Countdown to Skyfall: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Countdown to Skyfall: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969)

BOND: George Lazenby

DIRECTOR: Peter Hunt

BOND GIRL(S): Diana Rigg (Tracy)

COOL GADGETS: A combination safecracking device and photocopying machine.

THEME SONG: "All the Time in the World," sung by Louis Armstrong.  Unlike other Bond films, the theme song here appears in a love montage, rather than over the opening credits.

IMDB PLOT SUMMARY: James Bond woos a mob boss's daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld's allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world.

ICONIC MOMENTS: The snowbound action sequences are pretty memorable - especially the skiing.  Christopher Nolan was clearly inspired by this film in crafting the third dream layer in Inception.  Lazenby has a bad-ass moment sliding across ice while shooting people.  James Bond gets married!

FUN FACTS: The producers reportedly picked Lazenby to step into Connery's shoes based on his appearance in a commercial for Big Fry's chocolate.

VERDICT: Great action sequences save this entry from being mediocre, even if the filmmakers seem to be borrowing from every winter sport.  Skiing, bobsledding, you name it.  Lazenby gets a bad rap for being the only actor to only get to play Bond once, and I can't say that some of that criticism is undeserved.  He handles the physical demands of the role, but not the emotional ones.  He comes across as a bit stiff and botches the big death scene at the end of the film.  Connery's shadow looms large over this movie.  Telly Savalas may be a more physically imposing and active Blofeld, but he lacks the weird, evil-genius menace that Donald Pleasance brought to the role.  The middle sequences where Bond has to pose as a gay genealogist really fell flat to me.  In fact, anytime Diana Rigg is off screen, On Her Majesty's Secret Service suffers.  Lazenby may be the lead, but Rigg is the real movie star here.  I liked the fatalistic note the movie ends on, featuring the death of a major character, but it doesn't play as well as it could have.

GRADE: B-

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