Commander James Bond is a Senior Operational Officer of the 'Double-O' ('00') Branch, an ultra-covert Black Ops unit within the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). As an agent of MI6, Bond holds code number "007". The 'double-O' prefix indicates his discretionary licence to kill in the performance of his duties.
Australian actor George Lazenby briefly held the role from 1968 to 1969, appearing in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Even though he had been offered a contract for seven movies, Lazenby felt dissatisfied with the role and left the series after the release of the film.
Although very little of Bond's past is directly addressed in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it is assumed that his Bond continues to share the common background laid out by the Ian Fleming novels and preceding Bond films.
In the novels, James Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, from the Canton de Vaud. He acquired a first-class command of the French and German languages during his early education, which he received entirely abroad. Both parents were tragically killed during a climbing accident in the French Alps when he was eleven.
After the death of his parents, Bond goes to live with his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond, where he completes his early education. Later, he briefly attends Eton College at "12 or thereabouts", but is removed after two halves because of girl trouble with a maid. After being sent down from Eton, Bond was sent to Fettes College in Scotland, his father's school.
After leaving Fettes, earlier EON films note that Bond studied at Cambridge University. There, he achieved a first in Oriental languages. In Fleming's novels, Bond alluded to briefly attending the University of Geneva (as did Fleming), before being taught to ski in Kitzbühel. Following his graduation, Bond joined the Ministry of Defence and became a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves, rising though the ranks to commander. Bond applied to M for a position within the "Secret Service", part of the Civil Service, and rose to the rank of principal officer.
Bond is driving on a country coastal road in Portugal in his Aston-Martin when he's passed by a woman driving a Mercury Cougar. The woman drives to a nearby beach and tries to drown herself in the surf. When Bond drags her back, he is attacked by several thugs, whom he is able to beat in hand-to-hand combat. When he turns his attention back to the mysterious woman, he sees her driving off in her Cougar. Bond, puzzled by the turn of events returns to his car.
Later, at a casino, the same woman Bond found on the beach, Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo, is gambling and finds herself unable to pay her debt. Bond pays the tab for her and she invites him to her room to "repay" him. Bond is again attacked by another man, whom he beats. When he returns to his own room, Tracy is there waiting, steals Bond's pistol and threatens to kill him "for a thrill". Bond disarms her and demands to know about the man in her room; Tracy has no answer. Tracy leaves the hotel the next morning and when James tries to trail her, he is apprehended by several more men who take him to Tracy's father, Marc-Ange Draco, head of a powerful European crime organization which is called Union Course. The gangster offers Bond a £1,000,000 dowry if he'll marry his troubled daughter after he tells Bond about Tracy's suicidal depression since her mother's death. Bond turns down the offer but agrees to continue courting Tracy if Draco will help him find SPECTRE's sinister leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, whom Bond has been unsuccessfully tracking for the past two years.
When he returns to MI6 in London, M tells Bond that his obsession with finding Blofeld must end. Bond gives Miss Moneypenny his resignation and begins cleaning out his office. Moneypenny, however, subverts Bond's wishes and enters a request for two weeks leave. Bond can now pursue Blofeld on his own time, however, he goes back to Portugal for a birthday party being thrown for Draco. While there, Tracy reveals that she knows about the deal her father struck with Bond; she does not want to be used this way and demands her father help Bond. Draco relents and tells Bond to check out a lead in Bern, Switzerland. Tracy and Bond officially begin their courtship.
In Bern, Bond infiltrates the law firm of a man named Gebrüder Gumbold and finds letters from Blofeld to the London College of Arms. Returning to London and meeting with an expert at the College (who shows the agent the Bond family coat-of-arms) he informs Bond that Blofeld is attempting to claim the title of the Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp of Switzerland. Bond assumes the identity of an Arms delegate, Sir Hilary Bray, to investigate further. When he reports to M with his new leads, he is given permission to take up the case once again.
Acting as Bray, Bond travels back to Switzerland to Blofeld's latest compound at the top of Piz Gloria, a peak in the Swiss Alps. The location is accessible only by cable car or helicopter. There he finds Blofeld who has taken up the identity of an epidemiologist who specializes in allergy research. Bond finds that Blofeld's guests are about 10 beautiful women, all allergy sufferers, whose illnesses have allegedly been cured. Though he is essentially imprisoned in his room at night, Bond figures a way to open the door and goes to the room of a woman, named Ruby, who surreptitiously gave him the number and has sex with her. While they lay together a strange light and sound treatment begins over the bed and the woman appears hypnotized. Blofeld's "treatment" involves cassette tapes that induce hypnotism. Bond leaves her room, returning to his own where he finds another one of the women, named Nancy, waiting. He seduces her as well. Bond later sneaks up on a meeting involving the girls; they are given Christmas presents that contain a communication device and a specialized deadly virus that each girl will release in a different region of the world unless Blofeld's demands are met that the United Nations gives him a pardon and recognizes him as a count.
The next day Bond's cover is blown by Blofeld's assistant, Irma Bunt, when he sneaks out of his room to go into Ruby's room and finds Irma there. Bond is taken to Blofeld who identifies him (after Bond made a slip earlier to Blofeld that the real Bray wouldn't have made) and imprisons him in the cold gear room of the compound's cable-car. Bond is able to escape the room and steals a skiing uniform and skis rapidly down the mountain as Blofeld and several of his men give chase. Bond arrives in the village of Muren and meets Tracy and the two escape Bunt and several of Blofeld's henchmen in her car when they drive through a car race. Bond and Tracy find a secluded barn to hold up for the night; Bond proposes to Tracy and she accepts, but will not allow him to sleep together with her. She relents when Bond pulls her into his own bedding.
In the morning, Tracy and Bond ski away from the barn, with Blofeld and a few of his men close behind. When it seems like Bond and Tracy will escape, Blofeld causes an avalanche that they are unable to stay ahead of and are buried. Blofeld has his men retrieve Tracy and leave Bond for dead. Bond returns to London, seeking a way to rescue Tracy and stop Blofeld's plan. M refuses to launch an assault on Piz Gloria for diplomatic reasons. Bond instead enlists the help of Draco, who provides helicopters and a strike team from Union Corse.
At the Piz Gloria, Blofeld keeps Tracy in his company and even proposes to her. Just then, Bond, Draco and their men attack the Piz Gloria and stop Blofeld from sending his orders to the women. Bond rescues Tracy and she flies off with her father. Bond finds Blofeld escaping in a bobsled and chases him in a second one, catching up and boarding Blofeld's sled. They tussle briefly until Bond is able to hold Blofeld up to catch a forked tree branch, leaving him there injured and unconscious. Bond gains control of the sled and stops it.
A lavish wedding is thrown for Bond and Tracy and they are married. After the reception, Bond leaves with Tracy in his Aston Martin. They travel a few miles and Bond stops to remove some of the flower chains decorating their car. Tracy reflects that Bond has given her more than a husband, she now has a future. Suddenly, a car driven by a very-much alive Blofeld (now wearing a neck brace) races by and Irma Bunt opens fire on Bond's car with an assault rifle. Bond survives the drive-by attack by ducking behind the car and recognizes Blofeld immediately and jumps back in the car with Tracy to give chase, but Tracy is dead; hit in the head by a bullet that went through the windshield killing her instantly. As Bond holds her, a policeman stops by after hearing the shooting. Bond tells him that there's "no hurry" and that they "have all the time in the world."
Behind the scenesEdit
In 1968, after Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, and 22-year-old actor Timothy Dalton declined the role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (OHMSS), believing himself too young for it. Producer Albert R. Broccoli first met Lazenby when getting their hair cut at the same barber. He later saw him in the Big Fry commercial and felt he could be a possible Bond, calling him in for a screen test.
Lazenby dressed for the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (ordered, but uncollected, by Connery). Broccoli offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression. Lazenby won the role based on a screen-test fight scene, the strength of his interviews, fight skills and audition footage. Director Peter Hunt later claimed:
- "We wanted someone who oozed sexual assurance, and we think this fellow has that. Just wait til the women see him on screen... I am not saying he is an actor. There is a great deal of difference between an actor and a film star. Didn't they find Gary Cooper when he was an electrician?"
During the production of the film, Lazenby's voice was dubbed over with George Baker's in scenes in which Bond impersonated Sir Hilary Bray (Baker's character), something not traditionally done with a leading actor whose original language is English. According to an interview, Lazenby experienced difficulties on the set stemming from director Peter R. Hunt's refusal to speak directly with him, and Hunt's brusqueness in asking Lazenby's friends to clear the set before filming.
At the time of the release of OHMSS, Lazenby's performance received mixed reviews. Some felt that, while he was physically convincing, some of his costumes were inappropriate ("too loud" according to some) and that he delivered his lines poorly. Others, however, have developed differing views in the decades since the film. In the 1998 book The Essential James Bond, Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrell write: "Although OHMSS was routinely dismissed by critics who cited Lazenby as a brave but disappointing successor to Connery, the intervening years have been notably kinder to both the film and its star. Indeed, due in no small part to Peter Hunt's inspired direction, OHMSS generally ranks among the top films with fans. Likewise, Lazenby has emerged as a very popular contributor to the series and has enjoyed large enthusiastic audiences during his appearances at Bond related events. In summary, OHMSS is a brilliant thriller in its own right and justifiably ranks amongst the best Bond films ever made".
In Roger Moore's commentary for a 2007 DVD release of The Man with the Golden Gun, he referenced George Lazenby as follows :
- "I have a great deal of e-mail contact with George Lazenby; he's sort of on the joke circuit ... that we simply send jokes to each other. OHMSS – very well made film – Peter Hunt – excellent, excellent, excellent fight stuff, excellent snow effects ... but I think the end result for George was that it was one of the better Bonds".
In November 1969, prior to the release of the film, Lazenby announced that he no longer wished to play the role of James Bond. "They made me feel like I was mindless," he said about the film's producers. "They disregarded everything I suggested simply because I hadn't been in the film business like them for about a thousand years." Although Lazenby had been offered a contract for seven movies, his agent, Ronan O'Rahilly, convinced him that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969.
His co-star Diana Rigg was among many who commented on this decision:
- "The role made Sean Connery a millionaire. It made Sean Connery... I truly don't know what's happening in George's mind so I can only speak of my reaction. I think its a pretty foolish move. I think if he can bear to do an apprenticeship, which everybody in this business has to do - has to do - then he should do it quietly and with humility. Everybody has to do it. There are few instant successes in the film business. And the instant successes one usually associates with somebody who is willing to learn anyway."
While On Her Majesty's Secret Service was Lazenby's only official performance as Bond, during the Eighties he made a couple of unofficial, tongue-in-cheek returns to the character in non-Bond productions. As to avoid legal issues, the identity of Lazenby's character is never directly mentioned, but both appearances contain multiple references to the EON spy.
The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.Edit
In 1983, the same year which saw the 'Battle of the Bonds', Lazenby made a guest appearance in the television movie, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.; a sequel to the '60s television spy series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In it, Lazenby plays an unnamed - but easily recognizable - spy character. Whilst never outright referred to as Bond, the producers instead (not so) subtly inferred the spy's identity through his attire, vehicle and even dialogue.
Lazenby's special guest appearance began as the show's protagonist, Napoleon Solo (with a Russian ballerina in the passenger seat), was engaged in a car chase through the streets of Las Vegas, pursued by armed men. As they speed through an intersection, past his Aston Martin DB5 (complete with "JB" license plates), Lazenby's character recognizes Solo as a fellow spy and dutifully sets off in pursuit.
As with the Aston Martin DB5 in the EON movie series, the car from "The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E." is also armed with an assortment of concealed weaponry, including waterjets at the rear and rockets up front. As one pursuer's vehicle burst into flames, Lazenby - in a scene reminiscent of his "this never happened to the other fella" line from OHMSS - looked directly into the camera and quipped "Shaken, but not stirred."
A further - and blatant - nod to Lazenby's Bond occurs near the end of the scene, as Solo's passenger notices the number plates and realizes who the Aston Martin might belong to. She gets very excited and exclaims, "It's just like On Her Majesty's Secret Service!"
"Diamonds Aren't Forever"Edit
Lazenby donned the white dinner jacket again in 1989, in an episode of the revived Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series, entitled Diamonds Aren't Forever.
The episode begins with Lazenby landing - complete with white dinner jacket and Union Jack parachute - at a countryside hotel, to a song entitled "My Guy's a Spy". Lazenby's character (who we are told is called James ----") is soon informed that his mission is to recover a golden egret statue and that one or more of the eccentric hotel guests is actually a Soviet spy.
Aside from his outfit and paracute, the episode is replete with Bond references. When checking into the hotel, he introduces himself in the traditional EON manner, but to avoid legal problems the surname gets drowned out by clattering and offscreen noise. At one point, James orders a martini from the bartender and specifies that it should not be stirred. He also repeats two Connery quips - "Shocking" and "He got the point."
- In the pre-title sequence of OHMSS, Lazenby comments: "This never happened to the other fellow", an in-joke referring to his predecessor Sean Connery, which has been interpreted by some film critics as breaking the fourth wall.
- Although Eon Productions attempted on several occasions to cast Americans as Bond (most notably signing John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever before the services of Sean Connery were obtained) Lazenby remains the only actor from outside the British Isles to portray Bond in a Bond feature film.
- Lazenby is the only Bond actor to neither star in a James Bond video game nor have his likeness used in one.