On Her Majesty's Secret Service

friday flick:

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, while poorly titled, is possibly the best James Bond film ever.  I'm tempted to set out on a 007 marathon to compare them and decide.

Australian actor, George Lazenby, manages the role of 007 very well  in what  turned out to be a speed bump in Sean Connery's run in the part. Lazenby's Bond is not as intense and warm as Connery's but he's still smooth and compelling enough for the story. Apparently audiences were not won over by Lazenby's 007 in 1969, so it's a good thing for the series that Connery came back or the classic adventure series may have come to an end. What makes this film work isn't its star anyway.

Directed by Peter R. Hunt, On Her Majesty's Secret Service stands alone from the series cinematically. The film is less stylized than most of the Bond series, with fewer spy gadgets, quips and series insider references, though there are enough to keep viewers aware of the trademarks. Bond seems more...real. Possibly because the story itself has more romance and mystery, with Bond showing a bit of vulnerability, particularly with his love interest played by Diana Rigg who gets to work a Bond Girl with more dimension and purpose than we can usually expect. The solid direction moves well from the drama and suspense into the action sequences which feel fresh and thrilling, especially the night-time ski chase in the alps which is obviously a handbook for shooting and editing such sequences in future Bond films.  The movie flows as a story and less like a genre formula.  Icing on the cake: Telly Savalas plays the villain. 

While Hunt went on to direct other films and TV, this appears to have been his last  Bond film. What is very interesting is that he had been the editor or supervising editor for five other Bond films (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, Thunderball).  His influence on the action series during its most impressive phase is significant.   

Writing about it and putting the film and the Bond series in the front of my mind tempts me to do a thorough comparison and organize the  series from best to worst.  Hmm, we'll see.     

Now I'm curious, what's your favorite Bond film?  Or least favorite?


Chris said...

I remember watching this one years ago when I was on a Bond bender, and really liking it. I need to revisit it.

Best and worst would need some contemplating. I do know that the most recent one I didn't care for, though I did like Daniel Craig as Bond.

Tonette said...

I felt the same way about the recent one and also like Daniel Craig. It felt like the film was just trying too hard to be new and different from the others.