Battle of the Bonds: GEORGE LAZENBY

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To a generation he is the most hated Bond, the failed attempt to replace Sean Connery in this prestigious role. But give Lazenby some cred.

The late Sixties were a perilous time for the franchise: after five movies Connery was done and wanted to move onto other projects. Lazenby, an Australian model and fighting instructor, came to be the next Bond. Some say it was because Bond producer Albert Broccoli met him over lunch. Another story claims Lazenby walked into Broccoli’s office sporting a Bond haircut and one of Connery’s uncollected Savile Row suits. All agree, though, that during the screen test he broke a stuntman’s nose. Lazenby had no prior acting experience, but his physical presence won him the job.

Many Bond fans would hold this against Lazenby, as well as the fact that at 29 he was (and still is) the youngest Bond actor. But those were just excuses for pre-existing vitriol: people starting hating on him even before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – his only Bond appearance – was released.

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True to his screen test, Lazenby was a much more physical Bond than Connery. But the man also had some acting talent and could carry the drama of a more sombre Bond story, in which he meets (and loses) his wife. He also displayed far more of the dry wit that Roger Moore would later make synonymous with the series, though it’s fair to say Moore totally owns that part of the franchise.

It’s hard to judge Lazenby on one film, so that also deserves some scrutiny. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was a refreshing break from the increasingly stale Connery films. It was shot in a more contemporary fashion, staged truly excessive action sequences (for some scenes a cameraman was suspended underneath a helicopter) and a surprisingly hands-on arch-villain in Telly Savalas’ Ernst Blofeld. Though Lazenby and director Peter Hunt did not get along, they forged a new direction for Bond that was entirely lost when the producers balked because of under performing box-office earnings (but the movie was still a big hit). Instead Bond’s keepers stuck to convention, which was only shaken up when Timothy Dalton arrived as Bond in the mid-Eighties and required Pierce Brosnan to really be purged.

Some wonder what may have happened if Lazenby stuck around for a second Bond. In retrospect between the tall order of replacing Connery and navigating a franchise stuck in two realities (50s machismo and 70s eccentricity), Lazenby got squeezed out. But he does not deserve the reputation as the series pariah.

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[column size=one_half position=first ]
Lazenby was even more physical than Connery and his Bond’s action scenes compare easily (in context) with Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig. He also introduced the deeper side of Bond, both in emotion and charm.[/column] [column size=one_half position=last ]
With only one film under his belt, it’s hard to say where Lazenby went wrong. His boyish looks didn’t really fit with Bond’s more angular features. While he did have a habit of being a tad flamboyant, Roger Moore did a much better job of this.[/column] [column size=one_half position=first ]
Lazenby only had one Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Once universally loathed, it has gained a reputation for being a remarkable addition to the series: it added depth, a lot of new movie-making ideas and some of the best action sequences in the Bond legacy. It was also the most emotionally-introspective Bond until Casino Royale 37 years later.[/column] [column size=one_half position=last ]
As said, Lazenby only starred in one Bond movie, so it’s also his worst. The costumes were a bit over the top and having Lazenby’s voice dubbed for half the film (as he played an alter ego) isn’t a highlight. It also has a few strange plot holes and some fans really hate that the macho Bond has a very involved love affair. [/column]
Read  Danny Boyle drops out as director of Bond 25; Christopher McQuarrie seen as the top choice to replace him

 

Last Updated: November 24, 2015

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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