Film: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
"We have all the time in the world..."The one with
James Bond getting married.
The sixth James Bond
film, starring George Lazenby
in his only appearancenote note
One morning on the beach, James Bond rescues a beautiful, but emotionally shattered
countess from drowning herself. Her father, the boss of one of Europe's largest organized crime syndicates
, befriends Bond and suggests that he might woo her in order to help her deal with her issues. This is pretty sleazy even for Bond, but he agrees anyway because the mafioso has access to information beyond the reach of official organizations and can help him get a lead on the head of SPECTRE, Enrst Stavro Blofeld (played now
by Telly Savalas
). Blofeld, meanwhile, has developed a biological agent to induce sterility in plants and animals and potentially wipe out entire species, which he will put to use if he is not granted amnesty for all past crimes and an official acknowledgement of his bogus claim to nobility.
Easily the most low-key Bond film (along with From Russia with Love
, For Your Eyes Only
and Casino Royale
), it has a polarizing effect on fans and a rather unusual critical legacy. It is the only Bond film to be primarily a love story, with Blofeld's biological warfare scheme providing the backdrop. Some like it for its emotional depth and realism, some hate it for its (admittedly inexperienced) actor and Austin Powers
wardrobe (though time and hindsight have mostly been kind to those). And then still others love its emotional depth and realism while simultaneously hating Lazenby. (The misapprehension that Lazenby only did one film, and therefore
it must be bad is quite common.) The Blofeld shown in this film has both a practical goal and a chillingly plausible plan — albeit, a completely over the top execution
of said plan ("I have taught you to love chickens
The film took big strides in giving Bond himself emotional depth
, a trend continued by Dalton
There is also a twist Downer Ending
and Sequel Hook
that is quite unusual for the series, but which were unfortunately papered over by Connery's return in Diamonds Are Forever
, though later it was addressed by Roger Moore
in For Your Eyes Only
This film provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Diana Rigg as Countess Teresa (Tracy) Draco Di Vincenzo. Also a Badass Driver and verging on Crazy Awesome.
- Adaptation Induced Plot Hole / Pragmatic Adaptation: Bond and Blofeld don't seem to recognize each other, even though they met in the previous movie. Even though both being different counts, it happens because the book is set before You Only Live Twice.
- Originally, it was to be established Bond had plastic surgery done to explain why he doesn't look like Sean Connery anymore. And other movies establish that Blofeld is constantly changing his appearance.
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": It's basically known as the movie Bond gets married... but not for long.
- Almighty Janitor: Josef the clinic receptionist, who is apparently a trained SPECTRE agent as he gives Bond a pretty good fight.
- An Asskicking Christmas
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Blofeld gives them a bad name, though he's not actually a Count.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Subverted. While Blofeld's main plan is an utter failure, he takes perhaps the most horrific revenge on Bond possible.
- The Baroness: Irma Bunt
- Becoming the Mask: Bond was supposed to seduce Tracy to gain access to her fathers connections (and maybe convince her to stop trying to kill herself), but he ended up growing fond of her for real.
- Bedtime Brainwashing: Blofeld is using this to brainwash the women at his clinic, so he can use them as couriers for the deadly virus he's developing.
- Big Damn Heroes: Bond and Draco, supported by the hitmen and mercenaries of the Unione Corse, show up in helicopters to do the job that Her Majesty's Government refuses to do.
- Bond is trapped in the ice-skating rink while SPECTRE mooks search through the crowd. Bond is in despair, expecting to be captured again when suddenly Tracy (whom he last saw in Portugal) appears in front of him, with an ice-modified fast car to get Bond the hell out of there. An impressive achievement for a Bond girl!
- Bond One-Liner: Bond gets a particularly brutal one when a mook falls into a large snowblower and gets cut to pieces by it:
"He had lots of guts!"
- Interestingly, Bond sends a one-liner Blofeld's way after the bobsled scene only to find out later that he wasn't dead (unfortunately it was probably the worst way possible).
- "Merry Christmas."
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Despite knowing how resourceful and dangerous Bond is, Blofeld decides to keep him alive as he may "prove useful during the negotiations". Of course Bond soon escapes. This is in stark contrast to Blofeld's attitude in the previous film where he killed a beautiful mook for her failure at eliminating Bond.
- Justified as Blofeld wants the governments to give him a pardon so he can become a Karma Houdini. Killing Bond would just make things more tense. He specifically mentions that Bond would be an external witness to his activities to verify his claims that he can actually release a "Virus Omega" and is not merely bluffing.
- Book Ends: Bond and his Aston Martin in Portugal driving down the same road, stopping the car each time for Tracy. The first time, he stops the car to save her from drowning. The second time, they're married, discussing their future when she's shot to death.
- Musically, the beginning of the film when Bond saves Tracy and the end where Bond pursues Blofeld both use similar musical motifs (on the OST, the first track is called "This Never Happened to the Other Fella", while the latter track is called "Bobsled Chase").
- Brainwashed: Blofeld's latest scheme involves turning young women into unwitting bioterrorists.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The teaser ends with Tracy running away from Bond after he saves her, to which he turns to the camera and says "This never happened to the other fellow."
- Brick Joke: Blofeld snaps "Idiot!" when one of his mooks ends up in a tree during the chase. The same thing happens to Blofeld.
- Broken Bird: Tracy is a former drug addict, a recent divorcée and has tragically lost her ill child.
- Her ex died tragically after he ran off on her.
- Cable-Car Action Sequence: Bond's escape from his cell.
- Call Back: References to Bond's dead wife were made repeatedly in other movies, often cutting off before saying what happened to her; since OHMSS is slightly obscure, quite a lot of people do not know that we actually saw what happened.
- The cheerful "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown" reappears during Bond's Cable-Car Action Sequence as a more suspenseful tune, see below.
- Call Forward: To The World Is Not Enough when Bond first meets with Sir Hillary. Namely, the Bond family motto.
- Car Chase: With stock cars!
- Cartwright Curse: Delayed till the very end, but still at full force.
- Chekhov's Gun: Savvy viewers will just know that eventually someone is going to get thrown into that spiky wall decoration. We aren't disappointed.
- Clark Kenting: Lampshaded.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld: It takes more than a few props to turn 007 into a Herald. [breaks Bond's glasses]
James Bond: It'll take more than cutting off your earlobes, Blofeld, to turn you into a Count.
- Christmas Episode: This is the only James Bond movie set at Christmas time.
- Complexity Addiction: The basic plot of holding the world hostage with a sterility virus is sound (and, for its time, quite original), but brainwashing a cadre of international beauties so that they will unleash the viruses by radio-induced hypnotic command, is just a tad over the top, don't you think?
- Continuity Nod: After turning in his resignation Bond goes into his office and pulls out of his desk Honey Ryder's belt and knife, Red Grant's garrote wire wrist watch and his own underwater breathing device. A bit of music from each film plays along with the props' appearances.
- There's also a janitor whistling "Goldfinger".
- The opening credits feature clips from all the previous films (none featuring Bond himself, of course).
- At the wedding, Draco mentioned a Noodle Incident in Fort Knox.
- Cruel Twist Ending
- Dark Reprise: Of "We Have All The Time in the World" and "Bond Arrives in Piz Gloria"
- Death by Sex: See Cartwright Curse above.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Blofeld's appearance at the end.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Bond holding Tracy's dead body after Irma Bunt shoots her.
- Double Entendre: Not just from Bond this time either.
Tracy (whilst fleeing the bad guys in the middle of a stock car race with James in tow): I hope my big end will stand up to this!
- Downer Ending: See above.
- Dress Hits Floor: A gender-inverted version with Bond's kilt.
- Drives Like Crazy: Tracy, naturally.
- Drugs Are Bad: Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate, commits murders, extortion, theft, sexual slavery, and many, many other crimes. But he's a good guy because he doesn't sell drugs.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Tracy went through a lot even before she met Bond, and when she got married it seemed she could finally look forward to a happy life, but then Diabolus Ex Machina ensued...
- Easily Forgiven: Bond commits a court martial offence in going against orders to attack Blofeld's base at the end and yet no one seems to care. All's well that end's well appears to be the hand wave here, even though Bond was playing with the extinction of all life on Earth.
- Epic Movie: This is one of the most sprawling and operatic of the Bond films.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate (and Tracy's father), agrees to to assist Bond and the entire British Government against the efforts of SPECTRE to gain Bond's help with his daughter. Later, he personally leads an invasion of Blofeld's fortress to rescue Tracy and stop Blofeld's plan to destroy the world's food supply.
- Falling in Love Montage: With Louis Armstrong's "We Have All The Time In The World" in the background.
- Feet-First Introduction: Used for Tracy's Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: A flamethrower is featured in the attack on Piz Gloria fortress.
Tracy: People who want to stay alive play it safe.
- Friendly Enemy: M and Draco, at Bond's wedding.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Just a slight stiffness coming on... in the shoulder."
- Girl of the Week: Tracy.
- Hair-Trigger Avalanche
- Happily Ever Before: The original ending on the film was Bond and Tracy happily driving off, and the Downer Ending scene was to be the opening scene of the next film.
- Heroic BSOD: Bond at the end of the film.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Blofeld; see Genius Bonus in the YMMV section.
- Hollywood Acid: Bond guns down a lab-coated man who chucks a flask at him, then winces at the smoking hole that's being eaten in the glass door.
- Hypocritical Humor: Bond says "Guns makes me nervous" after shooting a mook and taking his pistol off him.
- Impostor Forgot One Detail: The College of Arms was located in St. Anna's Kirche, not in the Habsburg cathedral.
- Interrupted Suicide: Tracy was about to drown herself, but Bond found her in time.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Occurs because John Barry didn't think the title could fit in a lyric—at least, not without coming off like Gilbert and Sullivan.
- Admittedly, there aren't many words that rhyme with "Service". Besides "nervous."
- Ironic Echo: "We Have All The Time In The World"
- Just Between You and Me
- Karma Houdini: Irma Bunt is the person who actually kills Tracy and she is never seen again in this or any other Bond film, which means that the murderer of Bond's wife got away with it completely. A case of Real Life Writes the Plot, the actress Ilse Steppat died mere days after the film's release. The comics ultimately rectified this, by having her show up again and be killed off.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This never happened to the OTHER fellow."
- Double Entendre: He could be referring to Prince Charming, what with the shoes.
- Love Epiphany: After Tracy saves Bond's life from the SPECTRE agents who were pursuing him, he realizes that he really does love her and proposes.
- Male Gaze: When Tracy first appears in Switzerland, the camera pans up her legs.
- Man in a Kilt
- MacGyvering: Bond does this at least twice at Piz Gloria.
- He uses a document clip, an eraser folded in half and the brass edge from a ruler to open his electric room door.
- Later, one of Blofeld's patients used a emery board (non-metallic nail file) to sneak into his room.
- After his cover was blown and he was locked up in a machine room, he pulls out his pant pockets, tearing them off to improvise a pair of gloves that would allow him to grip the cable car lines, aiding in his escape.
- Mistaken for Gay: Bond, when impersonating Sir Hilary Bray. Played for Laughs, as Bond is still up to his Casanova antics.
I know what he's allergic to.
- Mood Whiplash: The last ten minutes. Made more jarring by the soundtrack, which changes abruptly from a sad reprise of "We Have All The Time in the World" to a loud, brassy version of "The James Bond Theme".
- Moral Dissonance: Bond is falling in love with Tracy throughout the film, but this does not stop him from sleeping with multiple women, one after the other, when he knows they are being experimented upon and brainwashed.
- He doesn't actually fall for Tracy until after that. And he doesn't really know they are being brainwashed, though obviously he's suspicious of the (voluntary) hypnotism, which he only finds out about after he starts sleeping with them. And being Bond, it was obviously too late by then.
- Also, the hypnotism might not have affected that part of their personality.
- One other explanation: Bond sleeping with the girls is in the line of duty, something that has to be done to complete his mission. With Tracy, he's clearly in love.
- No-One Could Have Survived That: Blofeld gets his neck tangled in a branch at 45 mph, complete with a shot of his lifeless legs dangling in mid-air (bringing an execution to mind). He later reappears in a neck brace. Oops.
- Noodle Incident: Draco lost a few of his henchmen in Fort Knox.
- Oh, Crap: During the final bobsled chase, Blofeld drops an active grenade intended for Bond and desperately struggles to get it out. He barely manages to grab it and toss it out in time.
- Bond, when Irma Bunt catches on to him and his escapades.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: The first few notes of "Do You Know Where Christmas Trees are Grown" (a cheerful song that played in the background earlier) can be heard in a tense scene after 007 is locked in a cable car machine room. It foreshadows Blofeld's gift of a music box to the girls.
- A rendition of the Bond theme's melody is played by an eerie synthesized music box during the gun barrel sequence.
- Only One Name: Fräulein Bunt refuses to let the patients reveal their full names, claiming clinic rules. Ruby Bartlett tells "Hilly" her name anyway when they're alone.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: It is not particularly bad, but Bond occasionally slips into Australian in his vowel sounds.
- Out-of-Character Moment:
- Bond initially refuses to sleep with Tracy at the casino.
- Later, after escaping Piz Gloria and trying to stay one step ahead of Blofeld's men, he's startled by the sight of a man dressed up as a bear.
- Finally, he refuses Draco's dowry. Justified as he married Tracy for love.
- Overt Operative: Averted by Bond adopting the secret identity of "Sir Hilary Bray," complete with hobbies, personal foibles, insecurities and professional experience.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Life On Mars had an illicit porn operation with a tape called "On Her Majesty's Secret Cervix".
- Percussive Prevention: During the Storming the Castle scene, Tracy's father knocks her out when she refuses to leave without James.
Draco: "Spare the rod and spoil the child, huh?"
- Porn Stash: One of several important documents in a Swiss banker's office is Playboy. Bond, the cold-hearted bastard, steals it and reads it out of the office.
- If you look closely, you'll see that Bond didn't steal the entire magazine - only the centerfold.
- Pretty in Mink: Several, including a red fox coat Tracy wears.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Poor Tracy...
- Real Men Dont Cry: Bond is perfectly — indeed, creepily — calm in the final frame. Lazenby wanted to do some real emotional acting, but the director insisted that Bond, a trained killer, is basically dead inside and can't shed a tear even if he wishes.
- Though if you listen carefully, when Bond turns away and holds Tracy's body close, you can hear him softly weeping just before the "The End" appears on the screen.
- Redundant Rescue: She still needs help to get out of the complex, but when the Big Damn Heroes arrive at the end Tracy has killed the man guarding her and just needs a ride home
- Red Right Hand: To impersonate the Count of Bleauchamp, Blofeld cuts offs his own earlobes. Sound familiar?
- Sacrificial Lion: Tracy and Bond's ally Campbell.
- Same Language Dub: When Bond is passing as Sir Hilary, Hilary's actor is heard instead of Lazenby. Also, Draco is dubbed (by David DeKeyser) since the actor had a strong Italian accent.
- Joanna Lumley, who played one of Blofeld's girls, reportedly dubbed some voices in different accents to complement some of her castmates' voices.
- Nikki van der Zyl also dubbed some voices, as she's done in other Bond films.
- Scare Chord: Used when Bond's cover is blown.
- Scenery Porn: A pretty good portion of the movie takes place high in the Swiss Alps. This goes without saying. The helicopter ride to Piz Gloria in particular is a feast for the eyes.
- Sex Equals Love: Draco encourages Bond to seduce his daughter because he feels that she needs love and a husband.
- Sexophone: The Piz Gloria girls' Leitmotiv.
- Show Some Leg: When Tracy recognises her father's voice on the radio from the approaching "Red Cross" helicopters, she immediately starts being nice to Blofeld, who gets annoyed when one of his men tries to draw his attention to them.
- So Happy Together: Tracy and Bond's wedding and honeymoon drive, before her murder.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The cheery Christmas music playing in the village below as a mook falls screaming to his death. Later Bond is hunted through that same village.
- Stealth Insult: Sir Hillary, er, Bond tells Irma Bunt her name is a naval term for the baggy or swollen part of a sail. "Nothing personal, of course."
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Originally planned for Tracy, but changed at the last minute to keep the plot condensed.
- The Syndicate: The Unione Corse, Europe's largest criminal organization and where Bond can turn when his own government will not give him the support he needs.
- 10-Minute Retirement: We dare you, dare you, to guess the circumstances of this one!
- There Are No Therapists: Subverted. Draco asks Bond to seduce and marry his daughter in order to help her deal with her suicidal tendencies and crushing emotional trauma, but Bond points out that that is a ridiculous idea and she needs treatment and a psychiatrist, not sex. Then Bond does it anyway because Draco is offering information on Blofeld
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: Bond's introduction to Draco had 007 throw a knife that conveniently hit a calendar on September 13th.
Draco: But today's the fourteenth, Commander.
Bond: I'm superstitious.
- Title Drop: "Her majesty's secret service" is said twice, but never the full title. The World Is Not Enough is dropped thirty years early.
- Title Montage: Various clips from the five previous Bond movies can be seen during the intro sequence.
- Took a Level in Badass: Perhaps in light of Telly Savalas' previous experience in action and war films Blofeld, as played by him, is shown less as the seated, cat-stroking Smug Snake as in previous (and later) films. Here he's a brute, plain and simple. He is shown on skis chasing Bond himself once he escapes from the Piz Gloria, setting off an avalanche, and being pretty much an expert bobsledder.
- Arguably, Bond is more willing to put up a fight than before. Some of his hand-to-hand combat in this film is positively vicious, such as when he clearly beats one of Blofeld's mooks to death during his escape from Piz Gloria.
- Trademark Favorite Food:
- Each of Blofeld's "patients" could only eat one and only one kind of food as part of their treatment: chicken for Ruby; flatbread for the Indian girl, bananas for the Jamaican girl which she ate seductively; and so on.
- Draco drank Campari, Bond his vodka martini.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: The only Bond film to date in which both the main villain and his chief henchman (or henchwoman, in this case) escape alive, with the two roaring away after assassinating Bond's new wife. Bond is too shocked and grief-stricken to give chase.
- Villanous Valour: This Blofeld does lead his men in battle from the front and is not afraid to get in the fighting himself. Of course he is played by Telly Savalas.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Bond losing his new bride Tracy.