When it comes to James Bond films, there is usually at least one moment in each movie that makes it worthwhile to watch, even if just for the sake of having watched every single James Bond film. The good films have multiple moments. The great films feel like one, long scene of awesomeness. The bad films have their moment, too, but it is usually forgotten by the time the movie is over.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service isn’t even bad in terms of that one worthwhile moment, because its best moment is the end of the movie. And no, it’s not because the movie is finally over, although it comes real close. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the first Eon Productions Bond film to not star Sean Connery, so right out of the gate, this film was going to have an up-hill battle for relevancy. It wouldn’t have even mattered if George Lazenby was good for the role or not. Lazenby was, and still is, constantly compared to Connery, who became the face of James Bond for everyone except maybe Ian Fleming himself. To be fair, George Lazenby wasn’t horrible. The movie surrounding him, unfortunately, wasn’t as kind.
Forget about the lack of gadgets, or that Bond neglects his license to kill for three quarters of the movie, or that Blofeld’s eye healed up between this film and You Only Live Twice. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is plain boring. The best part of the film is Lazenby wandering around the summit compound in the Swiss Alps flirting with women. Other than that, we get a lot of skiing. so much skiing, in fact, that the 80s comedy Better Off Dead lifted its own climactic ski race from it. When you watch a Bond film and can’t help replacing characters with John Cusack and that newspaper kid, you’re going to have a bad time.
But there is that one moment in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that is awesome. Unfortunately, it is the very last scene. James Bond and Tracy, newly wedded, are involved in a drive-by shooting by Blofeld and his gang, leading to the death of Tracy. What follows is a short but extremely powerful performance by Lazenby as he holds Tracy’s dead body in his arms. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the movie. No quest for revenge. No revelation of a spy’s life. Just death, and roll the credits. It would have worked had the rest of the film had an inkling of this scene’s power.
Master Evil Plan:
Blofeld’s bald head and and cat are back, but Donald Pleasence is not as the role is taken on by Telly Savalas. Blofeld and Bond weren’t the only things redone in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Blofeld’s master plan of stifling the reproduction of certain species, possibly even humanity’s, with a bio weapon borrows right from the satirical Casino Royale, if you’re following the James Bond film timeline.
Randomly Awesome 007 Moments:
1) James Bond tells Moneypenny to tender his resignation to M, but she only applies two weeks leave for him.
2) The bullfighting scene, better described as the “letting bulls ram people without protection” scene.
3) Genealogist Sir Hilary Bray points out that James Bond’s coat of arms motto is “The World Is Not Enough.”
4) Bond wakes up the less than lovely Irma Bunt.
5) Bond skiing on one ski set up the climactic ski race of John Cusack in Better Off Dead years later, complete with two extremely high, and these times deadly, falls off a cliff.
6) A SPECTRE henchman falls into a giant snowblower in one of the bloodiest Bond film deaths ever.
7) Tracy is shot and killed while she and James leave their wedding, leading to the most emotional James Bond scene so far. Unfortunately, it took the whole movie to get to it.
Randomly Horrible 007 Moments:
1) Those fight scenes are over the top.
2) Bond wastes two puns on one unconscious SPECTRE henchman.
3) The disjointed film cuts used to showcase a line of SPECTRE henchmen coming out to ski.
4) That damn laughing polar bear.
5) Bond merely covers his face as he and Tracy drive by a SPECTRE henchman instead of slouching down so he isn’t seen at all.
Randomly Awesome Quotes:
1) James Bond: “This never happened to the other fellow.”
2) Draco: “Do not kill me, Mr. Bond. At least not until we’ve had a drink. And if you wish, I’ll give you another chance.”
3) James Bond: “You must give me the name of your oculist.”
4) Tracy: “Teresa was a Saint; I’m known as Tracy.”
5) James Bond: “It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.”
-Women James Bond sleeps with: 3
-Bond Kills: 5 (not counting kills by Tracy and her father’s henchmen)
-Bond friends killed: 2 (not counting the henchmen of Tracy’s father)
-Bond assassination attempts:
2 on a beach
multiple gunshots while skiing
a grenade on a bobsled course
I give this film 2 out of 5 Bond skiing sequences. Too much skiing, not enough Bond action.