When Sean Connery decided to take a rest from playing James Bond,
new film actor George Lazenby was chosen as his replacement. Lazenby
won the Golden Globe in 1969 for the most promising male newcomer for
his role in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.
Lazenby makes the mistake of trying to imitate Connery rather than
giving his own interpretation to the role, and as we all know,
imitations just make us yearn for the genuine article. Lazenby, an
exceedingly plain looking actor devoid of much personality, lacks
Connery's handsome face as well as his suave demeanor. He went on to
appear in the television soap opera "General Hospital" and in many
minor films. But, thankfully, he never again attempted the travesty of
acting the Bond role.
(Bond films titillate with hints of nudity and sex while showing
neither. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE skirts the no nudity policy
by having naked women dance during the opening credits, but they appear
only in silhouette.)
When a beautiful women named Tracy (Diana Rigg) runs away from
James Bond in the story's opening sequence, it causes him to remark
that, "This never happened to the other fella." The line pokes fun at
the switch but also serves to remind us that our old favorite is gone.
(Connery will be back two more times as James Bond, something we didn't
know or even suspect when this movie first played.)
The intelligent and sexy Diana Rigg, rightfully famous for her
role as Emma Peel in the TV series "The Avengers," seems miscast as a
Bond beauty. She's so much smarter than Lazenby than she seems out of
place. (I once had the delight of spending time in a small room with
Diana Rigg as we waited to see a private doctor in Harley Street in
London. I was merely a sick tourist, and she was there to escort her
ill mother. Even without make-up or fancy clothes her natural beauty
dominated the room like a thick perfume.)
When Lazenby, as Bond, quits in a huff early on in the film, one
feels like applauding in the vain hope that Connery will return
forthwith -- the applause being motivated as much by wanting to dispose
of Lazenby and his lackluster performance as by getting our old hero
The story's plot reeks of triviality. SPECTRE's #1, played this
time without much energy by Telly Savalas rather than the much better
Donald Pleasence, runs an exclusive allergy institute high atop a
private, snow-covered mountain. Richard Maibaum's script doesn't tell
us much about SPECTRE's plans until the last third of the movie.
Eventually, we learn that the dastardly deed in the works is the
unleashing of a deadly disease throughout the world. That is, unless
SPECTRE gets a huge payoff.
One of the secret advance technologies Bond uses is a small
photocopying machine of the size that most secretaries have in their
offices today. One day's imaginary wonders rapidly become tomorrow's
commonplace tools. We're still waiting, however, for THUNDERBALL-style
personal jetpacks to be available at Sharper Image.
The show has several technical problems. As Bond and Tracy race
one night down the mountain on skies with a band of men with guns
skiing furiously after them, the lighting is bizarre. Scenes clearly
shot during the day are interlaced with ones shot at night.
My son was surprised to see Bond wearing a dress. After arguing
unsuccessfully with him that it was a actually a kilt, I gave up and
allowed as how it was a dress afterall. A rose by any other name, etc.
"I hope I can live up to your high standards," Bond says at one
point. Well, Lazenby couldn't and didn't.
ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE runs way too long at 2:20. It is
rated PG for violence and sexual innuendo and would be fine for kids
around nine and up.
My son Jeffrey, almost 9, liked this movie but still likes
THUNDERBALL the best. He did not like Lazenby at all, and he thought
the new actor playing SPECTRE's #1 was not creepy enough. He has seen
the first 6 Bond films now, and he likes this one least of all.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes