On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

The sixth film in the James Bond series is often hailed as one of the best, though critics are divided on the effectiveness of having a new face in the leading role. As filming began on the previous picture, You Only Live Twice (1967), Sean Connery announced his departure from the series. To replace him, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman picked part-time model George Lazenby, who made his film debut in the role. ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE marked another debut, as frequent series editor Peter R. Hunt was promoted to director. He and the producers decided to make a more realistic film and stick more closely to Ian Fleming’s original novel than they had previously. As a result, this tale of Bond’s courtship of depressed heiress Tracy (Diana Rigg, fresh off her success in The Avengers), and his attempts to stop yet another of Blofeld’s (Telly Savalas) plans for world domination, seems more serious and urgent than in other films. Spotlighting the main character’s one truly touching romance, and a thrilling chase on skis, helps make the film a knockout. Lazenby’s critical defenders suggest that his inexperience gave the character a vulnerability not previously seen in the series and certainly fit in a film that is as much a love story as an international thriller.

(d. Peter R. Hunt, 142m, Digital)

In attendance: George Lazenby