On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
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After five movies, Sean Connery resigned from playing James Bond following 1967’s You Only Live Twice. The outgoing 007 star was tired of the role, had fallen out with producer Cubby Broccoli and wasn’t satisfied with his salary. A search for the next Bond began and the producers ended up casting Australian model George Lazenby in the role for 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Cubby’s daughter Barbara Broccoli – who produces the Bond franchise today – spoke to Empire about On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the challenge that faced Lazenby.
She said: “It’s a magnificent film. It’s very tough to follow Sean Connery, who originated the role and had been so celebrated. George [Lazenby] had a tough time. But the film really holds up. It’s incredible and his performance is very good. That last scene in the film [where his wife is killed on their wedding day] is very moving. He delivers those lines wonderfully.”
When On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released, the film was met with mostly unfavourable reviews, especially when it came to comparing him to his predecessor.
The Guardian wrote: “[Lazenby] is not a good actor and though I never thought Sean Connery was all that stylish either, there are moments when one yearns for a little of his louche panache.”
The Daily Mirror said: “He looks uncomfortably in the part like a size four foot in a size ten gumboot.”
And the Chicago Tribune remarked; “Doesn’t fill Sean Connery’s shoes, Aston-Martin, or stretch pants. The new 007 Is more boyish and consequently less of a man. He doesn’t order food with the same verve, and generally lacks the self-satisfied smirk that Connery kept with him and transmitted to his audience.”
George Lazenby discusses landing James Bond role in 2012
Despite being offered a seven-film contract, Lazenby turned it all down after his agent told him the Bond franchise was on the way out.
Connery was roped back in for one more turn in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever after being offered a then record-breaking payday of $1.25 million and two movies of his choice. After that, Roger Moore was finally cast for his seven 007 outings from Live and Let Die to A View to a Kill.
In the half-century since, revisionist reviews of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service have been far kinder, with some Bond fans claiming it to be the best 007 movie.
In fact, No Time To Die paid homage to Lazenby’s only Bond movie in a number of ways.
My Fair Lady: Rex Harrison’s ‘Appalling’ treatment of Audrey Hepburn [MY FAIR LADY]
Julie Andrews’ Sound of Music co-star: ‘Like flogging a dead horse’ [JULIE ANDREWS]
James Bond: Roger Moore’s incredible generosity at 3am on 007 set [ROGER MOORE]
No Time To Die included On Her Majesty’s Secret Service song We Have All The Time In The World by Louis Armstrong.
And Daniel Craig’s 007 tells Madeleine Swann at the start of the 2021 blockbuster that they have all the time in the world.
Lazenby himself said of No Time To Die on social media: “Interesting choices of music I must say.
“Daniel’s last Bond reminded me of mine. We both served Her Majesty well.”
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