Movie Notes: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
= 4 stars
Starring George Lazenby, Diana Rigg
Directed by Peter R. Hunt
This James Bond film from 1969 is an odd duck. It has many things going for it, but other things are just wrong, and if the mistakes hadn’t happened, this would have been an awesome Bond film, possibly the best ever.
First the bad:
1. Telly Savalas as Blofeld. Voice too low, too physically husky, it’s more like he’s running a mafia than a world domination plot.
2. The hokey idea of hypnotising beautiful women from around the world and turning them into sleeper agents is just plain nutty, and never comes to fruition.
3. Geroge Lazenby is a wimpy, one-dimensional Bond. He’s got the action chops and semi-Cary Grant looks, but doesn’t have the acting chops or wry sex-appeal of Sean Connery. I’m not surprised Lazenby only played Bond once.
Now the good:
1. The action is stellar. Right from the opening sequence, the pace of the cuts is giddy and almost hyperactive.
2. Diana Rigg (from The Avengers) as Teresa Di Vicenzo is the best Bond woman I’ve seen yet. Smart, sexy, and can hold her own in a car chase or wielding a broken bottle. Her character moves from icy dissatisfaction to someone we genuinely care about. She has the dubious distinction as the only woman to marry James Bond.
3. Bold changes to the Bond formula: No theme song sung by a pop chanteuse. 007 quits the service. Bond gets married. Lastly, the ending is right out of left field and was a total shocker to me.
I can only wonder what On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would have been with Sean Connery as Bond. He would have taken some of the key scenes – where 007 does something more than just kill and seduce – to another level. Playing off of Diana Rigg would easily have made cinematic history.
And if Lazenby really wanted a part, he could have played Blofeld.