Anthony's Film Review
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Despite the change in lead actor, this Bond film tells a great story...
There have been plenty of times when I've met a Bond fan who believes Sean Connery was and always will be the best James Bond. Some of them, to me, are such devotees of Connery that any Bond film with a different star won't be the same. This was apparently the reaction of many fans with the casting of George Lazenby, a man with no prior acting experience, as Ian Fleming's suave secret agent in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It was, however, a somewhat inevitable action since Connery quit being James Bond temporarily after You Only Live Twice.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service has one of the longest running times out of all the Bond films, being nearly two and a half hours instead of just the average two hours. It's not a waste of film, though. This is a film that has a nice story with plenty of action to please the fans. The plot involves the usual Bond movie plot elements plus something unique: romance. The movie follows the original Ian Fleming novel closely, especially the subplot with Bond discovering his true love.
This is the fourth James Bond movie to feature the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld and the second to show his face. Telly Savalas, also known for the TV series Kojak, plays the villain and I think he's the best Blofeld of all. He has look for a bad guy along with the right mixture of charm and menace. Marc-Ange Draco is also an interesting character, mainly because he is a crime lord who still has a soul with concern for his daughter Tracy.
Aside from complaints that Lazenby is a softer Bond, the action scenes are still a delight to see, from the beach fight in the opening to the long snow chase down from Piz Gloria. I like how there is less reliance on gadgets. It's not to say that I am against the gadgets seen in the Bond films. I think they're always a nice touch to the films, but they can't take over what is really important for the film: suspense and thrills. Here, Bond is on the run from Blofeld's henchman with Tracy by his side and nothing from Q's lab to help him out.
Let's not forget that the music is important to the appeal of the Bond series. John Barry has composed a lovely soundtrack to go with this film. In fact, the opening credits does not feature a song with vocals but rather a memorable piece by Barry accompanied by footage of the previous Bond films. There is also a song by the late Louis Armstrong called "We Have All the Time in the World," a quote that comes later in the film.
This was Lazenby's only performance as James Bond, who quit the role because he thought the hippie era would make interest in the Bond series die out soon. I did not think he was a bad choice to play Bond, even though some acting experience would have helped. What matters to me is that the movie has enough plot, characters, and action to be exciting. I appreciate this film much more after several viewings. Even with a single performance by a Bond actor, On Her Majesty's Secret Service works because it follows the brilliant story written by Ian Fleming himself.
For more information about On Her Majesty's Secret Service, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unofficial James Bond Films