On Her Majesty's Secret Service - starring George Lazenby, the black sheep of the 007 actors - is one of the most unique and affecting James Bond movies ever made, but it is also meandering and pretty weird. With a runtime of 142 minutes, it's longer than any James Bond film before it and includes an opening half-hour that, while exciting at times, is just a rambling, random setup to get Bond to archnemesis Blofeld. On top of all that, the film contains scene after scene of peculiar hijinks for Bond to overcome.
Were you looking for an opening scene where Bond seemingly rescues a random woman from ending her life by walking into the ocean? Did you want to see some bullfighting? How about curling? Maybe a bobsled chase? Did you want a whirlwind romance that takes place during an apparent two-week span? There's also a lengthy safe-cracking sequence in which a computer in a suitcase does all the work while Bond peruses through an issue of Playboy. All this being done by Lazenby's wooden 007 adds up to the weirdest Bond movie put to film.
The thing that sticks out about On Her Majesty's Secret Service is George Lazenby. The movie is Lazenby's only appearance as James Bond, and while he definitely can hold his own in a fight scene and certainly looks the part, he's not the most seasoned of actors.
Discovering that Lazenby didn't really have much acting experience isn't all that surprising. According to the James Bond Encyclopedia, Lazenby was one of the "highest-paid male models in Europe" at the time and had a recognizable face due to starring in a television commercial campaign for Big Fry's chocolates.
Despite his shortage of acting experience, Lazenby managed to lock down the role largely because he knocked out a stuntman during one of his screen tests.
The James Bond Encyclopedia tells the tale of a "particularly energetic" Lazenby bloodying the nose of Russian stuntman Yuri Borienko before he booked the role. Producer Harry Saltzman was so impressed by the feat that he walked over to Lazenby and told him, "We're going with you."
At the end of the opening scene - in which Bond stops a woman he's never met from walking into the ocean to end her life and eventually beats up a cadre of men who are seemingly pursuing her - Lazenby quips, "This never happened to the other fellow." Yes, the new actor portraying James Bond looks directly into the camera and acknowledges the fact that he is in a movie playing a part originated by Sean Connery.
The plot centers around Bond infiltrating a mountaintop medical clinic in the Swiss Alps where the villainous Blofeld is brainwashing an army of women with food allergies. If that isn't weird enough, the women seem to be completely fine with the clinic's unusual set of rules: no surnames, no male patients, a strict schedule, no talking about medical histories, and no entering certain rooms without permission. The list goes on.
This stretch of the film also includes one of the oddest dinner scenes in the franchise, as there are numerous cuts to each woman as she eats her entire meal in the company of Bond. The viewer is supposed to understand that these women can now eat foods they were previously allergic to, but the film really just beats everyone over the head with it.