He may only have played super spy James Bond just the once before he turned hippy and against the film industry, but Australian model George Lazenby definitely left his mark. He may not be the best Bond, but this is probably my favourite Bond movie. It’s a controversial one that didn’t fare well upon release, but looking back, I love it!
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service‘ gets off to a rough start. There’s some sped up fighting and tyre screeches on sand as new Bond Lazenby puts up a good fight against some baddies. Then he utters the terrible, fourth wall breaking line: “this never happened to the other fellow”. What other fellow Bond? Sean Connery? You’re meant to be the same guy! And this sort of stuff did happen to him! He fought sharks! That’s worse than a scuffle on the beach. I don’t get the point of this line. It’s weird. But never fear, for things get instantly better.
Opening credits. Bond credits are famous for their songs and women, but this one takes things in a different direction. It gives highlights of the previous films (presumably to remind you this is another entry in the same series) and instead of a power ballad of a song you have John Barry’s amazing, and probably best, score. Seriously, the music is so good. It’s the best Bond score and the instrumental main theme reoccurs throughout the movie and is just so downright awesome it really lifts the film to a new level.
The plot of the movie sees 007 going undercover to a weird clinic in the Alps in order to investigate Blofeld’s latest scheme. Whilst he tries to foil this mind controlling scheme, he also has to deal with another big issue: marriage! Bond himself falls for daughter of a helpful crime leader, Tracy, played wonderfully by Diana Rigg. She’s up there with the best Bond girls. Independent, well rounded and an enjoyable character to spend time with. Their relationship is a big part of the movie and it’s handled very well for a series about a spy sleeping with any and every woman he can. The rest of the cast is also great. Gabriele Ferzetti as Tracy’s father is fiendish but sophisticated and Telly Savalas is great as the sinister Blofeld. But surely the movie rests solely on Bond himself being great? Thankfully not. It’s not that Lazenby is bad in any way, it’s just he’s not a great imitation of Connery. He’s the first actor to take up the mantle after the original so this was before each Bond had their own kind of style, so it’s to be expected that he’d be trying to be like Connery. He’s just not as good that’s the problem. He’s still more than serviceable though and it doesn’t affect the film at all. However, it would have been great to see Connery in this movie…
The action scenes are good. There’s some sweet fights and gun play, plus a couple of good chase scenes. A climatic ski chase is a particular highlight. Everything in this movie is pretty great to be fair. The story plays out really well, the relationships are good. Plus that ending! Oh boy. What a way to end a movie. Shocking stuff. But that’s why it is so good. It does things that the other Bond films didn’t, and largely today still haven’t, done. It took chances and it’s a very different type of movie. But it’s really really good and I love it. It is definitely my personal favourite Bond movie.
JACK’S SCORE: 5/5