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Connery in On Her Majesty's Secret Service? (1 Viewer)

Sultanofcinema

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One of the things that makes 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service close to the best James Bond Film (From Russia With Love is it for me) is the presence of a different James Bond, George Lazenby, whom, without any acting experience pulled it off. It is THE BEST PRODUCED film of the series hands down. Over time many discussions have arisen regarding that if Connery did this picture, it would have been the best. People take Majesty's and just put Connery in the film in their heads, but this film would NOT have been the film you saw in 1969. It would have been written with Connery in mind, Connery would have had a lot of script input (look at Diamonds Are Forever!) and I just can't see Connery on skis at that time. George had the hourglass figure and was incredible in all of the action sequences. Again, I can't stress the fact enough that the film remains unique to George's one time performance and probably close to the best score by John Barry in the series. I would love to hear your thoughts on the film and the actors.
 

Sam Favate

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I've heard the knee-jerk reaction that OHMSS with Connery would have been the best in the series, but I don't necessarily think that's true. I love Connery and he's my favorite Bond, but the movie needs Bond to be played without so much winking at the audience, and Connery had already started to do that in YOLT. There's no guarantee he would have pulled it off.

That said, Lazenby is the weak link in an otherwise great production. The truth is, he isn’t bad, but as his former modeling career suggests, he’s a stand-in.

The filmmakers must have known audiences would have a hard time taking someone other than Connery seriously in the role, because they made the rest of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service bulletproof. Telly Savalas is ideal as Blofeld, giving us the best interpretation of the character in the series, even if he does lack the accent. Diana Rigg - fresh from the (original) Avengers and playing a lost child at the end of the turbulent 60s - may give the best performance of any Bond girl. It almost seems unworthy of her to use the “Bond girl” label. George Lazenby isn’t a bad Bond, but he’s just not an actor, and it shows. OHMSS is famously one of Ian Fleming’s best books in the series, and the filmmakers live up to that, crafting an excellent film in spite of the absence of their star. (And let’s be fair, there’s no guarantee that Connery would have performed up to par had he been in this one; he was growing tired of the role, after all.)
 

Winston T. Boogie

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It's one of my absolute favorite Bond films, I love it. I actually enjoy Lazenby in it, and of course they do have him wink at the camera with his "This never happened to the other guy." bit which is funny. Connery's return in Diamonds Are Forever was Austin Powers all the way. It led right into the Moore comedy series. In some ways I think the switch to Lazenby worked because he seemed more invested in the role, which Connery had tired of playing. I don't think George brings the film down.

It is one of the best written and beautifully shot Bonds in the entire series.

Honestly, my three favorite Bonds are Connery, Craig, and Lazenby. I've not really liked the other actors that played the part in the role.
 

David_B_K

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I cannot imagine Connery being less than excellent in the film. However, who is to say they would have made the same film with Connery? Maybe they would have continued what they had started with You Only Live Twice and done a new plot with only the title remaining from the novel? I think because a new Bond was on board, the producers decided to go old school and actually adapt a Fleming novel. OHMSS follows the novel even more closely than From Russia With Love did. Maybe they thought Lazenby would be less effective with a barrage of bon mots in a comedic film and thus decided to go more for action and drama. Because the film was not as successful at the box office as its predecessors, that is probably why they started making all future films along the lines of You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever.

I thought Lazenby was only adequate. However, for a guy with no experience stepping into a major franchise film, he did pretty well. It took a lot of editing and audio dubbing to coax a good performance out of him, but he was physically ideal for the part. It’s too bad he did not continue in the role. I think he would have improved over time (indeed he did improve as an actor in non-Bond films and TV).

I last watched this film about a year ago and found it a tad draggy, mainly in the long sequence in which 007 is undercover as Sir Hillary. Still one of the better films in the series.
 

Joe Wong

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OHMSS is an excellent Bond entry. While a bit slow in the 1st half, the 2nd half is one amazing action sequence after another.

And it upends the traditional Bond trope regarding the lead female character. Perhaps a courageous choice at the time (and even now!) but the film is all the better for it.

And I often mention in Bond film trivia, OHMSS shows his second wedding on screen (but first for love)!
 

skylark68

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Great film and I like Lazenby, I agree he would have improved over a few films. The Mercury Cougar car chase mid film is amazing. I also firmly believe that the theme music is the best of all Bond films (even sans lyrics). However, I grew up with Moore so he's still my favorite Bond. Connery was excellent but I actually enjoy the comedic aspects of the Moore films.
 

billO'

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This is a very interesting discussion. All posters have made many interesting points that I agree with...I'll list them below:

1. "...the film remains unique to George's one time performance and probably close to the best score by John Barry in the series"
Absolutely. Although the uniqueness is probably more so because of the character development rather than Lazenby's performance. It was (up to that point) the only Bond film that showed Bond displaying real feelings for one of the voluptuous babes he ended up bedding in the course of the story (how much feeling? well, he married her!).
And yeah...John Barry's score... Fan-f'ing-tastic. I had every Bond soundtrack from No through Moonfaker and OHMSS was the one I played the most (both sides too!) over the years. (Side note: If you're a real Bond fan, didn't you immediately exclaim when you heard the theme during Pixar's The Incredibles that that is the main title music from OHMSS)?

2. "...Telly Savalas is ideal as Blofeld, giving us the best interpretation of the character in the series"
There wasn't really than many interpretations of Mr.B throughout the series...three only that we saw a face? Correct me if I'm wrong but just Pleasance, Telly, and Gray? I'm omitting Cristoph Waltz because his is, well, 21st century, and that's not really Bond. Pleasance was an acceptable Blo but didn't reveal himself until the finale so there wasn't enough recognizable exposure to build up hatred toward the character. Charles Gray In Diamonds Are Forever came off as more of a Snidely Whiplash of Big Business and detracted from the psychopathy of the character, a character who had murdered Bond's wife in the previous film. At this point ('69) in Telly's career, he wasn't yet a caricature known as the "bald detective who ate Tootsie Pops on TV" so he still had plenty of menace to impart (see: The Dirty Dozen--"Maggot"). It is a bit of stretch that both Bond and Blofeld don't seem to recognize each other when they first meet after having clashed face to face in You Only Live Twice, but...so what? In OHMSS their parts are being played by new actors in both roles, and that helps rather than hurts acceptance for audiences to believe they may not recognize each other.

3. "I actually enjoy Lazenby in it, and of course they do have him wink at the camera with his "This never happened to the other guy..."
Well, they almost kind of had to, when you think about it. James Bond had been an international mega-mutla-massive-cultural-phenomanagation for about six years at this point. Sean Connery was a worldwide sensation superstar from appearing in this role...and he walked away from it. Whoever the actor was that stepped into the shoes of this character was going to receive extraordinary scrutiny of how they measured up to Connery's template. No pressure there. I was too young to see OHMSS when it was first released, but I remember at the time of it's release my cousin had seen it, and he described to me the opening pre-credits sequence and Bond's line of "...This never happened to the other fellow!" and laughed. It wasn't until some years later when I had actually seen the film a few times and could put it into context of the times and the phenonema that Bond had been that that I finally grasped the witty genius of this line of dialogue.

4. "I last watched this film about a year ago and found it a tad draggy, mainly in the long sequence in which 007 is undercover as Sir Hillary."
Yes and No. This is the portion of the film where I feel Lazenby most shows his weaknesses as a leading man (and isn't his voice dubbed, too?). Connery's Bond would have probably plowed through Blofeld's Pussy Galore Air Force in about half the time it took Lazenby. But then again, after having seen this film more than a half dozen times, now I actually appreciate that they didn't gloss over this bit of build-up but just lingered in the resort while Bond actually did a bit of (ahem) undercover work to obtain the info he needed. And there was an iconic James Bond moment when the one Blo-girl wrote her room number on his kilt-bare thigh (moments like that in a Bond film are just as precious as any action set-piece).

5. "And it upends the traditional Bond trope regarding the lead female character. Perhaps a courageous choice at the time (and even now!) but the film is all the better for it."

Yes! Tracy in this film is the ONLY time in all of 20th Century Bonds where the character actually FELT anything for the "babe of the picture." Talk about changing the whole paradigm of Bond (my God! Bond with FEELINGS???). It was in keeping with the original Fleming novel that Tracy had to die, and it transitioned perfectly into the next film that Bond was seeking revenge, but from this point onwards (with Connery once and Moore for, like, seemingly forever), Bond reverted back to his caricature of the swingin' dick super-agent with a new babe(s) to get it on with in every new film. I can understand why the decision was made to make Bond two-dimensional again--it certainly paid-off at the box-office as Moore stepped into the role and carried on with Bond as a two-dimensional lothario--but in retrospect I think OHMSS is going to be held in a lot higher regard for the new direction it took rather than what followed for nearly two decades afterwards.

------------------------
 

Keith Cobby

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In many respects it is the best Bond. Things I like:

Easily the best score.
The pre-title sequence culminating in the line "this never happened to the other fellow", a great introduction to a new Bond.
Feisty Diana Rigg.
Telly Savalas.
Gabriele Ferzetti.

For somebody new to the Bond films and wondering what the fuss was all about, I would show them the ski chase sequence from this film.

One question - where's the 4k?
 

Sultanofcinema

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Interesting comments above. Even though I saw Telly Savalas in 1967's The Dirty Dozen previously, I thought he made an excellent Blofeld. The locations are among my favorites next to Japan for You Only Live Twice. The look of the film by Michael Reed makes this Bond look like a "foreign" film. Beautiful in every way shape and form. George would not sign for any more being persuaded by Agent Ronan O' Rahilly that Bond would not survive the 70's. This make OHMSS even better that we had a one shot Bond.
 

Jeffrey D

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I got to get off my ass, and watch these Bond films. I have them all on DVD or BluRay (except for the unofficial Never Say Never Again), and I think I have only watched about a third of the 25 films. So many movies, so little time…
 

mskaye

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This is a very interesting discussion. All posters have made many interesting points that I agree with...I'll list them below:

1. "...the film remains unique to George's one time performance and probably close to the best score by John Barry in the series"
Absolutely. Although the uniqueness is probably more so because of the character development rather than Lazenby's performance. It was (up to that point) the only Bond film that showed Bond displaying real feelings for one of the voluptuous babes he ended up bedding in the course of the story (how much feeling? well, he married her!).
And yeah...John Barry's score... Fan-f'ing-tastic. I had every Bond soundtrack from No through Moonfaker and OHMSS was the one I played the most (both sides too!) over the years. (Side note: If you're a real Bond fan, didn't you immediately exclaim when you heard the theme during Pixar's The Incredibles that that is the main title music from OHMSS)?

2. "...Telly Savalas is ideal as Blofeld, giving us the best interpretation of the character in the series"
There wasn't really than many interpretations of Mr.B throughout the series...three only that we saw a face? Correct me if I'm wrong but just Pleasance, Telly, and Gray? I'm omitting Cristoph Waltz because his is, well, 21st century, and that's not really Bond. Pleasance was an acceptable Blo but didn't reveal himself until the finale so there wasn't enough recognizable exposure to build up hatred toward the character. Charles Gray In Diamonds Are Forever came off as more of a Snidely Whiplash of Big Business and detracted from the psychopathy of the character, a character who had murdered Bond's wife in the previous film. At this point ('69) in Telly's career, he wasn't yet a caricature known as the "bald detective who ate Tootsie Pops on TV" so he still had plenty of menace to impart (see: The Dirty Dozen--"Maggot"). It is a bit of stretch that both Bond and Blofeld don't seem to recognize each other when they first meet after having clashed face to face in You Only Live Twice, but...so what? In OHMSS their parts are being played by new actors in both roles, and that helps rather than hurts acceptance for audiences to believe they may not recognize each other.

3. "I actually enjoy Lazenby in it, and of course they do have him wink at the camera with his "This never happened to the other guy..."
Well, they almost kind of had to, when you think about it. James Bond had been an international mega-mutla-massive-cultural-phenomanagation for about six years at this point. Sean Connery was a worldwide sensation superstar from appearing in this role...and he walked away from it. Whoever the actor was that stepped into the shoes of this character was going to receive extraordinary scrutiny of how they measured up to Connery's template. No pressure there. I was too young to see OHMSS when it was first released, but I remember at the time of it's release my cousin had seen it, and he described to me the opening pre-credits sequence and Bond's line of "...This never happened to the other fellow!" and laughed. It wasn't until some years later when I had actually seen the film a few times and could put it into context of the times and the phenonema that Bond had been that that I finally grasped the witty genius of this line of dialogue.

4. "I last watched this film about a year ago and found it a tad draggy, mainly in the long sequence in which 007 is undercover as Sir Hillary."
Yes and No. This is the portion of the film where I feel Lazenby most shows his weaknesses as a leading man (and isn't his voice dubbed, too?). Connery's Bond would have probably plowed through Blofeld's Pussy Galore Air Force in about half the time it took Lazenby. But then again, after having seen this film more than a half dozen times, now I actually appreciate that they didn't gloss over this bit of build-up but just lingered in the resort while Bond actually did a bit of (ahem) undercover work to obtain the info he needed. And there was an iconic James Bond moment when the one Blo-girl wrote her room number on his kilt-bare thigh (moments like that in a Bond film are just as precious as any action set-piece).

5. "And it upends the traditional Bond trope regarding the lead female character. Perhaps a courageous choice at the time (and even now!) but the film is all the better for it."

Yes! Tracy in this film is the ONLY time in all of 20th Century Bonds where the character actually FELT anything for the "babe of the picture." Talk about changing the whole paradigm of Bond (my God! Bond with FEELINGS???). It was in keeping with the original Fleming novel that Tracy had to die, and it transitioned perfectly into the next film that Bond was seeking revenge, but from this point onwards (with Connery once and Moore for, like, seemingly forever), Bond reverted back to his caricature of the swingin' dick super-agent with a new babe(s) to get it on with in every new film. I can understand why the decision was made to make Bond two-dimensional again--it certainly paid-off at the box-office as Moore stepped into the role and carried on with Bond as a two-dimensional lothario--but in retrospect I think OHMSS is going to be held in a lot higher regard for the new direction it took rather than what followed for nearly two decades afterwards.

-----------------------
I saw the film when it first came out and even though I was a kid, I still remember that the audience LOVED "This never happened to the other guy..."
 

Sultanofcinema

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George went into town and purchased a real Walther PPK from a female employee of a gun store. She refused to sell him the gun without a permit and he convinced her he was the star of the New James Bond film, currently working not far away on OHMSS. She sold him the pistol upon that basis. George started firing the gun on the set, shooting in the air (real bullets now). Police were called and the girl was rounded up and brought to the set to identify George. George told the Police "
she sold me the gun" and the girl was in deep trouble. Cubby Broccoli said he was angry about this and upset that George acted like this and wasn't a real man because he hung the woman out to dry. George was also riding his motorcycle on the set making the Producers nervous because if he got hurt, the film was on hold. They actually purchased an Aston Martin for George to drive around in. Lois Maxwell liked George a lot and couldn't believe the way he chased girls around. George got 50 grand for Majesty's and was due to get 75 grand for Diamonds plus a percentage if he hung on. The original cut of OHMSS was 170 min!
 

Sultanofcinema

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Just wanted to add another fun film fact for OHMSS. The line " this never happened to the other fella" came from this discussion. George was working weekends with the second unit and was told by one of them that "Connery never did weekends" with the 2nd unit. So George replied "this never happened WITH the other fella, uh?" and that's how the line became to be in the film's precredit sequence.
 

BobO'Link

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OHMSS has always been one of my favorite Bond films with Lazenby being my second favorite Bond (right behind Connery). It's my second or third most watched of the Bond films.
 

Sam Favate

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It occurs to me that one of these days, as AI gets even more developed, we will be able to ask it, "Show me the movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring Sean Connery."

The New York Times had a piece on this recently where AI provided stills from Jorodowsky's version of Tron, which never existed. The results were scary good. Eventually, entire movies will be made this way. (<-- not advocating this, just stating a fact)

 

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