BONDAGE: JAMES BOND, BY GEORGE!

by Jake on April 15, 2013

George LazenbySean Connery had been playing James Bond since the series began and, frankly, he was getting tired of it. The movies were getting less and less realistic and becoming almost self-parody, plus the actor wanted to do other things and not be typecast.

Frankly, I think being typecast as James Bond would be the coolest thing that could happen, but hey, nobody knew they’d still be making Bond films 50 years after ‘Dr. No’.

Well, Connery decided to quit, so the producers had to replace him. They chose George Lazenby, an Australian model who had done some commercials.

Now, Lazenby is often cited as the worst James Bond, but really, there’s no real reason for this other than the simple fact that he was not Sean Connery, which is hardly his fault. I must disagree and suggest that not only is George Lazenby one of the best 007′s, but that his one outing, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, is one of the best Bond movies.

Lazenby was, as I mentioned, a male model – and he certainly deserved to be! The man was just ridiculously good-looking; in fact, he still looks like a rugged specimen of virile manhood now, 44 years later. In addition, he handled the part beautifully, doing both the action and the comedy well. It doesn’t hurt that OHMSS is a radically different Bond movie than what we’re used to.

BlofeldSee, by this point, Bond had an archenemy firmly in place: the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of SPECTRE, a terrorist organization that manipulated events on a global scale for their own profit. Blofeld was established as THE Bond villain and, regardless of what the plot was or who was doing the dirty work, it was ultimately Blofeld and SPECTRE pulling the strings.

In this film, one of Bond’s main objectives is to identify and deal with Blofeld, who has had extensive plastic surgery to look like Telly Savalas. So, you know, the usual.

EXCEPT, for whatever reason, this time James Bond has to go undercover. Sure, Connery did this, but usually only for a few minutes of screen time. Lazenby’s Bond spent a huge portion of the film wearing a kilt and masquerading as a genealogist(!)

So that’s different.

Also, there is a conspicuous lack of gadgets in this film. Bond isn’t relying on some deus ex machina issued by Q Branch, but rather, he has to get through on his own.

Then you have the fact that Bond is NOT cooperating with his superiors – in fact, he considers resigning from the Service – plus Lazenby’s portrayal of a James Bond who is HUMAN, rather than the unstoppable superhero of previous installments. He even feels fear, which Connery’s Bond wasn’t exactly known for.

All of these factors would be enough to set this movie apart, but then there’s an even stranger twist:

James Bond falls in love. And gets MARRIED.

Yes, really.

Now, I’m not gonna spoil it for you, but this doesn’t end well. And it’s that tragic love story which really changes the game in terms of James Bond movies.

LazenbyNow for some legal reason, the producers soon lost the rights to use SPECTRE or Blofeld, so the next film in the series, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, would be the last time Blofeld was the villain. So the storyline regarding Bond and Blofeld was never really resolved until the opening to ‘For Your Eyes Only’, in which Roger Moore’s Bond finally put an end to his arch-nemesis (although Blofeld is never referred to by name and his face is never shown, it’s clearly meant to be him).

Lazenby reportedly had a rough time making the movie, so he decided not to play Bond again. ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ brought back Sean Connery for a really lousy movie that was also Connery’s last go-round in the “official” Bond series. After that, Roger Moore took over the part, which I’ll discuss in another article.

So Lazenby had just this one movie to do 007. To be fair, he did a great job, desire taking a lot of flack from the critics and the public. It seems to me only fitting that, since everyone insisted on Connery in the part, his return was in one of the worst Bond entries, only to see him quit again. Because George Lazenby’s James Bond was a breath of fresh air, and the tone of the film would have been a welcome new direction for the franchise. Instead, we got a return to the same old, same old.

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