On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Film Review

Bond is back, but he looks a bit different. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the first Bond film to cast a new actor as James Bond. No more Sean Connery for this film and here we have the slightly strange addition to the franchise with George Lazenby.

OHMSS is about Bond who at the start saves a girl from suicide and then gets an offer from her father to marry her for one million pounds. He agrees if he uses his contacts to tell him the whereabouts of Blofeld, head of SPECTRE. Bond must travel to Switzerland undercover, to stop Blofeld, who plans to spread a virus worldwide.

This film was a weird experience because it felt like a parody of what come before it. From the first Bond film, Dr No. there seemed to be an element of seriousness to the franchise, however as time went on and more Bond films were released, the plots started to become outlandish and crazy. However, OHMSS takes it to another level. The plot of Blofeld trying to release a hazardous material worldwide doesn’t sound too crazy. However, this is all masqueraded by Bond pretended to be a genealogist trying to solidify Blofeld title of ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’. Also there is some plot point about the lack of earlobes.

The story isn’t the only crazy thing about this film. The whole shooting style replicates early martial arts films. All the fights and action scenes are sped up and it was funny to watch but I couldn’t tell the tone of the film. Some scenes had jarring editing and weird zooms that just don’t fit with the franchise. The one moment that sums up this film is at the start where he saves the girl and she then steals his car. Lazenby turns to the camera and says, ‘This didn’t happen to the other guy,’ referencing Sean Connery. That self awareness sets how this film would turn out. The film in itself becomes a parody and even when writing this review, I’m not sure if I hated it or loved it.

The tone was quite jarring but there was a few things that this film got right. Telly Savalas as Blofeld was a massive improvement on the previous incarnation as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. Blofeld felt menacing and smart, a fantastic performance by Savalas and Diana Rigg was splendid as the Bond girl. I know the film is almost 50 years old but I won’t spoil the ending but I loved it, it didn’t fit with the tone but I liked the surprise and the shock. Lazenby was an okay Bond, it would of been nice to see another installment from him but he was a good choice and he had a charm to him that was key to play Bond.

OHMSS is a peculiar installment that I can’t get my head around. The reaction’s I hear of this film is quite polarising. It is a breath of fresh air but one that is hard to take in. Lazenby does a fine job but outshone by Savalas and Rigg. OHMSS is a bit long at 140 minutes and I really didn’t like the sped up action. However I do love the ending of this film. I can see why people love this but for me it just did not work.


Rating – ★★ 1/2


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