Thursday, March 19, 2020

RW330 - James Bond Rewatch - On Her Majesty's Secret Service

In this episode of the James Bond 007 Rewatch, Cory and Nathan seek out some not so familiar faces as they discuss "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."


The Music of On Her Majesty's Secret Service:

Our Favourite Trivia:

George Lazenby is the youngest actor to portray 007, at age twenty-nine during filming. The rest of the actors and their ages: Sir Sean Connery - thirty-one, Sir Roger Moore - forty-five, Timothy Dalton - forty, Pierce Brosnan - forty-one, and Daniel Craig - thirty-eight.

The producers originally intended to explain the change of lead actors in this movie by saying that Bond had undergone plastic surgery because his "old" face was now too well-known by foreign spies and terrorists for him to go undercover. But they then decided not to refer to the change at all, and thus hopefully minimize the public attention being paid to George Lazenby's replacing Sir Sean Connery. However, after the opening action sequence, right before the titles, Bond says directly to the camera, "This never happened to the other fellow", an intentionally comedic reference to the change in actors.

Peter Hunt, who had worked on the five preceding films, had impressed Broccoli and Saltzman enough to earn his directorial debut as they believed his quick cutting had set the style for the series; it was also the result of a long-standing promise from Broccoli and Saltzman for a directorial position. Hunt also asked for the position during the production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and he brought along with him many crew members, including cinematographer Michael Reed.

Timothy Dalton was offered the part of James Bond, but turned it down feeling that, at twenty-two, he was too young and relatively inexperienced to take the role. Dalton played Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989).

Broccoli and Saltzman had originally intended to make On Her Majesty's Secret Service after Goldfinger and Richard Maibaum worked on a script at that time. However, Thunderball was filmed instead after the ongoing rights dispute over the novel was settled between Fleming and Kevin McClory. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was due to follow that, but problems with a warm Swiss winter and inadequate snow cover led to Saltzman and Broccoli postponing the film again, favouring production of You Only Live Twice.

Between the resignation of Sean Connery at the beginning of filming You Only Live Twice and its release, Saltzman had planned to adapt The Man with the Golden Gun in Cambodia and use Roger Moore as the next Bond, but political instability meant the location was ruled out and Moore signed up for another series of The Saint. After You Only Live Twice was released in 1967, the producers once again picked up with On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Broccoli and Hunt eventually chose Lazenby after seeing him in a Fry's Chocolate Cream advertisement. Lazenby dressed the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (ordered for, but uncollected by, Connery), and going to Connery's barber at the Dorchester Hotel. 

This is one of the most faithful adaptations of an Ian Fleming novel. Virtually everything in the book occurs in the movie. Staying so close to the source actually caused some continuity problems due to the different order of the movies.

Lazenby was offered a contract for seven films; however, he was convinced by his agent Ronan O'Rahilly that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969.

Lazenby said he experienced difficulties during shooting, not receiving any coaching despite his lack of acting experience, and with director Hunt never addressing him directly, only through his assistant. Lazenby also declared that Hunt also asked the rest of the crew to keep a distance from him, as "Peter thought the more I was alone, the better I would be as James Bond."

The soundtrack for On Her Majesty's Secret Service has been called "perhaps the best score of the series." It was composed, arranged and conducted by John Barry; it was his fifth successive Bond film. Barry opted to use more electrical instruments and a more aggressive sound in the music.

Barry felt it would be difficult to compose a theme song containing the title "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" unless it were written operatically, in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan. Leslie Bricusse had considered lyrics for the title song but director Peter R. Hunt allowed an instrumental title theme in the tradition of the first two Bond films. The theme was described as "one of the best title cuts, a wordless Moog-driven monster, suitable for skiing at breakneck speed or dancing with equal abandon."

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was released on 18 December 1969 with its premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. Lazenby appeared at the premiere with a beard, looking "very un-Bond-like", according to the Daily Mirror. Lazenby claimed the producers had tried to persuade him to shave it off to appear like Bond, but at that stage he had already decided not to make another Bond film.

Because Lazenby had informed the producers that On Her Majesty's Secret Service was to be his only outing as Bond and because of the lack of gadgets used by Bond in the film, few items of merchandise were produced for the film, apart from the soundtrack album and a film edition of the book. 

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was nominated for only one award: George Lazenby was nominated in the New Star of the Year – Actor category at the 1970 Golden Globe Award ceremony, losing out to Jon Voight.

What's Up Next?

The producers rush back to Sean Connery and we get "Diamonds are Forever."

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