Friday, December 07, 2007

On Her Majesty's Secret Service - A Movie Club Column

Well folks.. it is Movie Club time as we present Part 2 of our 6 part James Bond series. Today it's George Lazenby in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Here is the trailer...

Even though this is only my second Bond movie, it is the first and only movie starring George Lazenby... a rookie movie star who was not only starring in his first movie.. but was also appearing in his first movie!! Lazenby was a model at the time, and the producers thought he bore a strong enough resemblance to Sean Connery that he could easily slide right into the role. Despite his lack of experience and Connery's incredible popularity... Lazenby surprisingly more than holds his own in this very challenging role.

I didn't know much about the movie as I watched the opening credits other than what I had seen in Goldfinger and that the villian in this movie is a guy named Blofeld played by Telly Savalas. But as I watched the opening credits and thought about Blofeld and Goldfinger it reminded me of....... Bowfinger. The fact that Savalas was going to be in the same movie as Diana Rigg made me as excited as when I saw that Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy were both in Bowfinger. But OHMSS disappointed me the same way as Bowfinger because despite a strong cast, the story was weak... and the movie did not live up to my expectations. In OHMSS, Savalas and Rigg aren't on together till the very end.. and although the scenes are entertaining... it seems to be too little too late since we are already past the 2 hour mark in a way too long 2 hour 20 minute movie! Bowfinger.. Blofeld.. it just goes to show that sometimes the big anticipation leads to disappointment..

The opening of the movie sets the tone as Bond rescues Diana Rigg's Tracy... She is the daughter of mobster Marc Draco played by Garbriele Ferzeti... and his acting performance in this 1969 movie makes you think that he might have been the inspiration for Marlon Brando in The Godfather... except Ferzeti doesn't speak like he has a mouthful of marbles... Draco makes Bond an offer he can't refuse.. he wants him to marry his daughter... creating a potential opportunity for him to never turn down a request on the day of his daughter's wedding. But before there are any weddings, Bond has to spend the first few minutes rescuing his damsel from a dangerous situation on the beach. Bond the stud rescues her, but his advances towards her are rebuffed... prompting the new Bond to look to the camera and deadpan..."This never happened to the other fellow!" He also has another rib tickler when a villian dies by skiing into a snow blower. When the machine churns out snow that is red - Bond quips..."He had a lot of guts".

From there it's off to a hoity toity French casino..and again Tracy gets herself in a tight spot.. playing a card game and then losing.. without having the money to pay her bet. Bond bails her out yet again, and you can already see that this woman is going to be a royal pain in the tuchis. Incidentally the playing card sequences are a bit odd to look at. I don't know if it's the French cards or if this is how cards looked in the 60s.. but the playing cards have no numbers on them!.. And who wants to sit there and count if it is a nine or ten? And by the way... did you know in France they don't have a Jack in the deck? The card between 10 and Queen is actually called Valet!

The first part of the movie moves along at a snail's pace... . It would be about an hour before Savalas shows up... and then things really start getting good. But despite my impatience with the plodding first hour... there were a couple of interesting developments. Bond's latest gadget is a photocopy machine that also has a safe cracking mechanism... I guess if you don't have Heroes Peter Petrelli around, the gadget will do the job. Heroes also has a similar theme to this movie since the main plot involves Blofeld trying to release a virus that will give him world domination! And we also get a different look at women in this movie. especially with some insight into how valuable spy agency secretary Miss Moneypenny is to the whole operation... A frustrated Bond dictates his resignation letter, but instead Moneypenny types a 2 week vacation request which gets 007 a much needed break from all the craziness at his agency! Of course once Bond looks at all the gadgets he has collected over the years, he realizes he really can't tear himself away from his lifestyle.

We also get a different view of women in this Bond movie as James is not as casual about his relationship with Tracy as he is with other women in the Bond series. The entire premise that Draco could actually get Bond to settle down with his daughter seems like a stretch... everybody knows that Bond is not the marrying kind. That is why near the end the viewer is shocked stunned and mortified when studboy Bond indicates to Tracy that he wants to settle down with her. I am not going to give it away, but basically the rest of the movie is one stunner after another capped off with a jaw dropping climax. The odd thing about Lazenby's legacy is that Bond is not supposed to want to commit to one woman. Yet, in his one appearance.. Lazenby comes off as a more serious less Playboy-ish Bond.

The first hour of the film wasn't too exciting... basically it's up to Bond to find Blofeld and he parlays Draco's interest in making him his son in law into an opportunity to find him in his Swiss hideaway located way atop a mountain reachable only by ski lift which means the escape can only be done by thrilling incredible downhill ski sequences. As a big fan of Winter Olympic Ski Jumping these shots were incredible as Bond tries to escape the bad guys, The cameras were actually held by a man who was hanging suspended in mid air while flown high atop the mountains in a helicopter!!

Bond manages to infiltrate Blofeld's mountain retreat... the place is supposed to be an allergy research facility. And even though Bond manages to sneak up there posing as a genealogy researcher, Bond has those Bond hormones, and the research subjects turn out to be an international bevy of amazingly hot babes. The women, each from a different country have been "programmed" to release the virus. They get their final instructions while under hypnosis on Christmas Eve!

Speaking of Christmas Eve.. if you are Jewish.. and looking for something to do on Christmas Eve... here is a great solution to that annual "What the heck can a Jew do on Christmas Eve?" dilemma. My temple.. the same one where I met Trophy Wife 6 years ago, is hosting an event at The East Brunswick Jewish Center. It's a concert by Popular Singer Avi Maza and his fantastic band!.. We went last year and had a blast.. This year Maza will be doing "The Great American Songbook"....which is a playlist of popular music by Jewish artists. More details are at his website. The 40 at the door/36 in advance price includes a Glatt Kosher Chinese Buffet.. which means it's all you can eat.. and frankly I've been starving myself since Thanksgiving! I'm volunteering on the committee this year.. it has been so much fun and we are really psyched for the show... plus there will still be plenty of time to get home to watch A Christmas Story Marathon which drives Trophy Wife up a wall because I keep yelling out "Fragilee? It Must Be Italian!"

Getting back to the movie, Lazenby's Bond is more competent than Connery's Bond was in Goldfinger... hormones are hormones and Bond can't resist his attempts to sneak out of his room and into the rooms of the chickies. That is ultimately his downfall however as Blofield catches him and "outs" him as 007. One thing I didnt know at the time I saw this was that Blofeld had met Bond in a prior movie.. but the movie release orders were switched around and since OHMSS was based very closely on the OHMSS book, the book's readers saw this as their first meeting.. but the movie viewers were scratching their heads at how Blofield didn't recognize the undercover Bond the first time he introduced himself as his alter ego.

I must admit I liked the acting, but like Bowfinger, despite some great casting.. I thought the story was just blah. I actually like Lazenby.. And Telly Savalas did his usual excellent job. The musical score was very well done. The cinematography was breathtaking... especially the ski races during the great escape from the mountain resort. A car chase involving an icy demolition derby was also entertaining to watch. But even though the Savalas storyline was exciting.. the first half was torturously slow...not quite waterboarding torture though and only worthy of one bladder.. but once Telly Savalas shows up... the pace and quality picked up considerably.... the rest is approximately a 3.5 bladder.. Therefore on a scale of one to four bladders... meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom....On Her Majesty's Secrest Service gets 2 1/2 bladders.

NEXT ---> Octopussy Starring Roger Moore.

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK - Last week Pumpy went against the Giants and took a loss dropping his record to 10-3. This week in honor of the now unemployed illegal immigrants who used to work for Mitt Romney we travel to New England where the Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pats are 10 1/2 point faves. Sayeth The Pump: "Since this week's theme is James Bond and the fifth Bond was Pierce Brosnan... I gotta go with The Steelers since Brosnan used to be on Remington Steele. Plus I shaved with a Remington Razor this morning.

UNBIASED GIANTS FAN PICKS OF THE WEEK: Last week we had our first 3-0 week improving to 20-17-2. By the way... about The Sunday Night Game... Is NBC doing some subliminal seduction? The players wear helmets manufactured by Ridell and the 11 o'clock post game newscast is anchored by Carol Ann.... Riddell! And if you're like me and watch her in HD.... homina homina homina.

Giants 3 doggies to PHILADELPHIA - Isn't it interesting how The Giants are road dogs to the Eagles, but were road faves over The Bears? Take Big Blue as they inch closer to a playoff berth!

Cards 7 doggies to SEATTLE - Who does a Giant fan root for? The Cards to get knocked out, or potential first round opponent Seattle to stumble to the finish line. I think Arizona will lose but cover.

49ERS 9 doggies to Minnesota - Wow.. 3 road doggies in one week... The Vikings look like they could be the 2nd wild card team.... but this week they will eat humble pie in a big upset.


This week we go to Kean-ascope Theater for a look back at the very moment I found out that Jacks in France are called Valet. This is from a cable restaurant show I used to do called "The Big Tippers Club".


Steve said...

Interesting review... I thought Lazenby was a terrible choice to portray Bond. This guy had no acting chops, no discernible personality, and brought the Bond character down at least a couple of notches. And while Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, remarked that Lazenby could have been the best Bond had he not quit after just one film, I for one am glad he did...

In fact, after he quit Bond, because the role was "too tough" for him... sniff sniff... he went on to become an extra or minor character in literally every other project he worked on, with the exception of some soft porn in Emanuelle. Acting chops indeed... HA!

Good riddance to bad acting... Now Roger Moore... There is the real James Bond!

Nate said...

I guess you are subtly implying that you dont agree with my review? What sucked more? Lazenby or the first hour?