On Her Majesty's Secret Service
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while James Bond is his usual ladies' man type here, he also masquerades as homosexual -- or, as the euphemistic dialogue puts it, he "doesn't like girls." Despite the comedic moments inherent in this premise, Bond still beds several women (and actually marries one!). Then the movie whipsaws around, ending on a particularly shocking note with the assassination of a sympathetic character. The violence includes a particularly don't-try-this-at-home-or-anywhere-else fight on back of a speeding bobsled. The heroine tries to commit suicide in photogenic fashion by drowning.
What's the story?
After saving beautiful, troubled young contessa Tracy (Diana Rigg) from killing herself, James Bond (George Lazenby) is attacked by thugs. Tracy is the troubled daughter of a Corsican mobster, who ends up deciding that Bond would be the perfect husband for his daughter, and he offers Bond a fortune to marry her. Bond refuses the offer (at first) but agrees to steady dating -- especially when Daddy's underworld connections can lead Bond to the leader of the SPECTRE criminal group, Ernst Blofeld (Telly Savalas). From his mountaintop lair in the Swiss Alps, Blofeld runs a secret lab brewing nasty chemicals and diseases to unleash on the world via pretty, hypnotized girls. Bond infiltrates Blofeld's stronghold twice, first posing as an effeminate genealogist hired to prove Blofeld's claim that he has royal blood. When Blofeld figures out 007's true identity, the stuntwork really starts. The villain holds Tracy hostage, and Bond assaults the mountaintop again, this time bringing with him a whole legion of his would-be father in-law's soldiers, along with bombs and guns.
Is it any good?
Though it's on the long and talky side for kids -- until the action begins, and then it's fast and furious -- ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE marks the sole starring appearance of Australian-born George Lazenby in the role of 007. It also confronts Bond, somewhat belatedly, with a peril he'd never faced before: getting married. Alas, neither had a happy outcome.
The movie is a pretty bumpy but enjoyable roller-coaster of comedy, thrills, and ultimate tragedy, with the unaccustomed sight of a weeping Bond. Supposedly this film explored the "character" of James Bond as none had before, even down to his family crest and motto ("The World Is Not Enough"), though it's hardly Oscar-grade material -- the suave secret agent who cracks silly jokes and seduces lovely ladies is still a pretty cartoony figure.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the peculiar notion of James Bond getting married and settling down. This movie's cruel conclusion at least provides a clue to why 007 (or Indiana Jones, or Batman, or Lara Croft, or any action hero or heroine) never stays permanently with a love interest in the end. Parents might talk about the way moviemakers, novelists, and other pop storytellers ensure that their action idols stay single. Is there an unfair little message in there, that life's worthwhile adventures come to an end with monogamy, marriage, and child responsibilities? You might try to cite movies (most done only in recent years) that dare to suggest otherwise.