On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
“There’s always something formal about the point of a pistol.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
He notes that it’s “a throwback to the early Bond before self-parody had crept in and the gimmickry had become too important.” Importantly, “Lazenby’s Bond has human traits — he’s neurotic (he resigns from work when ‘M’ doesn’t seem to appreciate him); he falls in love and marries Spanish contessa Tracey (played by Diana Rigg, the classiest of the Bond girls); he’s vulnerable (we actually worry when a little fellow almost catches him opening his safe); [and] he’s no longer superconfident (after having spent two years unsuccessfully tracking Blofeld).” Peary writes that while the “picture is too long, and really bogs down when Rigg isn’t around,” it “holds up nicely, especially now that no one resents Lazenby anymore.”
Indeed, once one gets beyond the inevitable cognitive dissonance of seeing someone other than Connery embodying Bond (the opening title sequence nicely offers a recap reminder of previous episodes in the series), the film does become a reasonably interesting and well-made thriller, with fine location shooting (especially in Switzerland, including the rotating restaurant Piz Gloria):
… an effective villain (Savalas is well-cast), and some very exciting sequences (particularly the ski chase through treacherous mountains). Rigg is a classy addition to the franchise, and her absence is forgiven once we see her re-appearing at such an opportune moment later in the film. Ultimately, Bond fans will likely find themselves enjoying this flick more than they expected; it’s recommended as a worthy entry.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
2 thoughts on “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The greatest Bond film, very close to the book and a must see.
A once-must – being what is (somewhat… arguably) the only other Peary-listed Bond film of note after ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia with Love’.
The intelligence quotient decidedly gives this entry a lift – and that seems the result of a number of fresh-blood firsts. This was director Peter Hunt’s only time at bat as a Bond director (though he had, rather significantly, already served as editor for both ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia with Love’). The film’s overall look was a considerably new approach, thanks to Bond-newbie as DP Michael Reed. Although co-writer Richard Maibaum was a Bond veteran, he was here paired with Simon Raven (his only Bond credit). A conscious decision had been made that this adaptation – unlike most other Bond films – would stick closely to the Ian Fleming novel.
~ which is most likely why, even given his amateur status, Lazenby (strangely) seems more appropriate as Bond here than Connery might have been.
I don’t agree with Peary that “picture is too long, and really bogs down when Rigg isn’t around.”; it’s rather gripping throughout. Rigg is certainly a plus; Ferzetti is dashingly sexy as her father; Savalas is smoothly villainous – and, as Irma Bunt, Ilse Steppat (who died of a heart attack right after the film’s release) has a whiff of Lotte Lenya in ‘From Russia with Love’.