1969-1971 George Lazenby Is The 'Other Fella'
With huge media and public interest on Connery’s replacement, EON hunted high and low.
Two likely British candidates were Roger Moore, who was tied to his contract with TV show The Saint, and Shakespearian thesp Timothy Dalton, who ruled himself out for being too young.
Meanwhile, Columbia Pictures, who still had the rights to Casino Royale, released an all-star comedic extravaganza (David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Orson Welles) that sent up the whole idea of James Bond.
Finally, Broccoli and Saltzman gambled on George Lazenby, an Australian model with limited acting experience, who convinced on the strength of his 007- esque manner in screen tests and commercials work.
Lazenby’s debut – and only – Bond certainly took risks. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was a bona-fide tragic romance, as Bond falls in love and marries Teresa di Vicenzo, only for her to be assassinated en route to the honeymoon.
And while structured as a semi-sequel to You Only Live Twice, Lazenby in-joked that “this never happened to the other fella,” setting up the vague possibility that there were many Bonds using a shared code name – pretty much the premise of the ’67 Casino Royale.
Lazenby’s stilted delivery, allied to the film’s unusual elements, killed its chances at the box office – and Lazenby, perhaps unfairly, was out. The search was back on for a new Bond...or an old one.
Amazingly, EON persuaded Connery to make a comeback. Or, rather, he persuaded them to accept his terms: a then-record salary and plenty of residual perks.
The Seventies began with Diamonds Are Forever, at once reassuringly familiar (Connery, John Barry, Shirley Bassey, Blofeld) and thoroughly modern, with a camp, cynical tone that lounge lizard Connery, clearly in it only for the money, encouraged.
Connery quit again, but this time he’d left a template that could be followed by EON.
Positively Shocking Quip: As an assailant is pureed in a snow blower in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Lazenby drawls, “He had a lot of guts.”
Boys With Toys: Handy for beating the casinos in Vegas, Q gives Bond an “Electro-Magnetic RPM Controller” for a guaranteed jackpot every time on the slot machines.
Petrolhead: Lazenby joins an ice-rink stock-car derby in a Mercury Cougar XR7.
Girls in Bondage: Diana Rigg as Teresa Bond, RIP; Jill St John as Tiffany Case
Expecting You To Die: Telly Savalas and Charles Gray as Blofeld, Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as Mr Wint and Mr Kidd
Action! The highpoint of OHMSS is its vertiginous ski chase, still the benchmark for alpine action.
Belting It Out: Louis Armstrong's woozy, gorgeous We Have All The Time In The World - not the actual credits tune from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but probably the finest 007-related song of the lot.
James Bland: In Diamonds Are Forever, Connery makes his low-speed escape from a research base in...a moon buggy. Was anybody taking this seriously?