Today’s Bond film – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) will have two reviews. For the first review, here’s Luke of Oracle of Film‘s thoughts on the first non-Connery Bond Canon film.
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE
“There’s always something formal about the point of a pistol.”
Number of Times Seen: 2
Brief Synopsis: Bond gets involved with a beautiful Countess, realising she could be his only lead and finding Blofeld.
My Take on It: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is either one of the worst or one of the best Bond films depending on who you ask. While the more emotional side of Bond is now deemed okay with the recent reboot, before Lazenby was categorised as the weakest Bond. I fall on neither side of the love/hate camp, thinking that OHMSS is merely okay.
The problem is not Lazenby (who is sadly asked to do a Connery impression, rather than try anything new), but a weak script. Bond goes through the motions, drifting through his own story, until he is asked to take part in an action sequence. Blofeld somehow doesn’t recognise his old nemesis and Diana Riggs’ ground-breakingly interesting Bond girl is reduced to a business transaction by the writers. It is a shoddy attempt at a story and makes this movie really hard to stick with. Even the iconic ending is severely under-cooked. This is a shame, because it has become a cult moment, so when the reality of it is a pretty rushed affair, OHMSS loses a lot of its credibility.
Thankfully, the climax is fun enough to stick with it. A car chase is the highlight of the movie, as Bond escapes Blofeld’s headquarters in the Alps. It is followed up by a pretty decent gun fight and a pay-off much better than You Only Live Twice. Performances are also great to watch, Diana Riggs and Telly Savalas getting the chance to shine, while Connery is taking a break from proceedings. While the ending sequence is rushed, as I said, you must appreciate someone trying to break from formula. Perhaps it was just a little harsh asking the new guy to take part in this momentous break from the norm, Lazenby becoming the fall guy for the failure of this movie.
Bottom Line: The later scenes help OHMSS claw back some respect, but the writers have no control of the build-up, making this the weakest Bond yet.