On Her Majesty's Secret Service [1969]

Australian model George Lazenby took up the mantle of the world's most suave secret agent when Sean Connery retired as James Bond--prematurely, it turned out. Connery returned in Diamonds Are Forever before leaving the role to Roger Moore and Lazenby's subsequent career fizzled, yet this one-hit wonder is responsible for one of the best Bond films of all time. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 007 leaves the Service to privately pursue his SPECTRE nemesis Blofeld (played this time by Telly Savalas), whose latest master plan involves a threat to the world's crops by agricultural sterilization. Bond teams up with suave international crime lord Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) and falls in love with--and marries--his elegant daughter, Tracy (Diana Rigg). Bond goes monogamous? Not at first; after all he has Blofeld's harem to seduce. Lazenby hasn't the intensity of Connery but he has fun with his quips and even lampoons the Bond image in a playful pre-credits sequence, and Rigg, fresh from playing sexy Emma Peel in The Avengers, matches 007 in every way. Former editor Peter Hunt makes a strong directorial debut, deftly handling the elaborate action sequences--including a car chase turned road rally through the icy snow--with a kinetic finesse and a dash of humor. Though not a hit on its original release, On Her Majesty's Secret Service has become a fan favorite and the closest the series has come to capturing the spirit of Ian Fleming's books. --Sean Axmaker

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