This Never Happened to the Other Fellow

George Lazenby as Bond, keeping an eye out for SMERSH agents

George Lazenby as Bond, keeping an eye out for SMERSH agents

Steven Soderbergh discusses On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and has this to say about George Lazenby in his only outing as James Bond:

So what’s wrong with [OHMSS]? George Lazenby, but not for the reasons you might think. I actually like him—a lot—and think he could have made a terrific Bond had he continued (…) It feels like everyone was so focused on what he wasn’t (Sean Connery) that they didn’t take the time to figure out what he was (a cool-looking dude with genuine presence and great physicality).

Amen. Before I’d seen a single Bond movie, I’d already read all the Ian Fleming novels I could get my hands on. What struck me about OHMSS, when I finally got around to seeing it, was that although Lazenby is not the actor Connery (or even Moore) is, his portrayal of Bond in OHMSS was definitely closest to the image of James Bond I had acquired from the books. Fleming’s Bond does not waste time throwing glib one-liners around; he is an efficient killing machine, doing his job for Queen and the country, even if that occasionally entails donning a tux, chugging vodka martinis, and playing chemin-de-fer. (The reboot of the franchise has Bond playing Texas hold’em – something the Bond of yore would never have done.)

The allure of the Bond franchise, along with so many other similar franchises (Star Trek and Star Wars, to name but two) is based on promise: there’s always hope that even though the installment that just came out sucked gallstones through a catheter, the next one may be the one that will finally fulfill all our collective dreams and be everything for everyone. Just like with some other fairytales, that day will never come, but we still keep on hoping – and watching the movies. Here’s hoping the keepers of the Bond faith come across another George Lazenby, and this time get it right.

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