007 in 23: Assignment #006- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

ASSIGNMENT #006: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

George Lazenby, only known for fish and chip commercials, has come in to tackle a more realistic take on the role Connery made famous. Lazenby’s only time as James Bond has been the butt of constant jokes, fans deriding his performance, and even the actor himself regrets being 007 only once. With all that aside, does this mean OHMSS is a bad film? Let’s see.

Bond, while in Portugal, (Lazenby) saves a woman by the name Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) from comitting suicide at a beach. Later, she thanks by by inviting him to her hotel room, only to be kidnapped and taken to the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse, Marc-Ange Draco (Gabrielle Ferzetti), who is Tracy’s father. Draco offers Bond to marry his daughter on a dowry of $1 million pounds. Bond initially refuses but soon comitts after Draco provides information where Blofeld (played in this feature by Telly Savalas). Bond argues with M over the prospect but continues his hunt for Blofeld and begins to pursue a romance with Tracy. Draco tells bond to head to Bern, Switzerland to obtain the alias of Lodon Coats of Arm’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray after Blofeld attempts to obtain the name of Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp. As Bond pursues Blofeld at a research facilityrun by Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat) located in the Swiss Alps at the top of Pia Gloria and meets with Blofeld and the ‘angels of death’ he has (and by meeting the angels of death, you know how Bond meets his women). He finds out that the women are being brainwashed by Blofeld to start a distribution of biological warfare viruses throughout the world through consumption of food.

Blofeld sees through Bond’s disguise after failing to get Blofeld out of Switzerland to be arrested. Bond escapes the hands of Blofeld and gives chase off the mountain in the mother of all ski chases. Bond races towards a local village and comes across Tracy as they escapes via car from Bunt and her henchmen, eventually crashing a stock car race. Bond and Tracy hide out in a barn where Bond professes his love for Tracy and proposes. Tracy accepts and they proceed in making some Swiss style loving. Blofeld finds them the next day skiing and attempts to kill them via avalanche but manages to only knock out Tracy and kidnaps her. Bond heads back to London as M proceeds to tell Bond that Blofeld is once again holding the world at ransom with a threat to destroy the world’s agriculture using the methods he brainwashed the ‘angels of death’ with. M tells Bond the ransom is to be paid, but Bond insists they rescue Tracy, which M forbids. Bond decides to go by himself and enlist Draco to lead him back to Blofeld’s hideout and save Tracy. Bond destroys the facility, rescues Tracy, chases Blofeld on a bobsled unleashing his Cool Runnings-like skill, and Blofeld is left stuck in a tree branch, breaking his neck.

Back in Portugal, Bond and Tracy wed with M, Q (no gadgets this time), and Moneypenny (crying her eyes out) in attendence. Bond and Tracy drive away, happily in love but stop when Tracy wants flowers from the ones surrounding the vehicle. As this occurs, a drive-by shooting by Bunt and Blofeld happens as Bond enters the vehicle ready to pursue them, until he realizes Tracy has been killed in the shooting. An officer checks to see if everything is all right, to which Bond in tears simply says “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.”

This film was a fantastic one from beginning to end, but even I have to admit, it isn’t as great as the first three, but that isn’t quite a bad critique. This film has more in common with From Russia with Love more than an other film with being a bit more realistic and taking itself serious even when the plot can be quite ridiculous at times. As I wrote in an earlier paragraph, the entire escape chase is the centerpiece and highlight of the entire film, even outshining the climax of the film featuring the coolest slide down of ice while shooting ever put to film (I know it’s not a real category, but I just need to throw it out there). The acting itself is quite good, yet Lazenby can be a bit bland at times. The only real complaint was his delivery of certain lines, including the groan-worthy ‘other fella’ line. Telly Savalas as Blofeld is a fantastic choice and makes the character his own and shines as the best Blofeld of the series. Diana Rigg as Tracy is all around a joy to watch and is quite the fantastic Bond and even see her pull off her moves she learned while acting in The Avengers TV series.  The main plot is the only complaint as being very ridiculous to the point of unbelievability, but the true strength of this feature is the romance between Bond and Tracy by giving a tearjerker of an ending. I am not going to lie, I did in fact shed a tear at the end of this film. The chemistry was that great.

The theme, hell, the entire score of this film, is remarkable. Hours after watching it, I couldn’t get the theme out of my head. The score went on to inspire the soundtrack score to The Incredibles and even made its way to the original trailers of that film, proving its worth.

The love theme ‘All the Time in the World’, an important song to note, isn’t that bad either. Sung by the legendary greats of the jazz scene, Louis Armstrong, he lets it all come out  on this one track giving hope to are soon to be doomed lovers.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service may have the weakest Bond of the series, but succeeds in a being a fast paced and fun adventure with a realistic turn on the character. Those who get very emotional may want to keep a box of Kleenex nearby during the finale of the features though.

Assignment Status: 4.75 out of 5

Next time, Connery is back for one more round (I’m not covering Never Say Never Again, only the EON productions). Bond impersonates a diamond smuggler only to find Blofeld is using the diamonds to create a giant high powered laser. One last showdown between the leader of SPECTRE and Bond himself to finally stop Blofeld’s plan for world domination.

Next Mission: Diamonds Are Forever

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One thought on “007 in 23: Assignment #006- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  1. Pingback: Serg Beret’s 30 Favorite Films Pt. 1: #30-21 | Serg Beret

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