Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The James Bond movie you probably never saw
At the time he was skewered by the critics and public, and the movie essentially became the Fredo of the series.
But watching it again in retrospect, I have to say it was not that bad. In fact, it was way better than a lot of the later idiotic MOONRAKER and later Bond films. In one, Denise Richards plays a nuclear physicist for Crissakes!
Lazenby was not very good, and it was hard for me to really take him seriously since he looked like a more handsome Soupy Sales, but he sure wasn’t much worse than Timothy Dalton. He tried to have fun with the role, and so what if for one movie James Bond was a little goofy?
But the plot was pretty good. It stayed very true to Ian Fleming’s book and was a lot more realistic than later 007 adventures where he’s on the moon or taking Denise Richards seriously.
Telly Savalas supplied the necessary panache required for a Bond super villain. And also the necessary stupidity to tell Bond his world domination plan and save killing him for later instead of just putting a bullet in his head and going back to stroking his cat.
The film also featured that great John Barry score with all those familiar kick-ass guitar instrumentals. (Side note: Why the producers of HAWAII 5-0 don’t play that damn theme every time there’s so much as someone walking fast I do not know. That song is the ONLY reason to watch that show!)
But the best thing about ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE was that I hadn’t seen it in so long. I’ve probably seen every other Bond movie at least twice. Don’t you notice that when you come across a Bond marathon you always recognize the movie? You don’t always remember which one it is – you go “Oh yeah, the stupid Egypt one” or “the stupid Swiss Chalet” one -- but you watch the action sequence that you’ve seen already nine times. You try not to think how old that Bond girl is today, and you just resign yourself to whoever Bond is at that moment even if it’s not your favorite. (And by the way, although most people claim Sean Connery is their fave, there are a lot of folks who grew up on Roger Moore and prefer his interpretation. I can’t argue with that.) But it was great fun to watch sequences I hadn’t seen in decades. Even though some of the shots were adventures in bad blue screen -- the action, the James Bond theme, and the twenty guys after 007 all in matching uniforms shooting and missing at least 20,000 times (you’d think super villains could afford better marksmen… I mean, how much must those secret hilltop high-tech compounds that commision cost? Explosives alone have to be in the tens of thousands.) it still adds up to a real adrenaline jolt.
And then there’s the ending. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t seen it or read the book, but suffice it to say this movie does not have your typical Bond in a raft with Carey Lowell wrap-up.
I’m sure there will be another Bond marathon coming this Christmas. Because ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE stars George Lazenby it’s usually buried in the middle of night. But tape it. You might be pleasantly surprised. And you can fast-forward through the miles and miles of commercials. Of all the gadgets that Q has invented, nothing comes close to the DVR.