Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Flick Pick: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
(United Artists, 1969)

After five appearances as 007, Sean Connery told the producers he didn't want to be James Bond anymore, at any price, as he was tired of the film publicity grind, and wanted to try his hand at other roles.
The producers picked Lazenby from a number of unknowns. Audiences of the day were largely unwelcoming, but in this go, virtually without gadgets, and concentrating on story and characters, Lazenby gave us a Bond a little less fantasy and a lot more human, while still pulling off the action expected. The downhill chase was one of the best examples ever captured. Later audiences, esp. Bond fans, regard this example as one of the best Bond films.
For the ultimate icing on the cake, we got the absolutely fabulous Diana Rigg, stunning at 30, and fresh from being Emma Peel in The Avengers, after 5 years with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She makes it impossible to visualize anyone else playing the only woman who could and did make an honest man out of James Bond.
The tragic ending was to have been saved for the opening of the next-up Diamonds Are Forever, and Lazenby was to have a 7-film contract with producers Saltzman and Broccoli for further Bond movies, but Lazenby's monumentally stupid agent convinced him the role was a dead end, because the Bond character could never endure through the coming feminism of the 1970s. So after filming concluded Lazenby indicated he was a one-timer, and the final sequence was therefore placed at the end of this film instead. It's not quite captaining the Titanic, but in cinematic terms, it's hard to imagine a more ill-advised decision in motion picture history.

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