Following Christopher Reeve in TV’s busted Rear Window, post-stroke Kirk Douglas stars as a muttering geriatric in the fake-paste Diamonds, his first non-talk show, non-awards show, return-to-acting role. Douglas plays an erstwhile prizefighter (cue inserts of his 1949 boxing flick Champion) who, following a debilitating stroke of his own, takes his son (Dan Aykroyd) and grandson (Corbin Allred) on a whimsical diamond hunt through Reno, Nevada. Bursting with dialogue that’s as feebleminded as its protagonist (“Live each day as if it were your last, and never give up”), Diamonds does pick up momentarily when the threesome visit a deluxe bordello where, unable to perform and fresh out of Viagra, Kirk is tenderly held by the sympathizing madam Sin-dee (Lauren Bacall). Douglas seems to be playing himself, and the film’s most repugnant aspect is its false flattery—masking pity in the form of his costars’ recurrent backslapping and awkward laughter. Worse still, Douglas will not go gently into that opening night; last month he publicly raged against the MPAA, demanding they replace Diamonds’ R-rating with a PG-13. For the sake of his relatively untarnished legacy, won’t he accept that—with its superficial script, toneless direction, and unadmirable intentions—Diamonds is inappropriate for audiences of all ages?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 7, 1999