Did I jump off the Bond Bandwagon? Nope. Between watching the Royals most nights and keeping up with my Thursday shows, it’s been tough to watch movies lately. My slight reluctance to tackle the next Bond movie didn’t help.
I remember hearing, when I was a kid, that some people thought George Lazenby was the best Bond ever. Back then, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was rarely, if ever, shown on TV. So I had no opinion. I thought it strange for people to say that when he only did one Bond movie. But what the hell did I know, I was a kid, right?
Despite that, I wasn’t thrilled about watching Majesty. Probably because pretty much no one says that about Lazenby anymore, and it’s tough to find anyone today saying much good about the movie. Throw in it’s nearly 150 minute run time, and I struggled to push the play button on Netflix. But finally I did, and broke the movie into two nights.
I don’t want to say it’s a terrible movie, because it’s not. It’s not good, though, either. It’s certainly the weakest of the Bond movies I’ve watched so far. It’s also the most different, and I give it credit for attempting to break the mold in some ways, even if it failed in those attempts.
You know it’s going to be a rough go from the opening scene. A woman passes Bond on the road and he takes off after her. She parks at a beach and walks into the water, for reasons we don’t know. Bond races in to stop her from her slow, apparent suicide attempt, and is then attached by a couple men. After he defeats them, in a fight scene full of cartoonish camera work, the woman escapes and takes off in her car. Lazenby shrugs, looks at the camera, and says, “That never happened to the other fellow.”
What. The. Fuck?
Sure, it’s the first non-Connery Bond film, but Lazenby is still James Bond. Yet he has both acknowledged another actor playing the role and completely undermined Bond’s sense of cool five minutes into the movie. Again, I ask: What. The Fuck?
Where the movie attempts to break into new ground is by being a story about a relationship at its core, rather than a pure action/spy movie. It’s kind of a dumb love story, and one that operates on some very flimsy logic. But hey, they tried. I can see how people in 1969 might have been surprised and interested in a Bond movie that was unlike any other.
Our old friend Ernst Blofeld shows up again, this time played by Telly_Savalas. Blofeld’s latest plot is to destroy the human race through some potion he’s concocted that will render people sterile. Not terribly ridiculous when you think about some of the other dumb things Bond has chased. What is ridiculous, though, is that Bond and Blofeld, upon their first meeting, act like they’ve never met before. So we have two new actors playing recurring roles, we’ve established links to the franchise’s past, and somehow these two arch rivals act like they’ve never seen each other before?
Just dumb. I give up.
OK, Lazenby has his moments, but most of the movie is jarring when compared to Connery’s easy mastery of the role. That was bound to happen to the first actor who attempted to step in, but Lazenby feels out of his element here. Interesting to note that Timothy Dalton was the first actor offered the role, and he turned it down thinking he was too young for the part. 20 years later he indeed became Bond, for a short and controversial stint.
Lazenby got the shaft. I hate to sound shallow, but Bond Girls are supposed to be smokin’ hot sex kittens. Diana Rigg, who plays Countess Tracy di Vicenzo Draco, ain’t that. She’s not ugly, but she’s certainly no where near Ursula Andress or Claudine Auger’s class.
Even the secondary Bond girls are nothing to write home about.
Strange story, awful directing, poor acting, sub-par Bond girls. It’s as if they wanted Lazenby to fail. In hindsight, with it being his only Bond movie and Connery returning for Diamonds Are Forever, maybe that’s exactly what they wanted.