Thursday, September 6, 2012
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
In my last post on a James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, I admitted that the James Bond project was moving along somewhat slowly. Inwardly, I promised myself that I'd speed it up a bit, crack through a few more films and get on with it. But then I looked at the next film on the list: On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Oh dear.
OHMSS is a film I'd only seen once. It has a reputation as a low-point of the Bond series: people can argue forever about who their favourite Bond is but none of them ever say George Lazenby. Ever. More than that, it's one of the very few Bond films that, after watching it, I never felt the need to return to again. But that was years ago. Surely my memory was deceiving me? Surely it wasn't that bad?
Well... maybe not entirely as bad as I remembered. Just mostly as bad. There are a few decent moments and sequences in it but, for the most part, this is a pretty dull film. First off, it's slow. Bond films usually move along at a fairly brisk pace - conversation, fight, conversation, fight, etc. etc - but OHMSS just crawls along. Although the plot itself is no better or worse than most other Bond films - Blofeld + world domination + mind control - it just takes forever to actually get exciting. When it does pick up, the film's actually not bad. The final, say, 20 minutes are pretty pacey. We have a bobsled-run chase/fight, some decent explosions and good gunfights. It's just such a shame it took so long to get there!
There's basically two ways of looking at OHMSS: if you treat it as a Bond film, it's a disappointment. The tone's all wrong, Lazenby isn't a great Bond and Telly Savalas is a rubbish Blofeld. On the other hand, if treated as a generic spy/action flick it's pretty decent. The [spoilers!] grim ending is so very out of place amongst Bond films: usually marooned in the sea/jungle/desert cosying up to a beautiful woman, Lazenby's Bond is left biting back tears, sat next to his dead wife. It's not a bad ending - but it's not Bond.
Still, OHMSS was slightly-less-bad than I had expected, which is pretty much all I was hoping for. Hello and goodbye Mr Lazenby. Next time it's back to Connery...