Film Fridays is a project initiated by Sarah and I. See previous posts for a longer preamble!
We would be delighted if you would join us! We don’t necessarily want to talk about the nerdy technical details but more about why these films speak to us as individuals, why they have a place in out hearts, and any personal memories they evoke.
The Trailer on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOLq5Rg9N-c
This was on my original list, being my favourite Bond movie, but I was not going to post this week as I’ve not been well. However, the death of Dame Diana Rigg yesterday could not go without a mention so here we go.
James Bond rescues a young woman, Tracy, (played by Diana Rigg) from a suicide attempt, and in doing so draws the attention and gratitude of her Mafioso father, Draco, who offers to pay Bond to court his daughter in order to help her overcome her troubled past. Bond refuses the money but agrees to see Tracy provided Draco can find the location of Bonds arch enemy Blofeld who has been in hiding since the events of the previous movie. Blofeld is located in a mountain top hideout in Switzerland, where he is brainwashing young women into helping him spread a biological weapon around the world. Bond goes in undercover as a genealogist, but once Bond’s cover is blown he escapes on ski’s and reunites with Tracy just before she is kidnapped by Blofeld. MI6 refuse to help and forbid Bond to intervene, so he goes to Tracy’s father who sends in his own team to rescue Tracy and destroy the facility. Bond and Tracy marry, but not for long….
This Bond film is remarkable in many respects. Though reviews at the time were mixed it is now regarded as one of the best Bond movies. Christopher Nolan has cited the cinematography as an influence on his own movies.
This movie was a deliberate attempt to go back to basics after the rather overblown ‘You Only Live Twice’. The result is the Bond movie that is most faithful to the Ian Fleming source novel, and would remain so until ‘Casino Royale’ in 2006. It is also my favourite of Fleming’s novels, so to see a faithful adaptation is a treat. Even the unusually sad ending remains in place.
This is an amazing looking movie, beautifully shot and with fabulously choreographed action sequences – Bond’s escape on ski’s being a highlight.
Much has been written about the casting of Australian model George Lazenby as Bond, replacing Sean Connery. His performance is not a highlight of the film and it does make one wonder what it could have been like had Connery stuck around. It did not help him that he was acting opposite the strongest leading lady in Bond movie history – Diana Rigg, whose performance outclasses everyone else in the film. The stories about their clashes on set are largely untrue or exaggerated. It was to be Lazenby’s only Bond movie (a decision he made during production), necessitating a reluctant Connery returning for the next in the series.
I have often wondered over the years what the producers of the TV series ‘The Avengers’ must have felt toward the Bond movies by this stage. In 1964 they lost their leading lady, Honor Blackman, to Bond when she left to play Pussy Galore in ‘Goldfinger’. This was jokily referenced in the following season when leading man Steed receives a Christmas card and wonders what Mrs Gale was doing in Fort Knox. Her successor was none other than Diana Rigg, who then also left the series when the Bond offer came, but did stick around to film a goodbye episode. Interestingly, OHMSS features an early appearance from Joanna Lumley, who later reversed the above trend by appearing as leading lady Purdey in the revived ‘New Avengers’ in the mid 70s.
OHMSS also has probably the finest musical score of the series. It does eschew the big opening song, instead showing a montage of scenes from the earlier movies to a wonderful entirely musical theme tune composed by John Barry. This theme occurs throughout the movie too, as incidental music. Barry, with Bacharach and David, also composed the song ‘We Have All the Time in the World’ to soundtrack the courtship between Bond and Tracy. This was beautifully sung by Louis Armstrong, poignantly very near the end of his own life.
Blofeld is played on this occasion by Telly Savalas, who plays the character rather well and not as over-the-top as Donald Pleasance had done. The Blofeld stories in Fleming’s novels are filmed out of sequence, which results in Blofeld mystifyingly failing to recognise the undercover Bond despite their face off in the previous movie!
Ultimately though, I wanted to pay tribute to Diana Rigg. It is her performance in this movie that makes her by far the best of the ‘Bond Girls’. I was lucky enough to first see this movie at around the same time I saw her Avengers episodes, which are my favourite of that series too – her rather arch and very independent character was very refreshing for the time.