Lazenby Tries on the Bond Rigg
Everyone has their favourite Bond and their favourite Bond movie and at the same time they also have their least favourites and quite often when it comes to least favourites George Lazenby and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" are often picked. But rather ironically "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is not a bad James Bond movie in fact not only is the storyline more interesting with the angle of Bond falling in love but despite some dodgy effects the action is more spectacular. The trouble is that sadly Sean Connery was a hard act to follow and in comparison George Lazenby is dull, he just doesn't make his own mark on the character and so ends up coming across as weak. And whilst the action is more spectacular it often goes on too long causing "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" to feel drawn out at nearly 2 and a half hours long.
Ordered off of the case of tracking down Blofield (Telly Savalas - Mackenna's Gold), James Bond (George Lazenby) takes a vacation, well a working vacation as he still seeks out his arch nemesis. After saving the life of Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) as she walks into the ocean James finds himself in good favour with her father crime lord Marc Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) who offers to give him information on Blofield if James will date and marry Tracy. Whilst initially purely a business transaction James genuinely falls for Tracy whilst Draco up holds his end of the bargain and gives James Blofield's where abouts which is high up in the Swiss Alps where he is fronting his crime organization with a research clinic. Masquerading as a genealogist James gains entry to the research facility where he discovers that Blofield has plans of launching biological warfare and only he can stop him.
So story wise well "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" despite the change of actor is a continuation with James Bond still after Blofield and Blofield still plotting world domination. In many ways you expect nothing else and whilst we get Bond falling out with M and then going renegade when taken off of the case you know that eventually James will end up getting close to Blofield as he uncovers what the evil genius is up to. And to be honest both the way James gets close to Blofield by masquerading as a genealogist and Blofield's plans to stage biological warfare from his Swiss Alps lair are good.
But what really makes "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" more interesting is that we have Bond actually falling in love with Tracy Di Vicenzo who in the opening scenes saves from committing suicide. Now to be honest whilst we learn all about how Tracy is troubled and in her father's eyes needs a strong man to basically dominate her there is little depth to this. But the whole series of scenes which see Bond falling for her are nicely done, maybe a little too soppy for fans of Bond being an action hero but have a simple beauty about them. Of course you can't expect things to work out perfectly and I remember the first time I watched "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was surprised by what is now a well known twist and even now am impressed by the emotional ending.
Now this romantic element certainly helps to try and make "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" feel a little different to the previous Bond movies and the level of action is also an improvement. Yes the special effects used to deliver the famous ski chase scene is now seriously dodgy but there is adrenalin to all of this and it's not just the big chase scene as those minor action scenes as well as the big final battle are spectacular. But sadly they are also spectacularly long and sadly pretty much all the action scenes go on a little too long making them lose a bit of impact and causing the movie as a whole to drag on too long.
Then there is of course the acting and Telly Savalas is quite reasonable as Blofield because he gets across the nastiness of the character whilst Diana Rigg does a good job of playing Tracy, James's love interest. In fact Diana Rigg is one of the best things about "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" because whilst she has the beauty of a typical woman in a Bond movie her character certainly has more depth. And then there is George Lazenby and you have to feel for Lazenby as anyone who followed Sean Connery was going to struggle and it didn't help that he basically tries to imitate Connery's Bond rather than making his own mark on the character. It means that whilst Lazenby is good in all the action scenes when it comes to delivering the suaveness of Bond and the various puns he ends up being a very poor imitation.
What this all boils down to is that "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is not a bad James Bond movie in fact the storyline is quite good especially with the romantic angle. But it is drawn out and at almost 2 and a half hours it is too long. But the biggest problem is George Lazenby as he is no Sean Connery but seems to spend the entire movie trying to imitate him rather than making Bond his own character.