October 13, 2006

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the end

(Wikipedia movie plot summary): Bond escapes by ski from Piz Gloria (Blofeld's secret lair) and encounters Tracy, who helps him escape SPECTRE pursuers in a frantic car chase.
A blizzard forces them to a remote barn, where Bond declares his love for Tracy and proposes marriage to her; she accepts.
Next morning they ski away, but Blofeld has tracked them down. Blofeld creates an avalanche, deliberately sacrificing some of his own men, to shorten his pursuit of the pair; he succeeds in incapacitating Bond and capturing Tracy.

Bond contacts Draco at Draco Construction to arrange a "demolition job" of Piz Gloria. Bond joins Draco and his Union Corse henchmen in a mercenary helicopter assault on Piz Gloria, in hopes of destroying the facility and rescuing Tracy.

The raid is successful, and Bond and Blofeld are the last to escape before the institute is detonated by Draco's assault team. The pair engage in a furious bobsled chase down Piz Gloria, with Bond leaping onto Blofeld's bobsled after he destroys Bond's bobsled with a hand grenade.

In the fistfight aboard the bobsled, a distracted Blofeld is snared by the neck in low overhanging tree branches, ripping him out of the bobsled and apparently killing him. Bond loses control of the bobsled, which flies out of the run, but Bond survives unscathed.
Upon returning to foggy London town, 007 has a new mission:

Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal, with Draco's men and M, Q and a tearful Miss Moneypenny present.

Q: Look, James, I know that we haven't always exactly seen...Well, anyway, don't forget, if there's anything you ever need...
Bond: Thank you, Q, but this time I've got the gadgets, and I know how to use them.

This is a really great moment between Bond and Moneypenny (I can't think of another Bond film in which the "stock characters" are so fully fleshed out):
They drive away in the Aston Martin, pulling over to the roadside a few kilometres later.
Bond: You know, I haven't given you a wedding present yet.
Tracy: I had an idea about that - three girls, three boys. Pleased?
Bond: Hmmm, not bad for a start. But darling, now we have all the time in the world.

Bond removes the wedding flower decorations, and the couple exchange professions of love.

Suddenly a black Mercedes sedan approaches:
Blofeld, in a neck brace, is driving, and Irma Bunt, his passenger, fires at the newlyweds with a machine gun.

Bond is not hit, but Tracy is, in the forehead.

Moments later, a motorcycle policeman finds the grieving groom cradling his dead wife. Fingering her wedding band, Bond turns and explains that she's tired and is just sleeping: "We have all the time in the world".

And this, my friends, is how On Her Majesty's Secret Service ends. Can you imagine being in one of the first audiences to see this film as they left the theater? What a bummer it would have been. But 1969 was that kind of a year. The Rolling Stones' Altamont nightmare occured in '69, the "Helter Skelter" murders occured in '69, The Beatles broke up (okay, so it was officially April 1970, a mere four months later) , etc. - so I'd argue that this was the right Bond film for the time.

As the "Swingin' '60s" ground to a halt, it makes perfect sense the last Bond film of the decade would end on such a somber, and brutally final note. And I would also argue it was the nature of the film's ending, and not George Lazenby, which made it the least successful of the bunch.

Nothing could salvage the franchise better than the return of Sean Connery(!), and a pairing with Jill St. John. And why not, get Shirley Bassey ("Goldfinger," "Moonraker") to sing the theme song again, again. After Diamonds Are Forever (1971), OHMSS must have seemed like just a bad dream.

But not entirely forgotten:

For Your Eyes Only (1981)


Lisa said...

Oh, everyone's wearing funny hats in this part! Despite the sad ending, I may have to watch this whole movie after all.


Fuzzball said...

Did you put that Shirley Basset mention in there just for me? ;)

Fuzzball said...

BasseY, sorry, I misstyped!

Chris said...

lisa-You might find it drags a little bit at times (as all the Bond films do), but it's worth a look!

tracy-Your interpretation of "Moonraker" is much prettier than Bassey's. I'd take it over hers any day.

Becca said...

What a great post, Diana Rigg was so beautiful be her Tracy Bond or Emma Peel. Awesome blog.

Chris said...

Thanks, becca. Yep, Diana Rigg was lovely in her day. You're blog is very cool. I found it through the Boing Boing post about the hippie Halloween costume.