21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
To say that ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE has grown on me is an understatement. The first time that I saw it a few years ago, I can remember laughing with my friend about how awful Lazenby was as a replacement for Connery. But after a recent second viewing, my tone has changed dramatically. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is now one of my favorite Bond films. Of the first six movies, I would definitely place it in the top three and it certainly beats out its predecessor YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, both in its "watchability" and its ranking as a Bond film. What is it about ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE that is so good? Well, it seems that director Peter Hunt (the fantastic editor of the previous films) wanted to return Bond to his roots, emphasizing story and characters over action and gadgets. Indeed, the gadgets are absent in this film. Instead, we get a good old story of espionage as Bond infiltrates the secret mountain-top lair of Ernst Blofeld, posing as a famous genealogist. Lazenby is a superb Bond. Though he doesn't handle women in the same smooth way and his charm and refinement are noticeably lacking, Lazenby does deliver some terrific action sequences. Furthermore, Lazenby handles the scripts "love interest" quite well, showing us one of the most emotional Bonds ever. Understandably, fans either loved or hated this new Bond, and the film went on to be less of a success as the Connery films. Still, one has to wonder what might have become of the series if Lazenby had kept the role for a significant run.
After the opening "gun barrel" sequence, we are greeted with the pre-credits teaser. M and Moneypenny are at a loss of where exactly 007 is located. We have no problem finding him. We watch as Bond chases after a girl, whom we later discover is Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), and saves her from near suicide, only to be attacked by an enemy. A great fight sequence in the waves is played out, with Lazenby delivering in fine style. It's been a while since Bond has been this fit! The girl escapes Bond during the commotion, leaving him alone on the beach. Lazenby, firmly set in his new role, winks at the camera and says "This never happened to the other fellow." In breaking the fourth wall, Lazenby and the Bond team let us know that James Bond is not Sean Connery; James Bond is James Bond. This line kicks off the titles, another Binder work, this time without a popular singer belting a song. Perhaps after the awkward lyrics of THUNDERBALL, the producers decided that trying to work ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE into a song would just be too difficult. The titles are a classic Binder work, involving shifting images through an hourglass and elaborate silhouettes.
The plot is back to the good old days and adds a love angle, allowing for some character depth on the part of Bond. The first part of the film opens up on that angle. Bond encounters Tracy again (Teresa di Vicenzo) and makes a more "formal" introduction. After their brief encounter, Bond is suddenly kidnapped and taken to see Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), head of Europe's second largest crime syndicate (second only to SPECTRE). There it is revealed that Tracy is Draco's daughter. In a weird spin, Draco desires Bond to continue to woo his daughter, ultimately marrying her for a personal dowry of one million pounds. Tracy has had a troubled past (as we have witnessed) and Bond is just the sort of thing she needs to save her. Bond refuses the proposal, but agrees to continue to see his daughter in exchange for information about Ernst Blofeld's whereabouts. Upon returning to MI6, Bond is promptly kicked off his current assignment of tracking down Blofeld. Bond is so irritated that he tenders his resignation, only to have his resignation covertly changed to a leave of absence by Moneypenny. Realizing that he can continue to pursue Blofeld on his vacation, Bond heartily accepts the vacation. After some good old spy work, Bond finally learns that Blofeld is attempting to lay claim to a royal title, under the French surname Bleuchamp. Posing as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, Bond gains access to Blofeld's new hideout--a "research institute" sitting on top of the Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. Once there, Bond learns that Blofeld has developed a bacterial weapon that he plans to distribute throughout the world. The weapon is so powerful that it is capable of destroying vital species of flora and fauna--unless, of course, Blofeld is granted amnesty for all past crimes and given his new title. Will Bond be able to stop the crisis before it is too late?
ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE displays many characteristics of the great Bond films. Its plot is intricate and involves good old-fashioned spy work. Bond is a character of great depth in this film, portraying both a recklessness and arrogance towards MI6 and the establishment, as well as great love for his leading lady. Finally, the action in this film is great. The famous downhill ski and bobsled fights are fantastic and do not lack for any excitement. Unlike Lewis Gilbert in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, director Peter Hunt decided to keep the film as close to Fleming's novel as possible, yielding a film that many fans of the books describe as the most accurate Bond adaptation ever produced. It's a shame that it has the negative reputation that it is sometimes branded with.
George Lazenby, as mentioned before, does a find job as Bond. While he certainly doesn't have the same style and class as Connery (who does?), Lazenby is more than adequate in the action sequences and handles the fights wonderfully. Moreover, he turns in one of the more complex Bond performances, culminating in the film's final sequence. I was startled to see a scene like that in a Bond film and welcomed its arrival. Diana Riggs also turns in a good performance, providing us with one of the more complex and dominant female leads ever to show up in a Bond film. Telly Savalas's rendition of Blofeld (the second actor to play the visual part) is one of my favorites. His Blofeld is not quite as pathetic as the one we first meet in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and not quite as quirky as the one we will soon meet in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. While he doesn't live up to the menace of the character originally heard in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, he is certainly a more capable, worldly, and interesting villain than the rest.
Ultimately, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE feels very different from the rest of the Bond films. For my tastes, it was a refreshing return to the source before the Bond series would take on its inevitable Roger Moore phase. The Ultimate Edition looks very crisp and sounds wonderful. It is also packed with plenty of extras, including a "Making of" documentary, films about the casting of the new Bond, interviews with Lazenby, and all of the usual assorted material. BINDER DOCUMENTARY? If you like the novels or are a fan of the early Bond films, you can't go wrong with ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. Just promise to give Lazenby a chance.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2007
Always the underdog and never the Top Dog, OHMSS has a bad reputation that it doesn't deserve. I honestly don't know what Bond fans really want in their movies as they hate anything that has too many gadgets and set pieces and turn their nose up at anything that represents Ian Fleming's true vision of Bond. Lazenby, like Daniel Craig, suffered a press backlash before the film was released that swayed public opinion against OHMSS.
The story has Bond taken off the Blofeld case after failing to apprehend him twice and sent on a 2-week holiday. He soon falls in love with Contessa Tracy Di Vicenzo who's daddy is the boss of one of Europe's largest crime syndicates. Daddy, has a deal for Bond. Make his daughter happy and he'll point him in the direction of the elusive Blofeld and give him a £1,000,000 bonus. An offer he can't refuse huh? It turns out that Blofeld (Television Savalas, the best incarnation of the character) is hiding in the Swiss Alps and Bond goes undercover as Genealogy expert Sir Hilary Bray to smoke him out. Bond just happens to be a bit of a Genealogist himself (this movie has him discover that the Bond family motto is 'Orbis Non Sufficit'...interesting)and reckons he bluff his way through it.
Blofeld's world conquering plot this time around is kinda Austin Powers-ish but it's thankfully played down. Bond, stripped of his stupid gadgets, must rely on his cunning and wits to outsmart Blofeld and defeat his evil schemes. I particularly like the scene where Bond is locked in a cable-car gear-room and his attempts to escape. Despite the obvious rear-projection a ski-chase, car chase and bobsleigh chase are all very well done.
John Barry's score is also noteworthy and his main OHMSS theme is brilliant. If there was ever anything that could come close to replacing the signature Bond theme while still retaining that familiar sound then this is it. Hunt it down, check it out. The scope cinematography is also a standout and often has some nice, atmospheric shots. Something not often seen in a Bond film.
I first saw OHMSS when I was a kid and I remember reading about how it was a flop when it was released in theatres. Which is actually a total lie, it DIDN'T flop. The mediocre review in the horrid tabloid newspaper I read made me, as a 10-year-old, dislike the the film. I don't feel that way now though. And despite remembering how it ended I was still pretty shocked when it came. It's far more dramatic and memorable than typical Bond endings. Is this what turns most people off OHMSS? Who the hell wants same-old same-old? Yes, there are a few continuity problems, such as Bond and Blofeld not recognizing each other but since their only face-to-face was with Connery and Donald Pleasence (the most parodied Bond villain performance) it would be absurd for Lazenby and Savalas to be familiar with each other.
Too bad Lazenby didn't come back for Diamonds Are Forever. It would have been better for him to be given a nice little double-feature instead of Connery returning one last time. The youngest Bond actor (he was 29 at the time of filming), he certainly looked athletic and believable but apparently his youthful cockiness onset ruffled the producers feathers too much and his own doubts in the series and himself as an actor prevented his return.
Don't let the ancient bad rep put you off. OHMSS is just as worthy as another other superior Bond film.
The Blu-ray is in brilliant 2.35:1 1080p with a pretty decent DTS HD-MA sound design. Extras are plentiful.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2002
A minor hit on it's initial release blamed on not having Sean Connery aboard. However, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is a prime example that great writing and great direction can overcome casting even though the casting is still good. George Lazenby does a terrific performance in the film as the greatest superspy and is aided by a great cast including Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas as Bond's arch enemy Blofeld, who's latest deviant plan is to affect the world's agriculture. This Bond film has it's usual great location shots, action, and car chases but the love story (he actually gets married for himself instead of being on an assignment) instead of female conquests is what sets apart this Bond film from the others. Also, included is a surprise ending that probably still shocks Bond fans today as it did on its original release. The film still had that 1960's feel and atmosphere of the Connery/Bond films (released 1969) until Connery ushered in the 1970's feel with DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and then finally quit the series. The movie is light on gadgetry and gimmickry, but lots of dialogue and "acting" in this Bond adventure..a real spy type movie equal to another Bond adventure that relied more on less which was FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (and that movie was a modest hit also, but revered as one of the great Bond films). Overall, this is truly one of the best of the series better and more memorable than all Timothy Dalton Bond films put together. Lastly, the film has a great theme song sung by the great jazz innovator Louis Armstrong, "We Have All the Time in the World". Classic!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2002
George Lazenby...not the best Bond (Connory IMHO) but damn close! What a tragedy he didn't stick around for "Diamonds" and beyond...That said this realy is the best "Bond" of the series, it's got everything going for it...a fine cast (Savalas is masterful as "Blofeld") Diana Rigg is gorgeous (as always) and Lazenby really does make for a fine 'Bond'. The screenplay remains faithful to the original novel and to cap it all... a wonderful score...I'm guessing of course but I'd like to think Mr Flemming would have been satisfied! Go and see the latest Bond corporate commercial/info-mercial ("Plug Another Day"?) if you must but after having done so PLEASE buy, rent or shoplift this video/DVD and see just how far the Bond franchaise has declined!...very very sad!.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2007
Like "From Russia With Love," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is filled with mysterious characters and realistic action... Blofeld's plot involves germ warfare and his stronghold this time is a converted Swiss allergy clinic... The film is loaded with action--ski chases, bobsled chases, car chases, helicopter attacks, fights in the surf, fights in the hotel, fights in the office... Peter Hunt succeeded in distracting the audience from noticing that a new Bond was on duty...
The new Bond pauses to take a finger of caviar... Dom Perignon'57 and five-star Hennessey brandy are his mouthwashes of choice... He discovers that he lived with his aunt in Pett Buttom, and his family motto is 'The World Is Not Enough.' He impersonates a genealogist to gain entrance to Piz Gloria... He wants to take the head of SPECTRE to Augsburg (West Germany) to verify certain records regarding his claim to a title... He spurns a Mafioso one million gold dowry; uses telescopic sight from a sniper's rifle to spot a beautiful young woman on the beach; wipes away a Contessa's tears; drives his Aston Martin wearing a hat and smoking a cigarette, and turns to the viewer saying in perfect seriousness, "This never happened to the other fella."
The sixth Bond film takes place all over Europe with a united nations of glamorous babes called 'angels of death,' where 007 finally meets his female match, falls in love, and gets married... The motion picture is an emotional story that reveals more of the world of 007...
It starts with Bond, ready to resign from the Secret Service for being taking off Operation Bedlam... With John Barry's best music, Bond reminds us of a whole bunch of familiar faces... He begins to look over his mementos which include Honey's knife belt from 'Dr. No,' and the strangler watch from 'From Russia with Love.' The sequences from all the previous Bond films reinforced the idea that this new Bond is still a member of the same team, a man who answers to a crusty retired Admiral, and still is engaged in sexy banter with a loving secretary...
It is Draco's daughter though, the ravishing Tracy (Diana Rigg), who adds a bit of class to the role of the Bond girl, and makes the film quiet interesting... Tracy is the troubled woman who steals Bond's heart... She is a spoiled woman wandering fully clothed into the sea... She is dangerous with her red Ford Cougar, a broken bottle, and at the baccarat table...
Gabriele Ferzetti is one of the most sympathetic Mafia dons ever to charm the screen... Draco likes the fact that Bond is interested in his daughter, and he's determined to help her find the right husband...
Telly Savalas' Blofeld does reveal sides to his character previously unseen: the class snobbery--which M remarks upon, and the vanity which Tracy flatters to force him off his guard, and his irritation with one of his skiers who ends up in a tree... Posing as a world-famous allergist, this bald arch-villain would only give up his deadly scheme throughout the world if offered a complete pardon for past crimes and a title...
Irma Bunt was perfectly portrayed by German actress Ilse Steppat, who, unfortunately died soon after the film's release... She is Blofeld's second-in-command, who keeps the Count's attractive 'patients' under control...
Angela Scoular (Ruby) becomes Bond's first conquest when she writes her room number in lipstick on 007's inner thigh...
Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) hands her boss a request for two weeks leave rather than Bond's dictated resignation... Her act results at once funny, moving and warm: 'What would I do without you?' ask both Bond and M separately once she's settled their contretemps...
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" features Barry's exquisite song, "We Have All the Time in the World," which is sung with real emotion by Louis Armstrong...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2003
Whenever i talk about Bond films, i try to remember to mention that this film is an exception to almost any rule you might think of about the Bond series -- for one thing, it's a very faithful adaptation of the book. Bond actually falls in love. There are very few gadgets (the automatic safecracking machine is sort of cool, but it's huge -- such a gadget in a Bond film today would fit in a pocket). Bond contacts an "outside contractor" when M won't approve a mission to take out Blofeld and rescue the woman he loves.
It's the only Bond film that breaks the fourth wall.
And it has Diana Rigg. At the time, that was enough for almost any young male (such as myself) who had watched "The Avengers" to watch the film, setting aside that the Bond franchise was Very Popular at the time.
And, of course, it has George Lazenby rather than Connery or Moore.
Let's get this out of the way early -- while this wasn't the most successful Bond, it wasn't, by any means, a flop at initial release, the way that popular memory has it. However, because of a popular conception that Lazenby wasn't very good as Bond and that the film itself was inferior (neither opinion being justified by the facts) OHMSS didn't get the rereleases and continuing popularity that other Bond films did.
Lazenby is, actually, rather closer to the way in which Fleming had described Bond than any of the other actors who have played him; he moves well and reads the lines which he actually reads convincingly enough (his voice is dubbed for the sequence in which he infiltrates Blofeld's school because he couldn't handle the Public School accent of the character; on the other hand, Gabrielle Ferzetti's entire performance as Draco is dubbed by another actor, also), and he's competent in the action scenes. I really believe that if he hadn't taken apallingly bad advice and had continued in the series he would be much better thought of today as Bond -- and we might well have been spared some of the more horrific moments of the Roger Moore years.
Diana Rigg is, of course, lovely (she would find it hard to not be), and her Tracey is believable as the sort of woman Bond would fall hard for.
The ski sequences are spectacular for their day (though the Bond franchise itself has topped them in "For Your Eyes Only", which, incidentally, was listed at the time in a "Playboy" article/pictorial about OHMSS as the next film in the series -- from what I hear, ithey realised that that would make two "ski" films in a row and hurriedly developed "Diamonds are Forever", which may explain its ...script), though I read somewhere that for Ms Rigg's skiing she was doubled by a slim young man.
And, say what you will of Lazenby, his playing of the final scene is convincing and genuinely emotional, which is rare for the Bond Series.
(Lazenby was to portray Bond again [sort of] in the rather weak "Man from UNCLE" TV movie, "The Fifteen Years Later" affair -- coyly unnamed, driving a gadget-equipped car with plates reading "JB", intervening by chance and helping Solo during a car chase sequence.)
(Incidentally, this film features TWO "Avengers" regulars -- not only Diana Rigg, but also Joanna Lumley, who was to play Purdie on "The New Avengers" some years later.)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2005
Comparing Lazenby's Bond to those preceding and following him, I can see why people would dismiss "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" as inferior and lacking. This is a reaction that I have to confess to myself, being a long time fan of the movies.
Having read some of the comments here, it seems that not reading the novels has been a glaring oversight on my part. One that will need rectifying.
To the movie itself, I would agree with most that the plot of the movie had a lot more substance and certainly was less pathetic than the movies before it. The villain had a more diabolical plan, and there was more of the relational side of the story involved. The development of the various characters was certainly superior to the other movies.
Lazenby, while being a little more "cardboard", certainly portrayed a more sensitive and deeper Bond than the other movies would suggest. The fact that he actually asked a girl if she wanted to talk about the issue bothering her was truly out of step with the other movies. This added dimension was certainly a plus for the movie.
Over time, this movie has grown on me, really. At first, I wondered what I was watching and quite disliked it. However, with some thought, and with some comments from reviewers here, I have come to regard "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" to be among the better of the Bond films. It is just a pity that they only made one with Lazenby.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2005
Ok,the beginning of the movie seems a little cheezy but I must say it's the most important bond movie. The reason I say this is because how all the other James Bond actors have to go back to this movie. This movie has a connection with several other Bond movies. This is the only movie he had a Mrs. Bond and my personal favorite Bond girl. He was with more women is this movie than any other Bond movie but he loved his Tracy (Diane Riggs). I enjoyed the action because he was the biggest Bond in size. He does a lot of his action stunts and when he slid across the deck and shoots at the enemy.
During the second act George finally comes into the Bond charecter, the script shows that Bond has more depth than the previous films. I wish he had a real chance but he was too far under Connery's shadow to have a second picture. He never acted in a movie or tv before this but if he was better prepared I would have given it 5 stars. Diane did a great job as usual and was very beautiful. I wish she was in more Bond movies but I dont want to spoil the ending. So, I won't get into that but I noticed a lot of tv shows did the same ending as the movie. So go figure!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2007
George Lazenby takes over as James Bond, after Sean Connery announced his retirement from the franchise after the previous film "You Only Live Twice". At the time of its release, the 6th Bond film received a numerous amount of mixed reviews and negative criticism on behalf of Lazenby. My opinion of Lazenby is actually quite positive. I felt he was a little dryer than Connery, but he provided a certain edge that had never been seen before. It's really difficult to compare Lazenby to Connery, because this particular film does about a 180 degree turn. James Bond, the character, is explored like never before. An emotional side to Bond is finally touched on, and he even finally takes a wife (though it ends in abrupt disaster from the enemy).
Another big change in the film is the charcater of Blofeld, the super-villain that has been a menace to say the least to 007 since nearly day one. It was in "You Only Live Twice" that the face of the villain was revealed, only to the dissapointment of many viewers that the face (but more importantly the voice and actions) was that of Donald Pleasance. Curioulsy gone is the magnificant facial scar of Blofeld this time, as another actor (yet still bald) plays the great villain. I was a little more taken this time around, though unfortunately I had felt the damage had been done already. Blofeld gets plenty of screentime in the film, and the majority of the plot is he and Bond attempting to eliminate the other through numerous scenes of secrecy, chases and action.
Another big moment for this Bond film is Tracy, who becomes James Bond's first and only wife. There is real emotion that has never (and will never) been seen in a Bond film before when it comes to truly loving a woman. I might want to restate that, as Bond still has his moments with other women in the film as always, but, he does finally settle down and mature in the sense.
The action in the film is spectacular and a plenty. There are plenty of fist fights, ski chases, and car chases spread throughout the film. Some of the camera work was superb for its time, and the action helped the 2:20 long movie progress a little quicker. The locations were also beautiful, mostly shot in the Swiss Alps and in Portugal. Blofeld's hideout atop a Swiss mountain was also a very exciting and beautifully set locale (though much more laid back than the over-dramatic volcano lair in the prior film).
Despite its unqiuness to the other Bond films, its that certain uniqueness that also makes this film very intriguing. It all feels very different from the start (including, sadly, no title song - just an orchestration like in the first 2 Bond films), but once things get rolling it kinda sucks you into the motions quite well. I think Lazenby is underrated, and On Her Majesty's Secret Serive is an overlooked Bond film that deserves to be on top.
Acting - 4.5
Action - 4.5
Characters - 4
Story - 4
Overall - 4.5
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2007
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) was the sixth James Bond film and the first without Sean Connery in the starring role. Australian George Lazenby took over the part for this ONE AND ONLY film.
The story involves Bond falling in love and ultimately marrying (!) a mob boss's daughter (Diana Rigg) and investigating a Swiss mountain-top lair wherein Blofeld (Telly Savalas) schemes to brainwash an assortment of women from around the world for his bizarre nefarious purposes.
Many Bond fans point out that this picture is the most faithful to Ian Fleming's character and book series. The story is taken from the novel of the same name.
People usually have two problems with this episode in the Bond series: (1.) Lazenby as Bond and (2.) After the first 20 minutes the story lacks any real action for the next hour or so wherein Bond goes undercover to investigate Blofeld's secret lair.
Concerning the second issue: Because the story involves at least one full hour (probably longer) of action-less spy investigation, those with ADD probably won't like this film. Personally, I enjoyed it; I can't stand when films have an explosion every two minutes to supposedly keep things "happening" and maintain the interest of the morons in the audience like, say, "The World is Not Enough." Bond masquerading as Sir Hillary at the "allergy clinic" is both interesting and amusing. Besides, the last 40 minutes or so feature numerous thrilling action scequences: the Alps ski chases, car chase, bobsled chase and the final assault on Blofeld's mountain stronghold.
Needless to say, if you're a fan of winter sports, you'll want to see this film. By the way, George Lazenby was a very accomplished skier and had won two contests in Australia before taking on the Bond role at the age of 29, the youngest Bond as of this writing.
Regarding Lazenby as Bond: Hey, he looks and acts like James Bond to me. Maybe he doesn't have the same charismatic flare as Connery (Who does?), but he certainly has his own unique appeal.
Lazenby, incidentally, was a martial arts expert, which he taught during his stint in the Australian army. He even studied under Bruce Lee and later stated that it was Lee's philisophical teachings that enabled him to go on to have such a successful business career and personal life. In fact, George was actually going to have dinner with Bruce the night he died (!) and even replaced him in what was supposed to be Lee's next film "The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss" (1974).
Lazenby amusingly commented on Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond in 1995's "Goldeneye": "... this is the 90s and women want a different man, a man who shows his feminine side. Pierce definitley has that." (LOL!) He also reflected on the character of Bond himself: "He's a ruthless bastard, really." (So true, so true).
As for the Bond women, Diana Rigg is undeniably good-looking but she doesn't do anything for me personally (too tall and thin), but there are numerous other gorgeous beauties to behold throughout the picture.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is the longest Bond film at 2 hours and 22 minutes and was filmed in Portugal, Switzerland and Pinewood Studios, England.
BOTTOM LINE: Because of Lazenby and the film's literary faithfulness, this is a very unique and worthwhile Bond adventure, certainly far better than Brosnan-era pictures like "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World is Not Enough." It's also a MUST for those who love winter sports and spectacular Swiss winter/mountain locales.