Bond v0.6 - On Her Magesty’s Secret Service
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
An Aussie Bond?? A Bond named George?? You better believe it! This first departure away from the legendary icon that is Sean Connery, was received with mixed results. Firstly, how can you replace Bond? How can you have a non-Brit play the role?? Can he pull it off?? Well, for me, I’m happy to suspend my disbelief with the actor change - it just doesn’t bother me at all. A non-Brit? Well Connery was Scottish, Lazenby Aussie, and not until Moore comes along do we see a real Englishman take the helm. As for pulling off the difficult role of Bond - I think it’s safe to say he deserved his time in the limelight.
So why change actors? Apparently Connery wanted out, didn’t want to be locked into being typecast, and more than likely was asking more and more… So Lazenby was introduced, and apart from one or two poorly scripted lines, I’m happy to say he’s done a brilliant job. Why the writers/director felt the need to but such an obvious wink wink to the audience with “this never happened to the other guy” right at the start is well beyond me. It just wrecks the transition… but then again, I’m not sure of the mindset of the day, so we just take it in our stride.
Pacing wise, this film is probably one of the slower ones, almost comparing to From Russia with its slow build approach. The good news is that it doesn’t let you down in the end! The story sees Bond’s nemesis, Blofeld making a claim on some dodgy parentage, hoping to claim an official, but obscure title. In doing so, he opens up for the potential for Bond to slip in and be welcomed into Blofelds inner sanctum, posing as a genealogist. However, the sub-plot of the film is a doozy! Right from the outset of the film, the “femme”, the Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo, or Tracy as she becomes known, becomes an object of Bonds desire - if only because she resists his charms every step of the way. Turns out she’s the daughter of a mobster who actually wants Bond to look after her, and even date her. He gives him his blessing to do what he feels is right with Tracy, becuase for the first time there’s a man up to the challenge. The cold and forced relationship quickly blossoms when she discovers that he’s not in it for the money or the influence, but because he’s truly in love with her. This is really the first time we’ve seen Bond showing anything like a “softer” side. A-typically, this relationship is never used as a tool against him like it would be in just about any other film. For me, it just works.
So the story is actually quite good! It plays out really well with the intermingling of Blofelds plot, and the relationship with Tracy, always building up to the back end of the film. We see some pretty tense scenes, some great action scenes, and a highlight for me, is the first of the Bond snow scenes!! Yup, this is the first time he takes to the snow, and gets involved in some pretty good gun fights on skis! With me being a snow junkie, it’s pretty easy to like this film, but I think it’s more than just that - it really is a solid film.
Once agian, we have John Barry as the music guru, and it shows. Some absolutely beautiful music here, especially the iconic song “We have all the time in the world” sung by Louis Armstrong - just a beautiful track this one. The title song is an instrumental piece, and has an epic scope to it that really set the benchmark for future instrumental soundtracks. Worth hunting down. Of note: Contemporary group the Propellorheads did a remix of this track a few years back, and it’s been a great re-imagining of it - hunt it down!
So here’s the clincher - stop reading if you haven’t seen it - you’ve been warned.
This has quite possibly the one and only real emotionally heart wrenching moment of the entire series. Bond marries Tracy in a perfect ceremony, and to this viewer, it’s completely plausible and enjoyable. But it’s Bond. He’s the one man who cannot, and could not have a real relationship - and it’s the tragic end of this that brings me to tears every time I see the film, and also every time I hear that painfully titled song. They most definately do not have all the time in the world…
Some will say this departure from the style and character of the series is it’s downturn - for me, it’s the highlight. With the out of control action scenes of the last two films, this slows things back down to a much more realistic approach. Maybe not as grand, but certainly much more appropriate. Two thumbs up from me.
James Bond will return in…
Diamonds are Forever.