The World Is Not Enough

Routine was the death-watch beetle of a gentleman blogger’s soul, but also the critical element to forging on. Still, Divine was tired. Too many late nights at Le Cercle playing chemin de fer or traipsing from one Pan-Am flight to another; the cursory thrill of the green felt table stacked with cards and chips or sipping a watered down martini in the airport lounge while trying to provoke a response from the svelte stewardess, had been replaced by a dull throbbing in his head and fitless sleep at 4 a.m., waking up in a stranger’s bed or hanging from a danger’s ledge. He had chosen this solitary life, but lately he found himself asking “Why?”

Even the bachelor’s meals he ridiculously prided himself had lost their flavor: his famous scrambled eggs on toast, replete with Tiptree jam and four rashers of bacon washed down by a pot of Italian coffee and French brandy, capped by 20 Morland cigarettes, would have been enough to spur him onto the next battle at hand. Now he stared at the remnants like a weary soldier over canteen rations. He was told by his dear secretary to “stock up on Green Tea” for which he uttered an expletive and repeated his famous critique, “Tea is mud.” He found himself sitting at his desk, looking over the gunmetal laptop screen to the window of the world beyond, wondering where it had gone — or if he was the one who had left. Yes, routine had encased him like a spider’s silky web and he knew there was only one thing left to do: call Agent Kennedy and slip into the Aero Theatre for a BFI screening of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE — featuring a Q&A with former 007, George Lazenby.

Getting to the Aero undercover without alerting hidden enemies was standard procedure for Agents Kennedy and Divine, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying a light dinner of grilled sole, salad, brie cheese washed down with a bottle of White Bordeaux 69 (in honor of the film’s release year) and then topped with six espressos and 16 cigarettes between them. Suitably fortified, the team made their way without violence into the comfortable confines of the Aero Theatre. Eventually the audience arrived in force, and the agents were pleased to see that their brethren had filled the house. OHMSS and Lazenby deserved this 40th anniversary tribute. In fact, the film had become Divine’s favorite James Bond in the series, primarily because the screenplay was the most faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s powerful novel, and also due to the agent’s bent for the outre (in the same way GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER was one of his favored Toho epics). You can click on this dossier for more on the pleasures of OHMSS.

The print was spectacular, the best he had ever seen the film projected, no doubt due to the BFI’s restoration. One thing that stands out about OHMSS among many is that it’s the last time a Bond film had that 60’s Eon Productions Panavision style, and in keeping with the decade’s turbulence, a tragic ending. People in the audience actually gasped which was good to hear as all were swept up once again on 007’s most defining adventure. Afterwards, Our Man Bond, George Lazenby, stepped onstage to a heartfelt standing ovation. Every true fan loves and empathizes with the agent who blew his chance at the iconic role, as he would be the first to say. And did. Lazenby said the film was good but not his acting; he was honest and self-deprecating about his work. He was a randy storyteller and you could only marvel at the decadence he encountered in his day. He confirmed that the director, Peter Hunt, did not speak to him at all on set after one incident, and it’s almost as if Hunt had sabotaged Lazenby so he would not be Bond in the future. Lazenby admitted he was presented with a long contract at the end of the film, and was offered a million dollars by Cubby Brocoli to sign it, but thanks to the piss-poor advice of his real estate lawyer (who claimed that Bond Was Dead), he refused and found himself moving back to his mother’s house within a few years. Lazenby seems happy today, a devoted father and he openly acknowledges that his youthful arrogance cost him the screen role of a lifetime. That’s probably as it should be, since part of OHMSS melancholia is rooted in Lazenby’s one-time lead. James Bond would never be the same after 1969.

Agents Kennedy and Divine took the hidden exit before they were trapped in a crowd (a deadly conceit to be sure) to the waiting vehicle, navigating the back streets of Santa Monica without trouble. It was a good night for the behind-the-screen team. Ensconced back home, Divine lit up his 37th cigarette of the day and sat in the smokey dark, sipping a final glass of Taittinger’s pink champagne as a midnight reward. After re-visiting the dark romance of 007’s global journey to Piz Gloria and beyond, the agent stared out the window again to the necklace of lights and felt that at least for tonight, the world was just enough.

15 Responses to “The World Is Not Enough”

  1. Great coverage of this event, christian! I do believe it’s the best story in the series. While he’s not my favorite actor for the role of OO7, Lazenby as a person (with that very honest and self-deprecating manner) goes up tremendously in my estimation whenever people come into contact with him. I wish I could have attended last night’s screening (American Cinematheque events are so worth it), but the post moving-to-a-new-home withdrawal symptoms are not a pretty thing. Anyway, thanks so much for covering this in a blog post, my friend.

    • thanks! i do understand those post-moving blues…and pre-moving stress.

      And Lazenby has such great physicality! He even does well in the scene where he meets Draco — one of my favorite Bond scenes.

  2. It was Bond-tacular.

    Glad we did it.

  3. damn you !!!!

    (but thank you for sharing all this good stuff – kiss from iceland, darlink)

    • Iceland?

      • yup. i m currently in the middle of nowhere, in the westfjords actually, able to post this with the help of a fellow hiker allowing us to use his phone for a while. all is green and blue and beautiful, and this breath of fresh air is for you and your wonderful work. peace xian.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience, it sounds like you guys had a blast! I believe OHMSS has surfaced on On Demand, I may have to give it another go. It’s been waaaay too long.

    • I DEMAND you watch it again — but wait until December (and for Blu-ray) when OHMSS is super seasonal, the most atmospheric Bond film in a number of ways.

      • Fortunately, it was actually shown letterboxed on On Demand and I caught up with it this weekend. Wow, it was very impressed by it and appreciate it a lot more now that some time has passed (at least 10 years) since I last saw it. In some ways, it was surprisingly gritty and heartfelt than any other Bond film – very atypical but I wonder if the last two Daniel Craig Bond films were inspired by this one – they certainly share the same kind of vibe in some respects.

        • Glad you got to revisit the film. I’ve seen it more than any other Bond film, and though it’s a true epic at over two and half hours, I never find a dull moment. Amazingly, between the opening fight and the Piz Gloria ski escape, there’s NO ACTION for almost an hour.

          Certainly the producers looked back to OHMSS for their re-boots. And Christoper Nolan did say that OHMSS is the best film ever made (somewhat cheeky but we get the drift).

  5. […] one of my favorite John Barry tunes, allegedly written as a possible theme to ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1969) replete with the wistful melancholia of his greatest Bond […]

  6. […] I’m endlessly intrigued by the many tales of Why George Lazenby Walked Away From James Bond. I saw him speak at a screening where he blamed himself and his manager for thinking that 007 was a 1960′s relic that wouldn’t fly with the […]

  7. The “now in production” ad you’ve used above has been ‘lifted’ from an issue of 007 MAGAZINE – please credit!

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