One of the best Bond films ever made. if only they had gotten a better actor
Conney as Bond was a huge star, so it's actually rather a strange choice to replace him with Lazenby, a model with no experience what so ever when it comes to acting.
Lazenby often looks the part, but he is lacking both any kind of acting experience, and that almost natural charisma that Conney had.
An Bond, Lazenby is too often trying too hard to act. For instance if there's a shot of him looking at his watch, he's really looking at his watch. All the casual attitude that the character had when being played by Connery, Moore, Brosnan, Dalton and especially Craig is gone.
Also, he fails at the "my name is Bond...James Bond line" Delivering it with a huge smile on his face even after just saving a women from drowning...
Throughout most of the film Laenby doesnt find the right notes. But there strangely are moments where he does. And it's usually when the film is allowing him to be more human then Connery was. His scenes with Tracey (played to perfection by the stunning Diana Rigg) are uniformly good, and his marriage proposal has a simple earnest nature to it that simply works. Also the almost boyish wave he gives Moneypenny as he goes out for a faithful drive with his new wife. Simply charming. And the final scene feels like a hammer blow, partly because of Lazenby.
He had a down to earth quality that, in a few scenes at-least, made up for not quite having the sardonic charisma of many of the others. He's more convincing being vulnerable then Conney or Moore would have been.
Sadly it's not quite enough to pull him though this whole film. But if he had done more films, he might have improved...
Diana Rigg is outstanding as the difficult, petulant Tracy. Stunning to behold, like most Bond girls, but with actual depth as a character. Here sudden appearance where she basically saves Bonds ass is excellent, and for the first time the death of a Bond girl actually has an emotional impact. Diana Riggs Tracy Bond remains one of the best characters from this 50+ year old series of films. Virtually unmatched till decades later by Eva Green.
Peter Hunt worked as an editor on several Bond films before being promoted to director.
This film looks amazing. Taking place mostly in the alps it truly has some sumptuous visuals. Hunts experience as an editor is significant in the fight scenes. OHMSS really puts the boat out and goes for a highly stylized way of shooting and editing. Not only is the footage slightly sped up and deliberately cut very fast. Often the actors (stuntmen) exaggerated their movements in the fight scenes. Sp punches are pulled with huge strokes. If a baddie is jumping at 007, he's really jumping at him etc.
This style if fight scene could have looked comical, yet for some reason it doesn't.
Sadly taut, hard hitting fight scenes would become much rarer in subsequent films.
Telly Savalas takes over the role as Blofeld. Playing him rather as a hood then an aristocratic super villain. Bond and Blofeld being played by different actors only partly disguises this films huge continuity error, the biggest in the series. Both characters already met in the previous film, yet Blofeld doesn't recognize Bond.
Savalas isnt much worse or much better as Donald Pleasance.
Like Felix Leiter, Blofeld is an essential Flemming character that the films never did justice. Perhaps SPECTRE will.
The stunts in this film are top notch. The first ski chase of the series is still one of the best. And the stock car race is exhilarating. Always ashamed to see so much obvious back projection though.
John Barry delivers one of his most sumptuous scores for the series. His instrumental main theme is fantastic, and the song "We Have All Time In The World", while not being much like a traditional Bond song is still marvelous in the way the orchestra gently supports Louis Armstrong raw, yet silk as honey voice.
I do feel Barry made a mistake blaring out the Bond theme loudly after the depressing finale. But otherwise another sterling effort.
OHMSS is the last film to be truly faithful to it's corresponding novel. Though with some additional action scenes. Ironically it's the first of the books Flemming wrote when the movies were actually starting to be made. Not even Casino Royale would stick this close to the source material (essentially the first half of CR has almost nothing to do with the book)
People often say that OHMSS would be the best Bond film if it has Connery in it. Bit the very fact that this film was made the way it was is because Connery left the role.So it's an eternal catch 22.
I'm also not sure if Connery's Bond would have been as convincing in the few moments where 007 is vulnerable, and in love.
Watching OHMSS I started thinking how much this film seems suited to Daniel Craig's interpretation of the character!
Daniel Craig is James Bond 007 in Ian Flemming's On Her Majesty's Secret Service!
That would have made this film perfect!
As it is it's still a rather excellent ***1/2 out of ****