This never happened to the other fella
With that line, the first movie in the Bond franchise not to star Sean Connery kicks off in a confident and assured style, full of panache and strong enough in its own success now to be able to break the fourth wall and offer a knowing wink to the audience. George Lazenby was the man who had been chosen to embody the world’s most popular spy and he had some big shoes to fill.
Unfortunately, and through no real fault of his own, he stumbled in them.
The trouble with Lazenby isn’t really in his acting, he delivers the lines well enough and manages to not bump into the stuntmen but he simply does not ooze the charm and charisma that Connery and later Roger Moore had hardwired into their DNA. Diana Rigg, in a role not a million miles from her defining part in The Avengers, has it in spades and dominates every scene that they are in together unfortunately fatally undermining the new Bond’s impact. Alas, the same is true for Telly Savalas as Blofeld, what he lacks in hair, he makes up for in force of personality. His Blofeld is a far cry from the scarred coldness of Donald Pleasance’s interpretation, he strolls around his alpine hotel surrounded by beautiful women exuding a quiet confident “alpha male” power.
Lazenby’s portrayal improves, paradoxically when he is voiced by George Baker a charismatic actor in his own right. Baker played Sir Hilary Bray, who’s identity is adopted by the spy to infiltrate Blofeld’s stronghold. Apparently after shooting was completed, director Peter Hunt decided that the Australian Lazenby’s impression of Baker was unusable so asked the actor, also his neighbour, to revoice the relevant sections.
Despite the “Lazenby stumble” (surely to become a dance craze) OHMSS is a great Bond film, one of the better entries in the canon. The plot is tight and enthralling, the setpieces more magnificent than ever and the Piz Gloria location as stunning as Blofeld’s bevy of beauties (including a young Joanna Lumley). It’s enlivened by the unusual relationship between Bond and Rigg’s character, Tracy. For once, Bond isn’t making out with every woman who crosses his path, this time he falls for Tracy big time and the film culminates in them getting married. Bond, married! Imagine that happening to Daniel Craig.
Then, in perhaps the most bittersweet moment of the entire franchise, Tracy is shot as the newlyweds head off on honeymoon. Lazenby, in his last few minutes as the character comes into his own sensitively portraying a heartbroken man rather than infallible secret agent who takes solace by imagining that he and his love have “all the time in the world”. Bond was never before or again this tender. Connery returned for the following film after Lazenby, unbelievably, resigned on the advice of his agent (Worst. Agent. Ever.) and became a footnote in Bond history.