The sixth Bond movie saw a temporary change of leading man, with Sean Connery (the one true Bond) departing, and odd-Bond-out George Lazenby making his one and only appearance as 007.
After five gruelling movies in six years, Sean Connery was sick of playing Bond as the Sixties came to a close. He clearly told the series’ bosses that he would not return for another go-round after 1967’s You Only Live Twice.
This put the producers in the unenviable position of needing to replace the man who was largely responsible for making the series work. A thorough search ensued, and the result was that Australian actor Lazenby took the role for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Actually, “actor” is a serious overstatement, as Lazenby had worked almost exclusively as a model prior to his break as Bond.
Lazenby is one of many people’s main criticisms of OHMSS, and for good reason; his lack of experience really shows.
Granted, it would have been hard for any actor to take over the role, but Lazenby seemed ill-prepared for the role and his weak acting often hurts the film.
OHMSS is one of the most unusual Bonds of all and deviates from the standard path in a number of ways.
It has an oddly-paced plot and comes across as three different films in a way – Each act seems almost unrelated to the others, and this inconsistency is jarring.
In the first, Bond starts to develop leads to capture personal enemy Blofeld (here played by Telly Savalas, pictured below left) but he meets and falls in love with Tracy (Diana Rigg, pictured below right), which takes up much of this section of the film.
During the second act, Tracy completely vanishes and Bond poses as genealogist Sir Hillary Bray to infiltrate Blofeld’s Swiss villa, a place stocked with babes who are allegedly getting their allergies cured!
Not only is Tracy not seen, but Bond – who apparently made an intense connection with her – does his usual thing and puts the moves on as many of these women as possible.
The film moves toward its conclusion with Bond’s identity becoming revealed, his escape from Blofeld’s lair and his reunion with Tracy.
But it is the events of the final minutes of the movie that set it apart from other Bonds. James Bond’s marriage (!) and Blofeld’s subsequent murder of his new wife humanise Bond – but is that really a good thing?.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Sir Hilary Bray