The only Bond film to star George Lazenby as 007, On Her Majesty's Secret Service was certainly a gamble. Casting a relative unknown to tackle the biggest super spy role out there after years of Sean Connery safely at the helm was a bold move to say the least.
But did it pay off?
Well, the film has enjoyed a cult following over the years and many regard OHMSS as one of the best Bond outings. Watching it growing up, however, I remember being less than impressed: something felt off, way off about this movie. But it’s 2012, a MILLION years later, time to take another look.
It’s still no good I’m afraid.
A positive attitude going in, I was hoping to enjoy the movie in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way, as a loveably campy guilty pleasure or I was actually secretly hoping it was genuinely much better than I remembered it. And although parts of it are irresistibly kitsch or amusingly silly there is still something completely off about this whole venture.
For one thing the dubbing is terrible, especially when another actor’s voice is dubbed in during the whole kilt-wearing fake allergy clinic bit. Then there’s Lazenby’s wardrobe which is so crazily ridiculous that you’ll spend entire scenes staring at some goofy orange sweater, gold scarf or fluffy tux. The humour throughout is frankly awkward starting with Bond’s fourth-wall-breaking “This never happened to the other fella!” which goes for witty but feels messy. The puns and one-liners are also a little crass.
*guy gets crushed to death as his blood splashes out all over the snow*
“He had lots of guts!”
Or what about when Bond feels a little “stiffness” coming on after a friendly gal draws an 8 under his kilt? And that’s not even counting the whole scene where 007 cracks a safe while perving over an issue of Playboy magazine.
Jokes aside, I could forgive most things about this movie and file them under “guilty pleasure lols” including the shaky bluescreen effects during the skiing bits, the occasional dodgy editing, the poorly realised opening titles, the absurd plot which involves Blofeld testing a new hypnosis technique on several attractive young ladies from all over the world in order to… create a virus then become the sole bearer of a cure thereby… taking over the world, I guess? Of course, the ladies in question all believe they’re being hypnotized to cure themselves of weird food allergies/fears…
Yes, chicken is one of them.
I should mention Lazenby, who isn’t a bad actor at all and actually does really well during the darker scenes but who really struggles here. Not getting along with the director probably didn’t help his performance but every line, every joke is off by a mile. Not to mention he just doesn’t look the part feeling far dorkier than any of the other Bonds. Maybe it’s the hair, I don’t know… Regardless, he clearly isn’t having the best of times on set (boy it shows) and awkwardly tip-toes his way through the whole film.
All that said, I should point out that OHMSS does get a few things right. Diana Rigg makes a fine Bond girl, the fight scenes and aforementioned darker moments work very well, Bond’s introduction has a film noir feel to it one wishes they’d kept going for the rest of the film and admittedly it boasts one of the best endings of any Bond movie: genuinely heartbreaking, daring and perfectly timed.
What a shame that this Bond movie is so flawed and SO freakishly dull. I could forgive everything else on some level if OHMSS was entertaining but man, it’s a mission to get through it. The movie feels long, repetitive, slow and frankly has way too much sitting around, talking rubbish and skiing for its own good.
Some good ideas, a definite kitsch value and a different approach to a familiar franchise make this one to check out for curiosity’s sake but ending aside, this is easily one of the worst, most confused Bond outings to date.
It ain’t Never Say Never Again but it ain’t good.