Previously in Part 6…
Last time, we spoke of Sir Sean Connery and his years as Bond. After Connery left the role, a world wide search for the next James Bond began. The next actor become Bond would be met with quite a bit of controversy in many ways. That man was…
Tenure as James Bond – 1969
With the departure of Connery after You Only Live Twice, Albert Broccoli and director Peter R. Hunt chose Australian actor/model George Lazenby to play the role of Bond. He first came to their attention after seeing him in an advertisement for Fry’s Chocolate Cream. NOTE: At the time, Lazenby was the highest paid male model in the WORLD.
For his audition, Lazenby dressed the part by sporting several Bond related elements such as a Rolex wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (which was ordered, but uncollected, by Sean Connery). He even went to Connery’s barber at the Dorchester Hotel to get hair styled like Sean in the Bond films.
During a screen test, Lazenby did an impromptu fight scene during which he accidentally punched a stunt man — who was also a pro wrestler — in the face. Apparently, this display of aggression impressed Albert Broccoli and won him the role.
“This never happened to the other fella”
The above clip shows the ending of the pre-title sequence of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. After stopping a suicide attempt, Bond is attacked by a group of henchmen. As the girl leaves him high and dry, Bond looks to the camera and says ‘this never happened to the other fella’. The ‘other fella‘ in this instance is the previous Bond, Sean Connery. NOTE: This is the only time in the film franchise that Bond breaks the 4th wall to the audience and the only time the change of Bond actors is openly acknowleged.
James Chapman also distinguished a more vulnerable and human characterization in Lazenby’s Bond—feeling exhausted and falling in love—as opposed to the “heroic superman” of Connery. Brian Fairbanks noted that “OHMSS gives us a James Bond capable of vulnerability, a man who can show fear and is not immune to heartbreak. Lazenby is that man, and his performance is superb”.Ben Macintyre also observed that of all the Bonds, Lazenby’s characterisation was closest to that of Fleming’s original character.
Peter R. Hunt, director of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, believes that Lazenby should have undertaken more films in the role, saying “he would have made a very credible Bond and been very good indeed“.
Lazenby never actually signed a contract, with negotiations dragging on during production. A neophyte in the film industry, George was convinced by his agent Ronan O’Rahilly that the role of the suave secret agent would be archaic and old fashioned in the liberated 1970s. Lazenby wanted to make more serious genre-defining movies like Easy Rider. As a result of this very bad advice, he left the role of a lifetime before the release of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. While he continued to act, he never made another major blockbuster again.
- For his performance as Bond, Lazenby was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year at the 27th Golden Globe Awards (to date, he is the only Bond actor to be nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Bond).
- He studied martial arts under Bruce Lee himself. He was set to co-star in the biggest budgeted action/martial arts film of all time in 1973, along with Bruce. However, Lee died two weeks before the film was to begin shooting. Lazenby was actually going to have dinner with Bruce the night he died. The footage was used in the Bruce Lee film Game of Death.
- He was the youngest actor to play James Bond (he was 29 when he was cast and during filming: 30 when On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released).
- His favorite Bond film is Goldfinger (1964).
- He holds the unique distinction of having been both The Marlboro Man and James Bond.
- Admits to not seeing any of the 007 movies to be released after his own.
- Dated Jill St. John and Barbra Streisand.
- Due to outside business dealings, he is estimated to be the wealthiest actor to have played James Bond.
Synopsis: James Bond faces Blofeld ( played by Telly Savalas), who is planning to hold the world ransom by the threat of sterilizing the world’s food supply through a group of brainwashed “angels of death”. Along the way, Bond meets, falls in love with, and marries Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo.
- The movie’s theme “We Have All the Time in the World” was the last thing that legendary jazz singer Louis Armstrong ever recorded. He died two years later.
- Sean Connery later said that he would have preferred to do a Bond movie like this one, as opposed to You Only Live Twice.
- This is the favorite Bond movie of Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight Trilogy. Many references to the OHMSS can be found in Nolan’s movie Inception(2010). Nolan said, “What I liked about it, that we’ve tried to emulate in this film, is there’s a tremendous balance in that movie of action and scale and romanticism and tragedy and emotion.”
- Director Steven Soderbergh wrote that“For me there’s no question that cinematically On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the best Bond film and the only one worth watching repeatedly for reasons other than pure entertainment … Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are.”
- The first James Bond movie in which James Bond is seen openly crying and the only Bond film with a sad ending.
- The motto, “Orbis non sufficit“, given to Bond when he researches his own coat of arms before impersonating Sir Hilary Bray, is Latin for “The World Is Not Enough”, which was used as a Bond movie title in 1999.
- IGN has ranked On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as the eighth best Bond film, Entertainment Weekly as the sixth best, and MSN as the fifth best. Digital Spy listed the film as the best James Bond film to date.
- In September 2012, it was announced thatOn Her Majesty’s Secret Servicehad topped a poll of Bond fans run by 007 Magazine to determine the greatest Bond film ever.
In the next installment, we’ll talk about the actor that brought a touch of class (and a tongue-in-the-cheek) to the role of James Bond in the 70’s and early 80’s: the late great Sir Roger Moore. UNTIL NEXT TIME!
James Bond Will Return In: ROGER – THE REGAL AND REFINED BOND!