Cinema | Review by Dan Taylor
didn't know much about Jerry Cotton G-Man
going into this viewing of DEATH AND DIAMONDS
(aka DYNAMITE IN GREEN SILK), the sixth
flick in the popular Jerry Cotton series.
All I knew was that he was the subject of
a series of popular pulp novels that became
a swinging 1960s German movies series starring
George Nader as Cotton. Sort of like James
Bond, but on a more limited budget. With
little more than that to go on I sat down
for DYNAMIT IN GRUNER SEIDE, but I wasn't
anywhere near prepared for what was to come.
But from the point-the-gun-and-paint-the-screen-red
opening to the jaunty credit sequence (complete
with German beer hall music filtered through
a swinging 60s vibe), it became clear I
was in for a real treat.
Directed by Harold Reinl,
D&D starts off with the heist of a few
tanks of poisonous gas from a California
research lab (complete with smiley skull
& crossbones warning signs). The crooks
working for a mysterious criminal
kingpin known only as "Stone"
pull off the robbery but get double-crossed
by Stone's henchman. With one last valiant
breath, a dying con utters a crucial hint
that will help the feds bring down Stone
and his entire organization.
Seems that Rick Trevor, a
British criminal skilled at disarming high-tech
security systems, is next up on Stone's
payroll, once he gets out of jail that is.
Since Trevor's appearance has inexplicably
changed dramatically since he entered the
joint a decade ago (wha?!), the fuzz figure
this is their perfect opportunity to install
one of their own men in Trevor's place.
"Who can I put on this
job?," the chief asks. "Who'd
Well, since the series is
called 'Jerry Cotton G-Man' it better fucking
be Jerry Cotton!
Not surprisingly, Jerry gets
the nod, thanks in part to his ability to
wait for it play the piano.
And, in one of the flick's strangest scenes,
Jerry visits his piano instructor mother
(Kathe Haack) who expresses her concern
for her son's line of work. There's a weird
dynamic going on in this sequence, not unlike
the relationship between Principal Skinner
and his mother on THE SIMPSONS. What's the
word I'm searching for? Oh right, creepy.
That's it. (Oddly enough, though a big deal
is made about Real Trevor and Fake Trevor
being able to play the piano, it never re-enters
With the real Trevor removed
from the picture (by spilling milk on him
for crying out loud!), Jerry assumes his
identity and insinuates himself into the
gang with the sly move of wearing the same
color suit as the recently-sprung con. Oh
yeah, and by affecting the single most unconvincing
and effeminate British accent ever conceived
for the silver screen.
How bad is it? Imagine you
and your friends are sitting around one
night and somebody casually says, "Hey,
let's pretend we're Brits and start talking
in outrageous English accents old chum and
all that bollocks." I guarantee you'd
be more believable than Nader. Christ, he
could've spoken like a bloody pirate and
been more convincing!
Once in tight with the gang,
Cotton/Trevor immediately makes a nuisance
of himself by asking questions. Lots of
questions. Who's the boss? What's the job?
When can I meet the boss? What's the job?
Who's the boss? And so on. Add this to his
penchant for snooping around rooftops, beating
up Stone's righthand man Bloom (Carl Mohner),
and slipping his guards, and it's hard to
believe they don't just cut their losses,
kill him and find another crook!
After heisting a gadget referred
to over and over again as The Absorber,
the real heist goes into motion. Do I even
need to mention that it's a highly elaborate
heist, riddled with opportunities for things
to go wrong? Nah, I didn't think so.
The plan is to steal millions
of dollar worth of diamonds by having Cotton/Trevor
disarm the alarm system, fill the room with
the poison gas lifted in Scene 1 and employ
The Absorber (which I both love writing
and hearing) to suck the diamonds from the
room. Yep, The Absorber is a vacuum cleaner
with a really, really long hose. Awesome.
Not surprisingly, Jerry's
had just about enough of Bloom and Co. and
decides to stop the heist. Which doesn't
go as well as planned, despite fight choreography
that's on par with anything done on an episode
of BATMAN starring Adam West. Fun and enjoyable
to this point, DEATH AND DIAMONDS takes
this opportunity to ratchet the action up
a few notches and makes the last 20 minutes
twice as zanily entertaining as any similar
stretch from a Bond flick. But if you filmed
it with zero budget.
For instance: Jerry gets trapped
in and escapes from an incinerator, in a
scene that puts Nader uncomfortably close
to the flames (and is eerily prescient of
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER); Bloom double-crosses
the other criminals (naturally) and ends
up losing the diamonds to Jerry (naturally)
during yet another double-cross (naturally);
Jerry convinces his bosses (who thought
he was dead, naturally) to let him have
the diamonds so he can draw the mysterious
Stone out into the open; Jerry gets hosed
by Mabel (Marlies Drager), the mysterious
brunette who's been hanging around the hideout
marked with a giant sign that says BAR over
the doorway; Mabel bullwhips (!) Lana (Silvie
Solar), the voluptuous non-love interest
whom Jerry treats with the good-natured
casualness of a close chum; a motorcycle
vs. car chase that features Jerry leaping
from a speeding cycle to avoid an explosion;
a 100-foot jump from a bridge onto the canopy
of the getaway boat; fistfights, exploding
boats and more.
Whew... I'm outta breath just
Of course, I'd be totally
remiss if I failed to mention what is undoubtedly
the flick's Price of Admission sequence.
Facing down a getaway car in an alley, Jerry
doesn't pull the usual stunt seen in such
flicks. You know what I'm talking about,
the old step aside and let the car s-q-u-e-e-z-e
by routine. Instead, Jerry runs at the car
and jumps FEET FIRST! through
the front windshield! And if that ain't
enough, he then conks out the driver and
takes over the wheel... all without mussing
a hair on his head. An amazing, laugh-out-loud
because you can't believe what you've just
seen, holy crap I gotta rewind that scene
if ever there was one.
DEATH AND DIAMONDS is a hoot.
Nader who strikes me as a cross between
Cliff Robertson, Dick Clark, Jerry Orbach,
Jim Rockford and Principal Skinner
drifts through the flick with a detached
casualness that makes the whole thing kinda
charming and (in many ways) more fun than
same-era Bond flicks like YOU ONLY LIVE
TWICE or DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. The 60s-era
Southern California architecture sprinkled
throughout is nothing short of delightful
and I wish the flick had put it to even
more use. Peter Thomas's score gives the
proceedings added lightness and I found
myself walking around the house whistling
the opening theme, much to the dismay of
my perplexed pooch. Harold Reinl's direction
is solid and keeps things moving, punctuating
the action with a fight or some kind of
dustup every few minutes, and we even get
some swinging go-go chicks at the BAR dancing
up a storm in their white bra and panties.