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

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) cover

“The information that I now possess the scientific means to control, or to destroy, the economy of the whole world.”

– Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The new James Bond (George Lazenby) steps forth and saves Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo’s (Diana Rigg) life, and again meets up with her. Her father Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) catches wind of Bond’s achievement and decides to meet with him to tell him of Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s (Telly Savalas) hiding place if Bond decides to seduce Tracy and marry her. He will also give forth a dowry of one million pounds. Bond enjoys his freedom and life, yet realizes that if he does not change Tracy’s outlook on him, Draco will give him nothing.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

“Why do you persist in rescuing me, Mr. Bond?” – Tracy

Returning to MI6 headquarters to speak with M (Bernard Lee), he is informed that he is being kicked from the mission of locating Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond is angered and gives Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) his resignation, and she passes it off as two weeks of leave. Bond meets up with Draco at the latter’s birthday party, and Tracy catches on to what her father is up to, and forces her father to tell Bond what he knows without Bond needing to hold up the obligation of marrying her. Naturally after that the two have a romance that blooms after that.

Draco leads Bond to a law firm in Bern, Switzerland. Here Bond learns that Blofeld is making an attempt at the title “Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp”. He has been communicating his intent with London College of Arms’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray (George Baker). Of course Bond steps in to impersonate Bray and heads off to Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. Blofeld seems to have a clinical allergy-research institute with strictly female patients. It soon becomes clear to Bond that the women are being brainwashed and are part of a bigger scheme: to distribute bacteriological warfare agents across the globe.

OnHerMajestysSecretService

Surrounded by Angels of Death

Bond tries too hard to lure Blofeld off the mountain and to a place where the British will not violate the Swiss sovereignty. Blofeld wises up to Bond and captures him, and Bond needs to escape. He professes his undying love to Tracy, and that is just the beginning of things going sour for the world. Blofeld has other plans, and intends to stick to them. Bond needs to make some choices to save the day, but will he make the right ones? Will he listen to his superiors for once, or be the loose cannon? What will the cost be?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service earns a 6/10. It was so boring – I just have to put it out there. The movie was like two and a quarter hours, and it took me closer on four to watch it and a hell of a lot to stay awake. There was nothing compelling – not the story, not the acting, nothing. This was truly the worst Bond that I have seen so far, there was just nothing that really said Bond. The dialogue was crappy, the camerawork was crappy, the fake backgrounds were still crappy. Overall, not impressed. It was just absurd, the concept was ridiculous, and George Lazenby was really just not the right pick for the role. The movie itself was not really memorable, so I do not really have a lot to contribute to it, it didn’t register very well for me.

IN RETROSPECT: I was grumpy and irritable when I watched this, and definitely disliked it far worse than I should have. It is definitely not the worst of the Bonds, though the story was a little shallow, and Lazenby is not the greatest Bond, but he is not as annoying as he was that day. This Bond really had a bang for an ending and is one of the best one’s of the series, though it is rather incongruent to the rest of the film. The backgrounds were still crappy (but that is no shocker with these old ones), so I need to give it credit that I did not initially.

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14 thoughts on “Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

  1. theipc says:

    “It was so boring – I just have to put it out there. The movie was like two and a quarter hours, and it took me closer on four to watch it and a hell of a lot to stay awake”

    Don’t you hate that?? I’ve been watching the original Straw Dogs for almost three days… it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO boring….

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  2. Dan Heaton says:

    Mmm. I feel like this is one of the most interesting Bonds and sticks closest to Fleming’s source material. Lazenby isn’t perfect, but he holds his own. Also, Diana Rigg is one of the least ridiculous Bond girls out there. It also has an amazing gut punch of an ending that wasn’t matched until Casino Royale. I don’t find this boring, though I know its pace is slower than recent Bonds. Still, it has some great set pieces. There are a few goofy moments, but no more than in a lot of Bond films. This is one of the best in my opinion.

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    • Zoë says:

      I have never read Ian Fleming’s books so I cannot comment on that, I take your word for it though! It did have a very fresh ending (so different from the perfect ones that we have seen). Bond is cheesy a lot of the time, I will give you that!

      It is always so interesting to see how everyone’s tastes differ 🙂

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  3. Monkeyboy says:

    Really couldn’t disagree more. This is easily one of my favourite Bonds. The middle part is a bit slow by todays standards, but the camerawork is definitely not crappy. It’s a masterclass in action movie editing.

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    • Zoë says:

      🙂 I am glad that you enjoyed it. Something just didn’t catch me in this one. I like a more serious Bond than the cheese overload, but this one lacked something. It felt like it was overly long and not much was going on.

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