Some timeless aspects remain reassuringly constant: the beautiful women, the physical battles, the witty repartee, the double entendres. And here – before the onslaught of technological gadgetry, they all shine alongside the perfectly cast performers.
As ‘James Bond Originals’ at the Colony, the first eight Bond films are being shown in grand, 35mm big-screen glory. And this one is a 60’s psychedelic feast. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we get to see ultra-cool agent 007 in all his sly splendor, casually conquer women and a ruthless villain with ease, and (mind you, this was 1969) smoking.
One of the longest, (although Octopussy felt longer!), #6 in the series is also unique: Suave and debonair agent 007 is played by model/martial arts expert and acting newcomer George Lazenby: once and only once. Nonetheless, the tall, handsome Lazenby puts his stamp on the iconic spy, and with unforgettable results. His smile, deportment and endearing charm are enough to make one feel British; or at least want to join him for… um—tea. And nothing says British class like Commander James Bond in an elegant Aston Martin.
Ahead of its time in so many ways, this is the only one in the series to make multiple references to the other Bond films, with a nod to the predecessors and foreshadowing those to follow.
Along with the eye candy — Bond babes with bodacious bodies, the majestic and pristine Swiss Alps — it’s the music rather than machines which moves us. The plot is advanced by turns of story rather than killer toys. And if that’s not enough, there’s that real rarity: true romance.
In dapper, dashing suits (when not on skis), Lazenby is ever the gentlemen, and after rescuing royalty – a divine, alluring Diana Rigg – he is besot. But, a secret mission and open, devoted dating do not always mix so easily.
Aided by cunning and splendid backdrops, the action is carefully choreographed, and set against the winter wonderland of scenic Bern at Christmas, all aglow with lights, parties and glitterati. Mother Nature even helps in the fight, with snow shown to be a timeless weapon of sorts.
Bond’s nemesis here: a pre-Kojak Telly Savalas as the evil Ernst Blofeld, a smooth bioterrorist by way of hypnotism and drug cocktails. His goal: merely “the extermination of entire species.”
Sure, the mind control-not-bombs seems dated; but for a free-spirited fantastic adventure, it works. Suspense and style combine for a perfect mission. And like future adventures in the series, there’s a sterile, foreboding laboratory, and a computer which – while today might fit in your hand – here, takes up an entire room.
Featuring the best chase of them all: on skis (they try and replicate in three subsequent Bond films) in the Alps – at night, OHMSS is a genuine visual treat and delightful escape.
Next up: A new Blofeld, and Scottish superstar Sean Connery returns, in the 70s Vegas thriller: Diamonds are Forever.
The Colony Theatre in Raleigh
By Caren Ostrow
Screenplay written by: Richard Maibaum, based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Peter R. Hunt
|George Lazenby||…||James Bond|
|Diana Rigg||…||Tracy Di Vicenzo|
|Telly Savalas||…||Ernst Stavro Blofeld|