I managed to salvage this from the old forum (RIP)...may as well post it again here.
Before I get going I'd like to draw attention to wonderful review of the film I stumbled on at Amazon.com by user sleepingsheepsnake:
"Here's how you break the James Bond formula completely, in a vain attempt to destroy the franchise forever, only to end up with a film that is cherished by fans 30 years later:
When the foundation of your success, Sean Connery, quits, you audition 400 actors for the role, and then you hire a guy with no acting experience at all, who has the word 'lazy' in his name. It's hard to tell if he even qualifies as good-looking (note: he does). You then work with a script that has a big gap in the action not far into the story, in order to focus on--of all things--the romance! So that Bond can fall in love! You give Bond no gadgets, you have him try and quit (a couple of times, actually!), you dub his voice for a large part of the film, and just before you marry him off (what kind of nightmare are we trapped in here??!!), you have a chase scene that ends with him parking himself on a bench, looking disconsolate as various gunsels close in on him, right up until his future wife skates up and saves his bacon. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes fifteen or twenty times. Yes, this is my favourite Bond film.
Formula-breaking is an essential part of running a series. If you're running the same routine by your audience over and over again, sooner or later it all gets a little too familiar. And in that light, you have got to give the folks behind OHMSS credit for guts. They had a lot of guts. They picked the moment Connery left to risk blasting the formula to smithereens with a love story and Lazenby. I wouldn't have had the nerve. I would have made Goldeneye first. I would have gone with Formula right down the line. But every aspect of OHMSS makes you think they had all lost their minds--every aspect, that is, except the wonderful action sequences that make this film a James Bond film.
But then, Lazenby got the part because of the way he moves. He moves like a tiger. There's a power and physical grace when Lazenby enters combat, prepares to throw a knife, even crosses a catwalk while reloading a machine-gun. Watch him move. I've never seen this kind of power in a guy who's not supposed to have a clue what he's doing.
And while we're on the subject, let me address Lazenby's dramatic performance right here and now: It works. Is it just luck? This film demands a more vulnerable Bond, a Bond unceremoniously shoved into a script where the woman MUST look more dynamic than he does in a few key moments, so that we know they are a team, they are meant to be. That it's real. Marriage for this man must mean that, previous to him committing his heart, she must save him when even he has given up and sat down, uncertain what will happen.
I will always wonder what this film would have been like with Sean Connery in it, but I can't find the portal to the correct parallel universe--so, I'm left saying that it makes sense that this rule-breaking freak of a Bond flick have a George Lazenby in it, so that he could absolutely nail that last tragic scene. So that he could have that great fight on the beach, so that he can crouch with a knife in his hand as if ready to take on the world--but also look and act like a deer caught in the headlights of love.
Daniel Craig had it a bit easy. We all expect a new Bond. But Lazenby stepped in after Connery, and they threw him in a formula-breaker. But it's actually a masterpiece.
By the way, can I try and explain away something that is thought of as a continuity error in OHMSS: There's this contention that Blofeld should be able to recognize James Bond at this point, since they crossed paths in You Only Live Twice. But--wasn't Bond disguised as an Asian man in that film, while here he is again in disguise as Sir Hillary Bray. Admittedly, the disguises are not that convincing to us, but isn't that where artistic licence and suspension of disbelief come in?--Of course Connery and Lazenby are not going to spend a good part of their Bond films in impenetrable disguise. We just have to accept that the disguises are more convincing than Movieland would permit.
No? You're not buying it? Bond was out of his disguise by the time he met Blofeld for the first time, you say? Y'know, I can't remember...it's been too long since I watched You Only Live Twice."
This review is a terrific example of the effect this wonderful film has on some of its fans. This film has been blessed with a certain something-- a spirit about it that distinguishes it from the rest of the Bond canon. It's not something that everyone seems to pick up on, but those that have consistently display a degree of astonished admiration and reverence to the subtle charms of this movie-- a phenomenon that is unrivaled among the other Bond films. We all have our favorites, but fans of this particular movie seem to be characterized by a certain extra degree of devotion. What is the source of this affection? Looking at the film itself it's easy to see how it is set apart from the rest of the movies on the surface. It's the only one: with Lazenby, where Bond gets married, that really devotes itself to the character of Bond, that most completely divorces itself from "the formula", and so on-- and yet that's not quite it. Something else resonates from this film, a unity of spirit and sense of time, place and identity pervades it-- and until recently I've not been able to put my finger quite on why this was.
Personally, I think it boils down largely to the fact that this is one of the few Bond films-- and arguably the last, to take itself entirely seriously on its own terms. Starting with Goldfinger, the films were laced with varying degrees of nonsense-- and while it worked on some levels, it ultimately conveyed that the producers lacked a certain degree of faith in either the character or the material-- perhaps both. The thing that sets OHMSS apart from I would say just about every other Bond film is the degree of faith in and respect for the character and material that pervades it. Couple this with the fact that this was the film that the filmmakers really put their heart and soul into making the "epic" Bond film and I think that, behind it all, it is this that some people sense when they watch the film-- that thread that seems to pervade, unite and leave it with an almost ethereal glow. There are many, of course, who would balk at this-- but this thread is not for them. This thread is for those of us who appreciate and love this most unique of Bond films for what it is-- an artistic, cinematic and utterly Bondian masterpiece.
As for me, I love this movie; moreso each time I view it. I love the gun-barrel opening, with Bond dropping on one knee-- right off the bat it strikes you as a nice little unique touch and it sets the stage for the dynamic physical grace of George Lazenby. I love the stylish introduction to the new Bond, and that awesome fight on the beach. I love the ripping opening theme-- easily the most exciting piece of music Barry has ever composed, and one which still weaves a potent spell despite 38 years and more listenings than I could possibly remember. I love all the nipples in the background as well. I love the look of the casino at the Palacio, with the purple backdrop, and the arc of the camera around Lazenby as he strolls down the stairs. I love the outfit that Tracey wears to her rendezvous as well as the sound of Lazenby's fists and the look on his face as he lays out that thug in her hotel room. I love the music as Bond is apprehended by Draco's men the next day, and the way he slams the gate back as he is ushered through the office. And then there's that fight outside the door. I love Olympe, her long beautiful legs, and the way she purrs "as you wish" when she leaves Draco and Bond. I love the Look on Tracey's face when she recognizes Bond's car at the bull fight. I love the way Bond wipes Tracey's tears away with the beginning of that fabulous ballad in the background. I love the office scene, the way Lazenby flirts with Moneypenny, the way she demonstrates her motherly affection towards him. I love how crusty M is in this movie, and how, when Bond loses patience with him he simply says "that's all, that's all" and continues to overpower Bond with his gaze, letting him know who's in charge. All of this is touched off beautifully at the end of the scene when he expresses his gratitude to Moneypenny for not actually typing Bond a resignation letter-- we sense a genuine fatherly affection here (moreso than with any other film, save perhaps, oddly enough, Moonraker).
I love the exchanges between Bond and Blofeld in this movie. Telly comes across wonderfully-- you get a definite sense of egotistical menace from the man. Lazenby, too, handled these scenes better than he has ever received credit for. During his first meeting-- when he was dubbed even-- his facial expressions as Blofeld tells him that "the methods of the great pioneers have often puzzled conventional minds" are subtle and classic-- you can just tell that inside Bond is like "get over yourself buddy". And later on, when Blofeld says "the documents you have received" and Bond cuts him off with "can answer many questions but not all"...you get a definite impression that Bond is trying to push the buttons of one who is not used to being crossed.
I love the imagery of Lazenby in the kilt at the dinner table, surrounded by beautiful women, perfectly scored by Barry. And the way Nancy and Ruby flirt with him during dinner. I love the fact that he uses the exact same line on two different women on the same night (the old devil). The whole idea of the bad guy having a bevy of beautiful women atop a mountain fortress that he is hypnotizing to go out and do his bidding...Fantastic! Fleming deserves a pat on the back for that one. I love the scene of Bond's escape from Piz Gloria, how he deftly lays out that guard, how the OHMSS theme mounts as he straps on his skis, the alarm sounds, machine guns roar, anonymous German voice heard, Blofeld's men take to their skis, the theme rips into action and we are treated to one of the most exciting pieces of action cinema in history. I love the look of genuine fear registered on Lazenby's face as Blofeld's men pursue him through the village, and then the look of sheer relief when Tracey skates up to him and his eventual proposal to her. I love how Blofeld is able to kidnap Tracey and force Bond to mount an attack on Piz Gloria to save her. I love love love Barry's use of the old school Bond theme during the Piz Gloria attack, the cool way Laz slides down the ice on his chest and procedes to storm the building. That big black guy with the flame thrower, too, has always impressed me. This is probably the best "attack" sequence in all the Bond movies. I love the look on Lazenby's face when that chemical melts the glass, and the way he rips after Blofeld. I was genuinely touched by Lazenby's handling of Tracey's death. I loved that Lazenby was willing to return and we got a Peter Hunt directed DAF in which Bond pursued Blofeld and avenged his wife's death. Oh wait... Anyway, I think you all get the point It really is tragic that the general public has yet to recognize this film as the artistic triumph and stone-cold classic that it is (almost as tragic as the fact that we didn't get to see Lazenby develop as Bond).
Again, looking back, it's almost as if some higher power intervened, realigned the planets and allowed the fireworks and spectacles to be put on hold for one movie so that the filmmakers could make a movie from their heart, so they could tell a story without sacrificing its integrity on the altar of crazy gadgets, whimsical plotlines and futuristic sets-- and I think it is this quality that gives OHMSS its true pulse, that quality which, to me, makes it stand out more and more as the best film of the series with each viewing. Goldfinger and Thunderball may have embedded Bond firmly in the collective popular consciousness, but On Her Majesty's Secret Service captured perfectly the soul of Bond-- and it hasn't been topped since.
To paraphrase a tribute once given to a great historical personage: To a traveler standing near a mountain range many eminences seem to have approximately the same altitude; it is difficult to disengage Everest from its lofty neighbors. But as the range recedes in the distance, the highest peak lifts more and more above its fellows, until it alone fills the horizon. So it has been with On Her Majesty's Secret Service.