The movie was one from my college days and a bit out of character for me. I have watched most of the James Bond films, but I don't think very highly of them as they were created as political propaganda with a naive world view, and portray rather poor values all round - murder as a way of life, obeisance to royal authority, sexism, unhealthy lifestyle choices, etc. But if one is in the mood, the Bond movies can offer some great scenery, action, and well, fun.
The Bond film that we watched is one which makes many Bond fans groan. It is also the only one I own on DVD. The title is "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", which came out in 1969. I can hear some of you ... "not that one".... well just stop that right now and read on.
Yes, this is the one filmed after Sean Connery called it quits (for a short while) and it stars George Lazenby, possibly the worst actor to play Bond. He tried to imitate Connery in the film rather than create his own version of the character like Roger Moore did later on. At times Lazenby even has an annoying lisp. OHMSS also uses speeding up of the frames in fight scenes which comes off rather badly. But one actor, even in the lead role, and a few bad special effects, does not an entire movie make.
What does this film have going for it that could possibly outweigh the bad acting of Lazenby? Well, quite a lot actually.
For one thing, the scenery - it was filmed in the Swiss Alps and Portugal - is stunning. For another, there are some amazing skiing sequences shot by a cameraman (Willy Bogner) who at times skied backwards with the camera between his legs(!) and at other times was towed behind a bobsled. Another plus is the actor playing the bad guy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. It was Telly Savales of the TV series "Kojak" fame and he did an excellent job.
The music was one of the major highlights. The regular James Bond themes were well arranged and matched to the scenes perfectly. The movie's sub-theme "All the Time in the World" was sung by Louis Armstrong in what would turn out to be his last recording session. Hard to beat the old Satchmo.
To give George Lazenby some credit, he did many of his own amazing stunts.
We had some good laughs at the sexist remarks. But nothing in this almost 40 year old movie could match the words of Japan's PRESENT Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, Hakuo Yanagisawa, who the other day referred to women as (I am not making this up) "birth-giving machines"! So much for social progress. That remark may, hopefully, cost him his job.
The best element in this film, which makes it rise above many others of this genre was the performance by Diana Rigg as the heroine, Theresa di Vicenzo, the only woman who the Bond character ever actually falls in love with and marries. Diana Rigg is a favorite of K and Panadbonium for her role in the British 1960's TV series "The Avengers" which we have on DVD and watch from time to time. She brought her natural beauty and classical training to this movie, and is no doubt the most talented actress to portray a heroine in a James Bond film.
So if you're in the mood for an action film with dinner and perhaps have missed or "dissed" this one in the past (as I had), give "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" another chance and this time focus on everything other than the lead character. You may find it to be surprisingly good entertainment.
Oh, and try to plan dinner a little better than I did.