Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Best Bond: George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

George Lazenby was the second man to play James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a great Bond film that is very entertaining and thrilling throughout, and I would say the only thing missing in this one is a devoted Sean Connery in the lead role.

Instead we get George Lazenby a male model who decided that he could replace Connery by dressing up as Bond, and even getting a suit Connery ordered but never picked up. He did not get the job through his acting prowess but instead through his physical abilities. Where each of the actors after Connery each take a different approach in trying to get down to the character of Bond in their own way Lazenby really doesn't. Lazenby's approach, if he really even has one, is to be as unassuming as possible in the role. There is not any method or insight to Bond as a character in his portrayal he basically just plays him as basically just a very standard guy who happens to be a spy rather than super spy James Bond.

The weakest aspect of Lazenby's performance comes from the moments that instantly harken back to Connery's portrayal. This being any scene that requires him to be charming or charismatic. Lazenby just doesn't have in this regard. He comes off as bland more than anything else, and just all together undistinguished something that Bond should not be. A very problematic part of his performance has to be his delivery of the quips. No matter the quality of the quips they all land very poorly and seem awkward because Lazenby's delivery is so flat. There is not anything sly or special about him that really would allow him to make such comments in such a fashion.

He never is convincing as the charmer that Bond should be. His incredible success with women can only be attested to his look with this Bond because the charisma just isn't there. He just never becomes the Bond who owns the screen as Connery had, he's on the screen but most of the time you could care less that he is. The worst parts of his performance are when his acting is tested. One big example of this is when he confronts chief baddie Blofeld played by Telly Savalas. Where Connery went toe to toe with his villains, even with the great Robert Shaw, Lazenby is absolutely wiped away by Savalas in their scenes together, and Savalas is not anywhere near as good as Shaw was.

I think a big testament to his lack of acting ability comes in a long sequence where Bond pretends to be a proper and prim British genealogist and he gets his voice dubbed over the entire time. I mean Robert Shaw switched from that sort of voice back to his intense voice with such ease in From Russia With Love, I guess they should have cast him as Bond (although that might have caused my head to explode by its level of awesomeness). The fact that there was such dubbing for such a long period of time in the film shows that acting was secondary for his Bond, which unfortunately was the wrong idea.

Three scenes stress his acting as Bond here that possibly he could have capitalized on. One he roughly interrogates a woman, but his manner is so soft that his threat to her seems hardly substantial. Another is where M questions his abilities. Lazenby is so unremarkable and even somewhat whiney in Bond's reaction that certainly does not fit Bond who is suppose to be the best spy in the world. Then there is his final scene, which actually handles pretty effectively. He does do it just through the simplicity of his portrayal but he does succeed in making the end of the film pretty moving.

I have been largely negative about his portrayal, but I would not say he is terrible in the role though. Firstly he does end on a high note as I have already mentioned. He is also reasonably fine in the scenes where he does no talking and just sort of interacts with the action scenes. His reactions are fairly astute and believable enough in these the sell them properly. He is not great or anything close to it but in a purely physical fashion he succeeds well enough. Of course this feeds into the idea that he could be just a very average spy but not the one and only James Bond.

He just never has what it takes to truly be James Bond. Lazenby is a few sizes too small to fill Connery's shoes in both natural charisma and acting ability. He doesn't stand out even as a failed Bond due to his inability to even take a stand on Bond as a character. Lazenby only was Bond for one film stemming from an ego he quickly gained as well as becoming apparently a hippie of sorts. His performance, despite having a few good points, never really made it so he really became Bond so it is easy to see why he went on to be the forgotten Bond. Is he the worst Bond though? Well let's keep going shall we.

7 comments:

RatedRStar said...

I think Donald Pleasence was the best blofeld, Savalas was ok and I thought Charles Gray was average, if Connery had been in this bond it could have been the all time best just behind Skyfall.

I thought Lazenby, basically looked like my dad if he put on a suit and pretended he was James Bond it would be like Lazenbys performance lol.

RatedRStar said...

if Robert Shaw was James Bond I think I might have some crazy sexual fantasies about Shaw lol XD =D.

nick wingerter said...

He sucks

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I hear Rigg was the real scene stealer.

Michael Patison said...

She was for me, koook, Rigg is gorgeous and her character was far more complex than pretty much any other Bond girl I can think of.

Louis Morgan said...

She was for me as well, she is one of the reasons why the film works as well as it does.

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