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Bond: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

11.01.2008

After YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE came out in 1967, Sean Connery decided that he’d had enough of Bond, and called it quits. This left producers Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Saltzman in a bind. Connery had become a superstar as Bond- surely the series couldn’t survive without him? They decided to gamble on the fact that people liked Bond for Bond, regardless of who played him, and they began looking for a replacement. They ended up settling on an Australian model named George Lazenby, despite the fact that he had almost zero acting experience.

In order to compensate for their unknown lead, they decided to film one of Ian Fleming’s best Bond novels, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. Editor Peter Hunt, who had revolutionized action movie editing with his work on the early Bond’s, was promoted to the directors chair, Supposedly the production was a nightmare, with Lazenby’s ego going out of control early in the production- he supposedly clashed badly with director Hunt, and leading lady Diana Rigg, and at one point was chewed out by Broccoli for demanding star treatment he hadn’t earned yet. Despite all the trouble behind the scenes, the film wrapped in time for a Christmas 1969 release, only eighteen months after YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE hit theaters. The questioned remained, would the movie going public accept Lazenby in a role so closely identified with Connery?

ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE

PLOT: Bond, hot on the trail of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, traces him to an allergy clinic located in the Swiss alps. Bond plots to infiltrate the clinic disguised as genealogist Hillary Bray, but not before falling in love with the troubled Tracy Vicenzo, daughter of Marc- Ange Draco, head of a notorious European crime syndicate.

REVIEW: Everyone loves to pick on this film. Everyone, just because it stars George Lazenby, automatically assumes it’s the worst Bond film every made, but they really could not be further from the truth. ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE isn't the the worst Bond film, but rather, in my opinion, is the best Bond film. That’s right folks- none other than ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, starring George “what’s his name”, is my favorite Bond film!

I really do believe it’s a masterpiece. It’s both epic, and intimate, and tells the best (really the only until CASINO ROYALE) love story in the series. I really bought Bond falling for Tracy, as the film sets them up as the perfect match for each other, and that final scene kills me every time. Besides the love story, it also has some of the best action scenes in the series, including a wicked bobsled chase, an amazing ski pursuit, and some brief, but incredible hand to hand combat (Hunt really knew how to shoot fight scenes, and it’s a pity this was his Bond swansong). Granted, it has its flaws. Savalas is miscast and Lazenby is no Connery (or Roger Moore for that fact), but it’s still such a damn fine film, that if Connery had played Bond in this, EVERYONE would agree that it’s the highlight of the series.

BOND

This is the biggest problem with the film- Lazenby. Despite all the criticism lobbied at him over the years, Lazenby is actually not that bad. The only time his shortcomings are really apparent are in the final scenes, but no Bond (until Daniel Craig), ever had to act such an emotionally complex scene in a Bond film, so people should cut him some slack. If he hadn’t been such an idiot off-screen, he might have grown into the role over time, but alas, he got some really bad advice and quit the series before the film even got released into theaters. Look- Lazenby is no Connery, but it could have been a lot worse. It’s still unfair though, that the worst Bond actor gets the best Bond film- which really should have been with Connery, and would have been a great swan song for him, and would have been a perfect place to re-boot In the next installment.

VILLAIN

Blofeld is back, but Donald Pleasance is not, and he’s replaced by Kojak- I mean, errrr, Telly Savalas- who’s simply way too American for the role. He’s not bad enough to ruin the film, but I honestly cannot figure out what possessed the filmmakers to cast him. Another problem- there’s a huge plot hole in the film. In YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, Blofeld and Bond meet face to face, but here, Blofeld does not recognize him- despite the fact that the only thing he has in the way of a disguise is a set of glasses and a kilt (Lazenby is also dubbed for those scenes by George Baker, as Bond is supposed to be a master mimic of voices, a gimmick that’s dropped in the next installment).

BOND GIRL

Diana Rigg is great as one of only two women in the series that manages to capture Bond’s heart. She’s terrific, and makes a great Bond companion. You really belief that Bond would be drawn to her, as she possesses many of his skills (meaning she’s handy behind the wheel, is a judo expert, is great in the sack, and most importantly can deliver a one liner when needed).

BOND MUSIC: John Barry contributes what I believe is his very best Bond score to this film. Lazenby supposedly tried to get the score removed in favor of some pop tracks by the group Blood, Sweat, & Tears- which proves just how much of a moron he really is. The score is a masterpiece, and boasts Louis Armstrong’s last single on the soundtrack, We Have All the Time in the World.

BODY COUNT: Bond only takes out six bad guys in this one, but he dispatches them in fun ways.

NUMBER OF WOMEN BOND SLEEPS WITH: Despite falling in love, Bond is particularly randy in this one, and cheats on her like a mofo. Besides Tracy, he sleeps with at least two girls at the clinic, but if a later gag is to be believed, he actually slept with every girl at the clinic in the same night (separately). Wow...

BEST ONE- LINER: A great one. Bond tricks a henchman into skiing into a snow blower, which then spews red snow- prompting the quip, “he sure had a lot of guts!”

BEST DOUBLE ENTENDRE: [a girl writes on Bond's leg under the table, to which Bond makes an awkward face] Irma Bunt: Is anything ze matter, Sir Hilary? James Bond: Just a slight stiffness coming on... in the shoulder

BEST GADGET: Not much here- except for some radioactive lint in the teaser- which I suppose you really can never have enough of.

RECEPTION: Nowadays everyone assumes ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE was a flop, but it actually did fairly well at the box office. It grossed $87 million worldwide (compared to the $111 million made by YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE), with $22 Million coming from the U.S. All in all, not a bad haul at all, just nowhere near to what the Connery Bond’s were pulling in. In the end, Lazenby only did the one Bond film, and Connery was enticed back for the next Bond film, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.

GRADE: I should probably give the film an 8 due to the big plot holes, Savalas & Lazenby, but like I said in my review- this is my personal favorite Bond film, and I love every second of it, leading me to giving it a guilt free 10/10.

Previous reviews: Previous reviews: DR. NO

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

GOLDFINGER

THUNDERBALL

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

Source: JoBlo.com

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10:46PM on 11/14/2008

What could have been?

I've always wondered what might have been in the Bond series if George Lazenby would have been given 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever" installment to develop into the character. Oh well, Gr8 review Chris!
I've always wondered what might have been in the Bond series if George Lazenby would have been given 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever" installment to develop into the character. Oh well, Gr8 review Chris!
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2:26PM on 11/14/2008

Not REALLY a plot hole...

Yes, Blofeld and Bond met face to face before, but keep in mind that Blofeld met the Connery Bond, not the Lazenby Bond. I say this because it's in this very movie that Bond has the line "This never happened to the other fellow," which suggests, for the first and possibly only time in the series, that each actor who played Bond is in fact playing a DIFFERENT character, and that James Bond is actually a code name assigned to a different agent every decade or so.
Yes, Blofeld and Bond met face to face before, but keep in mind that Blofeld met the Connery Bond, not the Lazenby Bond. I say this because it's in this very movie that Bond has the line "This never happened to the other fellow," which suggests, for the first and possibly only time in the series, that each actor who played Bond is in fact playing a DIFFERENT character, and that James Bond is actually a code name assigned to a different agent every decade or so.
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+0
6:42AM on 11/14/2008
Yep, definitely my favorite of the series. This was the first bond I saw, My dad let me watch it, then, after this, I begged him to let me see the others, which, he gratefully did. The ending is by far the best ending of the series. Its chilling, emotional, and just downright cold. I loved it. Lazenby I think, looks great as a Bond, I thought his acting was great, and I agree that if h ahd stuck around, we couldve seen some reat stuff from him. I wouldve loved to have seen Connery in this one
Yep, definitely my favorite of the series. This was the first bond I saw, My dad let me watch it, then, after this, I begged him to let me see the others, which, he gratefully did. The ending is by far the best ending of the series. Its chilling, emotional, and just downright cold. I loved it. Lazenby I think, looks great as a Bond, I thought his acting was great, and I agree that if h ahd stuck around, we couldve seen some reat stuff from him. I wouldve loved to have seen Connery in this one though.

9/10 for me.
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11:14AM on 11/05/2008

Deserves more props...

While not my favorite installment, I've grown to appreciate this one more and more over the years. Agree with you that it would have been one of the best if Connery had stuck around.
While not my favorite installment, I've grown to appreciate this one more and more over the years. Agree with you that it would have been one of the best if Connery had stuck around.
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9:59AM on 11/03/2008
This was my FAVORITE 007 film.
This was my FAVORITE 007 film.
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4:34PM on 11/02/2008

Don't Agree

Definitely do not agree with this review. I'm not one of those haters of this film just because of Lazenby either. I've watched these films back to back in order of release and this one felt the most out of place in the Bond universe.

Lazenby is by far the worst actor to ever take the Bond name and in return ruins this film. I can't be the only one that thinks that since he was replaced immediately after this entry.
Definitely do not agree with this review. I'm not one of those haters of this film just because of Lazenby either. I've watched these films back to back in order of release and this one felt the most out of place in the Bond universe.

Lazenby is by far the worst actor to ever take the Bond name and in return ruins this film. I can't be the only one that thinks that since he was replaced immediately after this entry.
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11:08AM on 11/02/2008

major holes

savalas is no pleasance and its evident through out and theres no scar i believe

lazenby is no connery which sucks but it wasn't like he was no bond

as mentioned he doesnt get recognised by blofeld despite having met face to face in the last film

however story was great and the action was fun dianna rigg was very good bond girl

pleasance and connery in the lead roles a little more gadget wise and a better disguise when blofeld "meets" bond and you might have had the best of the
savalas is no pleasance and its evident through out and theres no scar i believe

lazenby is no connery which sucks but it wasn't like he was no bond

as mentioned he doesnt get recognised by blofeld despite having met face to face in the last film

however story was great and the action was fun dianna rigg was very good bond girl

pleasance and connery in the lead roles a little more gadget wise and a better disguise when blofeld "meets" bond and you might have had the best of the series

still an excellent bond

8.5/10
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10:45AM on 11/02/2008

why did you delete my comment

if you can't get your grammar right, then I should have a right on an open forum to point out how unprofessional and sloppy you guys are. And if you proofread the article above and still can't find your mistake, then you really should drop the journalism and stick to being fanboys where mistakes are allowed. And don't delete my posts. That's tacky.
if you can't get your grammar right, then I should have a right on an open forum to point out how unprofessional and sloppy you guys are. And if you proofread the article above and still can't find your mistake, then you really should drop the journalism and stick to being fanboys where mistakes are allowed. And don't delete my posts. That's tacky.
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10:09AM on 11/02/2008
it is not hard to understand why people either hate or love this film. more so than almost any other movie, Bond movies are generally very dependent on the main character and the the main villain. so while it may have had a fantastic story, like you said yourself, if you dont like Lazenby as Bond, and if you cant get past Savalas as the villain, of course you are not going to like this film that much.....on the other hand, i happen to like it very much. it really is too bad about the casting
it is not hard to understand why people either hate or love this film. more so than almost any other movie, Bond movies are generally very dependent on the main character and the the main villain. so while it may have had a fantastic story, like you said yourself, if you dont like Lazenby as Bond, and if you cant get past Savalas as the villain, of course you are not going to like this film that much.....on the other hand, i happen to like it very much. it really is too bad about the casting though. with Connery and Pleasence, this would have been a perfect Bond film.
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11:38PM on 11/01/2008

Good call man

I am a HUGE Bond nut and agree this is one if not the best. Great review man
I am a HUGE Bond nut and agree this is one if not the best. Great review man
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9:02PM on 11/01/2008
I've never actually seen this one. Looks like I'm gonna have to remedy that, assuming I can find it.
I've never actually seen this one. Looks like I'm gonna have to remedy that, assuming I can find it.
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5:04PM on 11/01/2008
Most people either love this one or hate it. Me I like this one but its not my in top ten mainly because of Telly as Blofield they shouldve gotten Donald Pleasence to reprise his role. As far as Lazenby I dont hate him I just think he couldve been good (Hes still better Moore though) he was just never given the chance to actually make the role his own in future installments. But the movie itself has got a fantastic story and Lazenby is great in the last scene.
Most people either love this one or hate it. Me I like this one but its not my in top ten mainly because of Telly as Blofield they shouldve gotten Donald Pleasence to reprise his role. As far as Lazenby I dont hate him I just think he couldve been good (Hes still better Moore though) he was just never given the chance to actually make the role his own in future installments. But the movie itself has got a fantastic story and Lazenby is great in the last scene.
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4:03PM on 11/01/2008
Is this movie really that hated? I had no clue, granted the film came out almost 20 years before I was born, so maybe it was criticized upon release and it's reputation has grown over the years?

In any case most critics today seem to agree that it's one of the best in the series. IGN and AskMen both include it in their lists of the series 10 Best, and EW and Cinematical place it in the top five. It's also got an 81% at Rotten Tomatoes.
Is this movie really that hated? I had no clue, granted the film came out almost 20 years before I was born, so maybe it was criticized upon release and it's reputation has grown over the years?

In any case most critics today seem to agree that it's one of the best in the series. IGN and AskMen both include it in their lists of the series 10 Best, and EW and Cinematical place it in the top five. It's also got an 81% at Rotten Tomatoes.
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3:30PM on 11/01/2008

Go Bond!

Very much agree on this being (at least in the top 3) the best Bond films ever! Though for me Goldeneye and Live and Let Die remain dear to me personally! Again, i think you're spot on with your review here! Great job, friend!
Very much agree on this being (at least in the top 3) the best Bond films ever! Though for me Goldeneye and Live and Let Die remain dear to me personally! Again, i think you're spot on with your review here! Great job, friend!
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1:42PM on 11/01/2008
People who don't like this movie are morons....
People who don't like this movie are morons....
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1:20PM on 11/01/2008
Agreed. This was one of the first Bond films I ever saw and was shocked when I found out it was widely hated. Next to Casino Royale, From Russia With Love and Thunderball this is in the top tier of Bond films.
Agreed. This was one of the first Bond films I ever saw and was shocked when I found out it was widely hated. Next to Casino Royale, From Russia With Love and Thunderball this is in the top tier of Bond films.
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1:00PM on 11/01/2008
This is also in my top three. Like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and CASINO ROYALE (2006), it's not just a great Bond film, it's a great film, period. It was the black sheep of the series for years, but I think people have finally started to catch on to how good it really is.

10/10
This is also in my top three. Like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and CASINO ROYALE (2006), it's not just a great Bond film, it's a great film, period. It was the black sheep of the series for years, but I think people have finally started to catch on to how good it really is.

10/10
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11:55AM on 11/01/2008

Absolutely!

Arguably the Best bond and in my top 3 of the series. The ending is brilliant, Lazenby did a good job and Diana Rigg is very attractive!
Arguably the Best bond and in my top 3 of the series. The ending is brilliant, Lazenby did a good job and Diana Rigg is very attractive!
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9:14AM on 11/01/2008
I completely agree with you. People have been giving this movie shit for years and I have to say I love it. It is as well my favorite Bond film as well, but always the forgotten one.
I completely agree with you. People have been giving this movie shit for years and I have to say I love it. It is as well my favorite Bond film as well, but always the forgotten one.
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