Film Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

I mentioned to my father that I’d just watched the 6th installment in the Bond franchise and before I’d even taken breath to start explaining my thoughts on it he simply went “ah yes, the bond movie they made purely to fill a gap”.

I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is just static. It’s just background noise. I honestly think it’s the cinematic equivalent of putting on an easy listening album before sitting down to read a book. It’s serves absolutely no purpose or amplification to the words on the page.

Firstly, the plot just doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t move forward, it almost at times feels like it’s going backward. There is no development on any previous ideas, it’s trying to be the third incarnation of SPECTRE and Blofeld, but it just plods along, trying and failing to tell a story that is full of holes. It’s a plot and a script that feels ill thought out, overly simplistic and worst of all rushed.

And things get worse.

With George Lazenby stepping up to take on the part of James Bond, a poor film takes a nose dive, sadly, into total despair, as the star, the main character, the man charged with dragging the film kicking and screaming into something verging on acceptable, he just cannot deliver. He just cannot act. Aside from the fact that the look, the fit and feel, of George Lazenby and James Bond are polar opposites, he just has no sense of what he’s doing; he just isn’t a spy. In 1969 George Lazenby was capable of playing Bond about as much as Hugh Grant would be today.

This absolute disbelief in the main character means that you really start to pull every inch of the film apart. Mainly because it’s the only way you can get any sense of enjoyment from it. So every question that could pop into your head does. For instance, at the start why does Tracy, having stolen Bond’s car to escape, suddenly stop and get into her car allowing Bond to catch up and give chase in his car? And why when Bond is pretending to be Bray, doesn’t Blofeld recognise him when they meet? They’ve met before – it’s not Doctor Who, this isn’t a new face through regeneration!

I could go on, I could list all the other problems and questions I found, but I would end up giving way most of the film. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service disappointed me so much; mainly because it is meant to be the first real “serious” Bond film. Eon Productions stuck to Ian Flemming’s book. It doesn’t have the silliness, the double entendre, or the over the top gadgets that I normally dislike in Bond and yet, it sailed so far off the mark, that it sad to think that the Bond franchise is capable of something this bad.

Then you look at the time, and realise that somehow they managed to drag it out to nearly 2½ hours as well. Honestly, I can’t believe that even the die hard Bond fans will say this is a good film, I’d be amazed to find anyone who really enjoyed it. The only reason to watch this film is purely to say you’ve watched it – if like me – you’re watching all the Bond films!

The best way I can finished this, and there is a big spoiler coming – is to quote my father again. At the end of the film Tracy gets shot and killed as she drives off with Bond after their wedding. As the credits roll, the person my father had watched it with turned to him and said “I think you’ll find they’ve shot the wrong one…!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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