On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) was the sixth James Bond film and the first without Sean Connery. Instead the producers went with Australian born actor George Lazenby, who only lasted one Bond movie.
Despite rumours that Lazenby was dropped because of poor box office – the film was actually quite successful. It was the third highest grossing movie of the year behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and They Shoot Horses Don’t They? Lazenby actually quit before the premier of the movie believing that he could get better acting jobs. Several decades of crappy B movies, TV shows and a string of Emmanuelle movies have proven otherwise.
I’ve always enjoyed the books over the Bond movies and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was an excellent story. The film is fairly close with the standard Hollywood changes. Because the producers followed the novel a little closer, there are hardly any gadgets in this film. Diana Rigg (Emma Peel in The Avengers TV series) is cast as Tracy, the daughter of a mafia crime boss, and lover and eventual wife to James Bond.
The plot has Bond trying to track down the villainous Blofeld (Telly Savalas this time). A chance encounter with Tracy as she’s about to commit suicide (Bond naturally saves her) leads to an introduction to her father Marc Ange Draco. Draco wants Bond to spend time with Tracy to keep her happy and in return Draco uses his vast resources to track Blofeld down for him. Bond discovers that Blofeld is hiding in the Swiss Alps in a clinic. It’s a front for his latest evil plan: just in time for Christmas Blofeld is planning on blackmailing the world with his unsuspecting Angels of Death. What follows are several ski chases and the most depressing ending to an action adventure movie, ever.
It doesn’t quite all mesh together but On Her Majesty’s Secret Service works well enough to be enjoyable.