August 27, 2015
For me, the amazing action, cinematography and music in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service make the film one of the richest pleasures in the Bond series. No doubt the public would agree with this assessment had Connery stayed on as Bond, if only because so many people dismiss the film due to Lazenby. It must also be said that OHMSS – which features Bond falling in love, resigning and getting married – is probably the least appropriate story with which to introduce a new actor.
But what can you do? Last Survivor removes many of Bond’s worst lines, improving Lazenby’s performance (I would have liked to see several other lines dropped, such as “He’s branched off”). LS also wisely cuts references to previous Bond adventures, which in the original film only ensure that Lazenby is haunted by his predecessor in the role.
Scenes are cut so that Tracy can return to the film sooner. Nancy’s seduction is not missed, as it only echoes Ruby’s seduction; neither is Bond’s bash-up with the SPECTRE goons in the barn filled with bells, as there’s plenty more action extravaganza to enjoy. LS also fixes a few pet peeves, such as some goofy editing in the stock car rally and the mistimed detonation countdown at Piz Gloria.
But I feel the editor has cut too much in an effort to speed up the second act. The amusing idea that Bond (posing as Sir Hilary Bray) doesn’t like women isn’t properly established when the dinner scene is trimmed so heavily. Not a huge loss, but the film is less rich for the cut. What is a huge loss, for me, is Telly Savalas’ menacing, take-no-prisoners performance as Blofeld in the curling scene. Blofeld later calls Campbell, the bumbling climber, a “brilliant conversationalist” – a line dripping with condescension, my fav line in the film – but it doesn’t work without Blofeld confronting Campbell at the curling game. While the curling scene certainly could have been shorter, I think excising it completely is a mistake. Blofeld's presence is also diminished when he's not even on screen, as Bond and Bunt's "characteristic ambition" exchange (another fav of mine) is gone, and we hear less in the dinner scene about how much Blofeld controls the clinic's patients.
I found no issues with video or audio quality, and the video editing is seamless. Two issues in audio editing: there’s a loud pop at 52:13; and although I appreciate the option of “We Have All the Time in the World” over the titles sequence (it’s not for me), I would have preferred this option appear in the second audio track, rather than the main audio track, where it took me by surprise (not in a fun way).
I did enjoy the inclusion of John Barry’s “Bond Settles In” when Bond, er, settles in at Piz Gloria. Perhaps a future edit could also include Barry’s beautiful “Dusk at Piz Gloria,” which was unfathomably cut from the original film (you can find the track synced to the proper scene on YouTube). Also, props to LS for using the film’s original mono track, so we can hear all the glorious ‘60s SFX, and for his commentary track, which contains great insight into the mind of an editor and Bond fan.
In summary: The LS Cut makes all the changes necessary to bring OHMSS closer to perfection. However, the removal of too much material (particularly regarding Blofeld and the “angels of death”) brings the film back down for me.