Bond-a-Thond #6: ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969)

For the next 22 weeks, MTV Movies Blog will be running what we call the Bond-a-Thond. Every Wednesday we’re taking a look back at a single (official) Bond film, giving you the vitals and seeing how it holds up, right up until the release of “Skyfall” on November 9. Feel free to watch along with us and share your thoughts or just kick back and enjoy the Bond.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Plot: After his first face-to-face run-in with Blofeld, Bond tracks the SPECTRE mastermind to the Swiss alps, where he plots to once again hold the world at randsom.

Title Meaning: Bond briefly takes a leave from MI6, but returns by the end of the film.

Bond: Australian model George Lazenby, making his only appearance as 007

Villain: Telly Savalas, TV’s Kojak, replaces Donald Pleasance, as Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Bond Girl: Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, daughter of Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse crime syndicate

“Bond, James Bond” Occurrences: 0

Martinis: 2

Card Games: 1

Cigarettes Smoked: 1

Explosions: 6

Tuxes Worn: 2

Kills By Bond: 5

Most Creative Kill: Though technically not a kill by Bond, one skiing henchmen falls in front of an industrial snow blower while purusing 007. The result is a quip from Bond, “He had a lot of gut,” and the most graphic image of the series to date.

Gadgets: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” stands out as the rare early Bond film that is both light on kills and almost devoid of gadgets.

Mental State of Miss Moneypenny: Sorrowful

Sexual Partners: 3 (Tracy, Ruby, anonymous Angel of Death)

First Occurrence of Sex: 18 minutes in

Most Unrealistic Moments: The final chase with Blofeld occurs on two bobsleds.

Most “Bond” Moments: Bond essentially lays waste to an entire group of shelterd allergy patients called the “Angels of Death.” One even goes up his kilt during dinner to write her room number on his thigh.

Sign of the Times: Please refer to the picture below.

Place in Bond History: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” marks the first series entry without Sean Connery in the lead. The only reference to the change to Lazenby comes during the opening sequence, when Bond seemingly breaks the fourth wall and says, “This never happened to the other fellow.”

Review: It’s fitting that the biggest shake-up in the James Bond formula coincides with the first changing of the guards in the title role. Just as Connery began to look too old for the role and the MI6 sets started to resemble cheap television productions, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” casts a significantly younger actor as Bond and director Peter R. Hunt opens the film in dark tones and amped up action.

That isn’t to say the series lost any ounce of camp. Lazenby wears enough lace to decorate a nursery, but a renewed sense of drama and spectacles makes “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” the most watchable Bond since “Goldfinger.”

The timing on the film’s release should be taken into consideration when discussing the tonal shift. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was the first Bond film after “The Graduate” and “Bonnie and Clyde” changed mainstream cinema in 1967. The effect of those two films is felt the strongest in this movie’s pitch black ending, one of the darkest of the series.

The Bond-a-Thond will return next week in “Diamonds Are Forever.”

What do you think of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!