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Film / On Her Majesty's Secret Service

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"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 appearance.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 (2006)), 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 and Craig's Bonds.

There is also a twist Downer Ending and Sequel Hook that is quite unusual for the series, but which were resolved quickly 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.
  • Aside Comment: In the opening scene, after Bond (George Lazenby) rescues a woman from drowning and fights a group of mooks, the woman drives away. He faces the camera and says "This never happened to the other fella", a reference to the previous James Bond actor, Sean Connery.
  • The Atoner: Draco has shades of this.
  • 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 ("He's branched off.") after the bobsled scene only to find out later that he wasn't dead (unfortunately it was probably the worst way possible).
    • "Merry Christmas."
    • Draco gets a non-lethal one in during the Storming the Castle scene. When Tracy refuses to leave the base without James, Draco punches his daughter out to carry her into the helicopter, then jokes with one of the soldiers:
    "Spare the rod and spoil the child, huh?"
  • 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.
      • Reality Ensues: The movies were filmed out of order with the books. OHMSS is the first time Bond and Blofeld meet in the books. That's why they dont know each other as well as they do in YOLT. This script was the most accurate to the book. These were the days before continuity nerds.
  • Bookends: 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").
    • On a related note, the first and last musical pieces heard in the movie? The James Bond Theme!
  • 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." The in-universe justification for the comment is that he's describing Prince Charming.
  • Brick Joke: The film opens with Q indicating that miniaturization is the way to go with their agent's equipment, using an (actually very practical) piece of radioactive lint as an example. Later in the film Bond has to crack a safe and in order to do so he needs to use a large and cumbersome piece of equipment the size of a big suitcase.
    • Played With in that the safecracker also contains a portable photocopier, which is needed to make copies of documents found within the safe.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The mook Bond fought in the hotel? It's the same guy who: held him at knifepoint when going to Draco's place; turned up again at Piz Gloria killing one of Blofeld's mooks with a flamethrower; and finally, was a guest at the wedding.
    • Fraulein Bunt
  • 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).
  • Cool Car: Bond's Aston Martin DBS. Sadly, it's not as cool as Connery!Bond's DB5 from previous films, as it doesn't have bullet proof glass.
  • 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.
  • Doomed by Canon: Sadly for fans of Diana Rigg's character, played straight. Although previous Bond films sometimes deviated wildly from the source material (most notably the previous two films - You Only Live Twice and the unofficial Casino Royale (1967)), in this case the filmmakers decided to stick to Fleming's original tragic ending (though at one point there were plans to have OHMSS end with the wedding and the next film, Diamonds Are Forever, was to have opened with Tracy's murder.
  • 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!
  • Dress Hits Floor: A gender-inverted version with Bond's kilt.
    Ruby: "It's true!"
  • Drives Like Crazy: Tracy, naturally.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate, commits murder, 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.
  • Fake Aristocrat: Most Bond Villains are aspiring aristocrats who got caught out in their pretensions, so they decided to blow up Britain. This time, Her Majesty fails Bond. Blofeld wins: he got amnesty by playing the system. Although Bond is able to foil his plot by going around his government (calling in a favour from Europeís second-largest mob family), there's still a tinge of cynicism to it.
    Bond: Itíll take more than cutting off your earlobes, Blofeld, to make you a Count.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: With Louis Armstrong's "We Have All The Time In The World" in the background.
  • Fashion Dissonance: The film was made in 1968-69, at the height of the counter-cultural revolution. Which is why George Lazenby's Bond wears a puffy dress shirt with his tuxedo, the only Bond to do so (in promotional photos for Live and Let Die, Roger Moore's Bond also wore a puffy shirt with his tuxedo, although in the finished film, Bond doesn't wear a tuxedo at all).
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    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.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Tracy uses a broken bottle to fight off a mook during the Storming the Castle scene.
  • 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 B.S.O.D.: Bond at the end of the film.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: A clue to Blofeld's identity; 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.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Blofeld to Tracy, who responds coldly at first, then appears to reconsider. It's only a distraction because she realises her father is coming to save her.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: Broken for the only time to date in the series as Bond utters those three words to Tracy.
  • Impostor Forgot One Detail: The Bleuchamp family crypt 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. Later films simply Take a Third Option by not requiring the movie's title to be in its theme song if it's something extremely awkward to fit in song lyrics.
  • 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.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Bond asks Blofeld "how many hundred millions" he wants this time, only for Blofeld to reveal that his demands aren't quite what they used to be.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This never happened to the OTHER fellow."
    • Double Entendre: He could be referring to Prince Charming, what with both shoes instead of just one.
  • 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.
  • Low Clearance: Blofeld encounters a low branch while fighting Bond on a bobsled.
  • 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" as the image freezes on the bullet hole.
  • 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. (Only a noodle incident to viewers unfamiliar with the events of Goldfinger.)
    • At the start of the film, Bond evidently has not been searching for Blofeld very effectively, ultimately leading to M pulling him off the assignment. Given his general hyper-competence in previous films, it raises the question of what noodle incidents between films occurred to make him somewhat fall from grace like that. An out-of-universe reason is that Bond started having adventures once every two years instead of back-to-back.
  • 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".
  • 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. Which makes him even more of a cold-hearted bastard.
  • Pretty in Mink: Several, including a red fox coat Tracy wears.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Poor Tracy...
  • Raised Hand of Survival: Blofeld sets off an avalanche which buries Bond and Tracy under a heap of snow. Tracy manages to raise her hand from under the snow, upon which a rescue squad come to her aid.
  • 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.
    • This is also in keeping with how Fleming wrote the final scene of the novel, which plays out nearly verbatim in the movie.
  • 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, George Baker, is heard instead of Lazenby (in fact Baker's voice is heard so extensively during the Piz Gloria segment of the film he technically deserves credit as a James Bond actor). Also, Draco is dubbed (by David DeKeyser) since Gabriele Ferzetti 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.
    • The James Bond theme at the end, and a few well-placed notes played during Bond and Draco's initial meeting.
  • 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. "For thee the poet of beguilement sings" indeed.
  • 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.
    • The usual brassy James Bond Theme sounds as the audience is still reeling from the shock of the surprise ending.
  • Spy Cam: Bond uses a small camera to take snap shots of a map that shows where the "Angels Of Death" are to release a biological agent.
  • 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 Downer Ending: See above.
  • Suicide by Sea: Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo tries to commit suicide by walking into the ocean but is saved by James Bond. It was only one of her self-destructive behaviors, which included gambling with money she didn't have.
  • 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.
  • Talent Double: A double was used for Diana Rigg at the ice rink as the actress did not know how to skate.
  • 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
  • 13 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; and so on.
    • Draco drank Campari, Bond his vodka martini.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: When his defending forces are overcome, Blofeld escapes Piz Gloria in a bobsleigh. Bond grabs another and goes after him.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left!: Blofeld and Irma Bunt drive 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.