Hodgson, a British millionaire with the resources and time to indulge in dangerous hobbies. For instance, in one early scene Charles stages a private martial-arts exhibition, fighting against his mustachioed brother, Earl Hodgson. The siblings often take their competitiveness to ridiculous extremes, hence the movie’s silly storyline.
          Charles recruits career criminal Archie (Richard Roundtree)—as well as Archie’s sexy girlfriend, Sally (Barbara Hershey)—to help him rob millions of dollars worth of diamonds from a vault in Tel Aviv. Once Archie, Charles, and Sally reach the Middle East, they separate in order to prepare different components of their robbery scheme. This middle section of the picture, which comprises a good hour of running time, is deadly boring. About the only interesting sequences involve Charles trying to avoid an obnoxious American tourist, Zelda (Shelley Winters). Myriad scenes occur without any of the top-billed actors present, because interchangeable Israeli actors play cops and guards and thugs in dull vignettes. Worse, Hershey virtually disappears from the movie for a solid 40 minutes. Toward the end, Golan rallies for a proper break-in/escape sequence, which allows Roundtree and Shaw to share a few intense scenes filled with the kind of clear dramatic conflict that’s missing from the rest of the picture. Ultimately, however, the picture is a slow crawl toward a predictable ending. For viewers who enjoy napping during movies, Diamonds is passable. For everyone else, only disappointment and tedium await.

Diamonds: FUNKY


Unknown said...

Barbara Seagull? Jonathan Livingston Hershey?

By Peter Hanson said...

For a few years, Barbara Hershey performed under the hippy-dippy name of "Barbara Seagull." To avoid mentioning this in every review of a movie from this period, I generally just refer to her as "Barbara Hershey." Oh, and thanks for the reminder of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," which I wrote up for the blog some time ago. In many ways, that might be the quintessential 1970s movie because of ambition, theme, vibe, and pure loopiness. Good times.

Lj letizia said...

She was Barbara Seagull in The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder.