Some Spoilers here*****************************
If Sergio Leone, maker of those gritty '60s spaghetti westerns, had ever made a 007 film, it would look like OHMMS. (That's a compliment.)
The sixth installment in the James Bond film franchise is the most experimental of the lot. It's cinematography, with an abundance of close-ups and quasi-surreal quick-cut editing, makes it a uniquely visual movie. It even has a built-in music video for the song "(We Have) All The Time In The World" sung by the great Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong.
The producers' most obvious experiment was casting. This is the first 007 film without Sean Connery. The coveted role went to George Lazenby, a rugged square-jawed Australian who does a very competent and believable job as the secret agent, and does a lot of athletic action never seen done by the older actor he replaced.
Connery announced while making the 1967 film "You Only Live Twice", that he was walking away from the character that made him world-famous. Hoping to do Oscar-worthy roles with far less pop culture publicity, he swore to hang up his tuxedo and never do another 007 film. His loss. OHMSS is a great script.
Connery messed up by not doing OHMSS for it doesn't have the exaggerated super-hero space-race gadgetry that he's known to have despised about some of the previous Bond movies.
OHMSS is a rough & tough thinking-man's espionage thriller with a lot of heart.
But the film, and Lazenby, first in a long line of other Bond actors, arrived with mixed reviews.
The movie-going public of 1969 were not so pleased that Connery was gone. Plus the film's running time (2 1/2 hours) scared many people away from the theaters.
A Christmas holiday winter theme in its third act, and having a real love story develop and unfold throughout the whole thing, were elements foreign to the established 007 style people expected. It isn't a Bahamas summer beachparty bikini/scuba type of film. Far from it.
It's Autumn...It's Winter...It's Cold. The One Romance Noir, and The One Dark Drama, of the whole 007 canon.
Oh, it has humor, enthralling chase sequences, and a great music score, and those familiar faces of M, Q and Miss Moneypenny, but it has a grim underbelly to its epic-sized bastion of cloak & dagger pursuits.
Only in hindsight, as time has passed, has OHMSS received the appreciation it deserves.
Lazenby, unfortunately no second outing as 007, did a job well done for Her Majesty's Secret Service, and he can take pride in doing an original Fleming story, and not a spy-composite new script like the Bond films since 1985.
The OHMSS script was a faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming's 1963 book, a book Fleming wrote, incidentally, at a time when he already knew what a fan that President Kennedy was of the Bond books/films.
Had Fleming, who died in 1964, lived to see OHMSS, he might've been very happy with the resulting film. No matter who played Bond.
Of course, it wouldn't be a true 007 film without sexy girls. And decorated with a bevy of beauties, they are relevant to the plot:
Young female patients in a high-security Swiss Alps allergy clinic are being brainwashed. They're becoming naive pawns who'll secretly traffic pocket-sized WMDs into their homelands.
It's a biological warfare scheme orchestrated by the sinister evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Bond, undercover and unarmed (no Q gadgets either), infiltrates the mountaintop complex by invitation. Masquerading as a geek-like geneologist, Bond is intent on capturing Blofeld after a two-year search for the elusive criminal mastermind.
Telly Savalas (as Blofeld) is a dry macho villain, a sharp contrast to the effeminate squeaky-voiced Blofeld of the previous Bond film.
Personally this is one of my favorite films out of the James Bond film series. A series that for me is more miss than hit.