On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: All the Time in the World
by Patrick Goff (@p2wy)
I saw my first Bond films in the early 1980s. My first was Octopussy, watched on ABC (edited for television) with my family. Then I saw A View to a Kill in the theater as a 13 year old. I didn’t realize at the time that these were James Bond at his most elderly, and that the series had reached it’s apex of silly. Regardless, I was enchanted by the exotic locations, the woman, the fast cars. I had a thirst for more. At the time, we didn’t have a VCR so my only recourse was to visit my local library and check out Ian Fleming’s novels. This written Bond was something completely different, a more shadowy character with real flaws and a streak of darkness…. something that was completely absent from the later Roger Moore portrayals.
Over the years, the Fleming character stayed with me as I eventually came to watch most of the series. You would see small snippets of the Fleming Bond in Dr. No or Goldfinger…a taste of him here or there, but it was still the “movie” Bond…. as was the case in just about every Bond film I’d seen.
However, there were still a few Bond films I had not yet seen until I received the Blu-ray Bond collection for Christmas this past year. I decided to watch them from beginning to end, 1962 to 2012. A couple of films in I realized there was a similar online project ongoing… the #Bond_age_ series, but it was many films ahead of me. I slowly watched my way through the series, and coincidentally right after Thunderball, I happened to catch Skyfall in the theater. I was blown away. Here, HERE was the Fleming Bond I hadn’t seen in 25 years. Here was a Bond who truly loved, who doubted himself, who was tempted by evil. Skyfall is a wonderful film, easily in my top five Bonds but it is not my favorite. That honor falls upon a Bond film I watched shortly thereafter, in sequence, through my 50-year journey, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
I honestly had little interest in watching this one. I’d always heard that it had the worst actor ever to play Bond, that George Lazenby was was nowhere near as good as Connery. That it didn’t have all the Bond trappings…the gadgets, the cars. Little did I realize that this Lazenby Bond was the Skyfall Bond transported back in time (or vice versa); a Fleming Bond lifted straight from the novel. A Bond that fell in love, a Bond who almost gave everything up, a human like you and me.
You see this humanity in Lazenby’s eyes when he sits down on a snowy bench, saddened and unsure what to do next, certain to be captured and killed. You see it in the sentimentality he wears on his sleeve throughout the film, such as when he’s cleaning out his desk and reminiscing over his past exploits. You see it as he falls deeply in love with Tracy and you see it in the heartbreaking final few seconds of the film.
Surrounding Lazenby you’re treated to lovely, expansive cinematography with a rich color palette… an aspect of Bond films that the producers often neglect (the Blu-Ray transfer, by the way, is sublime). You have Diana Rigg, the best “Bond Girl” in the the series. There is a fantastic ski chase scene (probably the best one of the many Bond ski chases), a thrilling scene of cars racing on ice and my favorite villain hideout, Piz Gloria.
This film may not have the DB5, the Duran Duran, a scuba fight scene or a crocodile submarine but it has a soul and a message that will stick with you in a way that the fluffier Bonds will not. It was 40 years before its time. And On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ends unlike any other.
“We have all the time in the world.”
Patrick Goff is a film buff living in Grand Rapids, MI. You can find him on Twitter @p2wy
First Bond Movie: Octopussy
Favorite Bond Actor: Really a toss-up between Connery, Lazenby and Moore. They each have their strengths.
Favorite Bond Girl: Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), although @007hertzrumble has nearly convinced me of Tatiana Romanova’s charms.
How I discovered #Bond_Age_: Through #TCMParty and @007hertzrumble