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"This never happened to the other fellow."

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ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) is the sixth spy film in the James Bond series, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. Following the decision of Sean Connery to retire from the role after You Only Live Twice, Eon Productions selected an unknown actor and model, Australian actor George Lazenby, to play the part of James Bond. During the making of the film, Lazenby decided that he would play the role of Bond only once.

In the film, Bond faces Blofeld (Telly Savalas), who is planning to sterilise the world's food supply through a group of brainwashed "angels of death" unless his demands for an international amnesty, his title of the Count De Bleuchamp to be recognised and to be allowed to retire into private life are all met. Along the way, Bond meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries Contessa Teresa (Tracy) di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg).

This is the only Bond film to be directed by Peter R. Hunt, who had served as a film editor and second unit director on previous films in the series. Hunt, along with producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, decided to produce a more realistic film that would follow the novel closely. It was shot in Switzerland, England and Portugal from October 1968 to May 1969. Although its cinema release was not as lucrative as its predecessor You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service was still one of the top performing films of the year. Critical reviews upon release were mixed, but the film's reputation has improved over time and has become a fan favorite, though reviews of Lazenby's performance continue to vary. Lazenby hasn't the intensity of Connery but he has fun with his quips and even lampoons the Bond image in a playful pre-credits sequence, and Rigg, fresh from playing sexy Emma Peel in The Avengers, matches 007 in every way. Rigg's appearance in a Bond film followed her predecessor in The Avengers, Honor Blackman in Goldfinger. In addition, future New Avenger Joanna Lumley also has a small role in OHMSS as one of Blofeld's brainwashed "angels of death." Brigitte Bardot was considered for the role of Tracy before Rigg, but after she signed to appear in Shalako opposite Sean Connery the deal fell through.

In 1967, after five James Bond films, Sean Connery retired from the role of James Bond and during the filming of You Only Live Twice was not on speaking terms with Albert Broccoli. The confirmed front runners for the new 007 were Englishman John Richardson, Dutchman Hans De Vries, American Robert Campbell, Englishman Anthony Rogers and Australian George Lazenby. Pictured at right is a composite image of the five top candidates doing their best "James Bond pose" that was originally published in the October 11th, 1968, issue of LIFE magazine.

Broccoli and Hunt eventually chose Lazenby after seeing him in a Fry's Chocolate Cream advertisement. Lazenby dressed the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (ordered, but uncollected, by Connery), and going to Connery's barber at the Dorchester Hotel. Broccoli noticed Lazenby as a Bond-type man based on his physique and character elements, and offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression.

Although Lazenby had been offered a contract for seven movies, his agent, Ronan O'Rahilly, convinced him that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. Lazenby announced that he no longer wished to play the role of James Bond due to his conflict with the film's producers, about whom he said, "They made me feel like I was mindless. They disregarded everything I suggested simply because I hadn't been in the film business like them for about a thousand years." His co-star Diana Rigg was among many who commented on this decision: "The role made Sean Connery a millionaire. I truly don't know what's happening in George's mind so I can only speak of my reaction. I think it's a pretty foolish move. I think if he can bear to do an apprenticeship, which everybody in this business has to do, then he should do it quietly and with humility. Everybody has to do it. There are few instant successes in the film business. And the instant successes one usually associates with somebody who is willing to learn anyway." Lazenby grew a beard and long hair. "Bond is a brute," he announced. "I've already put him behind me. I will never play him again." Later Lazenby began to study drama at Durham University's College of the Venerable Bede but would play Bond several times over the years in numerous parodies and unofficial 007 roles, most notably the 1983 television movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and an episode of The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, entitled "Diamonds Aren't Forever". In 2012 Lazenby made a guest appearance on the Canadian sketch comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, spoofing the 007 series in a skit called Help, I've Skyfallen and I Can't Get Up. Although Eon Productions attempted on several occasions to cast Americans as Bond (most notably signing John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever before the services of Sean Connery were obtained, again) Lazenby remains the only actor from outside the British Isles to portray Bond in a Bond feature film.

The novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the first published after the film series started and contains "a gentle dig at the cinematic Bond's gadgets, as well as having Bond mention that he comes from Scotland." Broccoli and Saltzman had originally intended to make On Her Majesty's Secret Service after Goldfinger and Richard Maibaum worked on a script at that time. However, Thunderball was filmed instead after the ongoing rights dispute over the novel were settled between Fleming and Kevin McClory. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was due to follow that, but problems with a warm Swiss winter and inadequate snow cover led to Saltzman and Broccoli postponing the film again, favouring production of You Only Live Twice.

Between the resignation of Sean Connery at the beginning of filming You Only Live Twice and its release, Saltzman had planned to adapt The Man with the Golden Gun in Cambodia and use Roger Moore as the next Bond, but political instability meant the location was ruled out and Moore signed up for another series of The Saint. After You Only Live Twice was released in 1967, the producers once again picked up with On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Peter Hunt, who had worked on the five preceding films had impressed Broccoli and Saltzman enough to earn his directorial debut as they believed his quick cutting had set the style for the series; it was also the result of a long-standing promise from Broccoli and Saltzman for a directorial position. Hunt also asked for the position during the production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and he brought along with him many crew members, including cinematographer Michael Reed. Hunt was focused on putting his mark, "I wanted it to be different than any other Bond film would be. It was my film, not anyone else's." On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the last film on which Hunt worked in the series.

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On Her Majesty's Secret Service, generally dismissed in its time because of poor reaction to commercial pitchman George Lazenby's only turn as James Bond, Peter Hunt's spectacular and unexpectedly dramatic take on the 1963 Ian Fleming novel has aged like fine wine and is now considered one of the major entries in the Bond franchise. Later Bond Timothy Dalton was considered for this one but his 007 time was yet to come. Add On Her Majesty's Secret Service to your DVD collection.

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Screenwriter Richard Maibaum, who worked on all the Bond films bar You Only Live Twice, was responsible for On Her Majesty's Secret Service's script. Saltzman and Broccoli decided to drop the science fiction gadgets from the earlier films and focus more on plot as in From Russia With Love. Peter Hunt asked Simon Raven to write some of the dialogue between Tracy and Blofeld in Piz Gloria, which was to be "sharper, better and more intellectual"; one of Raven's additions was having Tracy quoting James Elroy Flecker. When writing the script, the producers decided to make the closest adaptation of the book possible: virtually everything in the novel occurs in the film and Hunt was reported to always enter the set carrying an annotated copy of the novel.

With the script following the novel more closely than the other film adaptations of the eponymous source novels, there are several continuity errors due to the film taking place in a different order, such as Blofeld not recognising Bond, despite having met him face-to-face in the previous film You Only Live Twice. In the original script, Bond undergoes plastic surgery to disguise him from his enemies; the intention was to allow an unrecognisable Bond to infiltrate Blofeld's hideout and help the audience accept the new actor in the role. However, this was dropped in favour of ignoring the change in actor. To make audiences not forget it was the same James Bond, just played by another actor, the producers inserted many references to the previous films, some as in-jokes. These include Bond breaking the fourth wall by stating "This never happened to the other fellow" directly to the camera, the credits sequence with images from the previous instalments, Bond visiting his office and finding objects from Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Thunderball, and a caretaker whistling the theme from Goldfinger.

Principal photography began in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, on October 21st 1968, with the first scene shot being an aerial view of Bond climbing the stairs of Blofeld's mountain retreat to meet the girls. The scenes were shot atop the now famous revolving restaurant Piz Gloria (above), located atop the Schilthorn near the village of Mürren. The location was found by production manager Hubert Fröhlich after three weeks of location scouting in France and Switzerland. The restaurant was still under construction, but the producers found the location interesting, and had to finance providing electricity and the aerial lift to make filming there possible. Various chase scenes in the Alps were shot at Lauterbrunnen and Saas-Fee, while the Christmas celebrations were filmed in Grindelwald, and some scenes were shot on location in Bern. Production was hampered by weak snowfall which was unfavourable to the skiing action scenes. The producers even considered moving to another location in Switzerland, but it was taken by the production of Downhill Racer. The Swiss filming ended up running 56 days over schedule. In March 1969, production moved to England, with London's Pinewood Studios being used for interior shooting, and M's house being shot in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. In April, the filmmakers went to Portugal, where principal photography wrapped in May. The pre-credit coastal and hotel scenes were filmed at Hotel Estoril Palacio in Estoril and Guincho Beach, Cascais, while Lisbon was used for the reunion of Bond and Tracy, and the ending employed a mountain road in the Arrábida National Park near Setúbal. Harry Saltzman wanted the Portuguese scenes to be in France, but after searching there, Peter Hunt considered that not only were the locations not photogenic, but were already "overexposed".

While the first unit shot at Piz Gloria, the second unit, led by John Glen, started filming the ski chases. The downhill skiing involved professional skiers, and various camera tricks. Some cameras were handheld, with the operators holding them as they were going downhill with the stuntmen, and others were aerial, with cameramen Johnny Jordan – who had previously worked in the helicopter battle of You Only Live Twice, developing a system where he was dangled by a parachute harness rig at 18 feet (5.5 m) height, allowing scenes to be shot from any angle. The bobsledding chase was also filmed with the help of Swiss Olympic athletes, and was rewritten to incorporate the accidents the stuntmen suffered during shooting, such as the scene where Bond falls from the sled. Blofeld getting snared with a tree was performed at the studio by Savalas himself, after the attempt to do this by the stuntman on location came out wrong. Glen was also the editor of the film, employing a style similar to the one used by Hunt in the previous Bond films, with fast motion in the action scenes and exaggerated sound effects.

The avalanche scenes were due to be filmed in co-operation with the Swiss army who annually used explosions to prevent snow build-up by causing avalanches, but the area chosen naturally avalanched just before filming. The final result was a combination of a man-made avalanche at an isolated Swiss location shot by the second unit, stock footage, and images created by the special effects crew with salt. The stuntmen were filmed later, added by optical effects. For the scene where Bond and Tracy crash into a car race while being pursued, an ice rink was constructed over an unused aeroplane track, with water and snow sprayed on it constantly. Lazenby and Rigg did most of the driving due to the high number of close-ups.

For the cinematography, Hunt aimed for a "simple, but glamorous like the 1950s Hollywood films I grew up with", as well as something realistic, "where the sets don't look like sets". Cinematographer Michael Reed added he had difficulties with lighting, as every set built for the film had a ceiling, preventing spotlights from being hung from above. While shooting, Hunt wanted "the most interesting framings possible", which would also look good after being cropped for television.

Lazenby said he experienced difficulties during shooting, not receiving any coaching despite his lack of acting experience, and with director Hunt never addressing him directly, only through his assistant. Lazenby also declared that Hunt also asked the rest of the crew to keep a distance from him, as "Peter thought the more I was alone, the better I would be as James Bond." Allegedly, there also were personality conflicts with Rigg, who was already an established star. However, according to director Hunt, these rumours are untrue and there were no such difficulties, or else they were minor, and may have started with Rigg joking to Lazenby before filming a love scene "Hey George, I'm having garlic for lunch. I hope you are!" Hunt also declared that he usually had long talks with Lazenby before and during shooting. For instance, to shoot Tracy's death scene, Hunt brought Lazenby to the set at 8 o'clock in the morning and made him rehearse all day long, "and I broke him down until he was absolutely exhausted, and by the time we shot it at five o'clock, he was exhausted, and that's how I got the performance." Hunt said that if Lazenby had remained in the role, he would also have directed the successor film, Diamonds Are Forever and that his original intentions were concluding the film with Bond and Tracy driving off following their wedding, saving Tracy's murder for the pre-credit sequence of Diamonds Are Forever. The idea was discarded after Lazenby quit the role.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the longest Bond film until Casino Royale was released in 2006. Despite that, two scenes were deleted from the final print: Irma Bunt spying on Bond as he buys a wedding ring for Tracy, and a chase over London rooftops and into the Royal Mail underground rail system after Bond's conversation with Sir Hilary Bray is being overheard.

The soundtrack for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" has been called "perhaps the best score of the series." It was composed, arranged and conducted by John Barry; it was his fifth successive Bond film. Barry opted to use more electrical instruments and a more aggressive sound in the music, "I have to stick my oar in the musical area double strong to make the audience try and forget they don't have Sean... to be Bondian beyond Bondian."

Barry felt it would be difficult to compose a theme song containing the title "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" unless it were written operatically, in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan. Leslie Bricusse had considered lyrics for the title song but director Peter R. Hunt allowed an instrumental title theme in the tradition of the first two Bond films. The theme was described as "one of the best title cuts, a wordless Moog-driven monster, suitable for skiing at breakneck speed or dancing with equal abandon."

Barry also composed the love song "We Have All the Time in the World", with lyrics by Burt Bacharach's regular lyricist Hal David, sung by Louis Armstrong. It is heard during the Bond–Tracy courtship montage, bridging Draco's birthday party in Portugal and Bond's burglary of the Gebrüder Gumbold law office in Bern, Switzerland. It was Louis Armstrong's last recorded song as he died of a heart attack two years later. Barry recalled Armstrong was very ill, but recorded the song in one take. The song was re-released in 1994, achieving the number three position during a 13-week spell in the UK charts. A Hal David song entitled "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?" performed by Danish singer Nina also featured in the film in several scenes.

The theme, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", is used in the film as an action theme alternative to Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme", as with Barry's previous "007" themes. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was covered in 1997 by the British big beat group, the Propellerheads for the Shaken and Stirred album. Barry orchestrator Nic Raine recorded an arrangement of the escape from Piz Gloria sequence and it was featured as a theme in the trailers for the 2004 Pixar animated film The Incredibles.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was released on December 18th 1969 with its premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. Lazenby appeared at the premiere with a beard, looking "very un-Bond-like", according to the Daily Mirror. Lazenby claimed the producers had tried to persuade him to shave it off to appear like Bond, but at that stage he had already decided not to make another Bond film and rejected the idea. The beard and accompanying shoulder-length hair "strained his already fragile relationship with Saltzman and Broccoli". As On Her Majesty's Secret Service had been filmed in stereo, the first Bond film to use the technology, the Odeon had a new speaker system installed to benefit the new sounds. It topped the North American box office when it opened with a gross of $1.2 million. The film closed its box office run with £750,000 in the United Kingdom (the highest-grossing film of the year), $64.6 million worldwide, half of You Only Live Twice's total gross, but still one of the highest-grossing films of 1969. After re-releases, the total box office was $82,000,000 worldwide.

Because Lazenby had informed the producers that On Her Majesty's Secret Service was to be his only outing as Bond and because of the lack of 'gadgets' used by Bond in the film, few items of merchandise were produced for the film, apart from the obvious soundtrack album and a film edition of the book. Those that were produced included a number from Corgi Toys, including Tracey's Cougar, Campbell's Volkswagen and two versions of the bobsleigh, one with the 007 logo and one with the Piz Gloria logo. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was nominated for only one award: George Lazenby was nominated in the New Star of the Year – Actor category at the 1970 Golden Globe Award ceremony, losing out to Jon Voight.

The majority of reviews at the time were critical of either the film, Lazenby, or both, whilst most of the contemporary reviews in the British press referred to George Lazenby at some point as "The Big Fry", a reference to his previous acting in Fry's Chocolate advertisements. Derek Malcolm of The Guardian was dismissive of Lazenby's performance, saying that he "is not a good actor and though I never thought Sean Connery was all that stylish either, there are moments when one yearns for a little of his louche panache." Tom Milne, writing in The Guardian's sister paper, The Observer was even more scathing, saying that "I ... fervently trust (OHMSS) will be the last of the James Bond films. All the pleasing oddities and eccentricities and gadgets of the earlier films have somehow been lost, leaving a routine trail through which the new James Bond strides without noticeable signs of animation." The New York Times critic AH Weiler also weighed in against Lazenby, saying that "Lazenby, if not a spurious Bond, is merely a casual, pleasant, satisfactory replacement."

One of the few supporters of Lazenby amongst the critics was Alexander Walker in the London Evening Standard who said that "The truth is that George Lazenby is almost as good a James Bond as the man referred to in his film as 'the other fellow'. Lazenby's voice is more suave than sexy-sinister and he could pass for the other fellow's twin on the shady side of the casino. Bond is now definitely all set for the Seventies."

Critical response to On Her Majesty's Secret Service still remains sharply divided with some saying it is by far the best entry of the series and others suggesting that it would have been the best if it had been Connery in the leading role instead of Lazenby. On Her Majesty's Secret Service has been described as "the most serious", "the most cynical" and "the most tragic" of the Bond films and has became a fan favourite thanks to it's success in the home video/DVD market.

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