I know it has only been two months since the last 007 ‘Death Of The Month’ [what can I say, I’m a huge fan], but I almost posted this particular one back then before changing my mind, partly because a very moving scene from probably the most romantic of Bond movies is perhaps more appropriate for this time of year. Bond films are not known for their emotion – they’re not that kind of film – but 007’s first on-screen showing of distraught over the death of a woman [and there only really have been two instances of this] really hits hard, and while it has a powerful effect the first time you see On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in a way it gets sadder with each viewing, especially if you love the series and the character of Bond. It also helps make this film such a unique picture in the franchise, along with George Lazenby being only guy in the official series to play Bond once, the film’s almost fatalistic tone, its slower pace until the final third, its faithfulness to Ian Fleming’s novel, and other things which really do set it apart. Though still a hit, it was a commercial disappointment in 1969 compared to the huge box office takings of the previous series entries, but is now regarded by many as the Best Bond Ever. From the incredible action scenes to John Barry’s best soundtrack to the literate script to the emotional core at the heart of the film, it’s certainly a prime candidate for that title.
So we’ve had over half an hour of non-stop action, and now we get our coda. Bond is getting married to Tracy Di Vicenzo, and even before the two drive off on their honeymoon, we get lots of lovely moments at the wedding party like ‘M’ and Tracy’s gangster father Draco swapping stories, Moneypenny’s look of sadness as Bond waves to her, and Bond giving back to Draco the dowry of one million pounds he offered him if he would marry Tracy much earlier on in the picture. Then the couple drive off, and they talk.
Bond: You know I haven’t given you a wedding present yet.
Tracy: I’ve an idea for that. Three girls, three boys.
Bond: Not bad for a start. But darling, we have all the time in the world.
In a great bit of foreshadowing, a car drives past them beeping because, as Bond says:
Bond: Well, we do look like an ad for a florist. Which reminds me. I didn’t send you flowers.
Bond stops the car on the side of the road and gets out. He pulls off one of the many flowers adorning the car and, leaning into the vehicle, passes the flower to Tracy mouth to mouth.
Tracy: He loves me instinctively.
Bond: Infuriatingly. Intensely. Indubitably.
Then suddenly another car drives past them. It’s the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his repulsive aide Irma Bunt, who fires a machine gun before the car disappears. Bond looks around, then looks back into the car through the front window where a bullet has shattered some of the glass. She’s dead. The woman for whom he was ready to give up his job and his whole way of life for. A policeman on a motorcycle arrives to find Bond cradling Tracy’s body.
Bond: It’s alright. It’s quite alright you see. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going pretty soon.
With typical Barry subtlety, a few notes of the mournful instrumental version of the We Have All The Time In The World song [one of the greatest love songs ever] are played as Bond says the film’s final lines.
Bond: There’s no hurry you see. We have all the time in the world”
Lazenby actually cried during the first take of the scene. The producers said that Bond doesn’t cry so they made Lazenby do a re-take where he was more subdued. They were right, because the scene is even more quietly powerful. Bond is someone who has been trained to bottle up emotion, and he can’t even ‘let rip’ when the love of his life’ has died. At least not when someone else is present. Lazenby, whose initially much-derided performance as the most vulnerable of 007s is actually amazingly good for a first-time actor, really helps the viewer to feel his pain. I used to think that it would have been better if Sean Connery [sorry Daniel, but to me Sean will always be the best] had done the scene. These days, I’m not so sure. In any case, what a shattering close to a Bond film!