Fan Reviews - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
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"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
With five films, three of which grossed over 100 million dollars,
producers Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
along with actor Sean Connery firmly established the James Bond
film franchise and launched the spymania of the 60s. However,
during the filming of You Only Live Twice, times began to chance.
Spy films lost their box-office appeal and Sean Connery resigned
from the series. Following the film's release, as James Bond took
a backseat as Broccoli started work on Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang,
the question emerged; could James Bond survive the fall of the
spymania it had created?
The answer is a definite"yes," as all have seen, but
did it appear that way back in 1969?
On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the first film that former
editor Peter Hunt directed. Having been associated with the Bond
films since Dr. No, and being a second-unit director on You Only
Live Twice and Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, Hunt began work on the
screenplay with Richard Maibaum, who with the exception of the
last film, had written or co-written every James Bond story up
to that point in time. Hunt brought in much of his second-unit
from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. Every decision was made with one
idea in mind; to move away from the fantasy world of the last
Bond film and return to the more realistic world of From Russia
With Love. The film was shot so that it had the appearance of
old classic films of the 40s and 50s and Simon Raven was brought
in to make the script more sophisticated and intellectual by polishing
the dialogue. For the final decision - who would succeed Sean
Connery as James Bond - the producers went with the Australian
model George Lazenby, who had never before been an actor, save
in some television commercials.
Ultimately, at the 1969 box-office, the film did make money.
It received positive reviews. The changes in the Bond formula
of the Connery era were viewed as palatable to most. But the film
suffered from rumours about George Lazenby's behaviour during
filming and the running time - almost 2 1/2 hours - limited the
amount of screenings per day. The result; the film grossed 64
million dollars, a steep drop from the profits made on You Only
Live Twice, Thunderball, and Goldfinger, and a terrible disappointment
for United Artists. This led to the decision to move Bond into
the campy, overly humorous films that would continue up until
The Spy Who Loved Me rescued the series. During that time, however,
the overdose of humour would lead many fans back to On Her Majesty's
Secret Service, eventually leading it to be recognized as one
of the best films in the series.
I've made it no secret that I consider OHMSS the greatest of
the Bond films. The film's story was in some ways an improvement
over that of the book. Richard Maibaum and Simon Raven's screenplay
was the best-written screenplay in the series, containing everything
from humorous scenes to love scenes, action scenes to suspense
scenes, and dramatic scenes to tragic scenes. Blofeld's plot;
one of the more interesting, if not ambitious; is moved from a
small-scale target (London) to a large-scale target (the entire
world) for the cinematic aspect of Bond, yet that makes little
difference. The story is advanced through the character of James
Bond and his romance with Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di
Vicenzo (Diana Rigg).
Looking at the actors, this film boasts one of the strongest
supporting casts in the series. Diana Rigg plays Tracy to perfection,
and I cannot even begin to imagine anyone else in that role. Telly
Savalas as the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld is no
Donald Pleasance. His performance likes genuine sadistic menace.
However, this is mainly due to the fact that the screenplay has
made Blofeld more charming, snobbish, and at ease. While I prefer
the menace of Pleasance, Savalas's Blofeld is quite satisfying
and more believable in several scenes than the Blofeld of the
previous film would have been. Gabriele Ferzetti's presence and
his dubbed voice (provided by David de Keyser) work together to
create one of Bond's most likeable and charming allies. Ilse Steppat
plays Irma Bunt to the same level of perfection as Diana Rigg
does Tracy. And Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, and (in two brief scenes)
Desmond Llewelyn all do their usually fantastic jobs, in particular
Maxwell dealing with Bond's marriage.
What about Bond? George Lazenby has always been the most heavily
criticised of all the Bond actors. Back in 1969 it was because
he was replacing Sean Connery; now it seems to be that he only
did one. From an acting standpoint he was certainly the worst
actor of the five, but that does not mean he was terrible. For
someone with no real acting experience before, Lazenby delivered
a very strong performance. At certain times it is a bit wooden.
But in the key scenes - those in the office, the proposal, the
wedding, the ending, and others, Lazenby is as effective as Sean
Connery was at being macho and Roger Moore was at being light.
Connery would not have worked in this film, and neither would
Moore. Timothy Dalton is the only actor who could have been more
effective in this film. Lazenby was also great at the action.
From the interviews that I've seen of him, he's matured a great
deal from when he became the victim of the press - which highly
exaggerated their stories but had them founded in fact - and is
sorry for it.
The action in this film does not disappoint. The first half of
the film has a few brief fights, but come the second half of the
film, action becomes frequent, with ski and car chases and a dramatic
raid on Piz Gloria. The nice thing about the action in this film
is that it takes up what time is needed but the film is still
moved on by the story. I can see why some have a problem with
Bond falling in love, but I don't. I prefer true romance to sex
in films anyway. This film having a somewhat unique ending; Bond's
woman (now his wife) being killed; was one of the most depressing
and somber moments in the entire series, wonderfully played by
George Lazenby. In the original take, he burst into tears. In
the final cut, the scene is underplayed as it was in the novel,
but if you listen, you'll hear a slight sob from Bond when he
buries his head.
As mentioned before, the film's look and direction gives it the
appearance of an old classic drama from the 40s and 50s. Even
back in 1969 this was an old-fashioned look, but it's far more
effective than high-key cinematography would have been. Peter
Hunt's glamorous style for the film is far more effective than
Guy Hamilton's brassy approach. The film's length feels cut in
half due to the fast but not rushed pace. Hunt and second-unit
director John Glen (the future director of five Bond films) were
absolutely brilliant at their work. This is what is needed in
action films today.
The film's score is the best score in the entire series. John
Barry's mix of the big, brassy orchestra of previous films, alpine
horns, and synthesizers was a perfect mix. The opening music -
the only orchestral opening following From Russia With Love -
was exciting, dark, and fun all at once, and its use in the action
scenes greatly enhanced the moments. The song that is played in
the film is called We Have All The Time In The World, sung by
Louis Armstrong. David Arnold called it one of the most beautiful
songs ever written. John Barry said it was his favourite of all
the Bond songs. I agree on both accounts.
This is one of a handful of films I find very little to criticise
it for. If I have any complaints at all, it's that the editing
on one or two of the fights was a bit fast and confusing. That
would be it.
This film has gone from being considered the biggest failure
in the Bond series to one of it's classics. I feel there are two
classics in the Bond films, each representing a different type
of Bond. Goldfinger was the classic of the action-hero Bond; On
Her Majesty's Secret Service was the classic of those driven by
character and story. I think I've established which I prefer.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
by Amandeep Puni
The year is 1969, Connery has departed from the world of 007
after 5 films leaving the producers with the huge problem of finding
a new James Bond.
The search is called off when a young Australian model strolls
into Harry Saltzman's office. Soon after the man is given a licence
to kill as well as a contract to star in the latest Bond epic,
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service". The man is George
With the cast in place the movie goes ahead hosting one of the
best Bond plots ever. For the first time the Bond character is
given a new depth. The movie is a masterpiece even though slightly
let down by Lazenby. Telly Savalas gives a great performance as
Blofeld #2 also another job well done is given to Bond's ill fated
wife Tracy played by Diana Rigg.
The movie is a little on the long side and in parts can appear
dull and boring but scenes like the ski chase make up for it.
Though many are against Lazenby's portrayal of 007. I have nothing
against it to me he brings something new to Bond including a tougher
edge, this can be seen through out the film, as he relies more
on his fists then his walther, despite this he also let down the
film slightly, his acting wasn't really 100% at the time.
Finally, this may be seen as an outcast to the series but will
live on in my eyes as a classic and also what would Diamonds are
forever be if George came back?
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
OHMSS was the first, last and only film to star Australian George
Lazenby as James Bond. Despite this, the film remains one of the
best in the whole film series and is the most faithful adaptation
of any of Ian Fleming’s original novels.
Lazenby is nearly perfect as 007. His fight scenes are a showcase
of his physical talent and his acting with Tracy (especially in
the scene where the two meet in Bond’s hotel room and her
death at the film’s end) and the scene where Bond nearly
resigns from the service are proof that indeed Lazenby can act.
His only weakness is the one-liners, where Lazenby is very wooden
in his performance, with the exception of “this never happened
to the other fellow”, hurting his performance quiet a bit.
Lazenby’s performance, despite his wooden one-liner delivery,
outshines the two Connery films that both proceed and follow OHMSS.
Diana Rigg is the best Bond girl of the series as Tracy. Rigg,
a classically trained actress and the co-star of the then popular
Avengers television series, shines in the very emotional role.
Tracy is not only an emotional character, she is also a tough
one, as displayed in the various chase scenes, the ski chase,
and the fight between her and henchman Grunther during the battle
at Piz Gloria.
Telly Savalas does ok as the villain Blofeld. Savalas does well
in the action sequences, especially the fight between him and
Bond on the bobsled run and does very well in the scenes with
Tracy leading up to the battle at Piz Gloria. However, Savalas
is not good at the sophisticated side of the villain that takes
up the majority of his time in the film and comes off as boring
in those scenes.
The films action sequences are nothing short of stunning. Starting
with the beach fight in the teaser and ending with the fight on
the bobsled run, the films action sequences stand out as original
and exciting, something most action sequences lose as the film
ages. The amazing ski chases are well executed and don’t
waste time as most action sequences do. The effect of the chases
and fights are driven in by the excellent music of John Barry.
Barry produces his best work for the series with the main titles
and the chase music.
All around, the performances, the action, the script, the direction,
the editing, and the music come to make one of the very best 007
adventures that is a lot better than the two films that it is
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
by Matt Cook
With the absence of Sean Connery, would James Bond survive?
Many asked this question. For seven years, audiences had only
known one Bond and that was the charming, debonair Connery. Could
the producers introduce a new Bond to the public? Albert "Cubby"
Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the fathers of the movie franchise,
would try and they were going to use the most unexpected book
of the series to do it.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service would surprise audiences with
an event that many would not understand, let alone accept, and
at the same time bring in a new actor to try and live up to Connery's
performance was startling. Producers decided to cast another unknown,
like Connery in 1962, as Bond. Australian-born George Lazenby
had performed in a few commercials, yet had never undertaken something
as big as a movie, let alone the most popular movie series at
Lazenby, however, would have some help from long time Bond editor,
newly appointed director Peter Hunt and small screen beauty Diana
Rigg. Rigg was cast to play Bond girl Tracy de Vicenzo and rumours
around the set were Lazenby and Rigg weren't getting along. The
press even blew comments made between the two out of proportion
to make it seem Lazenby and Rigg hated each other.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld returns in this tale about biological warfare.
Bond, after searching for Blofeld for two years, finally finds
a clue to his whereabouts. He tracks Blofeld to a medical research
facility atop the Swiss Alps. Along the way he meets Tracy and
begins to fall in love with the beautiful, tenacious woman.
Other than Lazenby's weak performance, the movie is acted very
well. Rigg does an excellent job of playing the unpredictable
and carefree spirit. Telly Savalas portrays Blofeld in a physically
powerful way while still exuding a menacing manner. Audiences
are settled by the remaining cast staying over from the Connery
days. Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn return to
play M, Moneypenny and Q.
Other veterans of the series were composer John Barry and main
title designer Maurice Binder. Barry delivers an amazing and captivating
score which includes a theme song performed by the talented Louis
Armstrong. Binder also returns to oversee the creation of another
amazing main title design, an accomplishment he would do for fourteen
films of the series.
Although the film uses less gimmicks and gadgets and sticks to
a well written story, audiences didn't enjoy the outing. By the
end of production, Hunt had a film with a new Bond, the longest
running time of any Bond movie and a wedding between playboy Bond
and unpredictable Tracy. Did the film even have a chance? It was
a success financially, yet it failed in almost everyone's eyes.
Looking back, fans can appreciate the film and many rank it as
the best in the series, despite a poor performance by one-Bond-film
Lazenby. Yet at the time no one understood how Bond would get
married. He was a spy and a bachelor at heart. It wouldn't matter
though because at the end of the film audiences still read the
same words they had read in the past. Those words were: James
Bond will return.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
OHMSS is probably one of the most misunderstood movies of all
time. Bond fans may continue to argue its merits and squabble
about the cast, or the editing, but to the public at large none
of this means anything. Even the most casual of Bond viewers can
tell you Oddjob had a killer bowler hat, or that Halle Berry stinks
in Die Another Day. But ask them about OHMSS and you’ll
generally draw a look similar to if you asked them to tell you
pi to 10 decimal places. At a push you might get some comment
like “Oh, that was the really rubbish one” or “That’s
the one, with that guy, whatsisname, George Something.”
This is a tragedy. In my opinion OHMSS is not simply the greatest
Bond movie, but possibly one of the greatest action-adventure
movies of all time.
Imagine the scene today if Spielberg walks into the offices at
Paramount with his new Indiana Jones idea. The story is set: Indy
battles evil blah blah blah. The suits seem happy. The Spielberg
announces Harrison Ford is not interested. He’s bored with
it and wants to concentrate on more serious movies about hi-tech
heists and running up and down sand dunes. But, don’t worry,
he’s got just the man to fill those shoes: a non-acting
model whose most famous role is a chocolate commercial. The suits
look uneasy. And then, Spielberg announces he doesn’t want
to direct it. Oh no, he wants to hand over a $200million movie
to his editor who has never directed a movie before. And Indy
falls in love and decides to give up this adventure malarkey.
And the whole thing will end with Indy in tears.
I imagine even the God-like Spielberg would find himself being
given a tour of the exit facilities. But that’s what happened
in 1969 when Broccoli and Saltzman decided that, finally, the
time had come to film Fleming’s most interesting novel.
The background of the movie has been well documented elsewhere.
The press had the knives out for Lazenby from day one. As far
as they were concerned Connery WAS Bond (ironically, one of the
reasons Connery left was because the public couldn’t separate
the two either). There were rumours of Diana Rigg eating garlic
before their love scenes, rumours of Lazenby’s obnoxiousness
and arrogance and rumours that this was, in fact, going to be
the end of the Bond series.
But as bolshy and brash as journalists are, they just don’t
have the cojones of Broccoli and Saltzman. They, bravely, stood
by their man, backed débutante director Peter Hunt to the
hilt (including retaining as much of the novel as possible, and
allowing a running time of well over two hours) and finally delivered
the Bond film many fans of the novels feared they would never
As became common in the series, an effects filled spectacular
(YOLT) was followed by a much more low-key affair. OHMSS has action
to enough action to spare, but it never feels gratuitous. And
some of the quieter scenes are actually among the more exciting
(the lawyer’s office, Bond escaping from the cable car control
room). The cast is excellent too. Maybe as a sop to Lazenby’s
inexperience, the supporting cast was filled with top draw talent.
Diana Rigg proved herself as a fine leading lady as well as an
accomplished actress. Telly Savalas (often criticised) is, I feel,
the definitive Blofeld, a charming, witty adversary, with a penchant
for extreme nastiness without ever becoming a pantomime villain
(and he never wears that awful Blofeld /Mao tunic either. Gabriele
Ferzetti and Ilse Steppat are also superb despite some questionable
Ah yes, dubbing. A major bone of contention with this movie,
and one I feel must be addressed. When people criticise Lazenby’s
performance, many forget that another actor dubbed him for almost
half the movie. This is a very strange and distracting choice.
In almost every Bond film, he impersonates someone else but he
has never attempted to do their voice or, for that matter, has
another actor dubbed Bond’s voice. So why here? It only
serves to undermine Lazenby and creates an annoying distance between
audience and character. (Though trivia fans can at least impress
your friends by telling them that George Baker played James Bond,
if only for an hour).
What more can you say? The film has everything: great action,
superb cast, beautiful locations, fantastic sets and A PLOT (always
helps). Bond gets to show some emotion for a change (as Dalton
once said, “He’s not a superman. You can’t relate
to a superman”). John Barry provides possibly the best score
in the series and Louis Armstrong sings one of the most tear-jerkingly
wonderful ballads of all time.
It takes a cold heart not to find SOMETHING to like in this film.
I consider myself very lucky that I find it ALL wonderful.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
This film is the ultimate fusion of novel and cinematic Bond.
I always find it astounding that Lazenby had no prior acting experience to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby encapsulates the humanity, sophistication, snobbery, arrogance, charm, masculinity, violence, and most notably, the emotion, vulnerability and resourcefulness – using his pockets as gloves, using a rubber, ruler and paper-clip to open his door at Piz Gloria – of the literal character. His performance is exceedingly underrated and is Flemingesque in the best sense of the word. I personally would much rather see a gadget-less Bond use his own intuition and cunning to escape a situation, as opposed to a gadget-savvy Bond press a button and solve his problems. There is not shortness of these moments in Majesty’s. His humanistic approach to Bond, which I would say is largely due to his lack of acting experience, is immensely more relatable than any other Bonds, and this therefore makes the tragic ending of this film, all the more heart-wrenching. The on-screen chemistry between Lazenby and Rigg is un-matched by any other Bond, girl relationship in the series. It’s natural and believable.
The editing of this film, especially in the fight sequences, which I might add, I personally find to be the most convincing and physical of the series, unmatched until Casino Royale in 2006, are brilliant. They evoke the fast paced nature of fighting. However, I believe the pre-title sequence to be one of the highlights of the film, in terms of editing. It’s also a great moment. The classic DBS V8, the cigarettes, the glasses, the shoulder holster. Its perfect how the audience only see’s glimpses of Lazenby until he utters the famous line. The apocalyptic roar of the DBS’s V8 always makes me smile. All this accompanied by probably the greatest Bond soundtrack in the entire series, well, it’s just perfect.
John Barry’s score for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is easily the best in the series. It reeks a pure Bond sound throughout. If there was a score I’d want to accompany the novels, this would most certainly be it. There isn’t one track that I don’t love. Each track elevates the scene which it accompanies; Barry’s love cues with variations of Armstrong’s beautiful We Have All the Time in the World are easily the best in the series, featuring wonderful string orchestration and flute. I also adore the more electric tracks. My favourite scores from the film include, Gumbold’s Safe, This Never Happened To The Other Feller, Dusk at Piz Gloria, Bond And Draco, Journey To Blofeld’s Hideaway and of course, the title track, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
I couldn’t imagine the casting of this film being any different. Not only is Lazenby brilliant, but so too is his supporting cast. Diana Rigg is positively stunning, and although her portrayal differs from that of the novel, she adds class and strength to the character of Tracy. Pleasance may be the most iconic Blofeld, but Savalas is certainly the best. Pleasance wasn’t really a threat to Bond, he was weak. Savalas, on the other hand, brings sophistication and charisma to Blofeld, in addition to making him a physical threat as well. Gabriele Ferzetti is Marc-Ange Draco and the best ally in the entire series to date. Then of course the usual members of Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn, who are as usual, always welcome.
Although I do have some little critiques about this film, the largest being the Bond theme at the conclusion of the film, which seems rather out-of-place, I’m not going to mention them, because they are so irrelevant in the overall scheme of things, and don’t blemish the utter brilliance of this film in the slightest.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
by Louis Armstrong
Maybe the best Bond film with Lazenby in it: On Her Majesty's Secret Service in review.
This film is one of the most faithful adaptations of an Ian Fleming novel, but like usual ditches some dynamic in James Bond's character. He is not a middle-aged man looking for stability in his life, but is instead just a plucky young agent who rushes into a marriage, with fatal results. Unfortunately, it is never explored that his profession may place his wife in danger. An older-man approach could've been taken with Sean Connery still in the role, and the movie would've had much more emotional impact after watching the same man in the previous five adventures. I have no doubt that if this film had been made exactly the way it was, only with an interested Connery in the role, it would be regarded as the best Bond ever made. But this likely would never have happened. Many aspects of the film were reportedly improved upon to make up for what a newcomer might've lacked. Who then, indirectly, do we have to thank for such quality output? George Lazenby. (Not to mention those who worked so hard to make it happen, including definitive Bond writer Richard Maibaum and Terence Young's daring protégé, director Peter Hunt.)
Service's action is stunning and well-paced, and the sheer humanity of its characters lets it dive believably into fantasy late in the picture. The film's music is some of the most listenable the series has to offer. 'We Have All the Time in the World' is a surprising song to come out of a Bond film, as is the cloying 'Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?'. The latter lends a syrupy Christmas atmosphere; the former is used in a montage of leading lady Tracy (Diana Rigg) and Bond falling in love. While this montage isn't entirely convincing, the sincere sound of the song and the subsequent tacked-on shot of Bond and Tracy smiling at each other like schoolchildren (with Tracy's father sitting between them) are. What we actually see in this movie is quite beautiful as well; I have always found snow to be majestic-looking (pun quite intended), and its abundance in the scenery doesn't hurt. The sets are glamorous and complex, and there is a contemporary flair to the characters' clothing. Bond dresses perhaps more stylishly than in any other of his outings. Much of my enjoyment of the movie comes from visual details (such as Tracy waving to a friend while driving, or Bond carrying golf clubs when he's picked up by Draco's men). Other tiny points work to maintain interest or develop character (such as the unusually fast editing of the gambling scene, or the contempt Blofeld so effectively displays for Campbell when he sarcastically labels the climber a 'brilliant conversationalist'). A lot of attention is paid to the small things, and every element adds up to create an engrossing experience that invests the viewer in the story.
The most worrisome aspects of Service are some of the post-production decisions that were made. Overdub oddities are present; Tracy, in plain view, speaks without moving her mouth. I suppose someone felt more lines needed to be added in. She says things like 'James, what do I do?' during a car chase where she's the driver. This is most likely to give Bond more prominence in the scene and make him seem more in control than she is, but the filmmakers couldn't be bothered to make him reply. The result is pretty awkward. Another example is when Bond, after a harrowing bobsled chase, is rid of Blofeld. There is a rushed and corny one-liner added to the end of the sequence, which sucks away some of the drama and doesn't suit Lazenby's down-to-earth portrayal. Luckily, the film doesn't bend too much like this to accommodate what one might expect from Bond, and in the process delivers bigger, better thrills while also maintaining a larger emotional scope.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
On Her Majesties Secret Service, the last ever James Bond adventure of the 60’s has to be considered… well, one of the most odd.
Not that I mean this in a bad way. But all taken into account, it definitely strays away from the usual Bond formula. After we last saw our hero battling bald headed, scarred villains in a metal volcano, preventing him from taking over the world (or more like plunging it into World War 3) it almost comes as a shock to see him back, gadget-less and with a new face…
And here comes another reason why it is an odd film. This particular Bond flick starts the routine of changing Bond’s ‘face’ as we replace Sean Connery from the tuxedo and Walther. No, instead we get this young, Australian model whom has had little acting experience. But the question is: would we have been better off with Connery? Would Service have benefited to his appearance in any way?
The answer: No. Connery had had enough of even being associated with Bond. He would have been bored, balding, and personally, I would not have liked this film as much if he had been in it…
The film has a certain feel about it. But it works with Lazenby, as if this is his Bond’s own universe, which makes his performance not just an imitation, but a strong attempt at aiming a brand new Bond into the world. In fact, the beginning parts show us him as a dashing, charismatic hero determined to find SPECTRE, the evil organisation lead by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. With MI6 not even able to keep hold of him, he searches, getting caught up in a suicide attempt from a beautiful woman, Tracy (later to become one of the most memorable Bond girls of the series) and a brutal fist fight or two. Lazenby shows physical talent, and throughout the movie, you almost feel connected with his Bond. This is helped by his improvement of acting as we move along, and what he does is one of the things that only one other Bond has ever been able to do in my years of being a fan; getting me connected with the character properly.
But there are definitely some memorable faces in ‘Service.’ Telly Savalas plays the madman, Blofeld, and this time he attempts to control the Western world with a virus deadly to livestock and crops. It’s a far cry from space ship eating monsters (or whatever they were) in You Only Live Twice, but frankly, it makes more sense, and on the whole it’s much better. Another comparison to ‘Twice’ is Savalas’ performance. Compared to the creepy, physically repulsive sight of Pleasence, the Kojack star gives an equally threatening image for us to fear. He has the charisma, the look and the presence of Fleming’s creation. And this time, he is posing as an apparent relative for the DeBlouffel family, to which Bond has to go undercover as the genealogist, Sir Hillary Bray. He uncovers that Blofeld is recruiting women from a number of countries for an allergy clinic, hypnotising them to get the virus across unless his demands are not met. With the villainess, Irma Bunt (a very threatening addition as well in her own right) the character has taken a step in another direction, but on the whole, he is still just as evil…
But what I love about this film is the girl. Teresa 'Tracy' di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) gives us one of the most tragic performances of any Bond girl to date. And, in my personal opinion, the best. You can actually believe that they are in love, her and Bond. At the beginning, she is ice cold, no longer able to live her life at all her downfalls. And after she is saved by our hero, he follows her for the first parts of the film, interested by her. And at the pleas to see her by her father and gangster, Marc Ange Draco, Bond agrees to continue with her, resulting in one of the most unique sequences supported by the song, “We Have All The Time In The World” by Louis Armstrong. With the relationship blossoming throughout the film, you can see the difference in her character by the end, no longer tortured, but now a woman with a future. At least for the final few seconds, until gun shots are fired, and then we, as an audience, as well as Bond are shocked to see her lying in the front seat of the Aston on her wedding, dead. And it almost feels like… we have been ripped from connection of her character, like Bond. And with this, we are left on a heart-aching note, and one of the most powerful endings to any film I’ve ever seen…
To be short, I like this film. The ‘forgotten classic’ I like to call it. But I would prefer to watch the whole of this than most of the ‘classics’ such as Goldfinger, or even Dr. No. It really is a shame that this ended up being as underrated as it is. It’s packed, both with emotional, character building story lines, and fantastic action sequences, including a full on ski chase, and assault on the breath-taking Piz Gloria. Romantic plot, all taken into account makes this what it is. And it has little problems. Editing? No problem for me. Dubbing of lines? A little odd in paces at the beginning, but it doesn’t even cross the mind at the Switzerland scenes, instead as a put on voice. And Lazenby? My only regret about him is not seeing him in any other Bond movie again. But he did what few OO7 actors did in their whole run as the icon; he displayed all kinds of sides to the character. And he should be acknowledged for that, even if you do, or do not like this…
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
It's 1967 and Connery announces he is to leave the role that has made him a worldwide superstar over the last 5 years and 5 films. It is also time for Connery Bond editor Peter Hunt to take the director's chair for the long delayed but finally ready for production On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Lazenby would prove to be the most controversial thing about the 6th Bond adventure, apart from the small fact that Bond gets married. Having seen him only in a Fry's chocolate television commercial, this non-actor with a thick Australian accent was undoubtedly incredibly lucky to become the 2nd James Bond. What marks Lazenby out, despite his lack of prior acting experience, is his ability to see an action sequence through. He has some great timing and fights with purpose which in some respect improves on his predecessor. Where Lazenby struggles, on the flipside, is in some of the delivery of the dialogue. The fact that he has to wear a kilt for at least 10 minutes of the film doesn't do a lot to help his reputation as the successor to Connery's suave secret agent.
The relationship between Rigg and Lazenby, clearly falsely reported as frosty on and off the set, appears in reality to be a great one with a lot of chemistry. Tracy has the intelligence and the self will that a man like Bond would become instantly attracted to and there is an almost Scottie/Madeleine "Vertigo" parallel between the characters. Lazenby is at his best when he is getting stuck into the action and when he can show genuine sincerity in the character. Bond pacing M's office whilst Tracy is held hostage by Blofeld and Bond and M's frosty tones between each other are wonderful moments in the film and of course the ending is bar none the most brilliant in the series. Lazenby wants to know if he can meet our high standards? Well he's no Connery but the saddest thing is, if he'd stayed with the character particularly for another couple of films, not only could he have made Diamonds are Forever one of the best follow ups in the series rather than the awful mess that it is, but he could also have shortly become the best Bond. As the wonderful Louis Armstrong notes, he could have had "all the time in the world" to perfect his Bond. Sadly it wasn't to be.
What director Hunt delivers with OHMSS is a raw, engaging adventure, and along with John Glen's erratic editing technique, (no doubt influenced by Hunt's own editing of Connery's Bond adventures), presents us with an adrenaline charged Bond adventure. As Moneypenny insightfully recognises, "same old James...only more so."
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
by Mr. Brown
Many seem to hold this film in their number 1 Bond spot. I, on the other hand, cannot do this. While there’s a steady amount of good in this film, I think it has its fair share of bad, too.
The story; I thought it was outstanding. One of the greatest Bond stories, for sure. Very Bondian, and I think the whole film stuck pretty close to Fleming’s novel, though I haven’t read it for years now.
Diana Rigg; One of the most beautiful Bond girls, for sure. At first, she came off so genuinely harsh. It was great. But later on, as she fell in love with Bond, she was a very sweet Bond girl. My favorite meeting with her in the film is after Bond’s 1st escape from Piz Gloria. As Bond’s sitting near the ice rink, a girl with blades on comes up to him. We move from the feet, to her face, revealing it’s Tracy- with a beautiful smile on her face.
The main titles; loved them. They rank up there with “Goldfinger”.
The soundtrack; My 2nd favorite Barry score. My only complaint about this score is the use of synthesizers. Had they been left out, I’m sure this would tie with my #1 soundtrack spot (alongside “You Only Live Twice”). My favorite cue of this soundtrack is Bond’s escape from Piz Gloria and his chase after Blofeld. The music begins as Blofeld shoots at the world map that Bond is taking pictures of- the music complemented this chase sequence so well.
This film also had plenty of Bondian traits. It certainly has Bond written all over it, as far as style goes. The visuals are also gorgeous in this film- not as great as locations from “Dr. No” or “You Only Live Twice”, however, I think this ranks up there with them. This film also had some top-notch Bond action.
Telly Savalas played an OK Blofeld. I kept thinking of Kojack, but it’s alright. Savalas played the part pretty well. I still like Pleasence’s character more, however. As a side note: everyone says “Can you imagine Pleasence on skis in OHMSS?” To that, I’ll say that Savalas on skis was hardly a pleasure for my eyes. Irma Bunt was quite the henchwoman, too. Very tough, and fit right in with the head of SPECTRE. I’ve got no complaints about her. Reminded me a bit of Rosa Klebb.
The girls at Piz Gloria- they were all beautiful. They weren’t exceptional actresses, however. Overall, they made for quite a sight. I’d say even that Ruby Bartlett, to my own surprise. I took quite a liking to her during this viewing. When you set that mat on her head aside, she’s a gorgeous girl.
My major dislike- this film’s editing was absolutely atrocious. I thought it seemed like a mess, and was quite disappointed by it.
The James Bond theme used during the attack of Piz Gloria. It worked when Draco’s men and Bond were moving in, however, it played mostly during Tracy’s fight scene? That didn’t make sense to me. They should’ve used more of Barry’s source music. There was plenty to go ’round.
The Hilary Bray dubbing. Actually, this whole aspect of the film didn’t make much sense to me either. It seems as if Bond automatically learns to mimic Bray’s voice.
George Lazenby as James Bond:
I’ll be frank- I didn’t care for Lazenby’s Bond performance all that much, which is one reason why I can’t rank this film too high in my Bond rankings. I think Lazenby had potential and the looks. However, to me, it seemed like he forced himself to be Bond. It didn’t come on naturally, as it seemed with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or Daniel Craig. Something about the way that he delivered lines bothered me too. There were quite a few witty quips in this film, but when delivered by Lazenby, they didn’t have any flare about them.
All in all, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” certainly proves to be a decent Bond film, but in my opinion, has some major flaws.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
Screamed the poster for the sixth movie in the EON produced Bond series.
The last of the sixties Bond films, and the only film to star George Lazenby in the title role.
Even though all the core elements that we've seen in the previous films are still used in OHMSS, it all feels a little different this time around. Not only because of Lazenby. Maybe it's to do with Peter Hunt moving from editor to directorial duties? Maybe it's because the story follows the source novel from Fleming? Maybe though it's because the story is really unlike anything in the world of OO7 before or since. For at the heart of the usual excitement and derring do, is a love story.
Yes action and romance combined resulting in James Bond in love.
The plot is simple, Bond meets a young woman (Tracy) who he saves from suicide. M relives Bond of 'operation bedlam' and using his leave, Bond uses the time to not only build a romance with Tracy, but also gains her father Marc Ange Draco's help in locating Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Having secured the locale of his arch nemesis, M reinstates Bond on the trail of Blofeld. Going undercover to Blofeld's Swiss hideout, perched high atop a mountain.
Bond learns that Blofeld intends to yet again hold the world to ransom. This time using bacterial warfare.
After escaping Spectres mountain fortress, Bond is surprised that Tracy has followed him to Switzerland. After escaping the members of Spectre together, Bond realises this is the girl he truly loves.
With the help of Draco and his cohorts, Bond attacks Blofeld's mountain lair with an army of helicopters. Destroying the institute and thwarting Blofeld's plans.
After a final duel with his arch enemy aboard a speeding bobsled OO7 believes he has killed the Spectre number 1.
The film ends with Bond and Tracy marrying in Portugal, but as Bond stops his car to remove some of the flowers, a very much alive Blofeld exacts a terrible revenge. Showering the car in gunfire, and murdering Bonds new bride.
We are left with a Bond in disbelief. His world in shatters.
It's the most shocking ending of the series. But it works so well.
For many who are not fans of Bond it is one of the most misunderstood films of all time.
For fans of the Bond films, it is often regarded as either the best, or one of the best of the series.
For me it's always been a favourite.
Given that this was George Lazenby's debut film I always think that some critics and fans are far to harsh on him. Here is a young man (28/29) stepping into a role that Sean Connery had made an international phenomenon, and came out the other side with his dignity intact. He may not have the acting chops of Connery, but he handles the role admirably.
This Bond is not only a fighter, but also a little more romantic than Connery's Bond often was. If ever.
With OHMSS we're given the most important Bond girl role in the series. Teressa DiVincenzo aka Tracy.
The feisty young lady whom Bond would eventually marry. Diana Rigg makes a wonderful Tracy and the relationship that grows between her and Bond is easily the most believable of the series. This would be in no small part due to the acting of Rigg. Though she isn't my favourite Bond girl, and I'm not one to see her as highly attractive, she does give the part the required bratishness and emotion. She's a great character and it's hard to imagine anyone other than Rigg in the role.
But we're given more than Tracy for Bond to contend with. Blofeld also has his 'angels of death'. Allergy patients who he is using to perform his latest evil scheme.
Whilst Bond is undercover at Piz Gloria (Blofeld's hideout) Bond beds at least two of these girls, and we're led the think he also beds a few more as well. The two he beds are Ruby and Nancy. Ruby is a loud and very flirtatious Lancashire lass, whom Bond takes to straight away and the quieter, but just as sexually motivated Nancy.
Both girls are not only memorable, but also help move the story along. Instead of being bimbos for Bond to bed.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld has been given a new face, this time in the form of American actor Telly Savalas. In my opinion the best of the seen Blofeld's. He not only has presence and menace. But he also provides a physical threat to Bond. Something that Donald Pleasnce Blofeld clearly lacked.
Savalas is charming and believable as the head of Spectre. When he explains to Bond his scheme he is very effective. He also participates in the chase in order to recapture an escaping Bond from Piz Gloria. Something other Blofeld's left to their subordinates.
Blofeld is aided by Irma Bunt, much like Rosa Klebb before her Bunt is evil through and through. Played by the wonderful Ilse Steppat, she gives the part the required evil and almost like a hospital matron in her authority.
Rounding out the villains is Grunther, Blofeld's brutish henchman who poses a formidable threat to Bond on several occasions.
A well formed and effective villainous group. One of the best set of villains of the series.
I felt that Lazenby handles the humour as well as Connery had before him. Bond isn't supposed to be a comedian, but he can throw a quip along with the best of 'em. Though Majesty's doesn't contain alot of humour, there is enough to satisfy. In my opinion the best comes from Draco as he knocks his daughter out as she argues the need to rescue Bond from Piz Gloria that has been rigged with timed explosives. "Spared the rod and spoil the child." He remarks to one of his men
Whilst OHMSS is at times violent, it's not overly sadistic in the way it goes about it. Bonds accomplice Campbell is captured and strung up. Blofeld seems to take pleasure in this. During Bond and Tracy's escape from Spectre, one of the skiers falls into the blades of a snow blower, turning him into red mush. And finally as Draco's Union Corse and Spectre battle it out at Piz Gloria one of the Spectre mob is killed by flame thrower. Rather nasty.
The whole plot of OHMSS is based on snobbery. Part of Blofeld's scheme is to be pardoned for all past crimes, and to attain the title of Count de Bleuchamp when he retires into private life. M comments to Bond it's a very curious thing snobbery. Bond of course is not without his own sense of snobbery, ordering beluga caviar, recognising Tracys perfume and showing his expertise in lepidoptery to M.
Tracy also shows a sense of snobbery as she quotes poetry to an amused Blofeld.
"Thy dawn, O Master of the World, thy dawn;
For thee the sunlight creeps across the lawn,
For thee the ships are drawn down to the waves,
For thee the markets throng with myriad slaves.
For thee the hammer on the anvil rings,
For thee the sabre of the warrior sings.
For thee the waggons of the world are drawn—
The ebony of night, the red of dawn!"
For me this is the Bond film that first to action to the next level. The early Bond films had action and well performed action. But it was often very quick or really only played out during the films climax. With Majesty's we get lots of action. And all of it is breathtaking. From the dizzying fight scenes toward the start of the film, to the wonderfully shot and performed ski action that takes up much of the middle of the movie. Then we have the climatic end battle that ends with a speeding bobsleigh chase with Bond and Blofeld fighting it out to the death. This film really will leave you on the edge of your seats. Some of the best action of the series.
Has there been a better location than Blofeld's mountain lair Piz Gloria?
It's just beautiful. Almost the same location that Fleming describes in the novel(?). Coupled with this we are taken on a trip to sunny Portugal and the city of Bern Switzerland and the charming little town of Murren later in the film. The locales and the way they are shot are a highlight of OHMSS. All used so well. A pity some of the more modern Bond films don't use locations in the same way.
Another one of the plus points is Bond is mostly devoid of incredible gadgets in this outing. Now don't get me wrong, I love the gadgets, but for OHMSS we don't need them. The story is enough this time. What Bond does use is a safe cracker / copy machine. Though one has to wonder why in YOLT (the previous film) Bond has a convenient pocket sized safe cracking device, yet in this film it's the size of a large suitcase? The only other gadget Bond uses is one he makes himself. Whilst at Piz Gloria Bond is kept locked in his room under the watchful eye of Irma Bunt. All to stop patients wandering around. Of course this is no good to Bond if he's going to find out whats going on. His first attempt to open the electrically operated door results in a shock. So using a split rubber and a clamp, Bond fashions a way of exiting his room safely. A rare instance where Bond uses his brains to overcome a situation.
John Barry outdoes himself with the score for OHMSS. Instead of a title song with lyrics (almost impossible I'd say to incorporate the title into a song) we're instead given an instrumental piece.
A very infectious and memorable piece of music that I often find myself humming. It's so very Bondian.
We also get the lovely 'We Have All The Time In The World' performed by Louis Armstrong. A beautiful ballad that capture the love story of Bond and Tracy. The score for OHMSS is exciting and beautiful, and imo is Barry's best.