On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Peter R. Hunt
- George Lazenby as James Bond
- Diana Rigg as Tracy di Vicenzo
- Telly Savalas as Blofeld
- Gabriele Ferzetti as Draco
- Ilse Steppat as Irma Bunt
- Bernard Lee as M
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q
- Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny
After Sean Connery began to grow tired of the role of 007, he left the series after You Only Live Twice and producers cast George Lazenby in the role. A male model with no training as an actor, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would be his only venture as Bond. Initially sniffed at upon release, the film has grown over time and there is much to praise in it.
The movie begins with Bond in Portugal. He witnesses a young, beautiful woman walk into the sea in a suicide attempt. The young woman is Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo, a countess. Before anything else can happen, Bond is ambushed and Tracy runs off. Entranced by her, Bond is later taken to Draco, the leader of a crime syndicate and Tracy’s father. The charming Draco thinks that Bond would be an ideal husband for his wayward daughter, yet Bond isn’t convinced at first. It turns out that Draco has information on the nefarious Blofeld because of his criminal connections. Agreeing to woo Tracy in exchange for the information, Bond actually begins to fall in love for the first time with this woman. Although M is reluctant to send Bond on the mission to discover what Blofeld’s next plan is, he lets him go eventually after Bond threatens to resign from service. Travelling to the Swiss Alps, Bond encounters Blofeld in a health spa designed to cure allergies of a group of gorgeous girls from around the globe. The cures are a front for his evil plan; he has brainwashed the unwitting women to sterilize the world’s food supply, thus bringing the world to its knees unless his request for amnesty is accepted. Battling to save the world, Bond is aided by the influential Draco and also Tracy, with whom he is now totally in love with. He must face off against Blofeld as well as his loyal henchwoman Irma Bunt if he is to thwart the mastermind’s scheme. Love, excitement, tragedy and thrills collide in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to create a tense Bond adventure with a human heart.
Although many of the Bond movies are about excitement and thwarting evil plans in outrageous style, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service strips this formula back a little by having Bond fall in love. The script effortlessly twins the excitement and thrilling adventure with this underlying love story that makes this a Bond movie with a difference. Some people may not like that the film has a more serious tone than its predecessors, but I like the change in the formula and the shaking up of the conventions we expect from a Bond movie. Best known as the editor on many of the previous instalments, Peter R. Hunt capably directs the film and gives it a heart-stopping suspense that doesn’t let up but also gives us a chance to delve deeper into the heart of Bond. Many of his innovative editing techniques are present here, especially in the fight scenes. The stunning location of the Swiss Alps is breathtaking and makes for many effective scenes of Bond being menaced by the enemy pursuing him on skis. John Barry provides an evocative yet thrilling music score to underpin the romance between Bond and Tracy and the dangers they both face. The highlight of the music is Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World”, a stunning ballad of strings and powerful vocals that acts as the moving love song for the couple.
He may not be as effective as Sean Connery was in the role of 007, but George Lazenby has his moments and is definitely physically capable in the action scenes. Diana Rigg is wonderful as Tracy, the woman who finally captures Bond’s womanizing heart. Rigg makes Tracy such an interesting and multi-dimensional character; she can be bold and reckless, but vivacious and strong in equal measure. This is why Tracy ranks as one of my favourite Bond girls as you can see why Bond would be so entranced by her character. Telly Savalas makes for an interesting Blofeld, this time around he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and personally fight with Bond so he can resume his grand plan of worldwide devastation. Gabriele Ferzetti makes for a likable and charming ally in Draco, whilst Ilse Steppat is perfectly stern and unsmiling as Blofeld’s right hand helper in evil. Bernard Lee is still crusty as ever as M, and we do get a glimpse of his house in this movie and his exchange with 007 is filled with wit and banter. Q is marvellously played by Desmond Llewelyn and Moneypenny is her flirty usual self when it comes to Bond’s affairs.
Thrilling but also quite dramatic, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an interesting addition to the franchise that isn’t afraid to shake things up a little.