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DVD cover "With the Exception of On Her Majesty's Secret Service..."

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

George Lazenby, Diana Rigg

Whenever i talk about Bond films, i try to remember to mention that this film is an exception to almost any rule you might think of about the Bond series -- for one thing, it's a very faithful adaptation of the book. Bond actually falls in love. There are very few gadgets (the automatic safecracking machine is sort of cool, but it's huge -- such a gadget in a Bond film today would fit in a pocket). Bond contacts an "outside contractor" when M won't approve a mission to take out Blofeld and rescue the woman he loves.

It's the only Bond film that breaks the fourth wall.

And it has Diana Rigg. At the time, that was enough for almost any young male (such as myself) who had watched The Avengers to watch the film, setting aside that the Bond franchise was Very Popular at the time.

And, of course, it has George Lazenby rather than Connery or Moore.

Let's get this out of the way early -- while this wasn't the most successful Bond, it wasn't, by any means, a flop at initial release, the way that popular memory has it. However, because of a popular conception that Lazenby wasn't very good as Bond and that the film itself was inferior (neither opinion being justified by the facts) OHMSS didn't get the re-releases and continuing popularity that other Bond films did.

Lazenby is, actually, rather closer to the way in which Fleming had described Bond than any of the other actors who have played him; he moves well and reads the lines which he actually reads convincingly enough (his voice is dubbed for the sequence in which he infiltrates Blofeld's school because he couldn't handle the Public School accent of the character; on the other hand, Gabrielle Ferzetti's entire performance as Draco is dubbed by another actor, also), and he's competent in the action scenes. I really believe that if he hadn't taken apallingly bad advice and had continued in the series he would be much better thought of today as Bond -- and we might well have been spared some of the more horrific moments of the Roger Moore years.

Diana Rigg is, of course, lovely (she would find it hard to not be), and her Tracey is believable as the sort of woman Bond would fall hard for.

The ski sequences are spectacular for their day (though the Bond franchise itself has topped them in For Your Eyes Only, which, incidentally, was listed at the time in a Playboy article/pictorial about OHMSS as the next film in the series -- from what I hear, they realised that that would make two "ski" films in a row and hurriedly developed Diamonds are Forever, which may explain its ...for want of a better word... script), though I read somewhere that for Ms Rigg's skiing she was doubled by a slim young man.

And, say what you will of Lazenby, his playing of the final scene is convincing and genuinely emotional, which is rare for the Bond Series.

(Lazenby was to portray Bond again [sort of] in the rather weak Man from UNCLE TV movie, The Fifteen Years Later Affair -- coyly unnamed, driving a gadget-equipped car with plates reading "JB", intervening [with a quip about "shaken, not stirred"] by chance and helping Solo during a car chase sequence.)

(Incidentally, this film features TWO regulars from the Avengers teevee series -- not only Diana Rigg, but also Joanna Lumley, who was to play Purdie on The New Avengers some years later.)