ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE Bond: George Lazenby - 1 tusk On Her Majesty's Secret Service has long held the top spot as my favorite James Bond movie. A good villain, a great Bond girl, thrilling locations, and an awesome story make this one step away from being the perfect 007 movie. The weak link is George Lazenby.
It's not really his fault. He does a decent job in the role and could have continued on and made the role his own. As I've mentioned before, he was the much needed buffer between Sean Connery and anyone else who would play the part. Connery couldn't play the role forever. He was already looking a bit weary in Thunderball and even more so in You Only Live Twice. It was time for him to depart.
That said, OHMSS could probably have been perfect had Connery stayed in the role one more time with that exact script, director and supporting cast. Or, had Lazenby stayed with the franchise longer, his movie wouldn't stick out like it does.
Upon rewatching it this time, I tried to really focus on how Lazenby did in the role without comparing him to any of the others. And, I say for the most part, he does pretty good. There are parts though where I feel I'm watching someone just pretend to be James Bond rather than actually be James Bond. He lacked the instant charisma and a lot of the beginning portion of the movie was spent trying to assure viewers that this is the same guy, just a new face. The difference is downplayed when Roger Moore takes over and that might have been the way to go here.
Girl: Diana Rigg as Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo - 2 tusks Maybe it's my affinity for Diana "Emma Peel" Rigg speaking, but I'm not sure there's been a better Bond girl. She's got tons of personality and can hold her own in many situations. I would like to have seen more of her backstory. And I felt great loss when she was killed at the end. Only she was worthy of being the wife of James Bond, even if only for a few minutes.
Gadgets: Safe Cracker/Photo Copier - 2 tusks This movie was light on the gadgets which made me happy. The most prominent was the large device that cracked the safe and photocopied files. Radioactive lint was mentioned, but not really used.
Opening Theme: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" by John Barry Orchestra - 2 tusks Getting away from the opening theme songs, this great instrumental score and set the pace throughout the movie.
Villain: Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld - 2 tusks Who loves ya baby? Who doesn't love Telly Savalas? While I would like to have seen the Blofeld consistently cast, that didn't happen. And Telly's Blofeld is another great villain who is in the thick of the action, much like I had mentioned with Largo in Thunderball. He's right in the thick of it with two of the major chase scenes. He commands a great screen presence.
[As I was watching it, I was reminded that Lex Luthor from Superman: The Animated Series was based heavily on Telly Savalas. I have no ill-will towards Gene Hackman, but why didn't Telly Savalas get that part in Superman: The Movie?]
Pre-title opening sequence - 1 tusk The only weakness here is its lack of clarity. Tracy is apparently suicidal, but we don't easily get that from the scenes we're shown. She walks into the ocean three feet and Bond jumps in to save her? And the guys who were after her...who were they? With an improper set-up, it loses a tusk. But it retains a tusk for some good fights and a clever line at the end of the opening.
Story: Beyond the things mentioned above, this movie has great strength in its script. One of the major things we see is Bond's character fleshed out a bit more. He goes through a bit more angst in this one and shows some vulnerabilities, something Connery hadn't really shown in the previous two movies. I love the scene where Bond quits and Moneypenny keeps that from happening.
The plot is complex and I love the entire sequence of scenes where Bond has had to go undercover. From a continuity standpoint, it doesn't make sense that Blofeld doesn't recognize Bond since he had seen him in You Only Live Twice. But Bond was wearing glasses, so maybe the Clark Kent trick really does work.
My only complaint would be that we don't get more with Diana Rigg. As I mentioned above, I felt like her set up needed more and I would have welcomed a truncated chase scene if it meant expanding her backstory.
Speaking of chase scenes, this movie has the best Bond chase sequence beginning on the skis, picking up with a car chase, and then ending on skis again. For the time period this was made in, these were incredibly well put-together.
Had Lazenby and Director Peter Hunt returned for Diamonds Are Forever, the movie would have ended with the Bonds driving away and then the end sequence of the movie would have been the opening of Diamonds. But, I like the way it ended. This movie wouldn't have near the power that it does if it didn't end with Tracy's death.