Saturday, May 18, 2013

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

This is the DVD cover, because the
movie poster is silly and misleading.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the sixth James Bond movie, based on the tenth James Bond book. It’s a quieter movie than a lot of the others, it follows Bond’s relationship with one woman, Tracy, and an unaffiliated mission to track down Blofeld. This is the only movie starring George Lazenby as Bond, and there are a couple internal nods to the fact that this is the same character with a different actor.

The romance between Tracy and Bond is fairly poignant, if occasionally as over-the-top as the rest of the movie. The action plot revolves around Bond posing as a genealogist to infiltrate Blofeld’s stronghold in the Alps. Blofeld has a fairly silly plot to use a bunch of hypnotised young women to damage the world’s food supplies (this made slightly more sense in the book), but the important thing for our purposes is that it’s Christmas! So there is a ski chase which is sometimes very exciting and sometimes a little too obviously blue-screened, and a chase through a ice-skating Christmas party in a little Swiss town.

This movie is rather famous for its ending, which I did find quite moving even though I’d seen it before. The score is notable as well, some of the best music in the series. There is plenty of action, but overall it’s more grounded, in both emotion and level of realism, than many of the films that came before and after it. Among hard-core Bond fans, it’s often the favorite of the series. Until Casino Royale, it was probably the one that most closely follows the plot of one of the original novels.

I enjoy On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but I have to be in just the right mood for it. It’s a solid action/romance, though a little dated.

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