Double 0 Countdown: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

My on-line friend Dan Fogarty, holds this entry into the 007 cannon in low esteem. He has it ranked near the bottom of the list and he lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of George Lazenby. He thought Lazenby was boring and the script is boring having Bond go undercover as a college professor. Maybe I’m a little biased, what’s wrong with that?  Anyway, this is the first, first run Bond film I saw as a kid. All of the Connery films I’d seen before this had been in re-release. I had watched enough Avengers to know who Diana Rigg was, and the idea of Bond really falling in love was a nice twist.

001  The New Blofeld

After meeting Bond in the Flesh, and Bond meeting Blofeld face to face in “You Only Live Twice” it is a little hard to figure why in continuity, they would not recognize each other when they finally meet up here. Maybe it is the fact that both characters are played by new actors. I’ll let other debate the merits and faults of Lazenby, but as for Blofeld, I think this was a step up. Instead of being a near dwarf with a scar, in this film, he is played as a vigorous man, capable of fighting on a bobsled and skiing dangerously down a mountain. Telly Savalas wins my vote as the best Blofeld that we get to see.

002 The New Bond

In the one wink to the audience, the new Bond acknowledges his situation. Sean Connery had left the series, the posters for the movie featured a faceless 007, and after the first fight, when Bond beats the bad guys but loses the girl as she drives off. He stands on the beach with her shoes in her hand and says, as he looks straight at us…”This never happened to the other fellow…“. That’s a good laugh and it is in the spirit of the films continuing on.

“This never happened to the other fellow”

003 No Title Song

For years one of my pet peeves about the movie was the lack of a title song. The Louis Armstrong vocal is a nice tune but it is buried in the plot. At some point however, I started paying attention to the theme played over the titles and guess what, it kicks ass. Those four descending notes played with electronic magic actually build a lot of excitement.

The guitar and horns complement this melody perfectly. Excellent!

004  1969 Technology

Bond breaks into a solicitors office in Switzerland to gain access to documents that might reveal Blofeld’s location. He need a safe cracker and a photocopier. Lucky for him, they come together in a single piece of equipment, unlucky for him, that equipment is the size of a shipping trunk. No problem, he arranges to have it delivered to him in the office by a construction crane and bucket from a project next door. Now, what to do while waiting for the safe cracking machine to do it’s job? Fortunately, there is reading material in the office. 

 This is a tight little sequence that build tension out of a guy coming back from lunch. It may not be a countdown on a nuclear device, but it builds some good suspense and it has a fun little payoff when 007 tears out the centerfold to take with him. 

005  The Bond Girl

Countessa Tracy Draco is played by the former Emma Peele of the Avengers British spy TV show. That catsuit she wore in the credits was enough to solidify my sexual orientation at 10 years old.  Now I was more mature and so was she. As Bond’s object of affection she was quirky, standoffish, beautiful and capable. Late in the film she fights a henchman for five minutes and thrashs him with a broken bottle and nails him against a wall. She is not a damsel in distress, so much as the type of woman Ian Fleming always said Bond would fall for, “a bird with a wing down”.

 She also rescues Bond and drives her car as well as he does in the opening scene and in the chase that is featured latere in the film. 

006  Snow Plowed

I appear to have an affinity for exotic death scenes in the Bond series. The skiing chase down the snow covered alps is the first of a long line of ski sequences in Bond films. From the looks of the trailer, Daniel Craig is about to join the list of Bonds who have used mad snow skills to defeat their enemy. In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, one of Bonds pursuers does not make it across the trench that a large snow plow is working on. Well before Steve Buscemi was disposed of in “fargo” we got this scene.

007 The Ice Slide

This series will be filled with brief moments that mark the series with indelible memories. My favorite from this film is James Bond, on his belly, with a machine gun blasting, sliding along the ice at Piz Gloria, where he had been curling with the bodacious beauties just a day or two before. It is the coolest image from this snowbound story. It was an improvised moment of brilliance from director Peter Hunt.

James Bond Will Return in “Diamonds Are Forever.”

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