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"This never happened to the other fella."
― James Bond — (audio)Listen (file info)[src]

Commander James Bond is a fictional Senior Operational Officer of the 'Double-O' ('00') Branch, an ultra-covert Black Ops unit within the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6). As an agent of MI6, Bond holds the cryptonym "007". The 'double-O' prefix indicates his discretionary licence to kill in the performance of his duties.

Australian actor and model George Lazenby briefly held the role from 1968 to 1969, appearing in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Even though he had been offered a contract for seven movies, Lazenby felt dissatisfied with the role and left the series after the release of the film.[1]

Biography

Shared background

Although very little of Bond's past is directly addressed in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it is assumed that his Bond continues to share the common background laid out by the Ian Fleming novels and preceding Bond films.

In the novels, James Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, from the Canton de Vaud. He acquired a first-class command of the French and German languages during his early education, which he received entirely abroad. Both parents were tragically killed during a climbing accident in the French Alps when he was eleven.

After the death of his parents, Bond goes to live with his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond, where he completes his early education. Later, he briefly attends Eton College at "12 or thereabouts", but is removed after two halves because of girl trouble with a maid. After being sent down from Eton, Bond was sent to Fettes College in Scotland, his father's school.[2]

After leaving Fettes, earlier EON films note that Bond studied at Cambridge University. [3] [4] There, he achieved a first in Oriental languages. [5] In Fleming's novels, Bond alluded to briefly attending the University of Geneva (as did Fleming), before being taught to ski in Kitzbühel. [6]Following his graduation, Bond joined the Ministry of Defence and became a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves, rising though the ranks to commander. Bond applied to M for a position within the "Secret Service", part of the Civil Service, and rose to the rank of principal officer.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Bond is driving on a country coastal road in Portugal in his Aston Martin DBS when someone rapidly blares their horn for him to let them pass. A woman driving a Mercury Cougar overtakes him and drives to a nearby beach, then tries to drown herself in the surf. When Bond rescues her and takes her back to the shore, he is attacked by two thugs, whom he is able to beat in hand-to-hand combat. When he turns his attention back to the mysterious woman, he sees her drive his car back to her own before switching vehicles and driving off. Bond, puzzled by the turn of events, returns to his car.

Later at a casino, the same woman Bond found on the beach, Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo, is gambling and places an enormous bet that she is unable to pay off. Before she can be escorted out, Bond pays the tab for her and meets with her at a table. She questions why he is constantly trying to rescue her and implies that she is seeking death. However, she invites him to her room to "repay" him. When Bond arrives, he is sucker-punched by another man, whom he fights with and throws to the floor. When he returns to his own room, Tracy is there waiting. She steals Bond's Walther PPK and threatens to kill him "for a thrill". Bond disarms her and demands to know about the man in her room; Tracy is apparently unaware of what he is talking about, promising that while she is many things, she is not a liar. Tracy leaves the hotel the next morning and when James tries to trail her, he is apprehended by several more men who take him to Tracy's father, Marc-Ange Draco, head of a powerful European crime organization which is called Union Corse. The gangster offers Bond a £1,000,000 dowry if he'll marry his troubled daughter after he tells Bond about Tracy's suicidal depression since her mother's death. Feeling that she needs therapy instead and not needing the money, Bond turns down the offer but agrees to continue courting Tracy if Draco will help him find SPECTRE's sinister leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, whom Bond has been unsuccessfully tracking for the past two years.

When he returns to MI6 in London, M tells Bond that his obsession with finding Blofeld must end, since he is being taken off Operation Bedlam. Bond gives Miss Moneypenny his resignation and begins cleaning out his office, but M accepts his apparent leave without much reaction. Moneypenny then reveals that she subverted Bond's wishes and entered a request for two weeks leave instead, allowing Bond to pursue Blofeld on his own time. Bond goes back to Portugal for a birthday party being thrown for Draco. While there, Tracy gets information out of Draco's assistant Olympe, revealing the deal her father struck with Bond; Not wanting to be used in this way, she demands her father help Bond anyway before storming off, hurt. Draco relents and tells Bond to check out a lead in Bern, Switzerland. Feeling genuinely fond of her, Bond catches up with Tracy and apologises for the deal he struck with her father before she can drive away and the pair officially begin their courtship.

After being driven to Bern, Bond infiltrates the law firm of a man named Gumbold and finds letters from Blofeld to the London College of Arms. Returning to London and meeting with an expert at the College (who shows the agent the Bond family coat-of-arms) he informs Bond that Blofeld is attempting to claim the title of the Count Balthazar de Bleuchamp of Switzerland. Bond assumes the identity of an Arms delegate, Sir Hilary Bray, to investigate further. When he reports to M with his new leads, he is given permission to take up the case once again.

Later, Bond travels back to the Switzerland posing as Bray, this time in the more alpine Bernese Oberland. Eventually arriving at Blofeld's clinic at the top of Piz Gloria, a peak accessible only by cable car or helicopter, he finds that Blofeld has taken up the identity of an epidemiologist who specializes in allergy research. Bond finds that Blofeld's guests are about 10 beautiful women from around the world, all allergy sufferers, whose illnesses are allegedly in the process of being cured. During dinner, he finds out that the patients are restricted from discussing their surnames, the clinic's staff or their room numbers by the clinic's rather strict matron, Irma Bunt. During his later meeting with the count, He requests for Blofeld to accompany him to the Augsburg cathedral to visit the Bleuchamp tombs in an attempt to lure him out of the protection of Swiss sovereignty so that he can be arrested, but Blofeld declines to take the trip at the current time due to convenience issues, though he allows Bond to continue his research at the clinic for the time being.

Upon returning to his bedroom for the night, Bond figures out a way to open the door, which is normally locked from the outside, and goes to the room of a woman named Ruby Bartlett, who wrote her room number on his leg in secret during dinner to avoid gathering suspicion. He brings her a book she wanted to see at dinner and then seduces her in order to gather information about the clinic. While they lay together a strange light and sound treatment begins over the bed and the woman appears disconnected from reality, responding to Bond's pleas for her to wake up with non-sequiturs. Blofeld's "treatment" involves cassette tapes that induce hypnotism. Bond leaves her room, returning to his own where he finds another one of the women, named Nancy, waiting. With her wanting to see the same book Bond had bought Ruby, he seduces her as well to distract her from it.

Bond meets up with Blofeld and the girls on the ice patio of the clinic, where the girls play curling bowling in their free time. Bond tries to ask for the afternoon off, but Blofeld denies him this, bringing up how much he is ostensibly getting paid for this job. During the conversation, Bond's Swiss contact, Shaun Campbell, is caught attempting to scale Piz Gloria. He argues about the entire mountain being private with Blofeld, but capitulates and is returned down the mountain after seeing that Bond is safe.

That night, Bond's cover is blown by Irma Bunt when he sneaks out of his room to visit Ruby, only to find Bunt there instead. Bond is taken to Blofeld who identified him after Bond mentioned the wrong church earlier, as the real Bray would have known the correct one. He reveals almost his entire plot to Bond, planning to hypnotise his girls into carrying a deadly virus that will systematically wipe out vital livestock and crops all around the world, ending at the human race. He does not plan to unleash this plague should his title as Count be officially recognised and should he be pardoned for all his past crimes.

Not killing him in order to convince the world's governments that he isn't bluffing, Blofeld imprisons Bond in the cold gear room of the compound's cable-car station. Bond is able to escape the room by climbing along the cable and steals a skiing uniform and skis from the ski workshop guarded by Josef the receptionist, rapidly skiing down the mountain as Blofeld and several of his men give chase, Bond causes two to crash and throws two more off a cliff.

Bond arrives in the village of Lauterbrunnen and discovers Tracy just before he can be recaptured. The two escape Bunt and several of Blofeld's henchmen in her car when they drive through a stock car race, eventually causing Bunt's car to crash and forcing the occupants to flee. Bond and Tracy find a secluded barn to hold up for the night during a blizzard; Bond proposes to Tracy and she accepts, but he does not allow her to sleep together with him, citing his new year's resolution. However, Bond uses a pitchfork to knock her loft over, causing her to fall on top of him. Mentioning that it isn't the new year yet, the two sleep together for the night.

In the morning, Tracy and Bond ski away from the barn, with Blofeld and a few of his men close behind. One henchman is shredded to pieces and killed by a patrolling snowblower as Bond and Tracy ski into a treacherous area. Blofeld causes an avalanche that they are unable to stay ahead of and are buried by. Blofeld has his men retrieve Tracy and leaves Bond for dead. Bond, having slipped their notice, wakes up and returns to London, seeking a way to rescue Tracy and stop Blofeld's plan. M refuses to launch an assault on Piz Gloria for diplomatic reasons, saying that such a plan is too risky and that they plan to fulfill Blofeld's wishes instead. Bond goes home and enlists the help of Draco, who provides helicopters disguised as Red Cross choppers and a strike team from Union Corse.

At Piz Gloria, Blofeld keeps Tracy in his company and orders or her to become his countess with the apparent penalty of death if she refuses. Just then, Bond, Draco and their men attack Piz Gloria. Bond rescues Tracy and she is forcibly flown off with her father. The Union Course deploy a bomb deep within the complex as Bond photographs the locations of the exotic women, but Blofeld attempts to kill him while he's distracted. Failing, he instead escapes through a secret exit in a pylon for the cable car, with Bond making it out mere moments before the building explodes behind him. Blofeld rolls near a shed and bolts inside, taking off down a track in a bobsled. Bond chases him in a second one, catching up and boarding Blofeld's sled after the latter attempts to kill him with a grenade. They tussle briefly until Bond is able to launch Blofeld upward to catch a forked tree branch, leaving him hanging by the neck, injured and unconscious. Bond attempts to regain control of the sled but the steering wires break, forcing him to leap over the side before it crashes out of the run and plunges down the hill. Bond removes his helmet and goggles, finding himself in a mountain village and meeting a St. Bernard dog.

A lavish wedding is thrown for Bond and Tracy in Portugal and they are married. After the reception, Bond leaves with Tracy in his Aston Martin. They travel a few miles and Bond stops to remove some of the flower chains decorating their car. Tracy reflects that Bond has given her more than a husband, she now has a future. Suddenly, a car driven by a very-much alive Blofeld (now wearing a neck brace) races by and Irma Bunt opens fire on Bond's car with an assault rifle. Bond survives the drive-by attack by ducking behind the car and recognizes Blofeld immediately and jumps back in the car with Tracy to give chase, but Tracy is dead; shot in the head by a bullet that went through the windshield. As Bond holds her, too grief-stricken to give chase, a policeman stops by after hearing the shooting. Bond, who is close to tears, tries to assure him that Tracy is not dead, that there's "no hurry" and that they "have all the time in the world" as he starts to cry.

Behind the scenes

George Lazenby's Tenure as Bond

George Lazenby in a promotional still taken for OHMSS.

In 1968, after Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, and 22-year-old actor Timothy Dalton declined the role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (OHMSS), believing himself too young for it. Producer Albert R. Broccoli first met Lazenby when getting their hair cut at the same barber.[7] He later saw him in the Big Fry commercial and felt he could be a possible Bond, calling him in for a screen test.[1]

Lazenby dressed for the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (ordered, but uncollected, by Connery).[8] Broccoli offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression.[1][9] Lazenby won the role based on a screen-test fight scene, the strength of his interviews, fight skills and audition footage while the wrestler was given the part of Grunther as compensation for the accident.[10] Director Peter Hunt later claimed:

"We wanted someone who oozed sexual assurance, and we think this fellow has that. Just wait til the women see him on screen... I am not saying he is an actor. There is a great deal of difference between an actor and a film star. Didn't they find Gary Cooper when he was an electrician?"[11]

During the production of the film, Lazenby's voice was dubbed over with George Baker's[12] in scenes in which Bond impersonated Sir Hilary Bray (Baker's character), something not traditionally done with a leading actor whose original language is English. According to an interview, Lazenby experienced difficulties on the set stemming from Peter Hunt's refusal to speak directly with him, and Hunt's brusqueness in asking Lazenby's friends to clear the set before filming.[13]

Reception

At the time of the release of OHMSS, Lazenby's performance received mixed reviews. Some felt that, while he was physically convincing, some of his costumes were inappropriate ("too loud" according to some) and that he delivered his lines poorly.[14] Others, however, have developed differing views in the decades since the film. In the 1998 book The Essential James Bond, Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrell write: "Although OHMSS was routinely dismissed by critics who cited Lazenby as a brave but disappointing successor to Connery, the intervening years have been notably kinder to both the film and its star. Indeed, due in no small part to Peter Hunt's inspired direction, OHMSS generally ranks among the top films with fans. Likewise, Lazenby has emerged as a very popular contributor to the series and has enjoyed large enthusiastic audiences during his appearances at Bond related events. In summary, OHMSS is a brilliant thriller in its own right and justifiably ranks amongst the best Bond films ever made".

In Roger Moore's commentary for a 2007 DVD release of The Man with the Golden Gun, he referenced George Lazenby as follows :

"I have a great deal of e-mail contact with George Lazenby; he's sort of on the joke circuit ... that we simply send jokes to each other. OHMSS – very well made film – Peter Hunt – excellent, excellent, excellent fight stuff, excellent snow effects ... but I think the end result for George was that it was one of the better Bonds".

In November 1969, prior to the release of the film, Lazenby announced that he no longer wished to play the role of James Bond. "They made me feel like I was mindless," he said about the film's producers. "They disregarded everything I suggested simply because I hadn't been in the film business like them for about a thousand years."[15] Although Lazenby had been offered a contract for seven movies, his agent, Ronan O'Rahilly, convinced him that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969.[1]

His co-star Diana Rigg was among many who commented on this decision:

"The role made Sean Connery a millionaire. It made Sean Connery... I truly don't know what's happening in George's mind so I can only speak of my reaction. I think its a pretty foolish move. I think if he can bear to do an apprenticeship, which everybody in this business has to do - has to do - then he should do it quietly and with humility. Everybody has to do it. There are few instant successes in the film business. And the instant successes one usually associates with somebody who is willing to learn anyway."[16]

Unofficial appearances

While On Her Majesty's Secret Service was Lazenby's only official performance as Bond, during the Eighties he made a couple of unofficial, tongue-in-cheek returns to the character in non-Bond productions. As to avoid legal issues, the identity of Lazenby's character is never directly mentioned, but both appearances contain multiple references to the EON spy.

The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.

'The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.'

In 1983, the same year which saw the 'Battle of the Bonds', Lazenby made a guest appearance in the television movie, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.; a sequel to the '60s television spy series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In it, Lazenby plays an unnamed - but easily recognizable - spy character. Whilst never outright referred to as Bond, the producers instead (not so) subtly inferred the spy's identity through his attire, vehicle and even dialogue.

Lazenby's special guest appearance began as the show's protagonist, Napoleon Solo (with a Russian ballerina in the passenger seat), was engaged in a car chase through the streets of Las Vegas, pursued by armed men. As they speed through an intersection, past his Aston Martin DB5 (complete with "JB" license plates), Lazenby's character recognizes Solo as a fellow spy and dutifully sets off in pursuit.

As with the Aston Martin DB5 in the EON movie series, the car from "The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E." is also armed with an assortment of concealed weaponry, including waterjets at the rear and rockets up front. As one pursuer's vehicle burst into flames, Lazenby - in a scene reminiscent of his "this never happened to the other fella" line from OHMSS - looked directly into the camera and quipped "Shaken, but not stirred."

A further - and blatant - nod to Lazenby's Bond occurs near the end of the scene, as Solo's passenger notices the number plates and realizes who the Aston Martin might belong to. She gets very excited and exclaims, "It's just like On Her Majesty's Secret Service!"

The Bond reference pays homage to the fact that not only was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. inspired by the Bond novels and films, but Ian Fleming himself was a consultant in its creation and is credited with coming up with the name "Napoleon Solo" for the lead character.

"Diamonds Aren't Forever"

'Diamonds aren't Forever'

Lazenby donned the white dinner jacket again in 1989, in an episode of the revived Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series, entitled Diamonds Aren't Forever.

The episode begins with Lazenby landing - complete with white dinner jacket and Union Jack parachute - at a countryside hotel, to a song entitled "My Guy's a Spy". Lazenby's character (who we are told is called James ----") is soon informed that his mission is to recover a golden egret statue and that one or more of the eccentric hotel guests is actually a Soviet spy.

Aside from his outfit and parachute, the episode is replete with Bond references. When checking into the hotel, he introduces himself in the traditional EON manner, but to avoid legal problems the surname gets drowned out by clattering and offscreen noise. At one point, James orders a martini from the bartender and specifies that it should not be stirred. He also repeats two Connery quips - "Shocking" and "He got the point."

Gallery

James Bond (George Lazenby)/Gallery

Trivia

  • In the pre-title sequence of OHMSS, Lazenby comments: "This never happened to the other fellow", an in-joke referring to his predecessor Sean Connery, which has been interpreted by some film critics as breaking the fourth wall.[17] The line has also been used by internet theorists to suggest that "James Bond" is a codename used by different people rather than the name of one single man.
  • In the animated series Batman Beyond, Lazenby voices the villainous King of the Royal Flush Gang. This role includes a few references to his outing as Bond, including him saying the line "We have all the time in the world" and at one point asking Batman if he knows what it's like living in someone's shadow, referencing him being the first non-Connery Bond.
  • Although Eon Productions attempted on several occasions to cast Americans as Bond (most notably signing John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever before the services of Sean Connery were obtained[18]) Lazenby remains the only actor from outside the British Isles to portray Bond in a Bond feature film.
  • Lazenby is the only Bond actor to neither star in a James Bond video game nor have his likeness used in one.

See also

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Inside On Her Majesty's Secret Service [DVD]. OHMSS Ultimate Edition DVD: MGM Home Entertainment Inc..
  2. (2004) You Only Live Twice. Kent, England: Penguin Books, pp.200-202. ISBN 978-0-1411-8754-9. 
  3. (1967). You Only Live Twice [Motion Picture]. United Artists.
  4. (1977). The Spy Who Loved Me [Motion Picture]. United Artists.
  5. (1967). You Only Live Twice [Motion Picture]. United Artists.
  6. (2006) Octopussy and The Living Daylights. Kent, England: Penguin Books, p.35. ISBN 978-0-1411-8874-4. 
  7. Terry Coleman, '007 Mk2', The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 08 Oct 1968: 5
  8. De 'vergeten' 007. Andere Tijden, VPRO, Nederland 2 20:25–21:25.
  9. "Happy 69th Birthday, George Lazenby!" commanderbond.net; September 5, 2008. Commanderbond.net. Retrieved on 12 October 2010.
  10. George Lazenby. MI6-HQ.com (5 September 1939). Retrieved on 25 October 2010.
  11. 'Australian Non-Actor Chosen to Play James Bond', The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 09 Oct 1968: D14.
  12. Copyright 1998–2010. Information on ''Her Majesty's Secret Service'' at. MI6-HQ.com. Retrieved on 12 October 2010.
  13. Interview in Bondage, magazine of the James Bond 007 Fan Club
  14. Lipp 159
  15. 'Latest 007 Seeking to End His Bondage', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 Nov 1969: 2.
  16. Gene Siskel, 'The Movies: What's New, Diana?', Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 03 Dec 1969: c10
  17. Lipp 161
  18. Inside Diamonds Are Forever: Diamonds Are Forever Ultimate Edition, Disc 2 (NTSC, Widescreen, Closed-captioned) [DVD]. MGM/UA Home Video. Retrieved on 24 December 2007. ASIN: B000LY2L1Q.

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