Were I to say On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the best James Bond movie of all-time, I’d probably get more than a few side-eyed glances. But I said it, just now, and it’s true. No other film about codename 007 (not that Bond ever hesitates to throw his real name around anyways*) captures quite what we love about the character so well, and yet intelligently contextualizes his behaviour so that we are not empathizing with a racist misogynist. And John Barry’s score absolutely reflects this modern Bond.
With the opening fanfare, we are reminded that this is still very much a continuation of the Bond stories that came before, as this was a genuine concern of audiences now that Sean Connery had vacated the role and George Lazenby stepped in. However, soon after, a Moog synthesizer introduces a heavy, melodic bassline, shepherding the viewer into the modern era.
Bond was always a romanticized idea of the old fashioned man being a true paragon of masculinity. Yet it was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which would examine that idea and see it for the poison it is. For this is the film in which that womanizing scoundrel, James Bond, finally falls in love and settles down. And we experience this falling in love with the final recorded song by the legendary Louis Armstrong, my favourite 007 theme, “We Have All The Time In The World”.
But this is still a Bond film in the late-60s, so of course we also get some hippie cheese thrown in for good measure. Enjoy, a sunnier Christmas song for you to throw on the old record player this December.
Oh! Before I go, on top of being the single greatest James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service also features one of the best deaths in the entire series as well. Behold! The most gruesome fate met by an evil henchmen in a supposedly PG film.