Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Majesty's Secret Service Review

Last night I finished watching the film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", the sixth film of the James Bond franchise and the first to feature a James Bond who wasn't Sean Connery. While the film has its detractors--mostly Connery purists and Bond fans who dont' like the sad ending or the fact that Bond got married--I actually rate this as one of my favorites of the series. George Lazenby--an Australian who filled in for Connery likely due to a contract dispute--did what I considered an admirable job, and of course it's difficult to fill the shoes of the most popular of the Bond actors. Connery fans will also be disappointed to see there isn't nearly enough woman-slapping (though there certainly was some--being the '60s and all).

Here's why the film appeals to me:

1) Great ski chase scenes. Eventually, ski chases were done to death in Bond films, but in 1969 they still seemed fresh.

2) Diana Rigg as the Bond girl. First, this was Emma Peel! And not the terrible Avengers movie Emma Peel! She brought grace and the hots to the role, unlike embarrassing later turns from Denise Richards or Halle Berry. Bond girls have to be British or at least not American. The American accent just seems wrong, sort of like Bond wearing a cowboy hat.

3) Telly Savalas as Blofeld. He does a good followup to Donald Pleasance's version, bringing a sort of tough pre-Kojak thug to the role. A worthy foe for Bond!

4) Set piece attack on Blofeld's lair at the climax. Set piece attacks are crucial to a good Bond film, as we need plenty of un-named henchmen to get killed in a variety of ways.

5) Outlandish villain's plot. A rich evil guy with a vast network of agents and access to all sorts of scientists, and rather than just build a nuke and plant it in the middle of a major city, he decides to brainwash a bunch of hot women who will go around the world unleashing biological agents that will destroy the world's food supply on his signal. Never mind that this would be extreme overkill when all he wants is a pardon for his crimes and recognition of his title (Blofeld wants to be recognized as a Count). Clearly Blofeld should be aware that you can buy titles of royalty these days. Or just start calling yourself a Duke or Earl or something, it's how the original royals started anyway. It's not like God gives you those titles.

6) The pathos at the end. SPOILER ALERT--Bond marries at the end, and his wife gets gunned down. The sad ending gives you the one time to see Bond display sorrow, and while we like our Bond good and cold-blooded, it is a refreshing break to see his human side.

One further note--with the switching of actors playing Bond over the years (current count--six actors) one fan theory goes like this--James Bond isn't actually one person, but rather an alias given to Britain's top agent at the time, so this explains why Bond doesn't age over the years, and is featured by a different person each time. I sort of like this theory, since it both makes sense and allows for the Bonds to have different personalities.


  1. Yup, totally underrated film. Plus he drives a pretty sweet V8 Vantage in it.. And you're leaving out the 1966 version of Casino Royale if you only count 6 Bonds!

  2. J--yeah the '60s Casino Royale wasn't an "official" bond film, since it was made by a rival studio to compete with "You Only Live Twice" and was more a spoof (hence Woody Allen!).