On Her Majesty's Secret Service


2h 20m 1969
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Brief Synopsis

When his usual intelligence sources fail, James Bond (Agent 007) enlists the aid of crime boss Draco to track down Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of the evil SPECTRE organization. The trail leads to the mountains of Switzerland, where Bond goes undercover in Blofeld's hi-tech headquarters. He encounters a bevy of seductive women, but none more beautiful than Draco's daughter, Tracy, who wins 007 over with her fervent independence, caustic wit and love of adventure. Bond pledges his eternal devotion to her, but there are more immediate concerns: Blofeld is poised to unleash horrific germ warfare weaponry that will endanger every living thing on earth. Bond's adventures hurl him through artillery-laden ski pursuits, and a dramatic avalanche drive.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 17 Dec 1969
Production Company
Danjaq, S. A.; Eon Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming (London, 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

James Bond's perennial battle against international crime organization SPECTRE leads him to the shores of Portugal, where he prevents the suicide-by-drowning of Tracy, a beautiful "jet setter" with a penchant for heavy gambling. His search there for Ernst Stavros Blofeld, chief of SPECTRE, is aborted when Bond is recalled to London by "M," his superior, who insists the secret agent abandon his manhunt. Upon returning to Portugal on his own, Bond rescues Tracy once again by paying a gambling debt she cannot cover, an act of gallantry that earns him the key to her room. The following morning, however, Bond is brought by two hoodlums to see Tracy's father, Marc Ange Draco, head of the Union Corse crime syndicate, who thereupon offers the sleuth $1 million to marry Tracy. Bond refuses the money but makes use of Draco's underworld connections to trace Blofeld to Switzerland, where he is attempting to establish his right to the title of Count de Bleuchamp with London's College of Arms. After disguising himself as the College's director, Bond is taken in a helicopter by Irma Bunt, Blofeld's aide, to a heavily guarded Swiss mountaintop, where he is to research Blofeld's claim. At the Piz Gloria, as the retreat is called, Bond finds the Institute of Physiological Research, a front for another of Blofeld's attempts to rule the world. A dozen international beauties who have come there seeking cures for allergies have been brainwashed into introducing sterility spores into their respective nations' agricultural products. Bond samples some international love-making but has to escape Piz Gloria by skis when Irma penetrates his disguise and substitutes herself for one of his bedtime companions. Tracy rescues him with her car in Mürren, a skiing village, but Blofeld is so close behind that the couple must escape by skis immediately after Bond proposes marriage. Blofeld's attempt to bury them in an avalanche by exploding a grenade is a failure, but it enables him to kidnap Tracy as bait for a deal with the United Nations: in exchange for abandoning the destruction of the world, Blofeld will receive the title of Count de Bleuchamp in addition to total amnesty for his crimes. When Bond's objections to the plan are ignored by "M," he enlists Draco's help to bomb Blofeld's fortress by helicopter. The attack results in Tracy's rescue, and the final struggle between Bond and Blofeld on a speeding bobsled ends when an over-hanging branch sends the villain to an almost certain death. Bond and Tracy are finally married, but, as they begin their honeymoon, Blofeld and Irma arrive to machine-gun the bride to death.

Videos

Movie Clip

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - A Location Fix On Double-O-Seven M and Q and Moneypenny (Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell) express concern about 007, then we find him (George Lazenby, the first-ever new James Bond, in his Aston-Martin) pursuing Diana Rigg (as Teresa “Tracy” Draco in a Mercury) on the Portugese coast, opening On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - Do Not Kill Me, Mr. Bond Abducted from a Portugese seaside resort by thugs reporting to European union-syndicate godfather Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), whose daughter (Diana Rigg) is his latest conquest, Bond (George Lazenby, in his first and only appearance as 007) frees himself to make inquiries, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - I Suspect They're Trying To Kill Me His false identity blown, trying to evade Blofeld’s thugs (Ilse Steppat et al), James Bond (George Lazenby) sneaks about the carnival at Lauterbrunnen (more precisley, Murren-Schilthorn, Switzerland), when he’s rescued by Tracy (a.k.a. Contessa Teresa, Diana Rigg), whom we haven’t seen for ages, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - Teresa Was A Saint On the evening following their mysterious opening encounter on the beach, George Lazenby as James Bond (establishing himself with some baccarat chemin-de-fer in his first appearance in the role) again gets to rescue Diana Rigg as Teresa or, as she’ll explain, Tracy, in the sixth 007 feature, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - You Never Do Anything With Me On his first trip to HQ in London in his only appearance as James Bond, George Lazenby nails the hat-toss, jousts with Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) and M (Bernard Lee), and reaches an excellent outcome, and an opportunity to pursue Blofeld, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - A Well-Known Congenital Distinction Complexity as Bond (George Lazenby), escorted by Yuri Borienko deeper into the secret Swiss Alpine lair, knows he’s visiting the real Blofeld (Telly Savalas), who doesn’t yet know Bond isn’t the real genealogist Sir Hilary, come to consider his claim to a French noble title, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 17 Dec 1969
Production Company
Danjaq, S. A.; Eon Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming (London, 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

On Her Majesty's Secret Service


Seen in its day as a disappointment, the sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), went on to achieve a cult following and is now regarded by some as the finest Bond movie of them all. One of the longest films of the series (to date, only Casino Royale [2006] is longer), On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a masterful blend of action, romance, humor, characterization, and "Bond moments." Sometimes those achievements have been overlooked or undervalued because the attention is always on the controversial casting of 007 himself with George Lazenby, an actor who never played the role again.

During the production of the fifth film, You Only Live Twice (1967), Sean Connery announced he was retiring from the series. Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman set about testing dozens of potential replacements (future Bonds Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton were among those considered), and to the world's surprise they cast an Australian former car salesman and male model with no previous acting experience. Lazenby later spoke of how he barreled his way into Saltzman's office and essentially lied his way into the part. He had heard from a former girlfriend and casting agent about the Bond auditions and decided to give himself a Bond makeover. He went to Connery's Savile Row tailor and finagled an actual suit that Connery had ordered but never used. It fit Lazenby perfectly. He went to Connery's barber and asked for a haircut just like James Bond's. He then showed up at Saltzman's office with an invented acting biography and as much Bond "attitude" and body language as he could muster, and successfully landed a series of tests, including a fight test in which he knocked down a stuntman and gave him a bloody nose--only because he hadn't fully learned how to pull his punches. But this impressed Saltzman and Broccoli, who decided their search was over. Lazenby was the new James Bond.

Ian Fleming wrote the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service while the first 007 picture, Dr. No (1962), was being filmed. It was originally intended to be made as the fifth film, following Thunderball (1965), which meant it would have starred Connery. But for various logistical reasons, it was pushed back. The film stays quite faithful to the novel, and both are notable for the inclusion of Bond falling in love and getting married in the course of battling his nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In this outing, Blofeld has built a fortress, Piz Gloria, atop a Swiss mountain that doubles as an allergy research institute, but he really uses it as a place to hypnotize young women to later spread deadly bacteria that will cause the destruction of global agriculture and potentially "the human race."

Diana Rigg, riding high from her just-completed run as Emma Peel on television's The Avengers, was cast as the strong, independent, beautiful woman (Tracy di Vicenzo) who captures Bond's heart. Telly Savalas made an entertaining Blofeld, and an international group of actors rounded out the large supporting cast, including Joanna Lumley as one of Blofeld's "angels of death." Before Bond gets engaged to Tracy, he's in many ways the same old Bond, seducing at least two, possibly three or more of the "angels" at Piz Gloria, where he is posing as a genealogist in order to spy on Blofeld.

That's one of the satisfactions of OHMSS: it gives us a new Bond actor but remains true to the old Bond character, even while providing some new character shadings. An early montage of previous Bond-movie props and musical cues cements the idea that this is the same character, and his attitude and ways with action and seduction are on par with what 1969 audiences already knew and loved. But Lazenby also makes this the first genuinely romantic Bond, and even offers moments of vulnerability and fear, traits that humanize and ground the character a bit more than previously seen. Lazenby couldn't match Connery's magnetic charm and superior acting ability, but in truth, he is perfectly fine in the role, especially in the action scenes, and undoubtedly he would have grown even more comfortable and accepted had he done additional Bond films.

But Lazenby was given some poor advice at the time: that Bond was already anachronistic, the series would soon end, and Lazenby could easily command millions from other roles and grow his career. All of that would prove dead wrong. Despite generous offers from Broccoli and Saltzman to continue, Lazenby turned them down, and the producers eventually convinced Connery to return for one more film, Diamonds are Forever (1971). (A decade later Connery would play 007 again in 1983's Never Say Never Again, but that was not part of the official Bond canon.)

As a piece of filmmaking, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a masterpiece. Peter Hunt had edited the first five films and now was handed the reins for his directing debut, and he was up to the task. The film flows magnificently, with breathless action sequences among the best in the series. Practically the entire second half of the film is a continuous piece of action, with one set piece streaming to the next with expert pace and precision. Hunt also blends the romantic, quieter scenes into the story very convincingly. When Bond proposes marriage to Tracy on Christmas Eve (On Her Majesty's Secret Service has its adherents as a "Christmas movie"), it's just after a thrilling ski chase in which one villain is killed by a snow blower, and just before an eye-popping avalanche sequence.

That avalanche, two miles long according to Hunt, was set off manually by bombs from helicopters, an indication of the all-out nature of the production in which no expense was spared. There are also beautiful aerial shots of ski chases and Swiss mountain scenery, making this one of the most physically beautiful Bond movies. Elsewhere, Bond must ski down a mountain on one ski, attempt escape on a high cable-car wire, and lead a thrilling helicopter assault on Piz Gloria. There's also a memorable fight in a bell shop and a famous bobsled chase that are models of action film editing. Hunt provides very satisfying touches to make the film visually coherent, such as filming one section of a car chase with high banks of snow on either side of the road, making it look like a bobrun and foreshadowing the later bobsled chase. John Barry's score is one of his finest, and the title song, heard over a romantic montage, was one of the last recordings made by Louis Armstrong. Ultimately, the high craftsmanship of its moviemaking has enabled On Her Majesty's Secret Service to outlast its unfair initial critical derision, and it remains a gem waiting to be discovered by even more future audiences.

By Jeremy Arnold
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Seen in its day as a disappointment, the sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), went on to achieve a cult following and is now regarded by some as the finest Bond movie of them all. One of the longest films of the series (to date, only Casino Royale [2006] is longer), On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a masterful blend of action, romance, humor, characterization, and "Bond moments." Sometimes those achievements have been overlooked or undervalued because the attention is always on the controversial casting of 007 himself with George Lazenby, an actor who never played the role again. During the production of the fifth film, You Only Live Twice (1967), Sean Connery announced he was retiring from the series. Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman set about testing dozens of potential replacements (future Bonds Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton were among those considered), and to the world's surprise they cast an Australian former car salesman and male model with no previous acting experience. Lazenby later spoke of how he barreled his way into Saltzman's office and essentially lied his way into the part. He had heard from a former girlfriend and casting agent about the Bond auditions and decided to give himself a Bond makeover. He went to Connery's Savile Row tailor and finagled an actual suit that Connery had ordered but never used. It fit Lazenby perfectly. He went to Connery's barber and asked for a haircut just like James Bond's. He then showed up at Saltzman's office with an invented acting biography and as much Bond "attitude" and body language as he could muster, and successfully landed a series of tests, including a fight test in which he knocked down a stuntman and gave him a bloody nose--only because he hadn't fully learned how to pull his punches. But this impressed Saltzman and Broccoli, who decided their search was over. Lazenby was the new James Bond. Ian Fleming wrote the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service while the first 007 picture, Dr. No (1962), was being filmed. It was originally intended to be made as the fifth film, following Thunderball (1965), which meant it would have starred Connery. But for various logistical reasons, it was pushed back. The film stays quite faithful to the novel, and both are notable for the inclusion of Bond falling in love and getting married in the course of battling his nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In this outing, Blofeld has built a fortress, Piz Gloria, atop a Swiss mountain that doubles as an allergy research institute, but he really uses it as a place to hypnotize young women to later spread deadly bacteria that will cause the destruction of global agriculture and potentially "the human race." Diana Rigg, riding high from her just-completed run as Emma Peel on television's The Avengers, was cast as the strong, independent, beautiful woman (Tracy di Vicenzo) who captures Bond's heart. Telly Savalas made an entertaining Blofeld, and an international group of actors rounded out the large supporting cast, including Joanna Lumley as one of Blofeld's "angels of death." Before Bond gets engaged to Tracy, he's in many ways the same old Bond, seducing at least two, possibly three or more of the "angels" at Piz Gloria, where he is posing as a genealogist in order to spy on Blofeld. That's one of the satisfactions of OHMSS: it gives us a new Bond actor but remains true to the old Bond character, even while providing some new character shadings. An early montage of previous Bond-movie props and musical cues cements the idea that this is the same character, and his attitude and ways with action and seduction are on par with what 1969 audiences already knew and loved. But Lazenby also makes this the first genuinely romantic Bond, and even offers moments of vulnerability and fear, traits that humanize and ground the character a bit more than previously seen. Lazenby couldn't match Connery's magnetic charm and superior acting ability, but in truth, he is perfectly fine in the role, especially in the action scenes, and undoubtedly he would have grown even more comfortable and accepted had he done additional Bond films. But Lazenby was given some poor advice at the time: that Bond was already anachronistic, the series would soon end, and Lazenby could easily command millions from other roles and grow his career. All of that would prove dead wrong. Despite generous offers from Broccoli and Saltzman to continue, Lazenby turned them down, and the producers eventually convinced Connery to return for one more film, Diamonds are Forever (1971). (A decade later Connery would play 007 again in 1983's Never Say Never Again, but that was not part of the official Bond canon.) As a piece of filmmaking, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a masterpiece. Peter Hunt had edited the first five films and now was handed the reins for his directing debut, and he was up to the task. The film flows magnificently, with breathless action sequences among the best in the series. Practically the entire second half of the film is a continuous piece of action, with one set piece streaming to the next with expert pace and precision. Hunt also blends the romantic, quieter scenes into the story very convincingly. When Bond proposes marriage to Tracy on Christmas Eve (On Her Majesty's Secret Service has its adherents as a "Christmas movie"), it's just after a thrilling ski chase in which one villain is killed by a snow blower, and just before an eye-popping avalanche sequence. That avalanche, two miles long according to Hunt, was set off manually by bombs from helicopters, an indication of the all-out nature of the production in which no expense was spared. There are also beautiful aerial shots of ski chases and Swiss mountain scenery, making this one of the most physically beautiful Bond movies. Elsewhere, Bond must ski down a mountain on one ski, attempt escape on a high cable-car wire, and lead a thrilling helicopter assault on Piz Gloria. There's also a memorable fight in a bell shop and a famous bobsled chase that are models of action film editing. Hunt provides very satisfying touches to make the film visually coherent, such as filming one section of a car chase with high banks of snow on either side of the road, making it look like a bobrun and foreshadowing the later bobsled chase. John Barry's score is one of his finest, and the title song, heard over a romantic montage, was one of the last recordings made by Louis Armstrong. Ultimately, the high craftsmanship of its moviemaking has enabled On Her Majesty's Secret Service to outlast its unfair initial critical derision, and it remains a gem waiting to be discovered by even more future audiences. By Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

There's something formal about the point of a pistol.
- James Bond
He had a lot of guts.
- James Bond
I hope I can live up to your high standards.
- James Bond
You're hurting me.
- Tracy
I thought that was the idea for tonight.
- James Bond
We have all the time in the world.
- James Bond

Trivia

At 140 minutes, this is in the longest 007 movie.

George Lazenby appears for the first and last time as James Bond.

Originally intended to follow Goldfinger (1964) then Thunderball (1965).

Lazenby was previously a car salesman with a part time job as a male model. He was also well-known in Britain as "The Big Fry man," after the chocolate bar commercials he starred in, carrying an outsize bar on his hunky shoulder.

The search for a new Bond was compared with the search for Scarlett O'Hara, and 413 actors audition for the role. Lazenby was determined to get the role, he spent most of what money he had on a Saville Row suit and a Rolex watch, then while having a Bond type haircut Broccoli walked into the same salon, made the connection and later offered him the part.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Switzerland, London, and Portugal. Released in London in December 1969. The film acknowledges the cooperation of Her Majesty's College of Arms and Heralds and ShilThornbahn A.G. of Mürren (Switzerland).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 18, 1969

Re-released in United States on Video November 7, 1995

The only Bond film starring George Lazenby as 007.

Re-released in United States on Video November 7, 1995

Released in United States Winter December 18, 1969