The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
Being hunted down by MI6James Bond (George Lazenby) is taking a joy ride in Madrid when he comes across Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) attempting to commit suicide in the ocean. After he runs in and saves her from the water three hit men attempt to take her and kill Bond. After a struggle Tracy makes a run for it leaving Bond on the beach unsure of what is going on.
After checking into his hotel Bond visits the casino room and runs into Tracy once again. After loosing to Bond Tracy reveals that she has no money to loose. Bond gives her the money and gets an invintation to her room later. When entering the room Bond is met by an assassin. After disposing of the assassin he returns to his own room he finds Tracy waiting for him.
Gabriele Ferzetti as Marc Ange Draco
The next day Tracy is gone and Bond is greeted by several henchmen in the hotel lobby. They drive Bond to the secret office of Marc Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) who is the father to Tracy. Although Draco is the head of a criminal organization and yet is still a legitimate business man Bond takes Draco’s offer to court his only child in exchange for information about the location of Ernst Blofeld (Telly Savalas).
Returning to London M (Bernard Lee) takes Bond off the case to find Blofeld. Upset about being taken off the case Bond attempts to resign but is instead given two weeks leave. On leave Bond meets back up with Draco and Tracy. Realizing what her father is trying to do Tracy is resistant to Bond’s advances. At lunch Tracy demands that her father reveal all the information he had promised Bond or she would disappear forever. With no other choice Draco tells Bond there is a lawyer named Gumbold (James Bree) that it connected to Blofeld in Switzerland. With the information he needs Bond still attempts to court Tracy. After an unknown period of time Bond and Tracy fall in love.
Bond's Coat of Arms
With Draco and Tracy Bond travels to Switzerland and hacks into Gumbold’s safe and copies all of his files. There he discovers that is a Count Bleuchamp attempting to get his knighthood confirmed by the colleges of London. Bond is suspicious since Bleuchamp is the french version of Blofeld. Returnig to London Bond asks M to put him undercover as the genealogist that is to be sent to Bleuchamp’s home to confirm the right to knighthood. At the university Bond discovers his family crest and motto (The World is not Enough) and talks with the genealogist Hilary Bray (George Baker) who tells Bond that the line that Bleuchamp is claiming to be from has square ear lobes.
Under the guise of the genealogist Bond travels back to Switzerland where he is picked up by Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat) and watched over by another MI6 agent. Taken to Bleucamp’s private home and research center in the mountains of Switzerland. After checking his room, which is locked while he is in it, for bugs Bond joins the rest of the guest who are female and there to be cured of allergies. At dinner Ruby Bartlett (Angela Scoular) writes her room number in lipstick on Bond’s leg.
Bond with Ruby undergoing her treatment
Before dinner is finished Bond is taken to Bleucamp’s laboratory to talk with the Count about his genealogy. After Bleucamp tells Bond that he is sure that he is of the Bleucamp line Bond is sent to his room. Locked in Bond devices a way to unseal the door and makes his way to Ruby Bartlett’s room. Once there, and after sex, Bond witness some of the treatment the girls undergo for their allergies. A recorded voice and flashing lights seem more like brainwashing then a cure.
Back at the resort the MI6 agent that came with Bond tries to get to the private home in a traditional way and is rejected. Instead he tries mountain but is caught by Bleucamp’s personal guard and is taken away as Bond and girls play curling.
Bond making his escape
After trying to meet up with Ruby again Bond is knocked out by Bunt and brought to Bleucamp’s office who reveals himself as Enrst Blofeld and that he killed Bond’s MI6 shadow. Blofeld tells Bond that he will release a bacteria that will create complete infertility unless his demands are met. He also explains that he girls are the way he will spread the bacteria across the globe. Not wishing to reveal more Blofeld locks Bond in the trolling car gear room. As Bond escapes on the cableing the girls are given Christmas presents that contain within them the evil bacteria and a small radio device that is able to activate the brainwashing that had been programed into them.
Making it back into the complex Bond tries to stop the girls from leaving but is too late. Grabbing some ski’s Bond attempts to make it down the hill before the girls do but is chased by Blofeld and his men. Making it to the bottom of the mountian Bond just misses the girls and is continued to be hunted by Blofelds men. Bond hides in a skating rink where he runs into Tracy who helps him escape with her car. During the chase she reveals that it was her father that told her where Bond was so she decided to hang around just in case.
Tracy and Bond together
Under the cover of a blizzard Tracy and Bond hide in a barn for the night. That night Bond tells Tracy that he is giving up the spy life and wants to marry her to which she agrees.
The next day Blofeld and his men find the barn empty. Bond and Tracy set off their escape down another mountain with Blofeld right on their heels. Activating an avalanche Blofeld is able to split up Tracy and Bond and takes her as a hostage. Back in London Bond and M wait for instructions while the government decides whether or not to give Blofeld the money he demands and the redemption of all his past crimes. Bond suggests that attacking Blofelds Switzerland home and shutting down transmitter the girls that carry the bacteria would never receive any orders to release the bacteria.
Sliding Battle Bond!
On his own Bond calls up Draco who summons an army to attack Blofeld and save Tracy. While waiting for his demands to be met Blofeld tries to convince Tracy to join him even though she continues to refuse. Bond, Draco, and his army successfully land at Blofelds home and save Tracy while blowing up Blofelds lab and the entire building.
Blofeld escapes in a bobsled with Bond right behind him. Eventually Bond and his nemesis fight on the bobsled leaving Blofeld hanging in a tree while Bond continues down the route.
In Madrid Bond and Tracy get married. While driving to their honeymoon Bond pulls over to remove the flower arrangement from the car. As he does Bunt and Blofeld, alive, drive by shooting at Tracy and Bond. Bond comes out unhurt however Tracy is shot in the head leaving a mourning James Bond.
Having edited the first four Bond films and second unit director on You Only Live Twice Peter Hunt talked his way into directing the sixth James Bond film. First his work on the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had to be finished and while on set Hunt worked out the script details with Richard Maibaum. Hunts biggest inspiration for working on the Bond films is Terence Young who directed many of the early Bond films. Feeling the gadgets were overtaking the films Hunt returns to the source material and makes the script more about the character than anything else. The idea was to make On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as realistic as possible dropping the massive sets and studio lighting seen in previous entries.
Peter Hunt: Director
The biggest problem the studio faced for the film was casting of the new James Bond. During shooting on You Only Live Twice Sean Connery announced that he was retiring from the Bond films. Efforts were made to keep him around but in the end the producers were left looking for a replacement. Hundreds of men were auditioned as well as many conversations between the director and producers were had discussing what the new James Bond should be like. Some canidates included Jeremy Brett, John Richardson , Hans de Vries, Robert Campbell, Anthony Rogers, Roger Moore, and even Timothy Dalton who said he was too young to play Bond. In the end the came to the simple conclusion that they needed another Sean Connery to help the series survive.
While watching commercials Peter Hunt saw twenty eight year old model George Lazenby who was once a used car salesman in Australia. Getting the call form his agent Lazenby goes out and gets a tailored suit from the same company that Connery had been getting his suits and got his hair cut to mimic Connery’s. While getting his haircut producer Broccoli was also making a visit to the barber and even stated at the time that Lazenby would make a good James Bond for he looked like a successful business man.
At Eon Productions Lazenby sneaked past the front office and made his way to Saltzman’s office and offered himself for the role of James Bond. Getting the role Lazenby told director Peter Hunt that he wasn’t an actor. Hunt was mildly concerned that Lazenby was not an actor and did several tests with him as well as hiring a voice coach to rid Lazenby of his Australian accent. With the female lead already cast with Diana Rigg the actress approved of Lazenby after a dinner together but this still didn’t completely convince Broccoli and Satlzman that they had their man and auditions continued for the new James Bond. Within two weeks of shooting Peter Hunt arranges a action scene with George Leech to convince the producers that Lazenby was their man. During the action scene Lazenby forgets to pull his punch and punches a stuntman straight in the nose. With the mishap Satlzman agrees to make George Lazenby the new James Bond.
George Baker was a neighbors of Peter Hunt who asked him if he would like to play the part of Sir Hilary Bray in the film. Baker agreed and Lazenby tried his best to imitate Bray’s accent for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Unknown to Lazenby Hunt took Bray’s voice and redubbed all of Lazenby’s lines of which Lazenby didn’t realize until the premiere of the film.
The Alpine retreat in Switzerland
With the rest of the cast ready to go, shooting On Her Majesty’s Secret Service started on October the 21st 1968 at the Alpine retreat that was doubling for Blofeld’s personal home. The finding of Blofeld’s winter retreat proved easy to find but difficult to convert for a film shoot. The production team had to install a massive generator and a complete working heli pad. Even on the first day of shooting Lazenby had no worries about being Bond and was fairly relaxed for his first scene. Stuck on the mountain much of the cast and crew grew very bored. Many of the women on set took up crochet while the men played poker.
The stunt that has Bond dangling from a cable car wire was particularly dangerous. Stuntman Richard Graydon rigged up two hooks that would connect to his safety belt so that he could hide the hooks in his hands giving the effect that he was only hanging onto the cable with his bare hands. During the stunt however ice had accumulated on the cable causing Graydon to slide down with no ability to stop. Fortunately there were safety men at the first pylon that held the cable that were able to save Graydon.
In November Broccoli visits the location and realizes that the atmosphere so high up made it very difficult to work. His wife suggests a party for the entire cast and crew to raise spirits. At the party Lazenby was initially not to be found but eventually showed up and ushered in by Broccoli’s wife. Upset Lazenby said that he didn’t receive an invitation and since he was the star he deserved some respect. Broccoli quickly put Lazenby in his place saying that he was not a star because he simple said so. He would be star only if the public said so that hadn’t happened yet. Other problems that the producers had with Lazenby was that he would disappear at times to go skiing putting the entire production in danger if he were to get hurt.
The second unit was directed by John Glen who filmed much of the skiing scenes. With John Glen was Willy Bogner a top of the line skiing cameraman and Olympian. Johnny Jordon also returns from filming You Only Live Twice to shoot many of the aerial shots of the skiing scene. On On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Jordon used a special harness that actually dangled him from a helicopter allowing him to get a shot from any angle and remove himself enough from the helicopter so that the blades wouldn’t kick up any snow.
Johnny Jordan's camera rig
In December the assualt on the Alpine mansion was shot with several dozen stuntmen. Lazenby tried his best to film much of his own stunts including jumping out of a helicopter.
Finally in late December the production team returns to Pinewood to shoot many of the interiors while the second unit begins shooting the bobsled chase. The particular course they were using several bobsledders had died and the course was being retired. Before it completely melted the crew took over. Although there were no injuries there were several close calls.
On March 25th on Pinewood studio’s Peter Hunt films the scene in which James Bond proposes marriage. In the first draft the script it was Diana Rigg’s character that was to propose to Bond but Hunt never liked the idea and had it changed to Bond instead.
The press tore Lazenby apart
While shooting the press continually hounds Lazenby constantly comparing him to Sean Connery and painting him as a trouble maker. Anything that happened the press blew out of proportion especially the relationship with Lazenby and Diana Rigg. While eating lunch Rigg told Lazenby that she was eating garlic, jokingly, before their love scene. The press ran with it stating that the two leads were not getting along.
At the end of April the wedding scene took of a porteguse estate with several hundred extras and millions of flowers. Between shoots Lazenby was riding one of the prize horses and accidentally knocked Bernard Lee (M) into a bunch of roses cutting his badly. Shooting the death scene of Tracy Di Vicenzo Lazenby cried during the first take but was told by Peter Hunt not to cry for the second take which was eventually used in the film. Hunt shot the wedding the death scenes in such a way that it could be easily cut. The idea was to go to credits after the wedding and then open the second film with them driving to their honeymoon and Tracy being killed.
Reception and Backlash
For years the advertising for all the Bond films was that Sean Connery was James Bond but with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service it was down played that a new actor had taken the role. At the time the film was being advertised Lazenby’s advisor Rowan O’Rielly told the press that the film would be Lazneby’s last. When the press went to Satlzman about the news he stated it was the last he heard of it which was taken by the press that Saltzman had fired Lazenby.
Lazenby didn’t seem to care since he felt that the franchise would die amidst films like Easy Rider. He later on regrets not having done two films. Even though the film made it’s money back it didn’t do as well as any of the previous entries. David Picker, the head of United Artists at the time, decided that Lazenby would take the fall for the under performing film and fired the actor.
Controversy over On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Although there is some critical praise given to the film by not only critics but by much of the cast and crew of the film, including Albert R. Broccoli, there is a contingent of Bond fans that widely consider On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to be the worst of the Bond films. Many fans however have never seen the actual film yet continue to criticize it.