On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Portugal, James Bond – agent 007, sometimes referred to simply as ‘007’ – saves a woman on the beach from committing suicide by drowning, and later meets her again in a casino. The woman, Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, invites Bond to her hotel room to thank him. The next morning, Bond is kidnapped by several men while leaving the hotel, who take him to meet Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse. Draco reveals that Tracy is his only daughter and tells Bond of her troubled past, offering Bond a personal dowry of one million pounds if he will marry her. Bond refuses, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy under the agreement that Draco reveals the whereabouts of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE.

Bond returns to London, and after a brief argument with M at MI6 headquarters, heads for Draco’s birthday party in Portugal. There, Bond and Tracy begin a whirlwind romance, and Draco directs the agent to a law firm in Bern, Switzerland. In Bern, Bond investigates the office of Swiss lawyer Gumbold, and learns that Blofeld is corresponding with London College of Arms’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, attempting to claim the title ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’.

Posing as Bray, Bond goes to meet Blofeld, who has established a clinical allergy-research institute atop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. There Bond meets ten young women, the “Angels of Death”, who are patients at the institute’s clinic, apparently cured of their allergies. At night Bond goes to the room of one patient, Ruby, for a romantic encounter. At midnight Bond sees that Ruby, apparently along with each of the other ladies, goes into a sleep-induced trance while Blofeld gives them audio instructions for when they are discharged and return home. In fact, the women are being brainwashed to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout various parts of the world.

Bond tries to trick Blofeld into leaving Switzerland, so the British Secret Service can arrest him without violating Swiss sovereignty; Blofeld refuses, and Bond is eventually caught by henchwoman Irma Bunt. Blofeld reveals that he identified Bond after his attempt to lure him out of Switzerland, and tells his henchmen to take the agent away. Bond eventually makes his escape by skiing down Piz Gloria while Blofeld and many of his men give chase. Arriving at the village of Lauterbrunnen, Bond finds Tracy and they escape Bunt and her men after a car chase. A blizzard forces them to a remote barn, where Bond professes his love to Tracy and proposes marriage to her, which she accepts. The next morning, Blofeld attempts to kill Bond by causing an avalanche and captures Tracy.

Back in London at M’s office, Bond is informed that Blofeld intends to hold the world at ransom by threatening to destroy its agriculture using his brainwashed women, demanding amnesty for all past crimes, and that he be recognised as the current Count de Bleuchamp. M tells 007 that the ransom will be paid and forbids him to mount a rescue mission. Bond then enlists Draco and his forces to attack Blofeld’s headquarters, while also rescuing Tracy from Blofeld’s captivity. The facility is destroyed, and Blofeld escapes the destruction alone in a bobsled, with Bond pursuing him. The chase ends when Blofeld becomes snared in a tree branch and injures his neck.

Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal, then drive away in Bond’s Aston Martin. When Bond pulls over to the roadside to remove flowers from the car, Blofeld (wearing a neck brace) and Bunt commit a drive-by shooting of the couple’s car that kills Tracy. A police officer pulls over to inspect the bullet-riddled car, prompting a tear-filled Bond to mutter that there is no need to hurry to call for help by saying, “We have all the time in the world”, as he cradles Tracy’s lifeless body

REVIEW:

Netflix and I are about to have some words. About a month or two ago, they put many of the Bond films back on instant streaming. I’ve been a bit busy the last few weeks and haven’t had time to get to them. Well, guess what is about to go away come Monday. Yes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the rest of the Bond flicks they had available. Oh well, eventually, I’ll get them in the mail. In the meantime, let’s get to my thoughts on this film.

What is this about?

George Lazenby takes over the role of 007 as James Bond tracks archnemesis Ernst Blofeld to a Swiss mountaintop retreat, where he’s brainwashing a bevy of beautiful women to do his bidding. Along the way, Bond falls for an Italian contessa.

What did I like?

Tone. Coming soon with these Bond films are the cheesy ones, so it was a nice change of pace to get this more serious take on Bond that what we were getting from the Connery version, and what will come from future versions. I’m not sure which will be more my speed, but I appreciate mixing things up.

He’s back. Blofeld returns, this time played by Telly Savalas of Kojak fame. Savalas just seems to have that look that screams villain, especially one in the vein of Blofeld. Why did he replace the previous actor? I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with this being a more physical role. I didn’t see it, but perhaps those scenes got cut or it was an exaggeration.

Doce. The thought of having a brainwashed army of 12 beautiful women appeals to me immensely. I believe that they could have been put to better use either as part f the master plan or as a way to get to Bond. His libido is perhaps his greatest weakness, after all. That being said, Blofeld knew what he was doing when he came up with this nefarious plot.

What didn’t I like?

Downgrade. Maybe it is because of the familiarity with Sean Connery as Bond, but George Lazenby did not work as Bond for me. He doesn’t possess the charm and charisma required to portray this complex character. When the film started, it seemed like he would have done a decent job, but that just crashed and burned. The fact that they didn’t let him do his own impression of another character should have been a sign. There was a good thing, though. At the beginning of the picture, after the fight, he makes the comment to the camera, “this never happened to the other guy”. A nice bit of a self-effacing humor, just not enough to redeem his take on 007.

Green screen. I love the cheesy effects in most films from this era, however, during the skiing scene it is so obviously green screened that it was sickening to watch. I’m not sure if the technology was around back then to film a scene like tis actually happening on the slopes, but it would have been so much better, than this. Cheesy effects have a place, and this wasn’t one of them.

Girls. No offense to Diana Rigg or the 12 deadly angels, but there wasn’t that one Bond girl in this film whose beauty and/or body stops traffic. Perhaps that has something to do with the winter setting as opposed to the tropical locations that were prevalent in the previous films. Personally, I was missing them this time around, but every now and then you need a change of pace.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a rather weak entry into the Bond franchise, if you ask me, but I’m not sure if it is the film, or the new Bond that is the cause of its mediocrity. Perhaps I was just so frustrated with Netflix that I couldn’t get into the film. That being said, this isn’t a horrible film by any stretch of the imagination. It just doesn’t stack up to its predecessors. I recommend this to anyone trying to get into Bond, but not as the one to start with. Give it a shot!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

  1. […] back. Following the negative reaction to George Lazenby’s performance as Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the studio decided to spare no expense in getting Connery back. Lazenby himself expressed no […]

  2. […] it was time for some new blood to be injected into the Bond franchise. This was tried before with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which starred George Lazenby, but that didn’t work out. So, enter Roger Moore, who brings a […]

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