On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
This Never Happened To The Other Fellow
Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the 6th official James Bond movie as he continues his hunt for the illusive Spectre. Released in 1969, it stars George Lazenby as James Bond, Diana Rigg, and Telly Savalas.
That's right, Sean Connery is NOT James Bond! He bailed from this movie, and I think he made the right choice. Why? Well, some movies require food to make them enjoyable, often popcorn, since eating food is enjoyable, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service was one of those movies that need food. Trying to get through this movie without food is like being on a diet at an all-you-an-eat buffet – you'll find yourself hungry and bored.
This movie should have been a new step in the James Bond franchise, with a new Bond, new tricks, new ideas, and new music. It wasn't. Actually, Bond is the same old Bond, just a new actor, the tricks are the same as what we've already seen, Spectre is still the target, and the voices were poorly recorded in several areas making the movie feel cheap. The action was also poorly handled resulting in choppy and fake looking sequences. We do see a few new toys, like a very early photocopier, and combination lock decoder, but that's about it.
The first hour is very boring. The story moves at a snails pace as it ever-so-slowly brings the commander toward his goal. In fact, a Bond movie hasn't taken so long to develop since Dr. No, but at least that one had its excuses. It is as if they forgot about what worked in the previous 007 movies and just made a standard spy movie.
Actually it feels like On Her Majesty's Secret Service is two movies squished together to make one – a 007 movie built for Sean Connery, and a generic spy movie starring George Lazenby. It probably didn't help that this was George's movie debut.
Worse yet, the villain, who just didn't get enough time in You Only Live Twice, is back with a new face, too. Hell, he couldn't even recognize James Bond! What. The. Hell. There was no way that this was the same Bond series that starred Sean Connery. This one felt more like one of those terrible unofficial movies like the original Casino Royales!
And then there was the awful downhill skiing scene that had the goons all over the place. One second he had a two minute head start, then they were right behind him, then they were really high up, then they stop to light flares, yet it is as if he is standing there with him even though he doesn't stop, and... I think you get the picture.
Surprisingly, only about thirty minutes of the movie actually felt like its action-packed predecessors. That's thirty minutes of a two-hour and twenty-two minute movie! What were they thinking?
There is only one thing I actually really liked about this movie, and that was the romantic James Bond. That's right, he was romantic for a change. He even fell in love with Tracy, the new Bond Girl. Sure, he was still a womanizing pervert, but at least he had class.
Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, the ending solidified how bad of a movie this was. It wasn't just a bad James Bond movie, but a poorly written movie in general. I don't think I have to continue at this point, but do yourself a favour and pretend On Her Majesty's Secret Service doesn't exist and skip to the next one, unless you want to see what a romantic James Bond looks like. I really can't believe they didn't pretend this movie never existed and shelved it as non-canon.
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