Friday, September 08, 2017

"We'll Head Him Off at the Precipice"

In the interest of tying up loose ends, that brute force attack on The Sleaze I was talking about this time last week eventually subsided by Saturday evening.  Which was pretty much the timescale I'd expected - if a hacker hasn't cracked your login details with 24-36 hours, they'll just move on to the next target, in the hope that it will have less effective security and an easy to crack login.  The trouble is that even if the bastards don't succeed in hacking your site, their activities eat up your bandwidth and play havoc with your server logs.  But I don't want to waste too much time talking about these bastards - it's Friday night after a long week which saw my employer making more concerted efforts to kill me by putting me in harm's way.  But I survived to enjoy some respite - which right now means watching On Her Majesty's Secret Service again.  For many years this was a deeply unfashionable Bond movie, appearing only intermittently on TV and only available on VHS in a version missing several minutes of footage (there was an entire key scene deleted).  For a while, in fact, it was this butchered version which ITV chose to screen.

In recent years, however, it has been reappraised (the 25th Anniversary VHS edition, released in the mid nineties and featuring a complete version of the film, helped) and is now held in greater esteem.  Certainly, it is now included in its proper place during ITV's regular showings of the entire Bond series.  Personally, I've always rated it, right from the first time I saw it on its UK TV debut (when the complete version was shown) - of all the Bond movies, it is the most faithful to its source novel, it is beautifully shot and edited, features some of the best action set pieces in the series and features Diana Rigg, who doesn't just kick ass, but also drives a 1969 Mercury Cougar convertible.  But it isn't so much what is in the film which led many people to ignore it, rather than what wasn't in it.  Namely Sean Connery.  Instead, in his only appearance in the role, George Lazenby portrays James Bond, 007.  Much has been written about Lazenby's performance, but seen from a perspective of nearly fifty years, I think we can now take a more objective look at it.  Sure, he was nowhere near as good an actor as Connery, nor as charismatic as his eventual successor, Roger Moore, but he still gives a likeable performance.  His Bond isn't quite as ruthless and vicious as Connery's and his delivery of the one liner quips isn't as natural as Moore's, but he does bring a certain vulnerability to the character.  We can believe that, unlike Connery's version of the character, might genuinely fall in love with a woman and treat her as an equal rather than simply treat her as a sex object and use her.  He also doesn't seem invincible - we can believe that he might be in genuine peril when in Blofeld's lair, for instance.

As I mentioned before, the film is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the Ian Fleming novel - I was surprised when first seeing it that they even included Bond getting married ans the subsequent unhappy ending.  In many ways it feels like the definitive sixties Bond movie, packing in all the familiar elements, from car chases to ski sequences, all photographed like an art house movies and showcasing some fabulous sixties fashions and decor.  Whatever his short comings as an actor, Lazenby is superb in the action sequences, which are all impeccably choreographed.   It also features on of John Barry's best scores to keep the action moving along.  Sure, there is a huge lapse in series continuity - we're supposed to believe that Bond thinks he can infiltrate Blofeld's HQ unrecognised, despite the fact that Bond and Blofeld had met face-to-face in the previous film.  (OK, they were both played by different actors in the two films, but this glitch arises from Eon Productions' decision to film On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice out of sequence).  But it does feature my favourite ever Bond movie one liner, when, during the ski sequence, as Bond is getting away, Blofeld announces: "We'll head him off at the precipice".



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