This never happened to the other fellow (1969)

BlogalongaBond is back, and we’re desperately petitioning for elocution lessons. Can anyone spare a Delorean? George Lazenby’s reign of dialectic decimation must be stopped!HQ are having trouble contacting 007 (perhaps they too are thrown by the new haircut), Q instead boring M and Miss Moneypenny with his latest inventions in the special agent’s absense. Shrouded in darkness, it is not until he’s had a bit of a smoke and perved on a beach-side vixen that it is revealed that James Bond has had a between-movie facelift – and a body wax to boot. Bond 2.0 is stronger, frillier and decidedly less Scottish. As he walks from one botched assassination attempt to another, Bond begins to piece together the whereabouts of nemesis Blofeld (Telly Savalas) as newcomer George Lazenby starts to piece together a British accent.

Relieved of his mission to track Blofeld, Bond takes a vacation from M16 and departs for Portugal where he has been invited to Marc-Ange Draco’s birthday party. Bond has a deal with Draco that should he romance his daughter, Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), in a bid to keep her out of trouble, Draco will disclose Blofeld’s location. Posing as a genealogist from London College of Arms, Bond meets Blofeld to discuss his heritage, inevitably using his penis to unmask SPECTRE’s latest nefarious plot to take over the world.

Gone are the ill-conceived duck costumes, jetpack escapades and hollowed-out volcano bases. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is based in the real world, albeit one where the secret service take kilts on all their professional assignments. The film is nevertheless a far more visceral affair than we have come to expect, with a slew of increasingly brutal fist-fights marking Lazenby out as a much more hands-on screen presence – as it turns out much of the stuntwork is in fact his own (the badly staged skiing sequence notwithstanding).

However much action, intrigue and suspense the first hour has to offer, it isn’t until the last act that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service really makes its mark. While Blofeld is mercilessly demystified as he decorates his Christmas tree, the character is a welcomingly engaging screen presence – his own personal villainy nicely personalised by the shocking denoument. Having spent most of the franchise to date on the other end of a phone line with one hand on his pussy, it finally feels as though this budding antagonism is nearing breaking point. Bond’s other relationships have similarly come to life, with M finally standing up to his brash spy and Miss Moneypenny facing up to the fact that he will unlikely ever reciprocate her feelings. Not for longer than a few seconds at a time anyway.

It is to director Peter R. Hunt’s credit that when Bond falls for Tracy, and the latter is subsequently kidnapped by Blofeld, it doesn’t feel like just another day at the office. The series finally has emotional stakes worth crying about, and the final few minutes boast a jeoprady little seen in the franchise so far. Diana Rigg is outstanding as the Bond-girl worth marrying, her life post-avalanche proving some of the most riveting cinema to date – her capability in the face of danger a nice deviation from the extant series’ less than complimentary portrayal of women.

Although less assured in his delivery of double-entendres, George Lazenby is a fine – if temporary – successor to Sean Connery. Though I doubt the franchise will deliver on the promise of its deliciously tragic conclusion, it’s pleasing to note that for a few minutes at least, James Bond had one up on Jason Bourne in terms of grievous character motivation, that there is something between his suave exterior and the curt retorts of his fellow cast members. Just in case that isn’t enough for you, the filmmakers diligently get the rubbish bobsleigh race out of the way with minimal fuss. Bring on Diamonds are Forever!


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to This never happened to the other fellow (1969)

  1. Pingback: June 2011 – It’s happening! It happened. « popcornaddict

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