On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Secret ServiceSynopsis: James Bond goes undercover in the treacherous Swiss Alps in this action-packed epic filled with artillery-laden ski pursuits, incredible stunts and nonstop thrills! George Lazenby leaps into the role of Agent 007 with supreme confidence and undeniable charisma, even finding love with the beautiful and seductive Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg). But first Bond must stop evil genius Blofeld (Telly Savalas) from releasing a germ warfare plot that could kill millions!

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Date of viewing: April 18, 2013

OHMSS

Opening credits

The Thorn: 7.5 – I would give the actual credits sequence high marks. I love the style of it, simplistic as it is, with all the beautiful silhouettes in it. Plus it’s backed by John Barry’s theme song – a phenomenal instrumental piece. However, the opening segment, which introduces us to our two leads, including a brand-spanking new Bond, is incoherent and nonsensical. I still remember my first reaction to it, many years ago, which was “WTF just happened?”.

(as a side-note, this sequence is completely out of context, and should normally appear much later in the film – as it did in the book)

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – The sequence is mainly a series of scenes of the previous movies falling down through an hour glass. What is it supposed to represent? The time passed since the last movie (in the story, 2 years have elapsed since the last movie). What ever it means, it is not pretty nor well executed.

joelito:

***

OHMSS
Story
The Thorn: 7.0 – I like that this film explores the more personal side of Bond, but it lacks excitement. Thankfully, there’s the interplay between Bond and Tracy that keeps things vibrant. As for Blofeld’s ploy… it seems veritably mundane after ‘You Only Live Twice’. It’s more realistic, I suppose, but it’s not anywhere nearly as cinematic.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Bond is obsessed with Blofeld. By chance, Bond meets Draco, another international criminal and makes a deal; Bond agrees to marry Draco’s daughter for a clue to the whereabouts of Blofeld.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Banter
The Thorn: 5.5 – There’s not much witty banter to speak of, and what little there is is marred by a soulless delivery from George Lazenby. The sequence with Moneypenny is quite indicative of how little charge and charisma he had – this was totally flat compared to even weakest moments that she had with Connery.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Lazenby’s Bond is less of a talker than Connery. Also for a good part of the movie, Bond is under cover and can’t verbally attack the dangerous hosts; however the movie is still filled with many innuendos and funny moments.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Villains
The Thorn: 6.5 – Aside from Blofeld, there’s only a handful of nondescript henchmen. And Blofeld, while usually a fascinating character, is played with utter blandness by Telly Savalas. First a squealing Dr. Loomis in ‘You Only Live Twice’, now a flavourless Kojak. Blofeld has seen better days….
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Blofeld has a another great evil plan to take over the world. I do miss however the Spectre organization.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Bond Girls
The Thorn: 8.5 – Bond’s main squeeze is Tracy, played with aplomb by Diana Rigg. She is defiant, self-reliant, a total match for Bond. She has personal problems, sure, but she’s miles away from the brainless dolls he usually gets. I’m a huge fan. On the flipside, Bond also gets surrounded by a bunch of these Barbie types in the second half of the film. The film mostly gets points for quantity here, as they’re all very attractive, but vacant.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Tracy is very beautiful and is a very interesting character. She is intelligent, proud and independent. She’s a perfect match for Bond. Blofeld’s patients are a selection of drop dead gorgeous women from all over the world (including the lovely Catherine Schell) for which Bond is happy to entertain (3 per evening).
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Gadgets
The Thorn: 2.0 – The only gadget in ‘OHMSS’ is a safecracking/photocopying device that lets Bond sit around while it does all the work. Pretty lame. Oh and there’s these portable radios that Blofeld gives his Angels of Death. But that’s barely worth mentioning.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Except for the clumsy safe cracker-photocopier combo unit, there isn’t any gadget, which I prefer.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Vehicles
The Thorn: 5.0 – All standard fare cars and helicopters. Some of the cars that Bond and Tracy drive are exquisite, but they’re still just cars. Whoopteedoo.
The Horrible Dr. B: N/A – Nothing fancy and gadgety.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Locales
The Thorn: 7.0 -It’s not especially exotic, but there are some beautiful vistas throughout this film, mostly in Portugal and Switzerland. The snow-covered Swiss landscapes are breathtaking.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Most of the time is spent in the alps, as Blofeld’s lair is located at the top of a remote mountain. The view from the lair is impressive. Probably one of the best lair. Beside the alps, the movie take place in various parts of Europe. One interesting scene was Draco’s birthday that took place at a corrida where we can glimpse some real bullfighting.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Stunts
The Thorn: 7.5 – There are very few stunts of any kind for the first hour and a half, aside from a couple of fistfights. However, the rest of the film has some exceptional work by the stunt team, in particular the bunch of skiers who brought to life a sequence of Bond being chased by Blofeld’s men. Fun, exciting, and not entirely implausible – it’s a highlight.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Best stunts so far in the series. In this movie we can really appreciate and see the work of the stuntmen: the most notables are the ski chases, the bobsleigh chase, and the car demolition derby.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Soundtrack
The Thorn: 8.5 – This is one of my favourite of the whole series, and it’s well-suited to the film, perfectly edited. And, as mentioned previously, I adore the theme to ‘OHMSS’ – so even though the James Bond theme itself only shows up twice, this largely makes up for it. However, the sappy Louis Armstrong song is better on album, as a stand-alone; it seemed out of place in a 007 film, even though it was for a romantic montage.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – This movie uses only 2 tracks. At least they are used well.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Best Bond Moment
The Thorn: The ski chase down the Swiss Alps was spectacular (rear projection shots aside). Until then, there had been very little excitement in the movie and this made up for it in spades; it was everything I would have expected from a James Bond film: velocity, action, humour, daredevil endeavours (i.e. not cgi or blue-screening), and so forth. My second favourite was the moment right before that, when Bond comes down the elevator and stays inside, prompting the guard to go check what’s going on. It wasn’t especially clever but it was nonetheless satisfying, giving us that tongue-in-cheek humour we’ve come to expect from Bond.
The Horrible Dr. B: Without any question, the most powerful moment of the movie is when Tracy, Bond’s new bride gets assassinated; Bond accepted to marry Tracy out of a deal, which Tracy was aware of, but they found that they were perfect for each other and were madly in love; Bond’s loss is devastating; I cried more than Moneypenny at the wedding.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Worst Bond Moment
The Thorn: I’m torn. Is it the opening sequence, which makes very little sense and feels like a crummy Italian b-movie? Or is it the whole time that Bond pretends to be Sir Hilary Bray, which is awkward and super-mega-boring? Either way these sequences take the air out of a room, spoiling the proceedings for me.
The Horrible Dr. B: Unfortunately, you have to ignore the fact that Blofeld and Bond have met before and know each other well. That just doesn’t makes any sense in this story. Beside this, and a few weaknesses here and there, you have a solid movie.
joelito:

***

OHMSS
Overall
The Thorn: 6.5 – I like that ‘OHMSS’ actually takes the time to connect the dots properly and somewhat believably – unlike the mess that was the ‘You Only Live Twice’. It’s a much more subdued affair, though, and is pretty much a drama for half of the film. So it’s not super exciting – at least not until the 90 minute mark, when it becomes non-stop action. Then we get more of a traditional Bond picture; that’s fun, and it saves the day, in my estimation. So it’s not a bad film, per se, but it would have been better if they had followed the book’s blueprint more closely and had a more charismatic star in the lead – because, although he was adequate in the part, Lazenby had no magnetism. And a Bond without magnetism is pretty much neutered.
The Horrible Dr. B: 9 – Lazenby’s Bond is quite different from Connery. Lazenby does have the physic and the good looks, but lacks the sophistication, smoothness and presence of Connery. Especially at the beginning of the movie, Lazenby is always smiling and lacks some seriousness.The love affair between Bond and Tracy is fake and forced at the beginning but their characters do fit very well together. It is very interesting that Bond accept to marry for the sake of completing a mission; one wonder what cost would be too great for Bond.
This movie is quite unique in the series for many reasons:
– Only movie with Lazenby as Bond.
– Only movie where Bond addresses the viewers.- Only movie where Bond married (not including fake marriages as in “You Only Live Twice”).- Only movie where we see Bond’s office (why does he have one?).

– Only movie where Bond wears a Kilt.

joelito: As a Bond film, I give it 7 stars. As a regular film, I give it 6 stars.

James Bond will return inDiamonds Are Forever

One response to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  1. Pingback: You Only Live Twice | thecriticaleye·

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