For as long as Hollywood has been making movies (since 1910, in case you’re wondering), the stars and luminaries of the industry have had a love affair with diamonds. They’ve long been a symbol of power, wealth, and status in an industry where those attributes matter more than almost anything else. They’ve even become a calling card for some of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, like Mae West – who had a diamond collection that could have rivaled that of European royalty.
Perhaps Hollywood’s fascination with diamonds is part of the reason why so many films have centered on the precious stones over the years. From fuelling heists and capers to becoming symbols of an epic romance, there’s been no end to their significance in films of all genres. To illustrate the point, here’s a list of five very different diamond-themed movies no film buff should miss.
In this award-winning 1976 thriller, Dustin Hoffman plays Thomas “Babe” Levy, a graduate student who becomes embroiled in a conspiracy surrounding diamonds looted from Europe by the Nazis during World War II. In a plot that drew from real-world tales of war criminals attempting to hang on to their ill-gotten gains after scattering across the globe as the global conflict came to a close, the story revolves around a network of couriers ferrying stolen diamonds from New York to a wanted Nazi doctor living in South America. It’s a tale filled with intrigue and suspense, and although not for the faint of heart (and especially those who fear dentists), it’s worth a watch for any film lover looking for a well-constructed and brilliantly acted thriller.
Anyone who knows about the global diamond trade can tell you that it’s an industry with a checkered past. That’s exactly the main thrust of the 2006 film Blood Diamond, which features Leonardo DiCaprio as Danny Archer, a major player in the conflict diamond trade that fueled the real-life civil war in Sierra Leone. It tells the tale of the illicit African diamond trade, and how the atrocities funded by the region’s diamond mines led to the creation of the Kimberley Process, which is the certification scheme that aims to make sure African diamonds can never again be used to fund wars anywhere on the African continent or anywhere else. If you’re looking for a true-to-reality drama filled with human tragedy and redemption, this is the film for you.
A Fish Called Wanda
Sometimes, diamonds can make strange bedfellows. In the 1988 comedy caper movie A Fish Called Wanda, that’s most certainly the case. In it, four very different people team up to pull off a diamond robbery, but things aren’t at all what they seem. Each participant in the heist has their own plans, most of which revolve around eliminating the others and making off with the loot themselves. Of course, not one of them has the ability to pull it off, leading to some of the most hilarious scenes in caper movie history. It’s a film that won Kevin Kline an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, which was well deserved for his hysterical performance as Otto, a demented Anglophobe with a penchant for sniffing panties and eating goldfish.
The Pink Panther
There is perhaps no more iconic movie diamond than the one featured in 1963’s The Pink Panther. To this day, almost anyone over the age of 20 will recognise the film’s iconic main theme music, and for many, Peter Sellers’ performance as the hilariously inept Inspector Clouseau is the epitome of slapstick comedy played to perfection. It’s a film that spawned a franchise that counts twelve films, four television specials, four animated series, and innumerable short animated and live action films. Plus, the animated character of the Pink Panther also became the center of an advertising campaign for Owens-Corning, further raising the profile of the film series. The film is a throwback to the classic fall-down, die laughing kind of comedy that’s almost impossible to find these days, and is a must-see for anyone that needs a good laugh.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Two glamorous showgirls have everything a girl could want – except engagement rings. In a quest for true love, Lorelei (Marilyn Monroe) and her gold digger pal Dorothy (Jane Russell) set sail on a luxury-liner bound for France. But the pair hits rocky waters when a manipulative detective, an over-aged, over sexed millionaire (Charles Coburn) and the entire men’s Olympic team try to put an anchor in their marriage-minded mischief. The film is probably best-known for Monroe’s now-iconic song and dancer number Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.
The five films mentioned here are but a small sampling of the times one can find diamonds playing a central role in Hollywood productions. They’re also all as different from one another as five films could possibly be, but they’re all masterfully made and well worth watching – and any one of them would make for a perfect night to curl up with some popcorn and soak up the movie magic.