2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...


THE OTHER FELLA On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a film in fear of the future. All too aware of Connery’s absence it wraps his replacement in the armour of nostalgia. Tellingly, the clock hands in the title sequence sweep backwards, the franchise unspooling to show us flashbacks to Dr No , From Russia With Love , Goldfinger , Thunderball , You Only Live Twice … frames of the past quite at odds with the onward surge of John Barry’s urgent, propulsively modern theme. We may have all the time in the world, but that time clearly belongs to Sean Connery. One early scene finds Bond rifling through souvenirs of past missions; we see Honey’s knife, Red Grant’s watch, the breathing device from Thunderball , each talismanic object accompanied by an appropriately evocative musical cue. Elsewhere a janitor whistles the theme to Goldfinger . Lazenby isn’t remotely allowed to escape the shadow of his precursor. There’s no explanation for Bond’s change of face (and, four Bonds later, we know that none is needed) but the dialogue winkingly acknowledges it: “Same old James,” declares Moneypenny. “Only more so!” It’s Lazenby himself who delivers the slyest line, a beat before the titles kick in: “This never happened to the other fella!” A shockingly direct bullet fired into the fourth wall, it’s certainly a more mischievous and knowing moment than Connery was ever allowed.

BEYOND THE ICE Director Peter Hunt demanded one thing from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – reality. So it’s a film that trades the soundstage fantasias of previous Bonds for the real world. Blofeld’s mountain-crowning eyrie was actually Piz Gloria, a vertiginous true life restaurant located on the Schilthorn near Murren in Switzerland (the filmmakers actually constructed the working helipad the screenplay required). The location saw the first ski-chase sequence in the Bond films and such snow-slicing action would soon become one of the franchise’s definitive traditions, reoccurring in The Spy Who Loved Me , For Your Eyes Only , A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough . The Alps themselves are a constant, majestic presence in OHMSS , from the snow-swathed night-blue slopes that backdrop Bond’s escape from the SPECTRE lair to the blood-hued dawn-break skies that accompany the stunning final chopper assault. It’s a movie that convinces you that you’re breathing blade-sharp alpine air.


Other potential replacements for Connery included John Richardson, Anthony Rogers, Robert Campbell and Hans de Vries. LIFE magazine has a gallery of their auditions here

The second unit on OHMSS was taken from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang , another Fleming adaptation by Broccoli.

Lazenby injured his arm while filming a rooftop chase over the streets of London. The scene was cut from the film.

Watch the opening gunbarrel sequence again. Lazenby falls to one knee - a subtle nod to the fact that this is the film where Bond proposes...


Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.