Christmas Film Advent- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

“This never happened to the other fellow.”

Length: 2Hr 22
About: 
James Bond woos a mob boss’s daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld’s allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world.

Me Before Bond
I was never a Bond girl. It was there on ITV on a saturday afternoon and it may have kept my attention until the next ad break, but I certainly didn’t go out of my way to watch an Ian Flemming adaptation until Daniel Craig earned his 007 status in 2006’s Casino Royale.
I am however a legacy Bond girl. Without this franchise, I would not have Austin Powers or Kingsman: The Secret Service to love and enjoy so it’s only give this festive outing a shot.

The Ugly

There are quite a few bits that didn’t sit comfortably with me. While I’m aware that it is reflective of the time, Bond’s treatment of women within the whole film hits the wrong tone for modern times and my viewing pleasure. From the slap Diana Rigg takes, her not only being ‘bought’ by Bond but ‘sold’ by her father, to Bond’s Playboy theft and his late night bedroom hoping with Blofeld’s test subjects. It all is tasteless and dated that I struggled to engaged from the outset. 

The biggest problem that draws more attention to the above problem is that I am not sold on George Lazenby as James Bond. He lacks charm and that certain something that allows the character to blend in while standing out to the audience. There are a number of scenes early one, namely while at the casino I lose Lazenby within everyone else in the scene. Far from charismatic, Bond feels sleazy and cheap; for example, does a man who I’m meant to believe can get any woman to drop her knickers for him really need to steal a Playboy centerfold? Diana Rigg has more presence than Lazenby and a Bond girl should never outshine the protagonist.

The Bad

It’s a rather clunky affair. The opening feels as if I’d walked in on the film having missed the first twenty minutes; I never understood why Rigg’s Tracy was in the water and in need of Bond’s rescue nor did I have the inclination to find out.
The link between Tracy’s father, Blofeld and Bond’s actual mission seemed very messy and required a little too much focus for what I’m used to with a Bond movie. I’m aware that I’ve been spoiled with what has become a filmic formula, but I’d take that over this any day.

The Good

I know it’s not the way it’s meant to go, but I loved seeing tropes in this film that became nods to the franchise in films like Austin Powers and Kingsman. From the snowy cable car accessed facility, Blofeld’s iconic wardrobe to Bond’s shirt frill.
Dianna Rigg was a wonderful bit of casting. While her chemistry with Lazenby was lacking and I would argue the films plot didn’t warrant so much screen time for her character, I enjoyed every second she was on screen.
I also loved the very opening scene; the one between M and Q. It had a feel of Shakespeare in the sense that we learnt a lot about our main character through these two, much in the same way Hamlet opens.
I will also say that it was a bold way to end the film. It was a refreshing how downbeat the end was and it actually has made me want to see if this plot point is picked back up in the next installment.

Final Thoughts

A little too dated for my taste and not enough Christmas within it to be part of a future Christmas line up, but I can see why die hard fans would enjoy this 00 outing and relish putting it within their Christmas line up.

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