Features the only signature gun barrel sequence of all Bond films in which Bond drops down on one knee while shooting at the audience. It's also the only version of the sequence where the descending blood completely erases Bond's image, leaving only the red circle.
The producers originally intended to explain the change of lead actors in the film by saying that Bond had undergone plastic surgery because his "old" face was now too well known by foreign spies and terrorists for him to go undercover, but they then decided not to refer at all to the change, and thus hopefully minimize the public attention being paid to George Lazenby replacing Sean Connery. However, after the opening action sequence, right before the titles, Bond states "This never happened to the other fellow," an intentionally comedic reference to the change in actors.
During the filming a Piz Gloria, the cast and crew received their per diems in cash. Upon seeing George Lazenby with a suitcase stuffed full of cash, Telly Savalas invited him to a late-night poker game he regularly held with crew members and promptly relieved Lazenby of having to carry so much extra weight. Upon hearing of this, Harry Saltzman visited the location, joined the game over Savalas's protests, and won back Lazenby's money. He then informed Savalas in no uncertain terms that he was not to victimize his "boy" (Lazenby) again.
There are many reasons why George Lazenby only made one appearance as James Bond. According to the DVD Documentary, here are some of the main reasons: 1. Lazenby's youthful cockiness rankled Albert R. Broccoli's nerves. One incident mentioned is Lazenby skiing down the slopes on his own (resulting in the broken arm) and a moment of arrogance on Lazenby's part that spoiled a cast and crew party. 2. The notoriously harsh British tabloids writing up unfavorable stories about Lazenby and how he fails to measure up to Sean Connery, thereby swaying public opinion against the movie before it was released. One incident cited by Lazenby was during an interview with a reporter in the commissary in which Diana Rigg jokingly yelled from across the room "I'm having garlic for lunch, darling! I hope you are too!" This lead to an article in which Rigg supposedly hated Lazenby so much that "She eats garlic before love scenes". 3. Lazenby, believed that the Bond series was over in the wake of more sophisticated films like The Graduate (1967) and Easy Rider (1969), and the tuxedo-clad secret agent was out of touch with the newly liberated 1970s. He mentioned to his agent that he wasn't sure if he wanted to play Bond again, even before this film was released. The producers heard this and were none too pleased. Lazenby had been offered a seven picture deal and had signed a letter of intent to star in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). He had even been paid an initial fee installment which he later refunded. Although some claim the film was a box-office failure, it was in fact a huge hit, recouping more than ten times its cost and becoming the second highest grossing film of the year at the worldwide box-office.
Blofeld's headquarters was a partially completed restaurant on top of Mount Schilthorn. The owners allowed filming on condition EON paid $125,000 to refit the interior and construct a helicopter pad. When the restaurant opened it was given the name Piz Gloria used in the film. The only public access to the restaurant is by cable car (from Mürren or Stechelberg). The Piz Gloria was the first established revolving mountain restaurant in the world.
The title of the book/film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was a corruption of a very familiar phrase known to most British people. For many decades, all correspondence sent from Government departments e.g. the Tax Office, Social Services etc, arrived in envelopes which did not have a stamp, but had the words, "On Her ("His" when there was a male monarch) Majesty's Service" printed on the envelope. Such correspondence was usually referred to as, "OHMS".
This is the last time that John Barry's original Dr. No (1962) arrangement of the James Bond Theme would be used onscreen. It would however, continue to be used in trailers etc. as late as Licence to Kill (1989).
Certain film techniques appear in the James Bond series for the first time in this picture: slow motion (when Bond is knocked out in his bedroom), flashback (Bond remembering Tracy being captured), and "breaking the fourth wall" (Lazenby looking into the camera briefly, immediately after his line "This never happened to the other fella"). Though it seems to be a self referential remark (Lazenby replaced Sean Connery as Bond) it also has a meaning in the context of the story.
Whilst cracking open a safe in a Swiss lawyer's office, Bond reads a copy of "Playboy". This is a nod to the fact that "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" first appeared in "Playboy". "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was the first Ian Fleming's James Bond novels to be serialized in the magazine, appearing in the May 1963 issue of "Playboy". It was followed by a serialized, shortened version of the novel You Only Live Twice (not the film version) in the April 1964 issue. The issue in the film is February 1969 featuring centerfold Lorrie Menconi (the cover of the magazine and the top part of her centerfold can be seen).
In order to help get himself the part of James Bond, George Lazenby went to the same tailor and barber that worked with Sean Connery so when he showed up at Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman's production offices, he'd look more like Connery. Coincidentally, Broccoli was present in the barber's shop when Lazenby showed up for his haircut. This in part did help him establish an image and led to getting the role of James Bond.
Adam West, a personal friend of Albert R. Broccoli, was offered the part of James Bond for the movie. West said that while he was very tempted, he ultimately turned it down feeling the role should be played by an English Actor.
Joanna Lumley makes one of her first screen appearances in this movie. Unlike other "Avengers" actors and actresses (Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman), she is the only one to have appeared in a Bond movie *before* starring in The Avengers (1961). Despite having a very small part as one of Blofeld's girls, she spent two months on the production, dubbing the voices of a whole line up of international beauties in German, Chinese and Norwegian accents, in addition to teaching many of the actresses who played Blofeld's patients how to crochet, which some of them can be seen doing on film. With time, some of the women preferred crocheting garments over attending parties for the cast. Joanna Lumley has also read an abridged version of the Ian Fleming novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service on BBC Radio 4.
The film performed admirably, out-grossing its nearest competitor almost two to one at the U.S. box office where, according to Variety, it was the most popular film in the country for four solid weeks. It generated enough rentals at the box-office to claim ninth position on the box office chart for the year 1970. The persistent belief that it was a flop arises from its disappointing showing in comparison to the previous three Sean Connery Bond films, all of which made more than 100 million dollars worldwide, whereas this film grossed 87 million worldwide.
Willy Bogner performed some spectacular skiing feats for the filming of chase sequences for this movie. These included skiing backwards downhill with a hand-held camera, sometimes placing it between his legs and being towed behind a bobsleigh along the bobsled course.
Former ITN newsreader Carol Barnes filmed scenes with the Angels of Death after showing up to the set with her friend Jenny Hanley. She can be briefly seen serving drinks at the first meal Bond attends.
The first line of the Ian Fleming "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" James Bond novel: "It was one of those Septembers when it seemed that the summer would never end." The last line: "The young patrolman took a last scared look at the motionless couple, hurried over to his motor cycle, picked up the hand-microphone, and began talking urgently to the rescue headquarters".
This is one of the most faithful adaptations of an Ian Fleming novel; virtually everything in the book occurs in the film. Staying so close to the source actually caused some continuity problems due to the different order of the films. For example, in this film Bond and Blofeld seem to be meeting for the first time, despite having met face-to-face in the film version of You Only Live Twice (1967). Some details are different: Count Bleauville is changed to Count Bleauchamp, and Ruby Windsor becomes Ruby Barrett. The situations of Bond's taking a leave of absence, and his discovery by Blofeld, are different. Tracy is not kidnapped. Blofeld is completely different in appearance from Telly Savalas, being described as having long silvery-white hair, an aquiline nose, a wrinkled forehead, a slender body, a nostril that has been eaten away by tertiary syphilis, and no earlobes. Savalas's Blofeld has none of these features - he doesn't even have a European accent. However, his earlobes were clipped back to serve a plot element.
Whereas ads for You Only Live Twice (1967) loudly touted "Sean Connery IS James Bond", the marketing for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) downplayed the name of the replacement actor completely. This is the last time that the name of the actor playing Bond appears below the title, and in several of the ads for the film, there is an image of a faceless Bond. Since George Lazenby was a virtual unknown when he was cast as Bond, initial teaser advertising for the film emphasized the Bond character rather than the actor playing him. United Artists would later say that this marketing strategy was a mistake which hurt the film's performance at the box office.
The motto, "Orbis non sufficit", given to Bond when he researches his own coat of arms before impersonating Sir Hilary Bray, is the Latin for The World Is Not Enough (1999) which was later used as a Bond film title.
Timothy Dalton was offered the part of James Bond, but turned it down feeling that, at 25, he was too young and relatively unexperienced to take the role. Dalton would go on to play Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989) nearly twenty years later.
Peter R. Hunt originally wanted to direct You Only Live Twice (1967) but when that assignment was given to Lewis Gilbert, he walked off the series and went on a round the world trip. Ironically he was in Tokyo when he bumped into Albert R. Broccoli and Gilbert who were prepping "You Only Live Twice". Broccoli asked Hunt to direct the second unit on that film with the promise of directing the next entry in the series.
George Lazenby wanted to do most of his own stunts but the studio wouldn't allow him. During the shooting of one of the stunt scenes, Lazenby actually broke his arm, thereby delaying the filming of many of his later scenes. When Bond is taken to Blofeld's lab at Piz Gloria, Lazenby's broken arm in its cast is hidden by his coat which was draped over his arm. Blofeld's guard removes it from him as Lazenby was unable to do so. The guard removing the jacket was played by Yuri Borienko who ironically had had his nose broken by Lazenby in the screen test fight scene that the actor had done to land the part.
James Bond is said to be a descendant of Sir Otto Le Bon. 16 years after this movie, Simon Le Bon and his band Duran Duran sang the music video for A View to a Kill (1985), wherein Simon Le Bon makes a pun about himself and James Bond.
Lyrics were originally intended for John Barry's main theme, but were later rejected in favor of Louis Armstrong's memorable rendition of "We Have All The Time In The World". This love theme composed by John Barry and written by Hal David was the last song ever recorded by Louis Armstrong. A re-mix of the song "We Have All The Time In The World" was a No. #3 hit in the UK twenty five years after the movie was originally released. The song has also been covered by Iggy Pop and it can be heard on the David Arnold Bond song compilation album, "Shaken and Stirred: the David Arnold James Bond Project". This album also features a cover of the film's OHMSS main title theme performed by The Propellerheads.
George Lazenby also bears the distinction of being the only 007 actor who was born and raised outside the United Kingdom. He's from Australia. (Pierce Brosnan was born in Ireland but moved to the UK when fairly young.)
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins for this movie include the Aston Martin 1969 DBS; Hennessy Brandy; Playboy Magazine; Campari; the Ford Motor Company, particularly the 1969 Ford Mercury Cougar Convertible; Jack Daniel's Whiskey; Schilthorn Piz Gloria Revolving Restaurant; Krug Champagne; Dom Perignon Champagne, particularly a Dom Perignon '57; and Rolex Watches including the Rolex Submariner 5513 and Rolex Chronograph 6238 watches.
At least for the German audience the jump from Sean Connery to George Lazenby wasn't as sharp as for the rest of the world: He still sounded the same. Actor Gert Günther Hoffmann, the regular German voice of Connery, dubbed the new James Bond as well.
Largely a result of Bond's being recast, the first movie in the series to make extensive use of in jokes and tongue in cheek humor. The film also depicted scenes where Bond encountered and worked with a "Harem" of women. All of these would become trademarks of most of Roger Moore's Bond films.
Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novel "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" while Dr. No (1962) was being filmed. Fleming included a mention by name of Ursula Andress in the book. The title was shared by a rare British nautical novel of the 19th Century which was discovered by Fleming's friend Sir John Nicholas Henderson (aka Nicko Henderson) at a Portbello Road book stall in London. In the book's sequel You Only Live Twice (1967), Fleming named the character Dikko Henderson after Nicko Henderson.
Many Olympic ski competitors as well as other ski experts contributed as body doubles, extras and supporting roles for performing the necessary skiing sequences in the movie. The principal actors were not allowed to ski in the movie due to insurance regulations.
George Lazenby was previously a car salesman with a part time job as a male model. He was also well-known in Britain as "The Big Fry man," after the chocolate bar commercials he starred in, carrying an outsize bar on his hunky shoulder.
Every year the Swiss army dynamite certain dangerous mountainsides to remove the threat of avalanches. As the storyline called for such an avalanche, the film production worked alongside the army in scouting appropriate sites for filming. Having chosen one, they were dismayed to discover that the avalanche occurred naturally before the crew could get there to film it so the resulting one seen in the film is a combination of stock footage, special effects, and clever use of close-ups and sound.
Most close-ups of principal actors skiing were actually filmed back at Pinewood Studios as back-projection process shots. The principal actors were not allowed to ski in the movie due to insurance regulations.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include On Her Majesty's Service (Sweden & Israel); The Queen's 007 (Japan); On The Secret Service of Her Majesty (Belgium, Canada, France and West Germany); To Serve Her Majesty (Italy); 007 On Her Majesty's Service (Brazil & Portugal); 007 On Her Queen's Service (Spain); To Her Majesty's Secret Service (Denmark) and 007 Seized The Snow Mountain Castle (China & Norway)
Ernst Stavro Blofeld was named after Tom Blofeld with whom James Bond creator Ian Fleming went to school at Eton. His son is cricket commentator Henry Blofeld. Blofeld's birthdate as given in the literature is the same date as Ian Fleming's birthday which is 28 May 1908.
First Bond film since From Russia with Love (1963) to use an instrumental opening theme. The decision to forgo the usual song was prompted by the conclusion that any lyric composition that attempted to include the full title of the film would be awkward and at best sound like a humorous Gilbert & Sullivan song, which would be inappropriate for the film series. As of 2009, no other film in the series since has done so.
Greek actor Takis Emmanuel, hired to play Draco's henchman Klett, refused to rehearse for the beach fight in the opening sequence, and so he was fired and replaced by stunt man Bill Morgan, a high fall and trampoline expert. Because the wedding scenes were filmed before the beach scenes, Emmanuel can be seen a few times in the film -- meaning both men technically played the same character in the same film, an unintentional first considering no plot points revolve around it.
The first Bond film in which 007 used skis. As this is a 1960s Bond movie, it is interesting to note that the first and big 60s Bond star Sean Connery never did a skiing or snow sequence Bond movie, his James Bond only ever drives through snow-capped mountains in Goldfinger (1964).
Vehicles included James Bond's dark green 1969 Aston Martin DBS (not to be confused with a DB5); Tracy's red 1969 Ford Mercury Cougar convertible; Draco's Rolls-Royce Corniche Mulliner Park Ward Drophead Coupé; 007 ascends to Piz Gloria in a Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter; a Mercedes sedan and Irma Bunt's pursuing black Mercedes-Benz 600; three Bell 204 HUEY helicopters with dummy Red Cross markings for the attack on Piz Gloria; a cable car to Piz Gloria; two bobsleds; and various stock cars in the stock car rally.
Cameraman John Jordan developed a special helicopter harness for filming aerial shots of the mountain slopes and the film's action sequences. He would hang eighteen feet below the chopper from a large round metal support apparatus.
The poetry that Tracy quotes to Blofeld ('Thy dawn, O Master of the World, thy dawn...') is derived from a speech in James Elroy Flecker's play, 'The Story of Hassan of Bagdad and How He Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand'.
The title lent itself to a role-playing board game "James Bond 007: Role-Playing In Her Majesty's Secret Service" in 1983 and was produced up until 1987. It was released by Avalon Books' Victory Games and was designed by Gerard Christopher Klug. The cover art picture of James Bond was not based on George Lazenby but was an amalgam of the likeness of both Sean Connery and Roger Moore and most closely resembled the poster for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). The last three digits of its game book rules' ISBN were 007.
Peter R. Hunt:
is seen, although obscurely, directly following the opening credits. In the bottom left hand corner of the Universal Exports brass plaque, he is seen reflected whilst walking past the building.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Ilse Steppat's only ever English language role was as Irma Bunt in this movie. She was not able to enjoy her new success. She died of a heart attack less than a week after the release of this film. The character of Irma Bunt was intended for a time to return in the next James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever (1971). But because of her passing, the character did not return.
In the original take of the final scene featuring Tracy's death, George Lazenby came to tears. Director Peter R. Hunt then made them shoot the scene again because he said that, "Bond does not cry." There were only two takes shot.