This is Ian Fleming's novel that spells the beginning of the end for James Bond. It opens with Bond writing his resignation letter -- he has been fruitlessly hunting Ernst Stavro Blofeld for a while now, and feels his talents are being wasted. He meets Tracy, a bird with a broken wing, and finds out fast who she really is -- daughter of Marc-Ange Draco, Godfather of the Union Corse.

Draco offers Bond one million pounds to marry his daughter. Bond declines the money, but takes up with Tracy. He also gets a tip on Blofeld's location from Draco.

Blofeld is in Switzerland, running an experimental clinic high on an alp. Bond infiltrates as an expert on genealogy sent to confirm or deny Blofeld's claim to be a count. At one point, a colleague of Bond's turns up, and Bond has to deny him in order to preserve his own cover, meaning almost certain death for his fellow spy.

Bond finds that Blofeld is brainwashing British girls. They have come to the "allergy clinic" for phobias of assorted British farm products (beef, potatoes, turkeys, etc). He is simply making them love the things they fear. Knowing something is wrong with the whole setup, Bond escapes in a midnight downhill ski run. (The scene where one of his pursuers skis into a locomotive's snowblower is particularly chilling.)

On return, he and M. figure out that Blofeld is using the girls as delivery vectors in a biowar scheme that, if successful, would destroy Britain's economy. Unlike Thunderball, Blofeld seems to be motivated by vengeance rather than profit, as there is no ransom demand.

Bond gets engaged to Tracy, and, as a wedding present from her father, receives assistance taking Blofeld's clinic. Blofeld escapes via a luge run, but his plan is squashed. Bond marries Tracy, and drives off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

But before the honeymoon, someone passes the happy couple on a mountain road, and opens fire, killing Tracy. The end of the book is Bond holding his dead bride, muttering the last thing he had said to her -- "We've got all the time in the world."

A new Bond?

James Bond: I hope I can live up to your high standards.


For the sixth official film, directed by Peter R. Hunt and released in 1969, Sean Connery having retired, a new Bond had to be found. They found George Lazenby, an Australian male model with next to no acting experience. Fans are still divided, if he was a worthy replacement for Connery, but most agree, that his portrayal of Bond changed the angle on the character. I rather enjoyed his performance personally. The movie itself is one of the best Bond's ever, with nice action sequences, an entertaining plot, and a less than perfect (i.ew. more human) Bond. The villain is once again Ernst Stavro Blofeld, this time ingeniously played by Telly Savallas, one of the best Blofelds ever.


The teaser is allegorical for the search for the new Bond, and some of the changes introduced by changing the lead: Q is demonstrating the finer points of "radioactive lint" to M. M mentions that they need to find Bond. The scene then cuts to a silver Aston Martin driving along a seaside highway, but the driver is shown only in shadow. He's passed by a woman in red sports car that he later finds parked on the side of the road, its driver walking into the sea. He races to the water's edge, revealing for the first time George Lazenby's face, and retrieves the woman from the water, announcing, "My name's Bond. James Bond." A gun appears at his head and Bond fights with three men who have appeared behind him. The woman steals Bond's car from the beach and flees the scene. Bond defeats his assailants, looks after the woman and then says towards the camera:

This never happened to the other fellow...


The woman he rescued in the teaser is revealed to be Comtess Tracy Draco, daughter of the head of a powerful crime syndicate, Marc-Ange Draco. Thankful and impressed by Bond he offers him $ 1 Million to protect and marry his daughter. In exchange he offers Bond information which will lead 007 to his arch enemy Blofeld. At first Bond agrees to the deal purely to fulfil his objective to kill Blofeld only to fall in love with Tracy.

The British learn that Blofeld plans to destroy mankind with a deadly virus, and so 007 is torn between his loyalty to his county and his intent to marry Tracy. He decides to continue his mission to track down Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and follows the trail to a remote alpine institute in Switzerland. Posing as genealogist Sir Hillary Bray, Bond gains entrance to the institute, but is recognized. Blofeld reveals his true plot (like all great criminals do when they think they have the hero in their power), which is to hold the world to ransom with a virus inflicting male sterility to be released by the hypnotised girls he is experimenting on.

But Bond effects another daring escape to a nearby village, meets Tracy there, and, following a car chase, they reach a barn where Bond proposes to her. Blofeld's men set off an avalanche which hits Bond, believe him to be dead, and capture Tracy. Meanwhile, Bond returns to London where the UN is planning to give in to Blofeld's demands of full pardon for all previous crimes and recognition of his noble title. Bond and Marc-Ange choose to assault the base to rescue Tracy, destroying the base in the process. Finally, Bond pursues Blofeld down his bobsleigh escape track, where Blofeld breaks his neck when hitting a tree.

Bond marries Tracy and they set off for their honeymoon, but as they stop in a layby Bunt shoots Tracy from a car driven by the bandaged Blofeld. And so the movie ends on a sadder note than usual. Bond has won, but at the same time lost the thing most important to him. This love will lead to a more cynical and maybe darker Bond in the next few films.

Bond: We have all the time in the world.


The girls: Tracy (Diana Rigg of Avengers fame) is beautiful and believable as the Contessa, with whom our James falls in love with and marries. Rigg displays a full range of acting and beauty to make her one of the most memorable of Bond Girls. Well, she'd better be to capture this man's heart... And let us not forget the girls at Blofelds alpine domicile, more beautiful than many a Bond Girl.

The Bottom Line: While it is often claimed that this film flopped at the box office, which it did compared to other Bonds, it still made a nice profit: On a budget of $9 million it grossed $80 million worldwide. In fact, Lazenby was offered a seven-year contract as James Bond, but he turned it down, which he later claimed tro have been the greatest mistake of his life. Lazenby was a good Bond, and added something three-dimensional to the character. And he was way better than Connery in You only live twice and Diamonds are forever.

To finish up and complete the writeup, here is a nice link to all things Bond:

Previous Bond: You only live twice, James Bond will return in: Diamonds are forever

Watching it again, I realised that my brother Mica is quite right about something: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is the best James Bond movie. The major reason is simple enough - Diana Rigg. In classic Avengers style, she is gorgeous and obviously intelligent. An actual equal for Bond, as underlined by his willingness to marry her. Unlike later films, where Bond seems extremely seedy, lucky, and gadget laden, in this film he is actually a reasonable hero. Blofeld, at the same time, is quite a good villain.

There are flaws, of course. The sped-up fight scenes, which look ridiculous, are one. Sometimes, the creative editing looks stupid. At other times, like when Bond sees Tracy being dragged away in the MI6 window in London, it is quite clever. Also clever is the whole resignation sequence, which smacks of an unusual kind of dramatic tension in a Bond film.

The high point, of course, is simply Diana Rigg being so, so sexy. I love how she is actually competent, unlike almost everyone in the Bond films. She dispatches underlings with a skill nearly matching that of 007 and manages to look smashingly good while she does it. This is a film that doesn't have to rely on special effects and gadgetry to impress. The scene where his wife dies manages to evoke a genuine sense of tragedy: an emotion of a higher order than you expect in a Bond movie... "Now we have all the time in the world."

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