Bond stubbed out his cigarette, gave a quick glance round their trysting-place to fix its banality in his mind, and walked to the door, leaving the fragments of his old life torn up amidst the debris of an airport breakfast.
I have been dithering about writing a review for On Her Majesty's Secret Service. You see, I absolutely adore the film. It is the perfect Bond movie in my book (yes, even with THAT Bond).
It has a great story, fantastic cars, superb banter, evil masterminds, ridiculous evil plans to hold the world ransom, the typical Fleming level of fantastical "scientific" dazzle (of bullshit), dedicated hench(wo)men, ....
It had only been a try-on, to see what form the negative answer would take. But, as Bond followed her into the dining-room, it was quite an effort to restrain his right shoe from giving Irma Bunt a really tremendous kick in her tight, bulging behind.
lots of action,...even tho it's none of this:
and lots and lots of lovely scenery:
I love, love, love that movie. I'm sorry if I am going over-board a bit with the images, but what is not to love about the photography in this film, right?
The great thing about the original novel is that it actually is very, very close to the film. (I should say the film is close to the novel, but I think we have already established that I came to the book through the film.) Of all the Bond novels, I've read so far, this one was the one that most satisfied my expectations. And, with respect to the plot, the book was actually better than the film because we had more page time to explore the background to several scenes that don't necessarily make sense in the film such as how come that Blofeld's lair is in the middle of a ski resort? Or, why does Bond impersonate a Scot? Or, is there a reason for Tracy's manic-depressive behaviour at the beginning of the film?
The novel provides answers to all of this and really fleshes out the story beyond what the film could ever try do, but that is what is inherently magical in books - they allow for changes of perspective and inner monologues to be woven into the narrative.
He felt deeply protective towards her. But he knew that their relationship, and her equanimity, rested on a knife-edge which must not be disturbed.
However, even with the additional detail, I still could not love the book as much as I do love the film. Having thought about it for quite some time, I've come to the conclusion that there are three distinct reasons why the book did not quite work for me:
1. Fleming's attitude
Yes, while both the book and the film are definitely a product of their time, Fleming's novel includes a few more scenes that are just insupportable, such as that women may have a "subconscious desire to be raped" or that a woman who suffers from depression can magically snap out of it if only she meets the right man. Truly Fleminesque what-the-fuckery! I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Fleming was a sexist douche-canoe.
Gee, I don't like the man. While the book's insight into the motivations of characters could be of benefit, the film greatly improved Bond as a character by leaving out some of the inner monologue...
Bond awoke, sweating. God Almighty! What had he done? But no! It wouldn’t be like that! Definitely not. He would still have his tough, exciting life, but now there would be Tracy to come home to.
All the right reasons, right?
However, I do have to hand it to Bond, he does make a stand when it comes to being paid by Tracy's father to take her off his hands. Bond sniffs at a million pounds in gold in order to stick with his principles. And, by the end of the book, Bond is truly shaken.
The character of Tracy, played in the film by the incomparable Diana Rigg, is fabulous. Tracy's got some issues (which are explained in the book but not in the film), but she takes no nonsense, stands up to people, kicks Bond's butt at car racing, and saves his hide from Blofeld. Yet, compared with the fabulous character in the film, book Tracy is a mere shadow of Rigg's depiction. There is a particular part of the dialogue in the book that has not transferred into the film, where Tracy relinquishes her independence.
While the scene and thought is appropriate for the time of the book's publication, it is still sad to see Tracy clip her own wings like that.
"She looked seriously at him, at every detail of his face. Then she leaned forward and they kissed. She got up briskly. ‘I suppose I’ve got to get used to doing what you say.'"
As you may have noticed, I haven't said much about the plot. As any other James Bond plot, it's ridiculous and outlandish. In particular, I didn't want to mention the completely daft idea of treating allergies with hypnosis. Oh, and Blofeld - besides wanting to take over the world - is looking into improving his family history with some certified connections to aristocracy. Again, ... not the most plausible in my mind, but oh well.
The main part of this Bond instalment is the love story, and the impact the encounter has on Bond. I have watched the film countless times, so the end of the book was no surprise. Still, the ending of the book, actually reading the lines, really got to me.
‘It’s all right,’ he said in a clear voice as if explaining something to a child. ‘It’s quite all right. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry. You see –’ Bond’s head sank down against hers and he whispered into her hair – ‘you see, we’ve got all the time in the world.’