Main Menu Audio/Animation
Audio Commentary - Peter Hunt (Director), et al
Featurette - Inside On Her Majesty's Secret Service, An Original Documentary (41:42)
Featurette - Inside Q's Lab, The Gadgets Of 007 (10:24)
Featurette - Above It All (5:27)
Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0) (2:08)
TV Spots (5)
Radio Spots (7)
|Running Time||135:34 Minutes|
Fox Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||2.0 mono|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
At the end of shooting on 1967's You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery announced to the world out of frustration with the way he was being treated by the press that he would not be playing the famous secret agent again. Indeed, one could hardly expect him to behave any differently, given that the press in countries like Japan had begun to follow him into such places as the men's room. This left United Artists with a perplexing choice: to either hang up the Bond franchise forever, or to find another actor to fill Connery's overwhelming shoes. Obviously, they chose the latter, and the choice of actor they made ultimately came as a shock to many Bond fans: an Australian model by the name of George Lazenby, who had no previous acting experience in motion pictures. Lazenby had basically bluffed his way into the role by telling the producers that he did have acting experience, as well as getting himself a Connery-style haircut and a Rolex watch, then passing himself off as a playboy. After many a screen test and fight scene rehearsal, the producers proclaimed Lazenby the new James Bond. The film that was to follow, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, was not well received by audiences or critics, who were not at all impressed by the attempt to take the character of James Bond in a new direction. Subsequently, 1971's Diamonds Are Forever saw Connery return to the role after being given an unprecedented offer by United Artists that also involved financial backing for several of his own film projects. All I can say is that I sorely wish that they'd extended Connery the same offer to play Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, as his presence would have helped the new direction of the series become a permanent fixture. Indeed, the only film that has so divided the Bond fanbase to the same degree as this one was 1989's License To Kill, another film that saw Bond develop a shocking (to fans of the Connery Bond films, anyway) ingredient called a personality.
In case you've been wanting a plot summation of some kind, it goes a little something like this: James Bond (George Lazenby) is on a nice drive when he stops at a beach and witnesses Tracy (Diana Rigg) going to drown herself in the ocean. After he has fought off a pair of thugs and rescued Tracy from an indiscretion at a French casino, Bond is introduced to her father, crime boss Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti). Draco's proposal is somewhat unusual in that he wants Bond to court his daughter in exchange for information that could lead to the capture of SPECTRE boss Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas), who is planning his own germ warfare scheme from a hideaway in the Swiss Alps. In the scenes that follow, James and Tracy get to know one another and fall in love, which makes an excellent contrast from the pure lust he shows towards women in the other eighteen films that currently make up the Bond canon. As a matter of fact, after saving the world (again), Bond eventually marries Tracy, much to the shock of his comrades in MI6, especially Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) and Q (Desmond Llewelyn). I'll leave my description of the plot there, for those who have yet to see this episode of the Bond series, because it really is worth seeing for oneself on the basis of what a radical departure from the other Bond films it is.
After hearing the comments of more hardcore Bond fans, I was quite amazed to find that this is easily one of the best Bond films, if not the very best of the best. George Lazenby, on the other hand, ranks closely with Roger Moore as the weakest actor to take the Bond role, although he is a lot better than what I had been led to expect. It is also worth noting that this is the film in which we are shown the Bond family coat of arms, complete with the Latin motto "Orbis Non Suffucit", which is translated in the film as "The World Is Not Enough", when a more exact translation would be "the world is insufficient". Like many a Paul Verhoeven film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service has been vilified by those not capable of understand what the film is about, and is clearly superior to films that the same people describe as being masterworks. Don't let the negative reviews put you off, because as far as story is concerned, this is definitely the best Bond film of the lot, even if the acting is not quite up to the same standard.
The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is quite sharp throughout, but there are moments, usually fight scenes, when some clarity is lost for a second or two. The shadow detail can be described as sufficient, with the limitations of 1969 film stock being all too obvious in the darker scenes that don't make up too much of the film. There is no low-level noise in the darker portions of the transfer, although some grain can be found in some shots, especially early in the film.
The colour saturation can be described as being muted, but this is more an issue with the decor used on the sets than any specific problem with the transfer. The colour palette seemed to be biased towards red, which seems to be quite common with films produced before the mid-1980s. Overall, the colour saturation in this transfer is an accurate reflection of how the film originally looked, but still quite aged in appearance.
MPEG artefacts were not noticed during the main feature, although some are apparent in the featurettes, as was the case with The World Is Not Enough. The compression is not quite as tight on this film, but the bitrate is literally all over the place to accommodate over three hours worth of video. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of aliasing that was infrequent, but somewhat distressing to look at when it was noted, as it was very noticeable and distracting because of its severity. Car chrome, menswear, and even some cables shimmered with moderate severity. Film artefacts were also quite noticeable to begin with, but these settled down to a less intrusive level about twenty minutes into the film.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, but several viewings with both soundtracks failed to turn up a location for the layer change. Obviously, this means it is very good, considering my players' reputations for magnifying layer changes. I will continue to view this film periodically until I find a layer change, at which time I shall let you all know where it is.
The score music by John Barry is very dramatic, and lends a serious tone to the proceedings, which could have easily become farcical without it. The lack of an opening theme song on this film actually makes the credits much more enjoyable to watch, and the music that is presented at this point lends the coming film a more serious, earthy feel. The serious edge of this film is perfectly encapsulated in the music, making it all the more painfully obvious that this film is regarded as the black sheep of the Bond franchise for no other offence than trying to give viewers a reason to take it seriously.
The surround presence on this disc was obviously non-existent, with the only sounds being heard from the stereo speakers. It's a pity, because the soundtrack would have really benefited from having the music separated into the rears, although the clarity of the soundtrack is surprisingly good considering how many sounds are coming out of the same channels. The subwoofer was more or less completely silent for the entire feature, with very little in the soundtrack requiring anything in the way of low-frequency support.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is good.
The extras are comprehensive.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|