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Ranking the Bond Movies: #4 – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

This was a linchpin film for me. Because I had a lot of ideas about the film in my head, yet remembered very little of the actual film. Which is nothing new. I remembered next to nothing of most of the films before I went back and watched them for these articles, but this one was much more important than the rest of the films.

The reason is because, when I saw it the first time, I put it in my top five. Which is fine. As you can see, it remained there. Problem is, I remembered nothing about the film past – Blofeld, Swiss Alps, brainwashing, Bond gets married, boom, all the time in the world. Great but forgotten. That is your basic framework for the film, but I knew I a solid reason to rank it so high. It had to earn its spot by more than what was in my head.

My big worry was that the film, over time, has earned a reputation as a “trendy” top five choice. (This is according to TokyoRemix, I know nothing about this.) Apparently the pretentious Bond fans like to call this one the best because most people wouldn’t. It’s like the elitist film person who brings up some decent independent film that has no plot or character development but got lots of praise from the art house crowd as being the best film of the year and shits all over the mainstream ones that get all the attention. Apparently those people like to claim this one as the best because it’s so overlooked. And as we all know — I’m about giving everything a chance. I hate doing things because that’s how it “should” be. I go by my opinions and little more. And I didn’t want it to seem like I was automatically putting this one so high because it “should” be here. I wanted to be absolutely sure that I was ranking it where I was because I 100% felt it belonged there.

And I can say, without a second’s hesitation: this film absolutely belongs here. To the point where I almost want to put it higher. I can’t, because there’s absolutely no room in the top three whatsoever, but goddamn, this is a great movie. There are so few negatives here. It’s terrific all the way through. Even Lazenby doesn’t detract from the movie at all. And honestly, if they kept him out of a kilt and frilly shirts, he’d have made a fine Bond for a couple more (or, Moore) films. I love everything about this movie, and to me, the top four Bond films of the franchise are pretty much a set four, and this film is most certainly included in those four.

This is Lazenby’s film, so let’s show his gun barrel.

The cold open begins at “Universal Exports” in London (aka MI6, for those who really haven’t been able to make that connection until now).

Q – holy shit he has black hair – is explaining to M about some sort of new computerized technology, and M saying he wants to find Bond. He ctwealls Moneypenny –

TokyoRemix:

Desmond Llewelyn is still three years younger in this movie than Roger Moore would be in A View to a Kill.

Moneypenny hasn’t seen Bond either.

So where’s 007?

Well that’s a good place.

Someone’s in a hurry.

Kind of a car chase, but not really. Nice cars, too.

TokyoRemix:

I imagine we’ll be covering cars later, but that’s a 1968 Aston Martin DBS following a 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible. 

If you didn’t know better, you could think that was Connery. (Which I guess is the point.)

(Vargas Note: I get it.)

Someone ditched their car.

What a creepy bastard. And yet – I feel like this scene is quintessential Bond from the Fleming novels (from what little understanding I have of them). Bond is depressed and on a bender, not wanting to go back to work, and is drunkenly following a woman at the beach. And then she tries to kill herself.

She looks good. More on her later.

Good job, Bond.

Wait… why is she doing that?

“Bitch, haven’t you seen Jaws? Oh, wait…”

This reminds me of how fun and not fun driving a car on the beach must be.

Of course there are objects on the beach. He couldn’t just drive up there, could he?

There’s our first look at him.

“I was run-ning!”

OCEAN RAPE!

♫ “Some people stand in the darkness…” ♫

Why is she unconscious all of a sudden?

Who the fuck are you?

“Good morning. My name’s Bond. James Bond.”

Nice way to work it in.

“Don’t move, Mr. Bond.”

Thugs.

Guess what happens next.

What a fucking haymaker that was.

Just like Rocky III.

She want the dick.

And his car.

Drowned the fuck. He also takes care of the other guy, but we don’t need to see that.

Bitch stole his car.

Really, you steal his car to get to yours? How about just walk it, lazy?

Aww… just like Cinderella.

This is actually a terrific cold opening. Until…

“This never happened to the other fellow.”

Why would you do that, Eon? I know you want to come out and address it, like, “Yes, we know, it’s not Connery,” but you don’t have to be so obvious about it. Wouldn’t the best way to address it be to just let Lazenby do his thing? It’s a good opening, but diluted by that line choice.

TokyoRemix:

Decidedly weak. Maybe it didn’t happen to Connery. I’m actually glad that Lazenby took this movie though, because with all the character work that needed to get done here, I don’t like the idea of Connery doing it. He’s all fun, in my mind. None of this tragic stuff.

Anyway, this leads into our credit sequence, set to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” by John Barry’s Orchestra.

TokyoRemix:

This is the last Bond movie to feature and instrumental opening song instead of a vocal theme.

Too bad this had credits over it. It’s a good shot.

Not sure how much I like the retrospective aspect of the credits, though.

TokyoRemix:

I don’t like it. Especially because it’s Lazenby and they just tried to distance themselves from Connery. Now they’re going back to it and saying, “No, we’re the same!” I wasn’t particularly fond of this feature in the Goldfinger credits, either.

There are some decent images here, but this has to be considered a bottom five credit sequence for the franchise. It doesn’t do anything new. Some of the images are inspired, like the draining cocktail glass filters, but the clips from the Connery movies kill it. It’s like they didn’t trust Lazenby at all.

Nice way to open back up, though.

We open just outside that beach from the opening, at a hotel. (Nice cars.)

As Bond comes to find out who the woman on the beach was. (She sure didn’t go very far, did she?)

Bond finds out her name is Teresa de Vincenzo. She’s a contessa.

Nice hotel room.

And a bed and bar out on the balcony – oh… beautiful.

I miss when film stock made colors look like that.

Casino time. (Nice sets.)

Of course he’s playing.

Look what just showed up.

“Hello boobies, my old friends. It’s good to talk with you again…”

TokyoRemix:

Meta.

TokyoRemix:

By now, a lot of people will recognize her as Diana Rigg from the TV show, The Avengers. She played Emma Peel alongside Patrick Macnee as Mr. Steed. Macnee appeared as Sir Godfrey Tibbet in A View to a Kill and one of his other female partners on The Avengers was Honor Blackman, who played Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.

He certainly looks like Bond. I’m sure we’ll get to this later, but really the only drawbacks to him as Bond are his line readings and the shit they do to him (what they make him wear and the general fact that they just don’t trust him in the role and see hell bent on trying to make it known that he’s not replacing Connery).

Anyway, she loses, doesn’t have any money and Bond pays for her.

Naturally we know what he wants in return.

“Why do you persist on rescuing me, Mr. Bond?”

“It’s becoming a habit, isn’t it, Contessa Teresa?”

“Teresa was a saint. I’m known as Tracy.”

TokyoRemix:

Tracy, or Contessa Teresa Di Vicenzo, is the daughter of the crime lord/Bond ally Marc Ange Draco. After her mother died, she became a wild child and ran off to marry an Italian count, who died soon after. This is presumably why she was attempting to commit suicide. We’ve already seen that she gambles with money she doesn’t have, but her outlook on life changes before too long. 

She may not be the best ever Bond girl, but she’s certainly the most important; she informs Bond’s character throughout the rest of the franchise (until the Casino Royale reboot) as the woman Bond will never forget. I’m not sure I buy their whole love story quite as much as I should, given the importance of it all, but I’m willing to go along with it. I don’t want to give away major plot points, so the “how” and the “why” of them coming together will be dealt with as it happens. 

She hints that she doesn’t want to live, and he tells her to stay alive, if only for the night. So she invites him to her room.

Mostly the point of this is to watch her walk away, but I also want to point out the ’57 Bollinger he ordered as well.

Love this set design. This will be a recurring theme throughout the film.

Also – the red light. WHY DON’T PEOPLE MAKE MOVIES LIKE THIS ANYMORE??

This looks like the hotel room in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Of course someone attacks him.

He holds his own pretty well. Though I’m so upset by the destruction of these beautiful sets.

This is a nice moment too – after Bond beats him, he says, “Gate crasher,” which is a usual quip, and then he adds, “I’ll leave you to tidy up.” Which is a line that separates a Connery Bond from a Moore Bond. Moore wouldn’t add the extra line, Connery would. And even so the way Lazenby delivers it – it works. It doesn’t make the pun as punny.

And he takes some caviar. They’re doing it right. (He also tastes it and is immediately able to tell what kind of whale it is – Royal Beluga – and where it came from – north of the Caspian. That’s a very Bond thing to do.)

TokyoRemix:

I hate that about Bond. Not just Moore or Lazenby — I’m sure this has come up several times. Who does this? Especially when you’re alone. When I’m by myself and I see a nice car, I never say something to myself out loud like, “Ah, a 2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo S. Assembled in Leipzig, Saxony.”

This feels like Bond breaking the fourth wall yet again, showing off to nobody but the audience. And every one of these guys did it. The only time I found it acceptable was when Connery flinched at the taste of the Siamese vodka.

(Mike Note: He looked at it, too. Like, “What the fuck is that?” and the “Siamese vodka?!” was a reaction to the label.)

Aside from those ruffles in his shirt – he is Bond so far. (And you can’t blame Lazenby for the ruffles.)

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I’m a Lays man, myself.

(Mike Note: And you’d think Bond would be, too…)

Too bad we can’t play Assassination Attempt or Sex, since we already had one.

And we already knew before he walked in the goddamn door which one it was gonna be.

Dear Eon, thank you for the bountiful titties you have bestowed upon us this day of days.

TokyoRemix:

Not only the titties, but that lovely Diana rig she’s got holding them up.

“You’re very sure of yourself, aren’t you? Suppose I were to kill you for a thrill.”

TokyoRemix:

Oh, no. That shirt. That awful, awful shirt. Connery had a movie two years before this and two years after, but nothing like THIS awful shirt. Once again, glad he wasn’t in this movie, on the off chance that he’d have had to wear this thing. You know that Sean would have jumped at the chance to wear a kilt, too.

Oh, I like her.

One fluid motion. That was fucking great.

Uh oh – she just reminded me of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Gotta get that image out of my brain, lest it detract from the greatness that is Tracy. (P.S. Sorry everyone. I had to share my pain.)

TokyoRemix:

Now I’m imagining Harvey Dent being dragged out of the warehouse, screaming, “TRACY! TRACY!”

(Mike Note: I can’t not laugh at that moment. Especially when he’s getting dragged and is like,”OWWWGGHH!” and the gasoline is bubbling out of the side of his mouth.)

He slaps her, she want the dick. (Though she’s still playing it cool on the outside.)

Wow. Henchman came back. Whatever that dude’s being paid, it’s not enough.

I love how she seems completely indifferent to him.

TokyoRemix:

She was expecting Connery just like we were.

Bond thinks she’s in trouble. She says the only thing he needs to know about her is that she pays her debts.

With her vagina.

He don’t want no part of that shit.

TokyoRemix:

He looks like he could actually be a member of The Temptations.

Great image.

So she took his gun and paid him back. So does that mean the sex was free or she only charges the price of a gun for sex?

Oh, but wait –

They have it. So I guess the sex was free.

“Oh, you. Didn’t I beat the shit out of you?”

Nice looking cars in this one so far.

TokyoRemix:

If I’m getting kidnapped, I would appreciate being taken away in a 1968 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Drophead Coupe Mulliner Park-Ward. The name is as long as the car. Excellent car. We also see its contemporary rival in the ultra-high-end luxury segment, the Mercedes Benz 600, later on.

They take him to a construction site (and mercifully don’t knock him unconscious for once).

I love the camera placement in this film.

Midget with a broom!

He ain’t just whistlin’ “Goldfinger.”

Well naturally that had to happen.

He goes to kill whoever’s behind this, only –

“Do not kill me, Mr. Bond. At least not until we’ve had a drink. Then, if you wish, I’ll give you another chance.”

That’s Draco. Marc-Ange Draco.

He orders Bond a martini, “Shaken, not stirred.” Everyone know Bond’s drink. And yet – the aliases.

Bond also knows about Draco. He runs the biggest European crime syndicate, Unione Corse. I like that Draco thinks he’s got the biggest syndicate in the world, and Bond’s like, “Nah, son, there’s an organization called SPECTRE that operates worldwide.” Which is a weird moment. On the one hand, it’s great that Draco doesn’t know about SPECTRE, and also weird that Bond so nonchalantly is like, “Yeah, there’s this syndicate that operates worldwide. Clearly the biggest. We’re not really doing anything about them.”

TokyoRemix:

I don’t like outfit #2, either. Not even Connery could pull this off. I guess it’s 1969, and brown is in. Clothing, not people.

Draco is also Tracy’s father. I guess that would make this an opportune time to talk about him.

TokyoRemix:

Draco is yet another Bond character who is a major player in international crime, but gets a pass for being awesome. He heads one of the largest crime syndicates in the world, the Union Corse, but can use his position to help Bond get to Blofeld. It’s great how in Bond movies, there’s crime, and then there’s EVIL. Maybe you smuggle things and have people killed occasionally, but you’re not holding the world ransom or anything like that, so we’re good buddies.

Draco is Tracy’s father, and he’s worried about her wild tendencies. He acts as Bond’s equal, but also demonstrates himself to be a bit more powerful, or at least capable than Bond is when it comes to knowledge of the criminal underworld and organizing muscle. We can’t get through this movie without Draco, and he’s a great Bond ally, as we’ll come to see.

We get a backstory on Tracy – basically, Draco married an Englishwoman, she died, and Draco was unable to provide a proper home life for Tracy, and she became one of those heiresses with a bunch of scandals. And then Draco cut off her allowance, and, as he says, she committed a “greater folly” to spite him – which must be either a suicide attempt or an abortion. My guess is an abortion.

Draco says she married an Italian count without telling him, and the count killed himself with one of his mistresses. That doesn’t sound so bad. I still think it was an abortion.

Draco says he’s telling him that because he’s been informed of “everything” Bond has done for Tracy.

“Everything?”

“Don’t worry. Don’t worry about that.”

I like him.

He then says that he thinks it’ll be the beginning of some kind of help for Tracy. He wants Bond to marry her. Bond doesn’t like the idea of marriage. Draco offers him a million pound dowry. Bond still doesn’t like the idea.

Draco says he knows where Blofeld is, and would never tell MI6, but would tell his future son-in-law. He says he’s having a birthday in a week, and for Bond to think about it.

YES!

Moneypenny’s been worried sick about him. Bond invites her over for cocktails. She said she’d adore that, if only she could “trust” herself.

Bond calls her “Britain’s last line of defense.” Which I like, but – isn’t the idea of Moneypenny that she wants to fuck him? Why would she turn him down like that? Even if it is just flirting – don’t send mixed messages when you know he’s like 99.9% certain not to fuck you.

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Well, you know what they say. A Moneypenny saved is a Moneypenny earned.

Time to go see M.

M’s taking him off the Blofeld case. Bond hasn’t done anything in two years.

Bond wants to resign.

Bond goes to his office to pack. (Look, he has an office. Must be about as utilized as Moneypenny’s vagina.)

(P.S. Not a huge fan of him pulling out all of the objects from the previous films. Why not have him start crying and play Sarah McLachlan over it if you’re gonna do that?” “I will remember you…”)

TokyoRemix:

I hated this too. Make up your minds, is this movie about differentiating Lazenby from Connery, or about making it a continuation? This movie is the James Bond equivalent of the fourth season premiere of Fresh Prince, where Aunt Viv is suddenly played by a new actress, and Jazz is like, “Wow, there’s something different about you lately.”

(Mike Note: They did it in the next season or the season after, too. Jazz comes in, like, “Who’s playing the mother this year?” and then older Nicky comes in (same kid who played Will’s son in Independence Day) and is like, “It’s the same mom!” and Jazz is like, “Wasn’t he an infant last season?” and Will is like, “Shit happens, man. Just go with it.”)

“Doctor John Holliday…”

TokyoRemix:

And Ernst Stavro Clanton? Holy shit, what if there was a Bond movie with Blofeld played by Walter Brennan?

(Mike Note: “When you pull a gun, kill a man.” He’d certainly have henchmen who could do shit.)

Moneypenny calls Bond back into M’s office, where he says, “Request granted.”

Bond thinks it means M accepted his resignation, but Moneypenny only asked for two weeks’ leave for Bond. Which was granted.

Bond wants to know what he’d do without her.

She says her problem is that he never does anything “with” her.

“Oh, my dildo’s gonna get broke tonight.”

“What would I do without you, Miss Moneypenny? Thank you.”

Nice moment.

TokyoRemix:

She’s such a great character here. She’s cleverer than we might give her credit for up until now.

Oh, it’s hard for me to watch this shot after having seen this movie before.

Nice fucking place.

I want to live there.

Look at all those cars.

TokyoRemix:

Holy shit. We’ve got Bond’s Aston Martin, Draco’s Rolls, Tracy’s Mercury Cougar, and in the back there’s a bunch of other good stuff. The yellow car under a tree in the background looks like a Lamborghini Miura, and if it is, that’s gotta be the best random background car in any movie ever.

Look at this fucking estate.

Look at this fucking matchmaker.

TokyoRemix:

Oh, god. I hate this outfit, too. I don’t dislike Lazenby, but who did his wardrobe? This is horrible!

Tracy finds out about the arranged marriage.

She’s not happy.

She makes Draco tell Bond about Blofeld, then storms off, saying Bond need not have any further interest in her. Bond says that’s wrong and goes after her.

TokyoRemix:

This is what I don’t get. All of a sudden, Bond’s into her? He’s not about marriage so far, and he just got the information he was going along with this charade for, so why is he following through with this? Is he being honorable and sticking to his deal with Draco even though he doesn’t have to? Is he interested because she doesn’t appear to be? We even find out later when they’re together that he obviously doesn’t LOVE her love her, so I find this whole love story a lot less convincing than the one we get between Daniel Craig and Eva Green in Casino Royale.

(Mike Note: I disagree. I can see your side of it, but to me, I think Bond was always sort of into her, and then his thing was, “I’m not marrying anybody,” because he’s Bond. So he was against the idea of marriage, which was Draco’s major point. And he went along with it because he saw that it was his only way to get information about Blofeld (and think about it, without that, would he have gotten anywhere?). Then I think, when she got upset at the table about the deal, I think his response was, “Wait a minute — I’m doing this, but that’s not the end game here.” His goal is Blofeld. She thinks it’s just a think her father is doing. So he’s like, “No, you got this wrong,” and also does have some interest in her as a woman, so he’s like, “Look, let’s start over.” And then we get the montage of them actually falling in love. And, to be fair, the only reason we really knew Bond was in love with Vesper was with that borderline melodramatic set of scenes. So I think it’s wholly convincing. Though, from a Bond angle, I can see why you’d think it isn’t. And the other thing — I don’t think it’s ever said that he doesn’t love her. Based on his behavior throughout the film, I think it’s pretty clear that he loves her. I think the line is like the Vesper line where she says, “You’ve got your armor back on.” I think her saying that she hopes that one day he will love her is saying, “You never let anyone in there. I hope one day you’ll let me in.” She’s saying that he loves her, but she hopes that one day he’ll learn to love her like a normal person, since he’s so hardened from all the killing and shit.)

Aww – she does like him.

Why am I not finding this sappy at all?

I also like how they built a musical motif to this song. It’s a terrific song, too. Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World.” I love the way they utilize it throughout the film and then – well, if you’ve seen the film – the ending.

Love montage!

I love that they don’t even notice Draco.

Bond then goes to see the lawyer that might have something to do with Blofeld.

Naturally, he breaks in.

There’s a terrific moment where one of Draco’s men sends him over safecracking tools in a crane basket.

This is a nice moment too. Draco warns Tracy that relationships and marriage should be left to a girl’s father. She says she’s in love with Bond. He asks if Bond is in love with her. And she says, “That may come too. Someday.” And he says, “Life’s too short for someday, Teresa.”

TokyoRemix:

This is what I’m talking about. Why is he going on with this relationship? Now it seems that she’s more interested in this relationship than Draco is, and he’s the one who suggested it in the first place. And it’s not the sex, cause Bond can get that literally anywhere. 

(Mike Note: That’s what makes the relationship so fascinating to me. Because Draco’s like, “Go marry her,” and Bond’s like, “Fuck that,” because Draco wants stability in her life. Then we see that he actually brings her the stability, and Draco’s like, “Uhh… nuh uh, not him. This guy fucks women and forgets them.” I think he was hoping Bond would marry her, give her two years of stability, and either stay married and fuck other women or they’d divorce and she’d find a regular dude. So now he’s like, “I’m not so sure I like this.” It’s shit like this that makes me really like the relationship.)

Uhh… all right.

It’s a safecracker and a photocopier. Q, you’ve outdone yourself.

Lawyer’s back. Bond gets out of there real fast.

Look at these houses. But this isn’t just any house…

TokyoRemix:

He’s got a CANNON! I guess he is an admiral, technically. 

(Mike Note: Well, there’s a scene coming up in one of the articles where M basically pulls his rank dick out and Bond calls him “sir.” But like, for real. Not the usual sir. The added inflection, military “sir.” So at the very least, he’s a captain. Bond would never listen to him if he weren’t.)

Whose house? M’s house. (Say what?)

Bond knows ‘bout some butterflies. M doesn’t seem to happy that Bond knows about that too.

Bond says he found a letter addressed to a Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp, which is the French form of Blofeld. It’s from genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, who is verifying Blofeld’s attempts to claim the title.

TokyoRemix:

So here’s another shot to feature some random luxury cars. This movie just makes it rain Rolls Royces.

(Mike Note: They make it rain on them Rolls?)

Bond meets Bray to check out his lineage. He finds the family crest of Sir Thomas Bond.

Family motto – Orbis non Sufficit, “the world is not enough.”

Bond then gets Bray to agree to let Bond pose as him, while he goes off on vacation for a few weeks.

Switzerland!

It’s very Dr. Zhivago.

Bond is met by Irma Bunt, Blofeld’s assistant. The new Rosa Klebb.

TokyoRemix:

RIP my boner. Irma Bunt works for Blofeld at his Swiss facility, the Piz Gloria. She’s a toad of a woman with an awful German accent. I also feel like she exemplifies the old school foreign villain, who has a thick accent and occasionally weak vocabulary most of the time, but then randomly drops words like “avarice.” She’s definitely menacing and straight up evil.

(MikeNote: The best description I’d use for her is “like the warden in a lesbian prison movie.”)

Everyone who reads this blog consistently knows how I love multiple planes of action.

What gorgeous shots.

Welcome to Blofeld’s lair.

TokyoRemix:

I’m proud to say that I guessed what this link was going to be before clicking it.

Take this hideout and the ski chase from The Spy Who Loved Me – there’s the entire basis for the third act of Inception.

Yeah, Blofeld!

Bond is given a room – a room he can’t leave unless he calls an attendant to let him out. He checks out the place and sees it’s mostly on the up and up.

Then – he puts on the kilt.

It could work if not for the frills. It’s like they wanted him to look ridiculous.

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I don’t even need to touch this, do I? Aw, man. Seriously with this thing? And the socks. 

(Mike Note: Pretty sure that’s what Bond said about Bunt.)

He’s hit the mother lode.

Well that’s one way of making your intentions known.

You know Dasher and Prancer and Comet and Vixen…

Well that one really wants the dick.

Observe the secret agent in its natural habitat.

Rack focus.

This is Bond finding out there are no other men around except the staff.

I love the rotating set.

“Are you here for Christmas, Sir Hilary?”

“Well I might be…”

TokyoRemix:

Oh my lord. This shot is pure gold. And we have an excellent view of frankincense and myrrh, as I call them.

Subtle. Real subtle.

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It’s great, cause the dialogue is about how she was allergic to chicken, but now she LOVES it. I’m glad that they didn’t give all these lines to the black girl.

A shot like this can make an entire scene that much more interesting. (Just trying to help the people who want to make movies. It doesn’t take much to make something generic more interesting.)

Bond then explains genealogy to the girls. One is significantly more interested than the rest.

Bond is then taken to see Blofeld. It looks like Mr. Freeze’s hideout.

I love how all of his operation is right out in the open like that.

And here he is.

So… does he not remember him from Japan, or…?

TokyoRemix:

Again, continuity, or no? He’s apparently been on all the missions from before, cause he’s got the stuff from Connery’s movies, but it’s also apparently the first time he’s met Blofeld. I don’t know what’s going on with this movie. 

Actually, what is the deal here between the two of them? Cordiality only goes so far. They should both clearly recognize the other person.

(Note: I figured it out. The answer is down in the trivia.)

TokyoRemix:

Oh, okay. Yeah, I see that. But still, it’s weird.

Anyway – Bond goes back to his room, and –

TokyoRemix:

The idea of a woman reaching up Bond’s skirt and playing with his leg upsets me. A lot. This goes the other way.

(Mike Note: Connery is Scottish, so I feel like the wearing of the kilt isn’t out of the question. I think it’s that we can picture the smile that would be plastered on Connery’s face as he wore it. That’s really the difference. I feel like the difference is that Lazenby’s so set on not fucking up that he’s not having the fun Connery had with it. I think that’s what makes the kilt not work.)

And very quickly escapes. (By the way – the kilt should have been gone right after dinner. I could have lived with it just in that scene, since he’s pretending to be this guy and he’s all about heritage and shit. But anything after that is a statement by the producers. Though it’s really only for one more scene, so it’s not as bad as it could have been. I can live with it, even if it does happen for one scene too many.)

What man can make a booty call work dressed like that?

Bond.

James Bond.

Time to bang.

So after the sex, Ruby – that’s her name. Ruby Bartlett. We don’t really need to talk about her, though she might be the closest thing to a secondary Bond girl we have, right? She explains how she got there at the clinic. It mostly seems on the up and up, until –

He’s got a butthole on his chin.

Oh, yeah, and the girls are being brainwashed.

I like how it basically gives Bond an excuse to get out of there right after sex.

Oh, damn.

That one’s Nancy.

Her intentions are pretty clear.

He uses the same pickup lines that he used on Ruby.

2 for 2.

I can’t see one of those and not think of Jaws.

Nothing like a good game of curling.

Oh yeah, there’s this guy too. We’ll get to him in a bit.

Or maybe not.

There’s also some great moments here where the two girls Bond fucked, plus the Asian one, all make plans to see him again that night.

TokyoRemix:

He’s actually penciling them into his schedule as they walk by. “You can be at 8. You’re 9. 10 for you.”

Bond goes back to see Ruby, only –

Well that’s fucking terrifying.

Of course he gets knocked out. It wouldn’t be Bond if he didn’t.

“Merry Christmas, 007.” So now they’re done with the pleasantries.

Blofeld explains that he now has the power to cause mass infertility around the world. (That shot of Bunt from a second ago ought to do the trick.)

He explains his plan in full detail.

Yeah, we don’t need to talk about that guy.

TokyoRemix:

I always think of this shot sort of the same way we think about the one of the guy that Dominic Greene has drowned in Quantum of Solace. Where they sort of walk over and the bad guy goes, “Oh, by the way, killed this guy. You know him?”

These are Bond’s new quarters. I like them.

He escapes, naturally.

TokyoRemix:

You’re thinking of Jaws, but my mind goes straight to Where Eagles Dare.

(Mike Note: Actually, I was thinking of Where Eagles Dare here. Was kind of hoping he’d mow down some people with automatic weapons once he got out.)

The hard way.

Oh, and all the girls are given drugged eggnog and given more programming..

And there go the girls, off to be good little sleeper agents.

So Bond skis out of there.

Thank god these henchmen can shoot.

Ski chase!

Blofeld’s in on this one, too. (He looks like Elton John as the fucking Pinball King.)

It’s standard stuff. A good chase, even though it’s really obvious it’s not Lazenby doing the skiing. At least with Moore they don’t always cut in close to obvious green screen shots to make it so obvious. When they cut in closer, in the medium shots, it’s actually Moore. The absence of medium shots lessens the chase a bit. But other than that, I like the chase a lot.

Plus, they actually shoot Bond off his skis and he has to continue on one. How many times does that actually happen?

Bond actually wipes out twice. Which I like, since how long can one actually stay on one ski before falling?

They definitely did this during another chase. Which one was it? For Your Eyes Only? Moore definitely did both the one ski and the using the ski to knock a dude out of the air.

TokyoRemix:

Yup, For Your Eyes Only. And then he has the “snowboard” chase in A View to a Kill, which is the other time his skis get messed up and he has to use the skid from the snowmobile.

This is a pretty great freefall.

Jesus, he almost beheaded him.

Anyway, down at the village…

The chase kind of resumes, but Bond gets away.

He tries to be incognito, until…

Tracy.

I can’t not go for that smile.

Nice cover.

So they get out of there.

TokyoRemix:

You’ll notice that her red car with skis up the back is a lot like Bond’s [second] Lotus Esprit Turbo in For Your Eyes Only.

(Mike Note: And all of the wonderful moments that car had.)

She came to find him.

Bond goes to call London.

Drive-by!

I guess that was a practice shot.

Oh, that’s nice.

The chase is back on! (Man, I really like these chases.)

I like that she’s driving. I really like that she’s driving.

TokyoRemix:

I’m amazed that she’s holding her own this well. Even Bond would mess up at these speeds in this car on that road. 

Well, they end up in a stock car race, which – probably the one questionable element about the chase, but – every movie has one.

She’s really handling this like a champion. That’s my kind of woman.

I love that glance.

Oh, and she’s fucking ramming people too. I love this woman.

The thing that makes this work for me is that normally I’d be like, “Oh, so she’s a professional driver now?”, but you actually get the sense that she’s just sort of winging it as she drives, plus there’s that added element of her not being so precious with her life, as per that suicide attempt earlier, so there’s that feeling that she’s willing to take some risks with the car, which makes me believe that she’d be able to do the shit she does.

Bye bye Irma.

Or, not. (How do you reverse an explosion like that?)

Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work, you fucking Ausfahrt.

“Nah, we can make it.”

Bond and Tracy find a place to bed down for the night.

Red light.

Soft focus.

No need to do anything now. They have all the time in the world.

Tracy thinks he’s thinking about his job. That’s just the thing – he’s not thinking about it. He’s thinking about her. He should be thinking about his job. Which means he has to find another one.

He tells her he loves her.

Marriage proposal.

This is, hands down, the best film between the Connery and Craig eras.

TokyoRemix:

Granted. GoldenEye is a close second.

Yeah, show some leg!

Bond doesn’t want to fuck her (again). That’s his New Year’s resolution – he’s not gonna fuck her until they’re married.

They’ll be married in the morning.

He was just playing.

Blofeld shows up there the next day, but Bond and Tracy are gone.

I’m suddenly starting to understand that skiing scene from The World Is Not Enough.

TokyoRemix:

All the way down to Elektra’s fur hat.

(Mike Note: We call those merkins.)

But no time to dwell on that – we have another chase.

“We shall go through the mines of Moria.”

Come on. I’m not the only one thinking it.

Wall-E?

Jesus. It’s more like Jaws-E.

This reminds me of this scene I saw with a Japanese chick and an umbrella.

TokyoRemix:

Oh shit, we talking about Tokyo Gore Police? Amazing[ly bad] movie! Not enough movies have women that have a crocodile mouth instead of legs.

(Mike Note: Not counting Pretty Woman?)

So they enter an avalanche area, and Blofeld, to his credit, is like, “I’m not fucking going in there, you three assholes go.” And they do.

Why he then sets off an avalanche is beyond me. Did he think Bond would suddenly turn around if he didn’t send any henchmen after him? Or does he just not care about his men?

TokyoRemix:

I think he sent the henchmen in to drive Bond further into the avalanche area and then just set off the avalanche because his guys are expendable. 

(Mike Note: But what always surprises me is that they go without question. I love that they’re thinking about their year-end bonuses and not, “Hey, he might fucking kill us right now.”)

How many things are more cinematically pleasing than an avalanche?

My great grandfather went the same way.

It’s actually a pretty thrilling avalanche.

Blofeld then absconds with Tracy.

Bond looks for her.

M says they’re gonna buy Blofeld off. All hope seems lost. M doesn’t care about Tracy. He has orders.

So Bond calls Tracy’s father. (I love that he’s going to organized crime to help him. Also, he says “Bond. James Bond” again here. And actually, it works. Normally I get upset when Moore does it twice, but here, I’m cool with it. Maybe it’s because he’s on the phone.)

Ride of the Valkyries.

I love that Blofeld just lets the girls hang out with him. That’s a true evil mastermind – he doesn’t harm the women. It’s strictly business. That’s why Blofeld will always be great at what he does.

TokyoRemix:

Nobody does it better.

“Son, have you ever seen an aircraft taking off at sunset?”

Typical villain move. He wants to fuck her, she wants no part of it. Then, “Oh, someone’s coming for me? Oh, please, tell me more about how much money you have. Your dick is suddenly very appealing to me.”

And they fall for it, every time.

TokyoRemix:

It’s like Jasmine and Jafar. Smart guys always go for the hot chicks no matter what.

(Mike Note: Yeah, but that’s implying it’s an ego thing. A real smart guy wouldn’t let that shit happen without question.)

What a great little sex pad that is.

Great shot.

And the action’s back on. But – you know what I’m waiting for. It’s just not the same without one.

STUNT FALL!!!

Oh, this bitch has fight in her.

And now’s when they finally start playing the James Bond theme.

Nice!

“This is for Sharkey!”

TokyoRemix:

Don’t you mean Quarrel?

(Mike Note: I really wanted to tag that with, “Whatever, they all look alike,” or something about how, “Aren’t they all related anyway?”, but that one was actually just a mistake on my part. I always like saying Sharkey more than Quarrel, so I just think of Quarrel as Sharkey to combine the things I like best about each character. I probably should have just changed it, but I think it’s important to point out just how often I do that, since I did not catch it until you pointed that out, and I must have seen that line at least three times before you did.)

Oh, this guy’s my new hero.

Well, it almost worked. I applaud the effort, though.

Bond takes photos of where all the girls are, only Blofeld shoots at him. There’s a chase.

Red and green.

Draco and his men wire the whole place to explode. (Why? It’s such a nice place.) Tracy won’t leave without Bond.

Jesus. Way to be Italian.

TokyoRemix:

I wasn’t gonna say it.

(Mike Note: Domestic abuse goes over with Italians the same way her parents’ death went over with Melina — “Ehh.”)

“Oh, my beautiful hideout…”

Why the fuck would you do that?

Tally ho!

Bobsled chase!

I guess at this point they ran out of ways to do a chase on snow.

Now there’s a shot.

Only he drops it.

“That’s right! You can’t kill me, motherfucker!”

Somehow this scene works.

Just like Speed.

And that’s the end of Blofeld.

… or is it?

Lassie?

TokyoRemix:

Is that a Saint Bernard? Aren’t they supposed to have a thing around their necks full of booze? Or is that just my winter sports accident fantasy?

Time to get married.

Oh, you know what’s coming.

Look at Moneypenny’s face.

TokyoRemix:

Q looks so sharp! Even M’s like, “Aw.”

This is pretty great – Draco and M talk about their meetings in the past. There’s something great about two people on opposite sides of the law just sort of hanging out at a wedding or something.

TokyoRemix:

Well, it’s also great, cause M’s supposed to be like Bond’s dad here, since Bond’s an orphan. These are the in-laws now. Like Peter Falk and Alan Arkin.

I like that they gave Q a line. It was kind of sad not to see him in this one, even though it made sense.

Bottle of wine, sleeping tablets. Calling it now.

TokyoRemix:

Thought that was a nice touch, though. The hat was always their thing. And now he’s tossed it for the last time. Supposedly.

(Mike Note: I guess it’s a good thing a salad wasn’t always their thing.)

TokyoRemix:

Why’d you cover that Aston Martin in garbage? Clean that shit off.

“Oh, I always cry at weddings.” (Uh huh.)

“007 never had any respect for government property.” (Best double entendre ever.)

TokyoRemix:

That was supposed to be a double entendre? I guess I’m slow, I only got the obvious part — that women are property.

And there goes the happy couple.

“Darling – now we have all the time in the world.”

Of course let the hooligans go around.

TokyoRemix:

What kind of hooligans drive a 1927 Oldsmobile Six? Cause I wanna join THAT group of hooligans.

Nice place to stop.

TokyoRemix:

Seriously, this would be a PERFECT shot of a gorgeous car and a gorgeous background if only they’d clean all that garbage off this beautiful car. It’s bugging me. 

“You have given me a wedding present – a future.”

TokyoRemix:

You consider “a future” to be a present? Giving someone “a future” sounds like something you hear on those commercials asking you to donate five cents a day to an African kid.

(Mike Note: And yet — wouldn’t be so out of place in that Casino Royale section. Just saying — the territory’s not that different.)

Uh oh…

Double uh oh.

“It’s Blofeld!”

TokyoRemix:

“I was just remarking how we should take this garbage off the car, and this man was kind enough to help us remove half of the flowers with his machine gun. Thanks so mu-“

“It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be getting on soon. There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.”

Final Thoughts on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: 

TokyoRemix:

This is definitely a top six movie for me, but I can’t put it at number four because I won’t watch this as much as Dr. No. It’s not as fun as Dr. No is for me, and the ending is about as dark as they come. At least Casino Royale brought us back down and gave us a badass ending with Bond. You get the feeling that three weeks after this last scene, Bond’ll be locked up in his home theater eating chocolate chip cookies and repeating, “Show me all the blueprints.” He’s not crying here, but the way he looks makes him seem like even more of a mess. And then we have Connery return, all chipper for Diamonds Are Forever and we’re like, “Wait, what?” Even though this is Bond canon, it pretty much exists in its own little universe.

I like Tracy, but as I said before — she’s still not quite as good as Vesper in my mind, nor is her love story with Bond as convincing to me as the one in Casino Royale. I have minor issues with the way the film treats Lazenby, from giving him awful outfits to making constant references to the Connery films as if the audience might otherwise forget what they were watching. 

Draco is great, and Blofeld is pretty good in this movie, played by Telly Savalas this time around. I like him about as much as the Donald Pleasence Blofeld, and way more than the Charles Gray Blofeld. The evil plot barely seems to figure into this film; it seems that we’re after Blofeld simply because he’s Blofeld, and then they sprinkle his plan on top to legitimize it. It doesn’t really matter, because the dialogue between him and Bond, as well as the multiple chases that they get involved in pretty much work for me. There may have been one too many chases in the snow — skis, cars, skis again, bobsled — but at least they were well executed. 

When all is said and done, this is a top Bond film simply because of how important it is in supposedly establishing the character. It adds a little more depth to Bond, just knowing that he was married once and that his wife was killed. Like, I guess that’s why he’s a player now and sleeps around all the time? But he does that in this movie even before he’s married. They only reference Tracy one time in a Roger Moore film, and once for Timothy Dalton — and only the Dalton film uses this tragedy to explain why his character is a bit dark and brooding. I guess the final verdict is that this could have been as good as Casino Royale if they had done something with this tragedy to build the character in a real way that shows Bond learning and coming through something. If Lazenby can come back instead of Connery or Moore, and there was a film showing him coming down from all this — if we met Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever, and Bond was pissed at him, or something, THAT would have made this film all that much better. In fact, thinking about how much this whole process suffers without a continuation makes me appreciate Quantum of Solace all that much more for providing that angle.

It sounds like I’m hating on this movie, but it has great action, an awesome villain, a lot of sex and excellent visuals. It’s a top six lock, I’m just not putting it at four.

My Final Thoughts:

I love this movie. I think the primary reason for me is because I’m not approaching this as a Bond fan, the way I don’t approach comic book movies as a comic book fan. I approach them as movies. I want good characters, an engaging story, and I want to be entertained. Give me a good movie. Now, I’ve become a fan of the Bond franchise, so my expectations for the film are filtered through the stuff I like to see out of the franchise, but more than anything, I want a good movie before a good Bond movie.

What I’m getting at is — the best Bond movies for me, which pretty much counts for at least four of the top six, are the ones that don’t fit into the franchise mold, narratively, and have all the Bond stuff as a cherry on top. Dr. No is a procedural. Most Bond films typically feel like they’re part of some sort of formula, even the good ones. I like when they’re paced different, or have different elements in them that give the films flavor on top of the usual Bond stuff. This one I like because — it starts with him presumably on a bender, randomly finding a woman who is about to kill herself. (Personally, I feel like they could have shown or implied the suicide attempt a bit more than they did, but it’s Bond, I don’t expect too much depth. I just think they could have shown a few more close ups of her despondent face and let her get a bit further out in the water before he went to get her.) Then the first act of the film is a mix of standard Bond (“I need to find Blofeld,” Moneypenny and all that) and romance.

When he meets Tracy at the hotel, you think it’s gonna be a standard Bond progression. And it is. But once he meets up with Draco, everything shifts. We get the full on romance angle, and I love that. And then once we get to Blfoeld’s place, there are no random action scenes. There’s a good hour of this movie (at least, it feels that way) where there’s no action at all, and it’s all character scenes. I love when the Bond films do that. No need to add an extra chase, let the plot keep the interest. I’m a huge fan of that. Granted, there’s no Tracy in those scenes (and if there’s one thing I’d have liked to see more of, it’s more Bond and Tracy), but I love them. Just like I love how Goldfinger spends so much time just hanging out with Goldfinger at his Kentucky estate.

And of course, I love the ending. I’ll say it now, because there’s more to talk about, but I love it. I love how it just ends quietly with her dead. It’s easily the most powerful ending of the franchise. That and Casino Royale are the two. And I like that one ends it before he gets revenge, and the other ends it right as he’s about to get revenge. And I think the endings needed to be the way they were because, if we’re trying to think about this chronologically (which is dicey, since the timeline is all fucked up, but you can sort of do it) — Bond loses Vesper, and it pretty much makes him Bond, the cold, hardened fuck who is who he is. He blocks out all feelings for her and just becomes ice. Then, he gets the message from her and goes to fuck up Mr. White, and we get that moment of, “Bond. James Bond.” Here, he’s already Bond. He’s been Bond for a while, and now, he’s starting to open himself up again. And he finally starts doing that, and boom, she’s fucking dead. I think it was important for them to end it where they did, because the point here was how badly this fucks him up, and the point in Casino Royale is how it made him “Bond.” So I don’t really compare the two, since they have different ends.

By the way — this is all part of an ongoing discussion TokyoRemix and I have been having about this film. I would say argument, but we’re not really against one another so much as it is — we both agree this is a top six film. He has it at #6, I have it at #4, and mostly we have differing (which is a relative term, again) opinions about the relationship between the two of them. It seems like he’s coming from the Bond perspective of, “I don’t buy this, this doesn’t make much sense,” and is going by the character of Bond and what’s shown in the film. Sort of filtering from the character and the franchise outward. I’m coming from the entire outside film world and filtering into the movie. So when I see the relationship scenes — those are my bread and butter. I love when movies do romance right. If you look at my favorite films, you can see a bunch of romances in there. But that’s beside the point What I’m getting at is, I see the scenes in the movie, and I open it up to both my experience of seeing scenes like this and the natural interpretation of what’s going on. Because to me, you can’t always take a scene at face value because 90% of film response is personal interpretation. So I’m seeing all these scenes and reading what I’m seeing as a natural interpretation of the characters and the situation, which is either because that’s the writer in me unpacking the .zip file or because that’s just how I personally am reading things. These might be one and the same, but I feel like they mean different things.

Anyway — one scene we discussed was when Tracy makes Draco tell Bond what he wants to know so he has no reason to have any “further interest” in her. And then she storms off and Bond is like, “Wait a minute,” and goes after her. And then he finds her by the car, and she’s crying, and he wipes the tears from her face, and then the love montage begins. TokyoRemix said he didn’t buy the who;e love thing because it felt sudden and didn’t make much sense to him. He said she’s still crying “fuck the world” tears and that he’d have liked a scene that said it explicitly in the dialogue.

I look at that scene and I think it’s terrific. Because I feel like their relationship was set up perfectly up to that point. What I see until that point is — Bond randomly encounters her and saves her from suicide. (And for the English majors reading, you can also call that “star-crossed lovers” if you want. I’m thinking about that now, but the thought hadn’t occurred to me until I wrote the previous sentence.) He wonders why she’d do that, and then he’s attacked. I’m not really sure why, but I’d assume they’re her fathers guys who were watching her and were going to take her back to him. So she runs away again, and he sees that she’s at the hotel. He’s intrigued by her and asks the staff who she is. Then he encounters her again at the card game and finds a way to get to talk to her. Then we find out she’s suicidal and doesn’t care. But he’s interested. She’s willing to sleep with him because she doesn’t care and he wants to sleep with her because, presumably, he sees a bit of himself in her. Because you know Bond has some sort of inherent death wish, otherwise he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing. (They play this out much more in the novels, where he drinks more and is jaded about his job. I keep coming back to that “Living Daylights” short story, where he doesn’t kill the other sniper on purpose, in the hopes that M fires him.)

So I think that’s what makes her intriguing to him. So they sleep together, and then she’s gone. And he ends up meeting her father, who tells Bond all about her, and before Bond can do anything, is like, “I think you should marry her.” And Bond’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa — hang on a minute. I don’t do marriage.” And then Draco is like, “I’ll tell you what you want to know if you marry her.” So Bond agrees, because at that point, he has nothing to go on for Blofeld. He had two years and couldn’t find shit. He needs this. So I feel like he’s interested in her, but the interest takes a back seat to, “Hang on, I just wanted to see what would happen with her, not marriage,” and then, “But shit, I need to find Blofeld.” Which is why he agrees. And then, when Tracy is there and sees Bond with her father, she knows exactly what’s going on. And I feel like, when she storms off and is crying, the real reason she’s crying is because she’s interested in Bond too. He’s interested in her and she’s interested in him, and Draco is both helping and hindering their relationship. He’s the reason they get together, but is also trying to force it.

But that aside, I think her tears are her being upset because she was interested in Bond, but now it seems like he really doesn’t give a shit about her. Because he saves her from killing herself, pays the debt she mounts up, sleeps with her, and he doesn’t leave in the morning, she does. So to her, he’s like, “Well shit, I might want to stay alive because this guy does care.” And then she finds out it’s because her father is helping him out, she’s upset, because now she actually doesn’t have anything to live for. So, in a way, it’s “fuck the world,” but I feel like it’s a lot more complicated than just that. And then Bond coming up to her is his way of saying, “No, fuck that other shit. I have that and I have you. I want both and I’m just doing what I have to do.” And when she sees him come after her, that’s her way of knowing that he does care, and it’s his way of saying it. You don’t really need words for that one. I think it works beautifully.

That said — I could have used one more scene instead of the love montage. Well, not instead. On top of. I’m not sure where it could have been, but I feel like it would have helped. Just something before he does to Switzerland, or while he’s there. So I do kind of agree with TokyoRemix on that front. I think I interpreted him saying that as more — him needing a scene where Bond openly says he loves her, one of those Casino Royale moments of “Whatever is left of me — whatever I am — is yours” moments, which I felt would have been beating me over the head with it. I’d have been satisfied with something like — they have dinner together in his hotel room, the food’s left on the table and they’re in bed and he’s saying he has to go to Switzerland to do something. And she says something about how she doesn’t really care what, as long as he comes back to her (there might be a scene like this, but I don’t really remember it). Mostly something where we can see them talk and the body language could really imply love. If that’s what you meant by a dialogue scene, then yes, I agree.

Now, the problem with that is — this is 1969, and we have Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. The franchise is known as being a particular thing, and they’re already (clearly) having trouble with the departure of Connery, so asking for a scene like that is really difficult (especially since them giving us what they have is already a huge outlier). They couldn’t show they were in love too much because Bond has to fuck those women at Blofeld’s place. If he’s already in love, then he can’t fuck those women. So they had to be cagey about it until he encounters her later. The fact that this is a Bond movie hurts that. Plus, this is also the most depth they’ve shown in the franchise until Casino Royale, so I can’t hold this to the same standards as that one, because it’s a different era, and the franchise was thought of differently. So I have to take certain things with a grain of “it was 1969.” That’s why I think this movie works so well, because you could never imagine Connery doing these scenes (costumes aside). They brought an added dimension to the character that probably wouldn’t have been imaginable had they not made this movie.

The other thing TokyoRemix said — which admittedly, he qualified by saying he was probably spoiled by the Craig era — was that he could have used a Quantum of Solace type entry to this, showing the aftermath of it. He didn’t really like how Connery shows up all chipper in Diamonds Are Forever and we move on like it’s nothing. Now, me being me, I just connect the dots in my head and explain why that is, rather than being like, “No, I need you to tell me why that is.” Well, first, I’ll say — the fact that they acknowledge any other Bond movie in the franchise before the Craig era is insane. The franchise was always pretty much serialized. That’s why a lot of people had problems with Quantum, because they’re like, “Bond doesn’t do sequels.” (Actually, it’s shit like that that makes me think it should be a top ten. It’s totally getting moved as soon as I see Skyfall.) But, that aside, I look at the opening of Diamonds Are Forever and see it as being wonderfully equivocal. Because, when I saw it, Bond just busting in, beating the shit out of people, “Where’s Blofeld?!” to me, that was him wanting revenge for Tracy. And it also could just be Connery picking up where he left off at the end of You Only Live Twice. So I like that aspect of it. And me being me, I look at that film and am like, “Well, he already went through his dark shit, and now he’s going back to being regular Bond because that’s the only way he can block it out,” and because it’s 1971, we don’t get that Craig level of depth, where he’s outside Bond, and then we see him downing six martinis on the plane when he thinks no one else is awake. So I’m willing to accept that they don’t really explain some shit to us, since, depending on what time period the films were made (and this being a very particular type of franchise), shit like that just isn’t coming. We really are spoiled by these Craig films.

I haven’t even looked at TokyoRemix’s final thoughts yet. This could get a whole lot longer. But fuck it, you read this far, so what do I care? You don’t like it, stop reading.

I’m torn about which girl I think is better, Tracy or Vesper. I do agree Tracy is more important, but my decision on which one is better is gonna come at the end of the week, when we rank our favorite Bond girls. (Not to spoil it, to me, they’re obviously 1 and 2, and it’s just a matter of which one I want to put first.) I also think they really shafted Lazenby in this film, which says a lot about him, since I believe both of us consider him to be the fourth best Bond of the six (since Connery, Craig and Brosnan are clearly top three). So that’s good for him, that he was able to overcome the ruffles, the kilt, the Connery references, and what sounds like a lot of “you’re not Connery” dislike from the fans and the producers.

I’m torn on which Blofeld I like more, the Telly Savalas or Donal Pleasance one. I think I agree with TokyoRemix that the best Blofeld was the one we never saw, but once we did see him, I can’t tell which one I like better. It’s probably Savalas, just because Pleasance was more look than anything. And Savalas’s Blofeld seems smarter and more on top of his shit. (Though him skiing and stuff kind of detracts from it for me. Blofeld shouldn’t be doing stuff like that.)

I do like, though, that the Blofeld plot doesn’t matter. Because the point of this movie is that Bond is after Blofeld and he falls in love with Tracy. Blofeld just needs to have a plot or else he wouldn’t be Blofeld. So I like that all this shit is happening at once. It really makes it feel more legitimate that way.

I will also say, since mostly we’re getting into all these other discussion about the movie — every action sequence in this movie is great. The reason they’re all great? At least two times (stock car, bobsled) we got onto an action scene where I was like, “Really? That’s your location?” and both times, the chase was thrilling, and by the end, I didn’t give a shit how random it was that they happened to be doing those things and how clearly it was put there by a writer. I didn’t care. That’s the sign of a great chase. So to me, the action scenes in this film were among the franchise’s best, and there was never an unnecessary one. And then they had lots of dialogue and character scenes (relative to all but like, three other movies in the franchise) — on that alone, it’s top six. There really aren’t any flaws in the film until you get down to how you personally rank it among the other ones.

Oh, yeah, and it’s important to the franchise too. I always forget about that until TokyoRemix reminds me of it. That’s why (as I said in the opening) it was weird to me that people would be so pretentious about this one. Because I’m like, “Isn’t it just a great movie before we get to that other stuff?” It’s like finding out one of your favorite movies is also something the really pretentious people you can’t stand also really like. You have that feeling of, “But I liked it for innocent reasons…”

I will end with this, since TokyoRemix ends his final thoughts with it — I completely disagree about them needing to have built upon the character with it. I think we’d like for that to have happened, but it’s ridiculous to think that could have actually happened. The fact that we got this and the Craig movies is a miracle, since this franchise could have gone on being one Die Another Day after another. You can’t honestly say the film needs a sequel, especially since the only reason we got a direct (ish) sequel the first time was because of a writer’s strike. (Quantum was pretty much written that way because they couldn’t work on the script, so Craig and Marc Forster came up with the continuation plot when they had to figure something out at the last minute.) What if that film didn’t expand on the character and was just another Bond film? Does that make this more okay? I feel like it’s unfair to compare it to those for that reason (and a bunch of others). Granted, yes, I’d have liked to see Tracy mentioned more and Bond’s character given some depth because of it, but what I know about Albert Broccoli is that he wanted Bond to be sex and action and all the things that make the franchise both great and pretty superficial, character-wise. So it’s kind of a catch-22. I feel like the only way that could have happened was nowadays, where there’s so many action movies out, the only way the franchise differentiates itself is by quality, not by being bigger and more exciting. And I just can’t hold that against this film. So to me, this is an easy #4, and a film that I pretty much put into a revolving 1-4 with the next three films as just being the best four of the franchise. And then I have Dr. No and GoldenEye right below those as being in the top six, though I don’t think those crack the level these four do.

– – – – –

Official Bond Number: #6

Release Date: December 18, 1969

Run Time: 140 minutes

Budget: $7 million

Box Office: $22.8 million domestically, $82 million worldwide

Title Song: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” by John Barry’s Orchestra (and unofficially, “We Have All the Time in the World,” by Louis Armstrong)

Music By: John Barry

Based On: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” by Ian Fleming

Director: Peter Hunt

Writer: Richard Maibaum

First Lines: ” I’ve been saying for years, sir, that our special equipment is obsolete. And now, computer analysis reveals an entirely new approach: miniaturization. For instance, radioactive lint. When placed in an opponent’s pockets, the anti-personnel and location fix seems fairly obvious.” “What we want is a location fix on 007.”

Last Lines: “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.”

– – – – –

Cast:

George Lazenby, as James Bond
Bernard Lee, as M
Lois Maxwell, as Miss Moneypenny
Desmond Llewelyn, as Q
Diana Rigg, as Tracy di Vincenzo
Telly Savalas, as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ilse Steppat, as Irma Bunt
Gabriele Ferzetti, as Draco
George Baker, as Sir Hilary Bray
Bernard Horsfall, as Campbell
Yuri Borionko, as Grunther
Angela Scoular, as Ruby
Catherine Schell, as Nancy
Julie Ege, as the Scandinavian Girl
Mona Chong, as the Chinese Girl
Sylvana Henriques, as the Jamaican Girl
Sally Sheridan, as the American Girl
Joanna Lumley, as the English Girl
Zaheera, as the Indian Girl
Anouska Hempel, as the Australian Girl
Ingrid Back, as the German Girl
Helena Ronee, as the Israeli Girl
Jenny Hanley, as the Irish Girl

– – – – –

Bond Villain:

  • Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Bond Girl:

  • Tracy di Vincenzo

Secondary Villain:

  • None

Secondary Bond Girl:

  • None. But Ruby could count. So could Nancy, theoretically.

Bond Villain Chick:

Henchmen:

  • Irma Bunt

Allies:

  • Marc-Ange Draco
  • Campbell, but not really, since he doesn’t even get to be an ally.

Other Important Characters:

  • Sir Hilary Bray
  • the “Angels of Death”

– – – – –

Locations:

  • London
  • Portugal
  • Piz Gloria, Swiss Alps, Swizterland

– – – – –

Cars:

  • Aston Martin DBS
  • Mercury Cougar XR 7
  • Mercedes 220S
  • Mercedes-Benz 600
  • Mercedes-Benz W112 Saloon
  • Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

– – – – –

Gadgets:

  • Radioactive lint (Q shows it to M at the beg