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On Her Majesty's Secret Service Movie Review

Far up! Far out! Far more!

Title: 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'

Released: 12/28/1969

Budget: $6,000,000

Gross (US; Worldwide): $22,774,493; $64,600,000

Producer: Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Satlzman (MGM-UA)

Writer: Richard Maibaum

Director: Peter Hunt

Based On: 'On Her Majesty's Secret Serivce' book , written by Ian Fleming.

Stars: George Lazenby as James Bond 007, Diana Rigg (as Tracy Draco), Telly Savalas (as Blofeld), Gabriele Ferzetti (as Draco) Isle Steppat (as Irma Bunt), Angela Schoular (as Ruby), Catherine Von Schell (as Nancy); Also Starring Bernard Lee as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

Plot: Crime syndicate head Draco will provide James Bond the whereabouts of Blofeld if he agrees to marry his troubled daughter Tracy. Bond agrees, and Draco gives Bond the name of a lawyer in Switzerland who is believed to be associating with Blofeld. But before Bond goes in search of the lawyer, he romances Tracy (who he liked from the start), and she starts to change. Eventually, Bond gets into the lawyer's office and photocopies some documents detailing Blofeld's request for an investigation of his genealogy by the College-at-Arms. After Bond does some research about genealogy, the head of the college allows Bond to impersonate a genealogist. Blofeld makes arrangements for the genealogist to be taken to his allergy clinic in the Swiss Alps, where Blofeld is doing a little impersonating himself, pretending to be an allergy doctor. Bond knows his stuff, and puts on a pretty good show, but eventually slips up and Blofeld finds out who he is. Blofeld, on the other hand, really seems to have mastered this allergy thing, and has manufactured a bacteria he intends to infect livestock and food with, making them impotent, and therefore inflicting economic crisis on the world. Who will spread the bacteria around? Why the girls who are residing at the allergy clinic hoping to get a cure. Blofeld not only cures their allergies by medicine, but by hypnosis. What he's actually doing with the hypnosis is brainwashing the girls so they will infect the livestock and food with what he has given them, and then forget what they did. Blofeld's ransom? Not money, no. This time he demands to be recognized as a count. Soon after Bond escapes from Blofeld's clinic and proposes to Tracy, she is kidnapped by Blofeld. M refuses to allow Bond to do anything, saying that the government has decided to pay off Blofeld. Bond won't have this, and he enlists Draco and his men to infiltrate Blofeld'd clinic. Draco takes some of his armed helicopters and they start to blow apart the clinic. They eventually get inside, where they rescue Tracy and place a bomb. Everyone takes off but for Bond and Blofeld. Bond chases down Blofeld in a bobsled and thinks he killed him. However, after his wedding to Tracy, Blofeld and Irma resurface and murder Mrs. Bond.

Commentary: The critics praise this film too much, and the Bond fans don't recognize it enough. 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' had the potential to be a five-star film, and quite possibly the best Bond film. Two of the things that stood in its way: George Lazenby and Telly Savalas. Both fine actors, but neither of them was suited for their characters. Bond was un-Bond-like, and Blofeld was extremely-un-Blofeld-like. Blofeld not only didn't have a scar, but he didn't have any personality reminiscent of the old Blofeld. He became obsessed with Tracy and wanted to marry her, didn't recognize Bond just because he was wearing a kilt (maybe it was because Bond looked like George Lazenby), and his plan was so wacky and downright stupid it detracted from the film. His ransom is to be recognized as a Count? That is the lamest ransom I have ever heard of. If they had done away with Blofeld's allergy plan and replaced it with something else -- anything else -- it would have made for a much smoother film (although the actual blame goes to Ian Fleming for originally concocting such a stupid scheme). The storyline of this film was excellent, engaging, and different, and Tracy's character development was superb. This being the true love story of the series may seem out of place in a Bond film, but it was done so well I almost wished they did this more often. Of course, the fact that they only did it once was what made it so special and endearing. The fight and chase scenes were some of the best of the series, aside from the fact that some of them were done is fast motion, an odd choice for the director. The ski and bobsled scenes were thrilling, and the teaser beach brawl was very imaginative and exciting. Special effects were few and far in-between, but I never really noticed. I could count the number of gadgets on one hand, which brought a huge smile to my face. When a film has so much story, character, and great action sequences, who needs special effects and gadgetry? The other two Bond girls were rather 2-D, but I enjoyed having them (and the other dozen or so chics) around. Tracy had so much substance, she made up for everyone. There's no saying "like father, like daughter," but there should be. Draco was too an engrossing character, and even though he didn't exactly operate "within the law," he was a great sidekick for Bond. Moneypenny crying at James' wedding almost brought tears to my eyes, but I definitely felt some wetness in my eyes after the heartbreaking scene where Irma shot Tracy. For the first and only time in the movie, Lazenby gave a really good performance when he hugged his deceased wife and said some words of love. I could detect a tear in his eyes -- he really loved her. Too bad she couldn't go on, but it was nice while it lasted. Kudos to everyone for this compelling scene. If only they could have gotten Connery and Pleasance back and came up with a new scheme for Blofeld... But for they had to work with, they did a pretty damn good job.

Verdict:
1.5/4.0

Also in the On Her Majesty's Secret Service dossier:   Allies | Gadgets | Girls | Pictures | Reviews | Villains
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