On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969 United Kingdom)

Assignment number six for the 007 franchise was the most controversial. Mr Connery had gone AWOL and United Artists waved their cheque books at every casting studio, trying to find the right replacement.  What they got was an Aussie model who had starred in a chocolate bar commercial. But, despite the million naysayers, I think he was a rather good Bond. His voice, for instance, was deeper than Pierce Brosnan’s. He had more youth (far more!) and testosterone than that smirking dinner jacket, Roger Moore. You can believe Georgie is doing those stunts – because he is. His lack of experience makes him more real. He seems a little unsure of himself, which is the Bond of Fleming’s novels. And we even get a love story. Just to make us feel icky. Anyway, this one ends in tears, which was a first.

Yet, still the naysayers say no and this post is not going to convince them otherwise. A typical day in the life of this ‘new’ Bond consists of: pausing to take a finger (don’t laugh!) of caviar … declaring Dom Perignon’57 and five-star Hennessey brandy to be his mouthwashes of choice… spurning a Mafioso one million gold dowry… impersonating an effeminate genealogist, with complete change of accent… carrying a pornographic magazine in public after reading it… surviving an avalanche in the Swiss Alps…he is also unashamed to wear a skirt/kilt… These are the sort of things we all do at some time, I suppose. Now, for the little lady who tends to cop most of the adulation for her role in the film–Diana Rigg, who plays Tracy. I think they could have picked an Italian actress for the part but Mrs Peel will have to do. (Sigh) Although I groan at the ridiculous high hair-style she is sporting. Not appealing!

(I’ll leave him to dangle while I finish this review)

She and Lazenby have a good chemistry together, but I couldn’t help but find it more than a little shoddy that their relationship is rammed down our throats over the course of a montage. We’re expected to believe that James Bond, who has never seen women as more than pieces of meat, suddenly develops tender emotions for this one, with a little help from a Louis Armstrong song. Maybe it was the lyrics that got to him. Now, back to our main man, Mr Lazenby. Those flat Antipodean vowels may sound garbled to many on this planet, but you can hardly expect him to rise to the occasion like Sean Connery could. He just didn’t have the acting pedigree. Throw in the cultural cringe factor that many Australians suffer from, and before you know it the old I shouldn’t be here, I should be herding sheep in the outback vibe is rubbing Brits and Yanks up the wrong way. But if I compare him to other Aussie actors who look or sound odd, like Nicole Kidman or Russell Crowe, this guy is Laurence Olivier!

Some of music composer John Barry’s greatest work is also featured here. The instrumental title piece is riveting in itself and even more so when it kicks in during the action scenes. Said action scenes are also spectacular and the exhilarating ski chase is a proper thrill-ride. This motion picture also has some of the best fights in the entire series. Here they’re a little more violent and slapdash which works to the film’s advantage. I am always invigorated by both the anarchic car chase during a stock car rally as well as the chaotic bobsled chase/fight at the end of the film. We are also treated to a dangerously thrilling avalanche in which Bond is almost buried alive, not to mention the climatic attack on Blofeld’s mountaintop clinic which was also amazing. The mammoth proportion of chaos and destruction in the film’s action sequences is just awesome. One more thing: a Bond villain needs to be a complete and utter bastard. And Telly Savalas, pointing his erect cigarette, does not disappoint on that score.

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