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Review of On Her Majesty's Secret Service with George Lazenby

By: Mark Cerulli
I Hennes Majestäts hemliga tjänst recension
FSWL writer Mark Cerulli reviews On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) starring George Lazenby as Ian Fleming's James Bond after seeing it on the big screen in Los Angeles on 31 July 2019.

Throughout July this year, Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema in West Hollywood ran almost all of the 1960s Bond films (except for 1962's Dr. No). These screenings offered a rare chance to see the films in 35MM – and all were IB Technicolor prints (reportedly from the director’s personal collection).

On Her Majesty's Secret Service 50th Anniversary tribute trailer from Passionsfruit:

The Sean Connery Bonds were sublime, the colors still vibrant even after more than five decades (although the Goldfinger print was badly scratched). The 007 Festival concluded with 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It had been decades since I saw it on the big screen, so I had forgotten what a terrific Bond it was. Of course, the film is notable for its star – George Lazenby, the first actor to step into Connery’s massive cinematic shoes.

Having spent time with him in Portugal and LA, I can safely say that, in spite of all the highly qualified actors tested for the role, ONLY Lazenby could have taken it on due to his unique blend of charisma, arrogance (in a good way) and utter fearlessness.

Lazenby simply never considered the consequences of failing – so he didn’t! His performance was more than serviceable, in fact, I kept reminding myself, “This was his first film… he had never acted before!” Of course, Peter Hunt’s deft direction and John Glen’s lightning-fast editing kept things moving, but Lazenby’s performance was the foundation On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was built around and to this day he doesn’t receive the credit he deserves.

On Her Majestys Secret Service 50th Anniversary artwork
On Her Majestys Secret Service 50th Anniversary artwork by Graham Kennedy. The original is owned by FSWL reader Paul Wynn.

Seeing a classic Bond film on the big screen highlights how revolutionary these early films were – today CGI can do anything, but in 1968, the filmmakers had to physically create many illusions. For Majesty’s, the Bond film crew set off an actual avalanche to crush a fleeing 007 and in widescreen, the sequence is breathtaking. Another sequence that drew a collective gasp from the mostly packed house was during the bullfight scene as Bond courts Tracy – and a bull thunders into a diminutive Portuguese bullfighter. The love montage set to Louis Armstrong’s immortal “We Have All The Time In The World” was still hauntingly beautiful and that opening beach fight in the pounding surf was a crowd pleaser – thanks, in part, to John Barry’s searing score, but also the physical prowess of both Lazenby and his opponent, the wonderful Terence Mountain. On Her Majesty’s rightly deserves its place as one of the best entries in this iconic series. Viva George Lazenby!

Image on top
50th Anniversary artwork from Graham Kennedy commissioned by Michael Hackl, the man behind

Review by Mark Cerulli. Copyright © 2019 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.



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