On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

 

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We open up on the Universal Exports sign, the front for Great Britain’s secret spy offices, and this time we don’t see Bond, but M, Q, and Moneypenny discussing the sticky wicket they find themselves in, a shortage of secret agents or something, I don’t know. But wait! I hear the “James Bond Theme” swinging away and see a man driving a swanky car. Is this Bond? Well, he pops a smoke in his mouth and is driving recklessly so it must be Bond. He zooms around a twisty roadway and comes across a red convertible. Taking out a telescope, he espies this woman walking on the beach, making sure to ogle her walking sticks. She walks into the ocean and it looks like she’s going for a swim. The kind of swim you don’t come back from. That is, she’s drowning herself.

Bond drives right onto the beach and jumps out of his car, and hey! It’s no longer Sean Connery, but George Lazenby in his only turn as Bond. He runs into the surf and carries the woman back to land (because suicide is a sin in the Church of England). She’s passed out(?), even though she was just walking, and he rouses her. He gives her the old “My name is Bond, James Bond” line but darnit, there’s a gun to his head now. She’s taken away by a goon in a blue sweater while the other goon tells Bond to start walking.

Bond gets into a boat that’s on shore and the man goes to shoot him, but Bond kicks the gun out of his hand and throws an anchor at his head. Then splish-splash, they’re surf fighting, which is not nearly as cool as it sounds. Meanwhile, the woman is left alone as the other goon goes to help his partner. After Bond drowns his opponent, it’s round two with the other dude, but Bond smashes him good.  What? Then another guy jumps him, but Bond quickly disposes of that dude. The woman jumps into Bond’s car and drives off on her own. She zooms away and Bond quips (ugh), “This never happened to the other fellow.” GET IT?

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“Hi, I’m your new James Bond. I’m sure we’re going to have lots of adventures together in future films.” (A producer whispers into his ear) “Oh. Never mind.”

Opening credits start and it’s a mix of classic Bond music with a little fuzz bass. The title sequence is pretty neat and Op Art is displayed as it highlights some of the past Bond girls. Hey! Telly Savalas is in this movie! “Who loves ya, baby?” It’s an instrumental, which is fine, and it’s kind of weird for the franchise to already be playing the nostalgia card in its opening sequence, since this is only the sixth movie. I guess back then that was a lot, but now that there’s been 25(!) Bond films, it seems a bit premature. Anyway, it’s all silhouettes and hour glasses and the theme is a jaunty little piece of music. Hey, a Louis Armstrong song is in this movie, too! Neat. It’s surprising how much suggestive nudity they got past the censors. I guess they didn’t count nipples if they were in silhouette.

So the film begins proper as Bond pulls up in his Aston Martin to a nice hotel. He’s shown around his hotel, which has a queen-size bed on his balcony that overlooks the pool. Fade to night, and Bond is in his tux going straight for the tables. He makes a beeline to the baccarat, of course, and takes a seat to destroy everyone else at the table. Everyone’s smoking because it’s still the 60’s, and I don’t know how long he’s been gambling, but he’s already at the dealer’s seat; I’m actually learning how baccarat works just by watching these movies. Some schmuck next to him slurs, “Too rich for my blood,” and Bond gives him a withering look of disapproval.

Then a beautiful woman shows up to salt Bond’s game, but she screws the pooch on her first hand and asks for the bank to float her but they’re like, yeah right asshole. So Bond throws her the money for her gambling debt and asks her to be his potential partner for the evening (if you know what I mean; a sexy partner) but she walks away in disgust.

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“How’s our chemistry?” “Kill yourself.” “So pretty good, then.”

It’s the woman from the beginning that tried to drown herself; her name is Tracy, and she’s asking why the hell Bond’s trying to help her anyway. She says to check up on her later in her room and Bond orders caviar for two for later. He gets back to her room looking around for sex and finds the room service he ordered is there—along with a punch to the back of his head! This assailant just smashes him proper and we get a classic “Bond fucking destroys a room in a fight” scene. The action looks a little sped up but it’s also pretty effective. Anyway, he knocks this dude out cold and splits, trying the caviar on the way out. Seriously.

Not two minutes after a bare-knuckle beating, Bond goes back to his room and takes off his jacket. A hand comes into frame and slips his gun from his jacket, and it’s Tracy holding it to Bond. She’s playing unbelievably hard-to-get, but Bond grabs the gun from her hand and…oh goddammit, he smacks her around while interrogating her. I thought we left this kind of behavior back in Thunderball, James! But she looks at him in the eye and tells him she’s not a liar and doesn’t know any fucking thing about some asshole in her room, and also fuck you, guy. But crap, the bruiser in blue he just kicked the hell out of is outside his door. Tracy lays on his outside bed and says she’s here for a business transaction. Because now Bond is just straight-up buying sex. But he’s like, you don’t owe me shit, lady, and you seem like you’re in trouble. But Tracy blows him off, and then they have the sex(?). It’s…not great.

So the next morning, Bond wakes up alone in his balcony bed (is this a feature some hotels have? Do I just not travel enough?) and he orders more room service. He asks the operator to ring Tracy’s room, but she’s already checked out. Also, she left behind the money he forwarded him. While Bond is leaving the hotel, he’s stopped and held at gunpoint into the back of a car. There’s the dude he fought the night before, who holds a knife to him. Bond just smirks and smiles his way through this situation, and Lazenby’s Bond is a little too smug for my liking. Plus he smacked Tracy around, which is uncouth to the nth degree.

Anyway, he’s brought into some building, but he kicks the hell out of his three abductors, with a weird echo sound effect accompanying each blow that I do not like. He zips into the room they were about to bring him in, knife drawn for throwing, and meets Draco of Draco Construction. Bond says fuck it and throws the knife  at a calendar right next to this mustachioed dude’s head. Then he’s brought a martini and they get down to brass tacks.

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“It’s Europe in the 1960’s, so let’s drink and talk about my daughter like she’s property to be negotiated between us men.”

Bond knows this dude’s the head of a large crime syndicate and wonders what the hell he wants. Turns out this is about Tracy, who is this guy’s daughter. He churns out some sad story while Bond lights up a smoke and lays back to hear this shitshow. I’m kind of drumming my fingers at this point as well. He says his daughter’s all sorts of fucked up and Bond’s like, so what? Draco says look, she needs help and “what she needs is a man,” and since Bond is All Man, he’s the right guy for the job. Draco promises him a million pounds if he marries Tracy, but Bond’s like, what the fuck do I need that for? Bond asks if he knows where Blofeld is, but Draco doesn’t know—but he could find out and would tell his son-in-law if he knew. Hint. Bond says lemme get drunk and think about it.

Bingo bango! There goes the hat sailing across the room and Bond goes immediately into flirting mode with Moneypenny. But wait! She’s like, fuck off asshole, you ditched out of here for a while and didn’t even contact me. Finally he says, let’s get together this evening, but Moneypenny’s like, this is a work thing, not a personal thing. Bond got FACED! So he keeps moving to M’s office, where he’s fired immediately because he hasn’t found Blofeld in the two years they’ve given him to do so. M just says kick rocks, and Bond makes Moneypenny take a note saying that he wasn’t fired, he quits! Then he goes into his office (wait, he has an office?) and packs up his shit. This is kind of like when I was laid off, only it was just me packing up goofy tchotchkes off my desk and not the numerous gadgets I’ve collected during my many spy adventures. Then he sits down for a drink and apologizes to a portrait of the queen.

Moneypenny rings Bond and says M wants to see him again. M says request granted, and Bond stares daggers at him. He tells Moneypenny that it’s over, but Moneypenny did a little switcheroo on him, having only written down a request for a 2-week leave of absence. Then M rings Moneypenny and thanks her for doing that. Moneypenny’s so money and she doesn’t even know it.

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Putting the money in Moneypenny, all day every day.

So James fucks off to stalk Tracy for a while. He goes to a bull fight, which is an abhorrent sport, and it turns out to be Draco’s special birthday bloodsport. Draco introduces his daughter to Bond, but she’s not happy about any of this and suspects her dad’s up to something. Her sister spills the beans about their dad’s intentions with Bond, and we’re treated to a few glimpses of the awful, awful sport of bullfighting. Tracy knows what’s up immediately and has a real attitude for being treated like property. Oh, Bond, trust me: If they start like terrible pains in the ass, they stay terrible pains in the ass.

Anyway, Tracy demands Draco tell Bond what he promised for this arrangement, and Draco lets out that there’s a connection between Blofeld and a fellow named Gumbold. Now Tracy just ups and leaves, pissed about the whole thing, but Bond goes after her. He catches up to Tracy, who’s crying, and he dries her tears. And then he holds her. And they go horseback riding. And that Louis Armstrong song I spotted in the credits plays. It’s their falling in love montage! What the fuck is this doing in a James Bond film? I guess it’s nice to see Bond starting to settle down a little, but at the same time, this isn’t what I watch James Bond films for. Also, Lazenby’s a pretty nerdy Bond.

So after their little montage of love, Bond says see you great folks soon! I’m meeting with this Gumbold character. By “meet,” of course, he means “break into  his office and snoop around.” He checks out the construction site across the street and has a case brought up to him via crane (what?). It’s a giant safecracking machine that gets to work while Bond sets his watch and plays the waiting game. Tracy tells her dad that she’s in love with Bond, and he seems worried about this (wasn’t this your idea in the first place, guy?), and Bond flips through a Playboy. Is this a James Bond film or a goddamn soap opera? I mean, a pretty smutty soap opera, but still. Anyway, the safe opens, he pokes around a bit, reads through documents, and my God will somebody please just fire a fucking gun?

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Pictured: “Working.”

He finds(?) what he’s looking for(?) and uses the safecracking device that’s also a copier(?). Meanwhile, Gumbold’s on his way back to the office, Bond tosses the safecracking copier into the crane bucket (that’s a weird combination of words) and leaves the office, having ripped out the Playboy centerfold for I guess the elevator ride down. His Aston Martin pulls into M’s estate, and it turns out M is a lepidopterist. He says look asshole, I found communiques between Blofeld and Gumbold, so put me back on the case, goddammit. His plan is to act as a representative of a college to get closer to some fucking plan, I don’t know; this shit is hard to follow. But now we’re at a college filled with the most British people possible. Some academic dork is letting Bond take his place for his meeting with Blofeld. The Received Pronunciation from this limey prof is nearly impenetrable.

So Bond’s off to Switzerland for the meeting. Hey! A new locale! And we’re getting close-ups of some creeps at the train station that are going to be the bad guys(?). A lady comes up to meet him and Bond is dressed up like Sherlock Holmes and is putting on a hoidy-toidy accent. They get in a sleigh (that’s adorable) and Switzerland in the late 1960’s looks stunning. A guy in a Volkswagen Bug follows them, and they get into a helicopter (did the Bond producers buy too many helicopters for the last movie?). They’re going up into The Alps, and I would never get into a helicopter because it looks like a goddamn nightmare. But the snowy caps of The Alps are beautiful. The travelogue parts of Bond films are just the tops.

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No funny caption here: I’m just enjoying the splendor of nature.

They land at presumably the top of the world and disembark from the copter. Bond’s playing an even bigger dork in this role than Lazenby’s already been playing Bond, and they land at some crazy compound. She says that Bond has to go under medical examination, but it’s also because she probably suspects what the fuck’s up. She calls up the Count to let him know that their guest has arrived and shows him to his cozy room. Anyway, the “Count” they keep mentioning is Blofeld, and they put Bond in a room that he cannot leave without contacting somebody to open the door. Once he’s alone, he checks out the room for spy stuff, and it’s in this scene that I notice the score isn’t very good; it’s military rat-a-tat drums with strings and a bass, so not exactly a toe-tapper. This movie is also kinda meh. Like, nothing has really happened yet except for some scenic views and watching Bond fall in love. Come on! Give me something to work with!

Bond dresses in a ridiculous frilly kilt outfit and goes for a meeting in the alpine room. It’s swanky and filled with numerous beautiful women. They pepper him with questions and he lightly flirts with them. The gals say that they never have men around there, and he explains what a genealogist is to them because he’s pretending to be one. This movie just barrels forward without regard for safety or sanity! They sit down for dinner and they’re all there for their various allergies to food. I don’t know. Where is this all going, movie? The women also feel this way, as they start snoozing after hours of listening to this goddamn bore drone on about genealogy. He gives a double entendre about gold balls and this perks the gals up. Holy smokes, one girl reaches up his kilt and writes down her room number on his thigh! He mentions that there’s a bit of stiffness coming on, and I hide under my desk until the scene’s over for fear of being knocked over by the sheer amount of entendres being thrown around.

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Pictured: More “Working.”

Finally, he’s brought to his meeting with the Count, and it’s Blofeld’s standard futuristic layer architecture and design. Wup! There’s Telly Savalas as Blofeld only without the hideous scar on his face. He doesn’t recognize Bond, even though they just met face-to-face in the last movie. Then again, two years have passed, and I guess Bond had reconstructive surgery on his face after literally turning Japanese in the last movie. He sent for a genealogist to prove that he’s a Count by blood, and Savalas’ Blofeld has an American accent, which is weird. Also apparently he gives people lobotomies to treat allergies, so I’m guessing that these sexy lady patients are fembots like in Austin Powers, a film series that took everything cool about James Bond and watered it down for babies. Bond tries to get Blofeld to come with him to do some field research on his bloodline, but Blofeld’s like nah brah.

When Bond gets to his room, he checks out the room number on his thigh and then sits down for more…studying. Goddammit. DO SOMETHING, MOVIE! Apparently Bond agrees, because he tries to find a way out of his room, but the door’s electrified. He short circuits the door, hears the main bad guy lady Irma walking and talking down the hall, waits until she passes, and leaves his room. (Can someone diagram that last sentence for me?) I guess he’s going to smash with the girl in Room 8. So he gets into her room, and she’s naked in her bed. OH, and Bond’s pretending to be a homosexual in his genealogy role. This woman’s name is Ruby, and they start getting down to smash town.

Afterwards, he interrogates her as to how she ended up here, but some crazy alarm goes off and she goes into a zombie-like state. So I guess this is where the fembots idea from Austin Powers comes from. Although it’s more likely from one of the Flint movies, which were the original (and excellent) spy parody films that were produced in the 1960’s. Anyway, Bond witnesses how this treatment works, which is some form of brainwashing from Blofeld. Ruby is hypnotized and Bond just..leaves. Instead of investigating this further. Because SPY! He goes back to his room, and another woman’s waiting for him. Guess being the only man at a treatment clinic on top of a mountain has its perks. Again, he says he usually likes dudes but this gal is special. Then they take a trip to Sex Town! I’ll say this: Bond’s got some game. And probably a lot of STDs. They’re going to have to go to another clinic to treat those.

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It’s not cheating if it’s work-related sex.

The blonde dude that was following Bond at the beginning tries to get into a cable car that goes up to the clinic, but he’s brushed off. Is this our new Felix Leiter? Only time will tell. Back at the top of the world, the gals are playing curling, which is a neat sport that I enjoy watching (even as an American), and the guy that I’m assuming is another spy is climbing the sheer face of the mountain to get up there. But he’s shot at from the top. Meanwhile, Blofeld comes up to say hello, and the fellow climbing the mountain is caught. Blofeld tells him go get the fuck off the mountain. Meanwhile, Blofeld turns down Bond’s request to go off the mountain to totally not do spy stuff and talk to that dude. Bond lines up his night so that he has a new chick every hour. Is this guy just eating steak and Viagra?

Ruby goes for his 8 o’clock sexing in Ruby’s room, but oh shit! It’s Irma, who knocks him the fuck out. He wakes up underneath a Christmas tree, and Blofeld’s like, guess what fucko, I know you’re 007. Blofeld gives Bond his whole plan: he figured out how to destroy the economy of the whole world through bacteria warfare(?) by making everything infertile. Everything. Plants, livestock, and people. Yikes. This guy’s a real asshole. Also, yes, those girls are under his mind control, and the plot dodges explaining exactly how. Meanwhile, Blofeld keeps Bond alive because he’ll be convincing to authorities of his plan, and my god, Blofeld, you still haven’t learned that just killing Bond is the only way to go.

Anyway, they throw Bond into a dungeon (another downgrade from his swanky digs) which is the gear room for the trolly. It looks very uncomfortable and dangerous, but I suppose that’s the point. The gears start moving and this reminds me of a nightmare I had. Meanwhile, the girls get Christmas presents and is this place a clinic or the Playboy mansion? Also, why would they put Bond in this room with essential machinery? Come on, Blofeld! This isn’t your first dance with Bond.

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“By keeping you alive, you’ve constantly foiled my plans. But I’ve got a good feeling about it this time.”

So Bond’s hanging on for dear life in this loud, crazy cacophony as he figures out how to get the hell out of there. He rips out the lining of his pockets and makes mittens so he can hold onto the cable for the car. The women at the clinic are knocked out by Irma with something in their something (I don’t know), and Bond almost gets ground to hamburger by the gears but jumps off and holds onto the edge of a platform for dear life with his kitten mittens. He goes to climb over again before the damn cable car starts again and gets to the other side. He climbs down the cable and drops to the top of a cable car and back into the clinic. I know this all sounds beat-for-beat, but there’s not much else going on at the moment.

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And then the cable car comes towards him and he wonders what he’s gonna do, and…

Anyway, he’s back inside the clinic/hotel and espies Blofeld’s hypnosis of the Playboy bunnies. They snap out of their hypnosis and open up their presents and are given secret spy weapons, including a receiver through which Blofeld will transmit instructions to them. Bond sneaks into the lower level of the compound and hides in the elevator. When the security guard goes to investigate, whammo! Bond offers him a half a pound of punch on a shut up roll. The women are packed up and split for the real world below, and Bond continues his snooping. He quips something to the knocked-out guard but the sound is muffled so I fortunately don’t catch it.

Then he goes night skiing, which my parents used to do and said was fun but it looks completely insane. Especially if you have henchmen shooting at you. The blue screen is strong in this sequence, as any closeup of Bond is in front of an obvious blue screen, with the wide shots being a professional skier. Still, it’s pretty exciting, and I’m always a fan of watching crazy freestyle skiing. The guards give chase, firing weapons and such, and Blofeld is really hands-on in his operation in this movie because he’s chasing Bond on skis too!

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Nightskiing/Deserves a quiet night

Bond loses a ski and continues with only one ski, and the guns go pew pew pew. Blofeld calls one of his henchmen that lands in a tree like an idiot, so that’s kind of funny. He loses another guy in another tree (are trees secret agents?), and Bond knocks a dude off the mountain, and he turns into a floppy dummy as he falls. Bond is just beating the hell out of these guys! He and a goon fight on a precipice, and that dude gets chucked off the side, as well. A lot of death by falling from a great height in this sequence.

In town, the women split for their respective homes while Bond tries to give these henchmen the slip. He ducks into a cast iron bell shop (what?), and he and a henchman have one clattering fight. He wins, of course, and disappears into the ice carnival crowd. But Irma spots him so there’s more chasing. Which is getting a little tedious at this point. When are we gonna get to the resolution factory?! It’s just hundreds of people skating in all directions, which looks chaotic, and more medium-paced pursuit keeps happening. Hey! Tracy’s here! What? OK, whatever.

So James and Tracy get the fuck out of there, and I’m more than a little grossed out that James just had sex with two different women the previous day and is now snuggling up to his ostensible girlfriend. But they hop in her sweet ride and get the heck out of there. Tracy’s asking why they’re looking for him, and James is like, duh SPECTRE. But she’s like, that’s cool. James gets to a phone booth to contact London, but boi-oi-oing! They find him and start a-rootin’ tootin’ shootin. Then they start with the car chase.

Oh, God, movie, please, get to where you’re going. So far it’s been like a half hour of James escaping from the clinic and then being chased by goons. Is this more of that “character development” crap between him and Tracy? Well she has no regard for human life, just like Bond, as they drive through a crowd and into a mini-car race. So it’s two sociopaths in love? What kind of message is that for the kids, anyway? Oh, fuck this: I’m not going to describe anything else until this endless chase stops.

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The movie races around looking for the plot.

OK, so he and Tracy escape and get caught in a snow storm. They pull in to a farmhouse (in the Alps?) and hang out in the stable.Tracy asks what he’s been up to, and he says that he’s been “On The Majesty’s Secret Service” (Hey! The title of this goddamn thing!) so it’s top-secret. Bond has a weird soft moment with Tracy where he ponders quitting this crazy spy game and finding a more normal gig. So he asks her to marry him, which is something I never expected to hear out of Bond’s mouth. She’s not wearing pants in this scene, so she must be freezing. They blah blah at each other and both sound like the same person, so I guess Bond found the perfect person to marry: a quipping sociopath narcissist. Then they get down with each other, and that’s gross considering how Bond just sexed two women the day before without protection. He’s gross.

Anyway, Blofeld and Co. show up at the farmhouse to kill them, but Bond and Tracy are already hitting the slopes. So they give chase, and although I always find skiing an aesthetically interesting sport, I’m kind of getting sick of it at this point in the movie. They shoot at Bond and Tracy, and it’s cool to watch them use roofs as ramps. One of the henchmen gets ground into paste from a snow powder machine (Bond’s quip here? “He had lots of guts,” which doesn’t even make sense in context), and the chase just keeps going.

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Side note: This is one of the grosser images I’ve seen in a Bond movie.

Blofeld starts an avalanche, and this is also impressive to watch; I think they actually triggered a real avalanche for this footage because it was still the 1960’s and anyone could do anything they damn well pleased. Tracy falls and Bond takes the dive with her, and they roll down the hill just in front of the avalanche(!). It is not just wildly improbable they would survive this: they would literally be crushed into a fine dust. Blofeld’s happy about this, and he tells his men to retrieve Tracy.

Man, this movie just keeps on going. Twenty-four minutes left, and when is this going to head into the third act? It’s like an endless second act that started over an hour ago and forgot to start heading towards a resolution; it’s just an endless chase on this mountain. Bond just…goes back to London, leaving Tracy with Blofeld. M gets a call while Bond paces the room, and M says they’re going to give Blofeld a pardon for his past crimes and that damn Count title that he’s been looking for so he doesn’t kill everything on Earth. Bond wants to go out there and kill Blofeld and save Tracy, but M’s like tut tut, dear chap. M says we don’t care about your private life, Bond, how do you not get this yet? So Bond gets Draco on the horn to destroy Blofeld’s mountaintop clinic.

Tracy’s getting the greasy hand from Blofeld, and she keeps pushing him away. Meanwhile, Draco and Bond are on their way in helicopters/You Only Live Twice surplus. Blofeld’s creeping gets interrupted by news that there’s a helicopter brigade coming their way. Draco says over the communique that they’re a Red Cross brigade, and Tracy recognizes her father’s voice. Tracy leads Blofeld down a distracting honeypot alley while Bond and Co. continue their mission. Again, this is another moment where I’m drumming my fingers waiting for the climax to start.

Hey! They finally helicopter(?) their way to the clinic and start shooting the place up from the sky. Grenades are thrown, automatic weaponry is used, and in general they are messing Blofeld’s clinic up. Tracy handles herself well with two broken bottles, and the James Bond Theme kicks in as Bond gets boots on the ground. There’s shooting and people falling off the mountain and Tracy’s getting choked by a goon, but she can handles herself pretty well. Meanwhile, Bond’s slip-siding all over the place and killing scores of people. He saves Tracy and she’s whisked away to safety while Bond goes after Blofeld.

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“Take that, health clinic!”

Bond takes some spy pictures of who and where the hypnotized women are, and Blofeld shoots at him as dynamite is placed all over the clinic. Blofeld runs and Bond gives chase, and Tracy is punched in the face and knocked out by her father when she refuses to leave without James! WHAT THE FUCK, MOVIE?!?!

Blofeld hops out of the building to the side of the mountain, and his stupid clinic explodes all over the place. Now it’s Bond struggling to catch him, but Blofeld gets in a bobsled and down a track he goes. Bond hops in one and gives chase, and all of this also looks very dangerous. Unregulated, unsafe fun must have been de rigueur back then. But whoops! Bond throws a grenade into Blofeld’s sled, and Blofeld throws it back at him. Bond jumps out before it ‘splodes, then runs over to another part of the track and grabs the back of Blofeld’s sled, and they’re just having an insane fight in a moving bobsled. It’s seriously pretty mental. Blofeld gets kicked upwards by Bond into the crook of a tree branch, which seemingly breaks his neck, and Bond says (ugh) “He’s branched off.” Then a rescue dog comes up to see if Bond’s OK, and Bond tells him to get him some damn Brandy. Oh, James. You alcoholic.

CUT TO Bond’s wedding day! Yes, James Bond gets married in this movie. Like, for realsies, not just as a spy cover. We hear Mr. and Mrs. James Bond be announced and they have a marvelous-looking reception. M and Q and Moneypenny are there, along with all of her dad’s goons. So all’s well that ends well. Weird ending for a James Bond film, especially since I know there are like 19 more of these films after this. They leave for their honeymoon, and Bond throws his hat at a crying Moneypenny. They’re driving away, talking about their future family and how they have all the time in the world, except whaaaaaat? She’s fucking shot to death in a drive-by by Blofeld and Irma! Holy smokes! The last shot is of Bond holding his dead bride in his arms, weeping. What a horrible ending!

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James Bond, everybody! Nothing but fun, adventure, and…tragic spousal death?

Conclusions

What the fuck, movie? What kind of ending is that? We go through this whole adventure with Bond, who’s kind of the most famous bachelor in fiction, and he falls in love with a woman to the point where he marries her, and you fucking kill her in the last scene? Jesus Christ!

I enjoyed about a half hour of this movie, when he was spying around in the clinic. There was cogency to that section, and it was delivering what I expect from a Bond movie: intrigue, dames, fighting, and exotic locales. Before and after that section? Not so much. It took forever to set this movie up, with the first hour dedicated solely to setting up Draco and Tracy. Then, that falling-in-love montage was bizarre, particularly in a James Bond movie. And finally, that ending: That awful ending that wipes clean what I just spent over two hours watching, building up to Bond getting married, and the ending just immediately throws the rest of the movie into the garbage.

As mentioned at the beginning of this recap, this was the only time George Lazenby played Bond, and I can see why: he is way too nerdy to be Bond. I don’t know if it’s his face or his mannerisms, but he did not project “cool, confident, and calm under pressure” the way Connery did. He was smart but often flailing. I can’t even say it was nice to see a “softer” side of Bond, since he smacked Tracy around, and violence against women is one of the worst offenses a Bond can make in my eyes.

It seems like the idea of “Bond in love” took over the regular pattern that Bond movies follow; as such, it’s like a completely different movie from the first half to the second, with a tacked-on third act that tries to conclude the first part (Bond in Love) while also hitting the reset button (by killing Tracy, thus making the whole first part of the movie useless). This was not a good Bond film, and I can see why Lazenby wasn’t invited back to the franchise. Well, we get Connery back for one more go in Diamonds Are Forever, yet another Bond movie I’ve never seen before. Will he be the Good Bond from You Only Live Twice or the awful Bond from Thunderball? Only time (and me watching the movie) will tell.

Rating

This movie seems like someone wrote a speculative Bond script called Bond in Love and the producers went, “OK, but also he’s gonna sleep with dames and fight Blofeld, right?” And the writer went, “Yeah…sure. Lemme just fix that…” and inserted a short action-adventure Bond story somewhere in the middle. And that was the good part! Similarly, I liked the travelogue to The Alps, and the set design was cool in the clinic. Also, Telly Savalas was a pretty good (although somewhat off) Blofeld. Lazenby sucked as Bond, the “Bond in Love” story sucked, and Bond’s characterization denigrated back into the abusive womanizer that made me retch in Thunderball. Since the good stuff was about 1/3 of the film, this movie gets 1½ out of 4 Bonds (or roughly ⅓of 4).

lazenby_rating

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2 comments

  1. […] On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – This movie seems like someone wrote a speculative Bond script called Bond in Love and the producers went, “OK, but also he’s gonna sleep with dames and fight Blofeld, right?” And the writer went, “Yeah…sure. Lemme just fix that…” and inserted a short action-adventure Bond story somewhere in the middle. And that was the good part! Lazenby sucks as Bond, the “Bond in Love” story sucks, and Bond’s characterization denigrated back into the abusive womanizer that made me retch in Thunderball. […]

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