A new Bond?
James Bond: I hope I can live up to your high standards.
For the sixth official film, directed by Peter R. Hunt and released in 1969, Sean Connery having retired, a new Bond had to be found. They found George Lazenby, an Australian male model with next to no acting experience. Fans are still divided, if he was a worthy replacement for Connery, but most agree, that his portrayal of Bond changed the angle on the character. I rather enjoyed his performance personally. The movie itself is one of the best Bond's ever, with nice action sequences, an entertaining plot, and a less than perfect (i.ew. more human) Bond. The villain is once again Ernst Stavro Blofeld, this time ingeniously played by Telly Savallas, one of the best Blofelds ever.
The teaser is allegorical for the search for the new Bond, and some of the changes introduced by changing the lead: Q is demonstrating the finer points of "radioactive lint" to M. M mentions that they need to find Bond. The scene then cuts to a silver Aston Martin driving along a seaside highway, but the driver is shown only in shadow. He's passed by a woman in red sports car that he later finds parked on the side of the road, its driver walking into the sea. He races to the water's edge, revealing for the first time George Lazenby's face, and retrieves the woman from the water, announcing, "My name's Bond. James Bond." A gun appears at his head and Bond fights with three men who have appeared behind him. The woman steals Bond's car from the beach and flees the scene. Bond defeats his assailants, looks after the woman and then says towards the camera:
This never happened to the other fellow...
The woman he rescued in the teaser is revealed to be Comtess Tracy Draco
, daughter of the head of a powerful crime syndicate
, Marc-Ange Draco. Thankful and impressed by Bond he offers him $ 1 Million to protect and marry his daughter. In exchange he offers Bond information which will lead 007 to his arch enemy Blofeld
. At first Bond agrees to the deal purely to fulfil his objective to kill Blofeld only to fall in love with Tracy.
The British learn that Blofeld plans to destroy mankind with a deadly virus, and so 007 is torn between his loyalty to his county and his intent to marry Tracy. He decides to continue his mission to track down Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and follows the trail to a remote alpine institute in Switzerland. Posing as genealogist Sir Hillary Bray, Bond gains entrance to the institute, but is recognized. Blofeld reveals his true plot (like all great criminals do when they think they have the hero in their power), which is to hold the world to ransom with a virus inflicting male sterility to be released by the hypnotised girls he is experimenting on.
But Bond effects another daring escape to a nearby village, meets Tracy there, and, following a car chase, they reach a barn where Bond proposes to her. Blofeld's men set off an avalanche which hits Bond, believe him to be dead, and capture Tracy. Meanwhile, Bond returns to London where the UN is planning to give in to Blofeld's demands of full pardon for all previous crimes and recognition of his noble title. Bond and Marc-Ange choose to assault the base to rescue Tracy, destroying the base in the process. Finally, Bond pursues Blofeld down his bobsleigh escape track, where Blofeld breaks his neck when hitting a tree.
Bond marries Tracy and they set off for their honeymoon, but as they stop in a layby Bunt shoots Tracy from a car driven by the bandaged Blofeld. And so the movie ends on a sadder note than usual. Bond has won, but at the same time lost the thing most important to him. This love will lead to a more cynical and maybe darker Bond in the next few films.
Bond: We have all the time in the world.
The girls: Tracy (Diana Rigg of Avengers fame) is beautiful and believable as the Contessa, with whom our James falls in love with and marries. Rigg displays a full range of acting and beauty to make her one of the most memorable of Bond Girls. Well, she'd better be to capture this man's heart... And let us not forget the girls at Blofelds alpine domicile, more beautiful than many a Bond Girl.
The Bottom Line: While it is often claimed that this film flopped at the box office, which it did compared to other Bonds, it still made a nice profit: On a budget of $9 million it grossed $80 million worldwide. In fact, Lazenby was offered a seven-year contract as James Bond, but he turned it down, which he later claimed tro have been the greatest mistake of his life. Lazenby was a good Bond, and added something three-dimensional to the character. And he was way better than Connery in You only live twice and Diamonds are forever.
To finish up and complete the writeup, here is a nice link to all things Bond:
Previous Bond: You only live twice, James Bond will return in: Diamonds are forever