Diamonds (PG-13) No Rating

Review Date: December 10th, 1999

The real treasure in "Diamonds" isn't the movie. It's legendary actor Kirk Douglas, who has graced the cinema with landmark performances for

more than 50 years. While this film doesn't come close to making the

list of his all-time classics, it's enough of a star vehicle to allow

the spirited man to strut the right stuff.

Basically, the story's an excuse to see Douglas in action. Hampered

several years back by a major stroke, the actor's appearance on film at

all is a miracle of sorts. Douglas is in tip-top form. His speech hasn't

fully recovered, but his character isn't required to carry too much

dialogue, and his physical presence and movements are as sharp as ever.

It's too bad the script and filmmaking aren't as lively as the actor.

Douglas plays former boxing champion Harry "The Polish Prince" Agensky,

a grandpa hoping to reconcile with estranged son Lance (Dan Aykroyd),

who in turn wants to make amends with his teen-age son Michael (Corbin

Allred). After telling his son and grandson about a cache of 13 diamonds

he hid inside a wall a few decades ago, the ex-boxer convinces the

doubting duo to take him on a road trip to Reno.

In a busted convertible, they travel from Canada to Nevada, bickering

along the way and halfheartedly attempting to communicate. When they

finally arrive at their destination point, they're heartbroken to find

out that the house no longer occupies the same space. The next best

solution? They head for the nearest whorehouse, run by a madam named

Sin-Dee (the elegant Lauren Bacall).

It's not the usual family bonding experience, but there are some funny

moments, as Lance finally begins to loosen up, and Michael has his first

sexual encounter with a buxom blonde bombshell (spunky beauty Jenny

McCarthy). The patron of the family has an affecting heart to heart with

the older madam, before the trio head off again in search of those

elusive rubies.

By the time the surprise ending arrives, the movie's real intentions

have been laid out clearly. The clunky direction and derivative

screenplay further highlight the film's real attraction. It's fun to

watch the living legend in action, especially in his scenes with Bacall.

Given their rich history, it's surprising to know that they were only in

one movie together (1950's "Young Man with a Horn").

Scenes of the legend shadow boxing in front of the mirror are intercut

with shots of Douglas in fighting form in 1949's "Champion." Five

decades later, the performer still knows how to dance. He doesn't need

many words to express the integrity of his character or much movement to

convey his grace. The fire's in his eyes.

With an actor of this caliber, the quality of his surroundings matters

little. It's simply a pleasure to be in his presence for a couple of


* MPAA rating: PG-13, for sexual content, drug use and language.


Dan Aykroyd: Lance Agensky

Kirk Douglas: Harry Agensky

Lauren Bacall: Sin-Dee

Corbin Allred: Michael Agensky

Kurt Fuller: Moses Agensky

A Miramax presentation. Director John Asher. Screenplay Allan Aaron

Katz. Producer Patricia Green. Director of photography Paul Elliot.

Editor Timothy O'Meara. Music Joel Goldsmith. Production designer Vance Lorenzini. Costume designer Vicky Sanchez. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.