Friday, April 17, 2020

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is my favorite Bond movie. Mostly known for being George Lazenby's one and only appearance as 007, it also combines all the elements of a great Bond film. There's everything from compelling characters, thrilling action, and memorable set pieces. Many will also recall the unorthodox ending with Bond suffering a tragic loss, but apparently audiences were not keen on Bond showing emotion. Unlike other Bond films, various entries go in and out of fashion, OHMSS has aged well. Everything from John Barry's stunning score to impressive European locales to Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas giving memorable` performances as the leading lady and villain. 

The cold open joyfully breaks the fourth wall with 007 in a car chase with a beautiful woman, only to be rebuffed at the last minute, allowing Lazenby to address the camera, "this never happened to the other fella." Then the credit sequence featuring the Moog synthesizer theme, the futuristic sound as if setting the series on a new course. 

The film begins with Bond meeting with European gangster Ange Draco who offers him a million dollars to marry his daughter Trac (Diana Rigg(. Bond refuses, but agrees to give the relationship a chance if he learn the whereabouts of his nemesis Blofeld. Bond and Tracy end up falling in love, while Bond pursues a lead in Switzerland. Undercover as a Professor, he discovers a mountain retreat with 12 young ladies there to have their allergies cured. The film makes light of the preposterous situation with Bond alone with 12 girls. He learns they are being brainwashed to implant bacteria that will endanger the world's agriculture if they do not meet Blofeld's ransom.

The action scenes are some of the best in the series. Setting the action sequences in the snow allowed for chases on skis and bobsled, influencing Christopher Nolan's Inception. The wedding of Bond and Tracy remains one of the unique sequences in the series, especially the bittersweet farewell between Bond and Miss Moneypenny. 

It's interesting to think of an alternate series of Bond films with Lazenbee, who at 29 could've easily carried on with the role into the 1980s. There's multiple reasons why he did not return, mostly due clashes with the Producers and a belief the character was an anachronism. The follow up entry Diamonds Are Forever with Connery would lack the emotional and dramatic energy of OHMSS


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