Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Main image of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
35mm, colour, Panavision, 140 mins
DirectorPeter Hunt
Production CompaniesDanjaq LLC
 Eon Productions
ProducersHarry Saltzman
 Albert R. Broccoli
ScreenplayRichard Maibaum
Original novelIan Fleming
PhotographyMichael Reed
Music John Barry

Cast: George Lazenby (James Bond); Diana Rigg (Tracy Draco); Telly Savalas (Ernst Stavros Blofelt); Gabriele Ferzetti (Marc Ange Draco); Ilse Steppat (Irma Bunt); Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny); George Baker (Sir Hilary Bray)

Show full cast and credits

James Bond traces the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld to Switzerland, and while dodging his henchmen on skis he falls in love with the beautiful Tracy.

Show full synopsis

One of the most impressive Bond films, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (d. Peter Hunt, 1969) is very faithful to the original Ian Fleming novel. Long hailed by Bond fans as a triumph, the film has been underrated by critics and audiences because of the casting of George Lazenby as Bond. Sean Connery's unwillingness to play Bond for a sixth time led to a lengthy search and Lazenby was chosen despite his lack of acting experience. His portrayal is generally regarded as disastrously unconvincing and, despite being offered Diamonds Are Forever (d. Guy Hamilton, 1971), he did not repeat the role.

Lazenby is the film's major flaw, but is hardly as bad as his reputation suggests. Although his delivery of dialogue is somewhat wooden, he handles the fight scenes well and makes a good showing in the difficult final scene, which requires him to underplay a key emotional moment in the life of the character. His Bond is an interesting combination of the early misogynist Bond, slapping women and bedding them without consequence, and the later self-consciously ridiculous action hero.

Perhaps to compensate for Lazenby's inexperience, the rest of the casting is unusually strong. Diana Rigg, fresh from The Avengers (ITV, 1961-69), is a tough, personable heroine, matching Bond blow for blow and quip for quip, and Telly Savalas has fun as the charmingly villainous Blofeld. Veteran Gabriele Ferzetti is stylish and sympathetic as Draco, while Ilse Steppat's Irma Bund is a ruthless villainess to rival Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love (d. Terence Young, 1963).

This was Peter Hunt's directoral debut, following editing duties on four previous Bond films, and it remains his best film. He gives time and space for the actors to make the most of an unusually literate script by Richard Maibaum and Simon Raven, and paces the film with cunning. The narrative seems slow to get going, but Hunt expertly puts the plot in place during the first hour, then erupts with some of the best action set-pieces ever seen in the genre.

The ski chases are edited for speed and streamlined beauty by John Glen, and Michael Reed's cinematography brings endless variations in lighting to the snow-encrusted Swiss landscapes. The car chases are equally exciting and the final bobsleigh chase is fast and brutal without seeming overblown. The elegance of the second unit work here was often imitated in later Bond films, but never equalled.

Mike Sutton

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Binder, Maurice (1925-1991)
Broccoli, Albert R. (1909-1996)
Lamont, Peter (1929-)
Lee, Bernard (1908-1981)
Llewelyn, Desmond (1914-1999)
Lumley, Joanna (1946-)
Rigg, Diana (1938-)
James Bond