Bond Is Back: 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The only Bond I ever went to in a theatre with my Dad. He really quite enjoyed it, more than me. It was the only Bond featuring George Lazenby, a little known U.K. commercials actor, who sort of resembled what many Bond readers probably imagined the character to look like. And he did, though without strong overt projections like Connery, and was a far cry from the overt action-Bonds of Dalton and Brosnan. And so he was quickly terminated like a Bond villain by the producers who wasted no time, even advertising at the end of this film that Diamonds Are Forever was next in the series (with Connery back at the helm).

This was a different Bond, that’s for sure. A Bond in love with The Avengers’ Diana Rigg, including wedding bells. A Bond ready to retire and chuck it all to live and love fully; an antiheroic Bond ready to drop out like so many others in the late ’60s.
Even the action scenes were low key until the final half-hour when some of the series’ strongest action scenes take place involving ice, snow, and the cliched storming of Blofeld’s mountain peak pleasure-palace.

Watched it last night after many a year, from the Ultimate Edition series boxset. Color was 3-4 x better even than what I remember from the theatre showing way back when. The print looked excellent. Lazenby looked like a credible Bond though there was a lack of facial emotions play which doomed him from the get-go from ever carrying on the role.

Diana Rigg was her usual best: sexy-looking with a terrific sense of humor. The storyline was reasonable and there were really no weak scenes, which has caused some reviewers to remarkably proclaim this the best Bond of all. I don’t know if I would agree entirely with those pundits, but I quite enjoyed this movie this time around. It was maybe 3-4 times better than I remember it. So maybe, as did many other fans, I missed Connery too much, especially after his five strong turns at the role, an impression reinforced by his return in the funny one-off Never Say Never Again which featured the oldest Bond of all in more human situations sans gizmos.

So an easy 8/10 for this entertaining one with Lazenby resembling what Fleming had intended in his books. He does quite well even if he’s not the favorite Bond. And the movie has little of the goofiness and over-the-topness with weak writing that followed it. It could also serve as a reasonable introduction to what the series was all about at its best.

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