On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1963)
Written by: Ian Fleming
Everyone knows On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as two things: The one where Bond got married and the one where Bond is played by “that other guy.”
Can’t say much about the latter just yet, but I can go a little bit into the former.
When the book came out, it caused a bit of a stir because Bond just CAN’T get married! This guy beds anything that moves and has a vagina. He turns lesbians into pussycats! He risks life and limb every day! How can he have someone waiting for him at home?!
Well, you just have to find the right person…right?
Let’s start at the beginning.
Unbeknownst to us until now, Bond has been going back to Casino Royale every year to mourn the loss of Vesper Lynd. After all of the women he’s loved since that first novel, he just hasn’t gotten over her. (A first shred of humanity? Well, kind of. He did cry at the end of Moonraker when he couldn’t have sex with his partner in crime.) He’s also thinking of quitting the Secret Service because he’s tired of chasing after ghosts. After the Thunderball affair, he’s sure that Blofeld is dead and SPECTRE is all over. M isn’t so sure, so he’s had Bond chasing after this man ever since.
Before he quits, though, he just has to keep an eye on this young lady. It looks like she just might be about to kill herself in the ocean. He follows after her as she walks into the water, calls out to her and both of them are promptly taken hostage by two men with guns.
How did we get here? Turns out that Bond met this woman a couple of nights before. Her name is Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo and she’s a weird bird. She’s a better driver than Bond, as evidenced by her introduction: she and Bond race all the way to the Royale and she wins. He doesn’t see her again for a little while until he finds her throwing money around at the casino that she didn’t have. He has to save her from being blackballed throughout Europe for it. After that, she coldly tells him that she will give him his “reward.” Just meet her in her room.
This they now do.
The sex is amazing, but she tells hime to go back to his own room after. The next day they do it again. This time, though, she cries and yells at him.
What the fuck?
Cut back to the two of them being kidnapped. They get to their destination and find out that it was her father, Marc-Ange Draco, who kidnapped them. He’s very sorry for the inconvenience, but he didn’t know any other way to get them to him quickly and quietly. He’s an international gangster who is a bad guy, but doesn’t seem like a bad guy. All he wants is what’s best for his daughter, who happens to be manic-depressive. She’s attempted suicide more than once and just can’t seem to ever be happy. Draco, though, sensed Tracy’s bond with Bond and knew that this might be a shot. He is willing to pay Bond a million dollars if he will marry his daughter.
Whoa! Bond knows that this won’t work, so he turns him down. He will, however, take her out on a date the next night before he leaves for home. He shouldn’t, but he will. (This is about where Bond falls for Tracy.)
Oh, and by the way, do you happen to know this man, Blofeld. Oh, yes? Great! Where is he?
A bit convenient, but, yes, Marc-Ange has heard of the man and even knows where he might be: somewhere in Switzerland. He’ll get right on it, but the Swiss government isn’t very helpful.
Instead of more information, Bond gets a call from his new secretary, Mary Goodnight (who will show up a lot from now on), telling him to meet a man named Griffon Or at the College Of Arms. (That’s where they do all of the official family tree stuff in England.)
This call, by the way, is sent to him via a synchraphone. That’s a “pager” to you and me, Russ. Fancy what those Brits apparently had back in the early 60s.
Or turns out to be a crazy old man who really wants to link Bond up with the Bonds of Bond Street. (Their motto, by the way, is The World Is Not Enough.) Bond doesn’t give a shit about any of that, even thinks it’s pretty stupid. All he wants is Blofeld. Luckily, a man named Sable Basilisk saves him from Or and tells him how they came to know of Blofeld. Turns out that the man is VERY interested in his family tree and really, really, REALLY wants to be a Count. He might be, but Basilisk is doubtful. If Bond will just pose as a heralder, he can get close to Blofeld and figure out what’s going on.
Strangely, this totally works. He makes an appointment (as Sir Hilary Bray) to be in the Swiss Alps with Blofeld right around Christmas time. He studies up on the possible Blofeld family and heads on out, only to be met by a rather severe looking Swiss woman named Irma Bunt. She ushers him onto a helicopter that takes them to “The Alps. The high Alps.” No more information is given, but Bond recognizes exactly where they’re going: a place called Piz Gloria. Oh! And look at that! We’re just now going over the town where Tracy is staying! Hi, Tracy!
Yep. Bond’s in lurrrrrrrrv, but he’ll never admit it.
Blofeld is apparently curing alleges in his little pie in the sky. Of course he is. Why not? And the rooms that the patients stay in have no doorknobs on the inside…so they can’t leave. Funny, that.
Bond is let out of his room for dinner and meets TEN GORGEOUS GIRLS! Turns out that they are the patients of Blofeld. Each of them has an allergy to some manner of farm animal that they work with on their families’ farms. He’s curing them so that they can go back to work.
By the way, each of these girls if dumber than the last. They are smart enough, though, to get on Bond’s side within about 10 minutes of his getting there. He wins them over by playing a drinking game where you suspend a coin on a napkin over a cup. Then you burn cigarette holes in the napkin. The person who makes the coin fall pays for drinks.
HOW FUCKING FASCINATING! Yeah. These girls are stupid.
When Bond goes to bed that night he hears murmuring beneath his bed. Not in his room, but definitely nearby.
The next day Bond finally meets Blofeld…but he isn’t the same man that he saw before. He looks younger and has long, blond hair and green contacts. He says that he has to wear them because his eyes are too sensitive to light. He only gets to talk to the man for a little while before he’s shuffled out, but Blofeld is definitely interested in what Sir Hilary Bray has to say about his lineage and wants him to stay as long as it takes him to figure it out.
Bond, of course, finds one girl to single out. Ruby was allergic to chickens before Blofeld’s “cure.” Now she loves them…wants to take care of them, even. What’s he up to?
Bond gets close enough to Ruby…well, he gets inside her. He feels bad about it, but it’s all for the greater good, right? And I’m sure having sex with a young, beautiful girl is one of the less torturous problems in Bond’s life. When Ruby falls asleep, Bond hears the subliminal messages that are being beamed to her. They’re all about how amazing chickens are and how she wants to help the species thrive. What IS he up to? Turns out that the other girls are all allergic to cows, pigs, sheep…all kinds of farm animals.
All this and Miss Bunt is getting less and less trusting of this Hilary Bray man.
Bond and Blofeld meet again and again. Each time Bond gets closer to the real story of the man’s life. At one point another man is dragged into the session, beaten and bloodied. He is another agent and recognizes Bond! Bond has to basically seal his fate when he denies that he knows him. He feels REALLY bad about that, but he had to else they would both be dead and no one would be around to stop Blofeld…whatever it is that he’s doing.
It won’t be long before they’re onto him. Time to make an exit. But how? He steals some winter clothes and figures out how to get to the skis. That’s the only way. That night he says his goodbyes to Ruby, procures some Schnapps and steals away with the warm clothes and skis, heading down the mountain and hoping that no one follows him.
Of course, they do, and they even lob some grenades at him, sending him down the black slopes and straight into an avalanche. He survives (some of his pursuers don’t) and ends up in a small town at the bottom of the mountain. He dodges a few bullets, sends a man into a giant fan on a train (huh?) and turns him into pink snow. Ducking into a Christmas party, he just wants to lay down and sleep forever…until who should find him but Tracy! The two run off together and he tells her the whole story while she evades Blofeld’s men in cars. (Remember, she’s a very good driver.) After Bond plays the ol’ “turn the arrow sign around” trick on a car full of Blofeld’s men (Yep. He uses that one. Not even kidding.), they are in good shape, so he falls asleep.
He and Tracy get to the airport the next morning and that’s when he decides that it’s time to sort of settle down and fall in love with this girl. You see, she’s the kind of girl who won’t try to change him. A girl he can protect.
So, he asks her to marry him. Right there. In the airport. Just before he leaves for home to report to M.
This is where the book turns into “My reports! Let me show them to you!”
The meeting with M happens on Christmas and includes some other Ministry types: namely Science and Agriculture & Fish. They talk for about three long, dry chapters about what Blofeld could be doing…and they decide that he is coming up with some biological warfare. He’s already sent one girl back and taken out most of the turkeys in the country. The girl didn’t even know that she did it. She thought she was helping the turkeys. If all of these girls get back to England they’ll take out most of the food supply for the country.
This really sounds like a Danger Mouse plot at this point.
So, why is Blofeld doing this? For himself? Or for money? Well, it must be for money. One of the men who is with him seems to be a giant Soviet man who is probably in charge. Blofeld doesn’t do anything for himself, only for money. He’s an independent contractor evil.
How will Bond stop him? He explains it all to M…but not to us. All we know is that he’ll need two weeks of leave time.
Turns out that he needs Marc-Ange’s help. Marc-Ange is going to fly him into Blofeld’s lair in Piz Gloria to take the place by force. It’s not much of a plan, but it gets Bond back to Blofeld. Unfortunately, Blofeld flees before anyone can get to him. Bond has to learn how to bobsled real fast in order to go after him. This scene is actually pretty exciting as Bond flies down the track, not really knowing what the hell he’s doing. Finally, he starts to catch up to Blofeld, but gets a grenade thrown at him for his trouble. He somehow survives, but doesn’t catch up. Blofeld gets away and the “clinic” is blown up. The cops show up and Bond plays dumb, getting a ride back to town. He limps his way back to his man in Zurich, gets patched up, sends a cable off to M and promptly faints.
He wakes up to Tracy telling him that she wants to pretend that she’s a virgin, so no sex before the wedding. But it’s ok because “We’ve got all the time in the world.” They go out for drinks: “One for you, three for me. That’s the right ratio for men and women, right? All right.”
Marc-Ange catches up to them and tries to give Bond money to honor his offer from the beginning of the book. Bond turns him down vehemently, but they’re still friends. He and Tracy get married with just Marc-Ange, M and a very few others as witnesses. M throws confetti on Marc-Ange, which is one of the funniest images of the entire series.
When the two take off for their honeymoon, things start to look bad. Who are these people in the Maserati behind them? Tracy asks if she wants her to lose them. He says not to bother because “We’ve got all the time in the world.”
The Maserati pulls up beside them, Bond sees a brief image of Blofeld and a muzzle flash and then it all goes dark. When he wakes up, a cop is asking him what happened. He looks over at Tracy, whose dress is turning more and more red. He holds her close and says that everything’s all right. She’s just resting. “We’ve got all the time in the world.”
It’s a heartbreaking ending to a book that shows Bond as slightly more human than we’ve ever seen him before. Not only does he fall in love, but he actually feels bad about some of the things that he’s done. When he seduces a young girl for information, he kind of doesn’t want to do it. His heart is starting to show. Then, all of a sudden, it’s all over in the last few lines of the book. His happiness is shattered and he’s probably back to his old tricks again in the next book.
There’s also a few references to Bond’s alcoholism. A few folks say something about it, but at one point he needs to write a message to the Service, so he uses the only invisible ink that he has handy…his urine. The Service somehow gets it and left him a note on it for when he got back. It said that the ink had a high concentration of alcohol and that the maker should cut down a bit. Bond laughed, but didn’t seem to want to do anything about his addiction.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a pretty good entry in the series, but it’s certainly not the best. Bond is more human, but his enemy is more silly. Really? Farm animals? I mean, yes, killing the animals will take away the food supply and the country will be in turmoil. But is that really the best way to go about this whole thing? Probably not.
Luckily, there are some really good scenes (especially that bobsledding scene) and I kind of like the character of Marc-Ange Draco. He’s a gangster with a heart of gold and obviously wants what’s best for his little girl.
Speaking of her…she’s an interesting character, isn’t she? I mean, she’s not particularly well-drawn. We don’t really know a lot about her personality except for this one thing: she’s manic-depressive. That’s not something that came up too often in the early 60s. It’s a bit disconcerting that her father thinks that getting herself a man will cure her, but it is interesting that Bond knows that she needs professional help. Therapy isn’t something that was really thought highly of back then, so it’s kind of cool that Fleming knew that this kind of person would need that kind of treatment…although she ends up being totally happy once she gets Bond. That’s not particularly realistic.
By the way, the “clinic” that Blofeld ran was based on a real place. The Nazis has a place in the Austrian Alps called Schloss Mittersill. It was a vacation resort that they turned into a research lab where they did a lot of experiments on Asians.
Creepy dudes, those Nazis.
The movie is one of the ones that I have seen the least, so I never can remember it too well. It’ll be interesting to see how close the movie is to the book.
GLOBE HOPPING: France (Casino Royale); Switzerland (the Alps); Zurich; Munich
CONQUESTS: Tracy Draco; Ruby
Directed by: Peter R Hunt
Written by: Richard Maibaum/Simon Raven
Based on book by: Ian Fleming
In 1967, MGM was all in a tizzy. Sean Connery had left them behind just after the filming of You Only Live Twice (the next book in the series, strangely enough) and they just didn’t know what to do. Luckily, one of the producers (either Broccoli or Wilson, not sure which at this point) saw a young man in an Australian commercial and knew that they had their man.
They called George Lazenby into the office but, before he went, he went to the barber to get himself a Connery haircut. That is where said producer saw him in person for the first time. He wasn’t “discovered” in a barber shop. Just seen there before the official audition.
Filming went on for a while and rumors spread about how difficult George was and how much Diana Rigg hated him. None it was really true. He and Diana got on just fine and they liked to joke with each other. Unfortunately, some of those jokes (such as her saying, “I just ate garlic, George dear, I hope you did, too!”) were overheard by reporters…reporters who hated the face that Connery was out.
By the end of filming in 1969, Lazenby HAD become a bit difficult for Broccoli. He didn’t want to shave his beard off for the promotional tour, so he was cut out of it. He ended up doing his own tour and had some great fun. Unfortunately, he also spoke out a little bit about how he was treated on the set which was, for the most part, fine, but partly not so much. He was the new kid and a lot of folks wanted him to know it. (This was the last time that the actor’s name would be UNDER the title of a Bond film.)
ALL of this led to Connery being offered a million dollars to come back to the fold and Lazenby being thrown out after one shot at the title. It’s really too bad because you can tell that he would have grown into the role very well. He was the youngest of the actors to take the role at 29, so he just wasn’t quite ready for it yet. If they had given him really just one more movie, I think he would have been awesome.
Unfortunately, he’s the one-off. The punchline/trivia question. The joke cameo. THAT guy.
But how was the movie? Well, it’s actually a VERY good adaptation of the novel! Probably one of the closest, to be completely honest.
Lazenby’s introduction is handled really well. The filmmakers know that you know who’s driving the car, but they’re not going to show him full-on until they’re ready. (In fact, ALL of the cutaways of parts of his face seem to have been done in a studio, so he’s not even driving, really.) A woman passes him and stops at a cliff by the waterside. He stops and watches her as she runs down to the water and starts to plunge herself in. Realizing what’s going on, he jumps back in his car and drives down to save her, only to be attacked by armed men once he’s gotten her out. He kills a few of them, incapacitates the rest and the woman steals his car to drive back up to her own, leaving him all alone in the sand.
“This never happened to the other fella.”
BAM! First real recognition that this IS a new Bond. Yes, it’s a joke. But it’s a not bad one and is a fun little wink at the audience without being totally stupid.
The credits sequence is the typical “naked ladies dancing around slowly, but this time they’re dancing around scenes from earlier films AND there’s no lyrics…the first time since Dr. No and the last time so far. It’s good music, though, and the lyrics aren’t really missed.
After the nude women disperse, Bond shows up at the Bellasio (NOT the Royale) and saves the woman from the waterside in the same way that he did in the book, by paying her debt for her. She’s pissed, but whatever. She still invites him back to her room for a little “bouncy, bouncy.” First, though, he meets another man who tries to kill him. The fight is long and well-staged and Bond knocks him out. He goes back to his room only to find the young lady there with his gun. (By the way, if you haven’t figured it out, she’s Tracy, played by Diana Rigg from The Avengers.) Bond realizes that something’s up with her and slaps her – HARD.
Even after that, she tries to get him in bed. He resists…a bit…at first. Then they commence with the doin’ it.
Tracy disappears and he grabs his golf clubs. “Whatevs,” he says, until he’s picked up by four men and carted off to a mysterious destination. Once they get there, they pass a janitor whistling Goldfinger (of course) and he fights the men only to be brought into an office…Draco’s, actually (Gabriele Ferzetti). Here he learns all about Tracy’s past…although they never really say that she’s depressed here. Just that she’s a little bit crazy and needs a man. Draco offers to find out about Blofeld if Bond marries Tracy. Bond says that he’ll sleep on it. He has a week until Draco’s birthday where Tracy will resurface.
Bond goes back to M where he finds out that his boss doesn’t want him chasing Blofeld around anymore. “Blofeld’s something of a must with me!” says Bond. This is why Bond decides to resign by having Moneypenny take a memo. He goes to his office and pulls out mementos of past missions…each one accompanied by snippets of theme songs from the movies.
He goes back in to get M’s response…which is just “Granted.” It turns out that Moneypenny requested two weeks leave. Both men know that they owe Moneypenny a lot for her little subterfuge.
All of this is pretty different from the book, but I kind of like it better here. I guess it works either way depending on the through line of each different media, but I kind of like my Bonds obsessed, not all “I don’t wanna do my job!”
So Bond goes to spend time with Draco and Tracy…where he falls in luuuurrrrrrrve. Tracy’s a strong lady who knows how to manipulate her father…and other men. She knows exactly what’s going on between the two men and tells her father, “Tell him what he wants to know or you’ll never see me again.” And Bob’s your uncle.
Tracy runs, but Bond follows…and manages to seduce her into falling in love with him instantly. Or maybe she already loved him, but didn’t want anyone, including herself, to know.
This is where “We Have All The Time In The World” is introduced for the first time. It is the last song that Louis Armstrong ever sang, dying just two years later and became a pretty big hit…a few times, actually. The montage that goes with it is a little silly, though. Bond and Tracy walking, prancing, riding horses, falling in love…whatever. At least they have a bit more time here than they did in the novel. There he left almost instantly.
Bond sneaks into a Swiss official’s office and cracks a safe…with the help of some tech that has to be flown to him because it’s so freakin’ heavy. Most of the weight, though, appears to be a copy machine. Man. Xerox has come a LONG way. This was beyond high tech back in 1969. Now we’ve moved beyond making copies of stuff. Even when we need to, we can do it with portable machines. I love old technology!
While he waits for the safe to be cracked, Bond picks up a Playboy and ends up stealing it. (The book was the first of Fleming’s novels to be serialized in Playboy. Hence, the joke.)
All of this (except the Playboy) is how they find out that Blofeld wants to become a Count. No exposition telling us everything. An actual scene where Bond gets the info on his own. Nice.
This is also where Draco starts to become trepidatious about the possible marriage. Tracy’s in love, but she sort of knows that Bond doesn’t completely love her. It will come, though, she says…someday.
Bond goes to the heraldry building and meets Sir Hilary (Goerge Baker). Hilary already has a meeting scheduled with Blofeld, but the two men have never met. He’s going to allow Bond to take his place while he goes on vacation. (Hilary doesn’t die here!) Bond heads to Switzerland and meets Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat who, sadly, died not long after filming ended). He puts on a fake voice so that…no one will know him? (The voice was also Baker. Apparently, Lazenby couldn’t camp it up that much? Dunno.)
Then there’s the allergy clinic and the harem of young girls, all dumber than the rest and blah, blah, blah. Same as the book, basically, except for the totally psychedelic light show during the nighttime hypnosis scene…and Bond in a frilly cravat and kilt.
Oh yeah, and Blofeld is played (awesomely) by Telly Savalas…who definitely doesn’t have long hair or a syphilitic half-eaten nose like Blofeld has in the book.
Olympe (Virginia North) is one of the girls who is especially interested in Bond…absolutely FASCINATED. She’s very interested in the gold balls on his coat of arms. (Which, by the way, is ACTUALLY his coat of arms in the films, complete with “The World Is Not Enough.” In the book it’s only MAYBE his coat.) She’s so interested in them that she clandestinely writes her room number on his inner thigh. (“Just a slight stiffness coming on, Frau Bunt.”)
Bond FINALLY meets with Blofeld, seeing that he has no earlobes (Savalas had them pinned back). The two men will only meet when Blofeld wants them to, but he is very interested in his genealogy…so it will be soon.
Bond finds his way into Olympe’s room and drops his kilt. (She laughs out, “It’s true!”) This is where the light show happens.
When he leaves Olympe he finds ANOTHER girl in is own room. Ruby (Angela Scoular) was also fascinated by him…so he has to go through the whole ordeal again. Poor Bond.
The next day he goes to Ruby’s room only to be knocked out by Bunt. You see, they all know who he really is. It would be no fun if they didn’t, right?
Blofeld explains the whole plot to Bond because he wants Bond to convince the world that the threats are indeed real. Blofeld doesn’t really care about destroying the world. He just wants money. He just has to back his threats up. He locks Bond up, but not well enough. He escapes into the machine room of the sky cars. Meanwhile, Blofeld spikes the girls’ eggnog and puts them all to sleep, readying them for their trips back home where they will unknowingly unleash the biological warfare.
Bond escapes the facility with some skis and heads down the mountain, not before tripping some alarms, though. Everyone and Blofeld’s mom go after him. Lots of bullets are wasted being thrown at him badly. He makes it to the town at the bottom of the mountain and accidentally runs into Tracy who saves him, driving him out of town. They drive around a skating rink with lots of baddies chasing them. Of course, they get out and get stuck in a snowstorm where they stay in a stable for the night. THIS is where he pops the big question. She says yes and he says no to sex. His New Year’s resolution is no sex until the wedding night…but it’s not New Year’s yet! DOINK!!
They ski away in the morning, but Blofeld is one step ahead of them. Bond and Tracy get one of Blofeld’s men to ski into the blades of a snowblower (most gruesome scene in an early Bond film), but Blofeld starts an avalanche and trap both of them in the snow. Strangely, Blofeld sees where they landed and manages to kidnap Tracy, leaving Bond to die in the snow. Why is Tracy so important? Well, who knows?
Bond gets out of the snow and heads home…instead of going after Blofeld? Well, ol’ baldy is already long gone…I guess. Either way, he’s inconsolable. M tells him that they’re going to pay Blofeld off because there doesn’t seem to be a way out of it. Bond takes it into his own (and Draco’s) hands. Same helicopter plan, except now Tracy is a prisoner. She hears the radio transmission and recognizes her father’s voice. Now she knows that she’s safe. She feigns interest in Blofeld and his plot, lulling him into a false sense of…satisfaction? The intruders attack and Blofeld is on the run! (This is the first time that the Bond theme is used in the movie besides the opening gun barrel.)
Tracy manages to overpower her two guards, Bond slides on his belly to shoot more guards (an on-set ad-lib and the first time this trick is ever used!) and the two lovers are briefly reunited. Bond runs after Blofeld and Tracy almost follows him. Draco has to knock her out to get her to safety.
And here’s where the bobsled chase happens. It’s actually pretty damned exciting! The only problem I have is the “He’s branched off!” quip. It doesn’t really fit into the scene, mostly because of editing and, well…timing. Bond’s all about one-liners (“Shocking.”) but Bond just didn’t have time for this one and they had to wedge it in there with some pretty bad looping.
Cut to Bond and Tracy getting married…with some suspicious men in attendance. Tracy gets one more shove at her dad here, too: “Remember, obey your husband in all things, you promise?”
“Of course, I will. As I’ve always obeyed you.” Heh heh. And women’s lib rears its head in a Bond film pretty much for the first time.
Sad Moneypenny is sad, so Bond throws her his hat and he and Tracy drive off in his Aston Martin. They stop on the side of the road to take the flowers off and a bunch of kids drive by, partying their asses off. After that, though, two more horrible people drive by…with a gun. Blofeld drives while Bunt shoots the car a few times. Bond jumps back in to make chase…but Tracy is dead. The final scene plays out exactly like it does in the book. A cop comes up. Bond holds Tracy. “It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.” Bond cries.
So fucking sad! Even the end credits can’t be happy. No music. Just the end.
Before filming was over Lazenby had already signed a four picture deal and was set to star in Diamonds Are Forever. No such luck for him, but his Bond film had already made in impression. While all of Connery’s Bonds had a sense of humor, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the most jokey yet. Diamonds would tip the scales towards how the series would progress with Roger Moore, but it all started here with the harem of women, the silly gadgets (Radioactive pocket lint? Really, Q?) and the overtly sexual one-liners.
Lazenby was also the only truly 60s Bond. Connery may have started the role in the 60s, but the movies almost could have taken place in the 50s. Women were playthings, gadgets were imaginative, but realistic and the bad guys were earth shattering. Bond was very straight, too. He was well-versed in culture, but only “true” culture. He hated The Beatles and thought that wine was the end-all, be-all of everything. Lazenby’s Bond was practically “Swingin’ 60s” comparatively. Much of what Austin Powers parodies from Bond comes from this film: the frilly cravat, the harem, the fembots…this is, in essence, where all of that comes from, not really from the Connery films.
Lazenby is almost the first sort of “progressive” Bond, too. I mean, this film is still pretty misogynistic and all, BUT think about Tracy. She’s a strong, opinionated woman who, while she’s thrown out of the action by the men, she WANTS to be in it. She fights to be in it. In fact, she saves Bond’s ass at least once. She’s not going to be sidelined without a fight. I think that, had she survived beyond the end credits, she would have been a great unofficial partner for Bond. It would have changed the face of the films, for sure, and she had to die for that reason. But I could have seen her being just as much of a help to him as Q or Felix Leiter.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a MUCH better film than a lot of Bond fans give it credit for. As I said before, it’s one of the best adaptations of the book and the action is great. With films like Bullit coming out, the action HAD to be ramped up. Broccoli and Wilson knew this and delivered in spades. The film was the longest of the Bond films until Casino Royale, but it never felt two and a half hours long.
It may not be the perfect Bond film, but it definitely deserves another look. It’s one that shouldn’t be forgotten. And neither should George Lazenby. He helped to bring Bond into the modern age before anyone knew that he should be there.
GLOBE HOPPING: Portugal; Bernd, Switzerland; Swiss Alps
CONQUESTS: Tracy; Olympe: Ruby