James Bond: licence revoked

The case for George Lazenby

`This never happened to the other fella." It is 25 years since George Lazenby said that line in his first and last film as James Bond, and it perfectly summed up his brief, unhappy tenure as 007.

Lazenby was the Australian male model selected after a Scarlett-like search to step into Sean Connery's tux and shoulder holster for On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969 - the film for which Louis Armstrong's posthumous chart hit, "We Have All the Time in the World", was the theme song.

Conventional mythology holds that Lazenby gave a terrible performance in the worst film of the series, which flopped at the box-office - after which he was dismissed. Not true: On Her Majesty's Secret Service made a healthy profit, is now regarded by true aficionados as one of the best ever Bond movies, and Lazenby resigned. And his performance, derided by critics as wooden, was, in retrospect, an object lessen in fluidity compared with the humourless stiffness of prevailing 1990s action-adventur e stars like Van Damme and Seagal.

Lazenby, an absolute beginner, more than held his own in a film that also featured the most accomplished actress ever to appear in the series, Diana Rigg. No one can claim he wasn't awkward in some scenes. But then, so was Sean Connery in his first Bond film, Dr No (1962).

In fact, it took Connery three Bond movies to establish himself as one of the coolest, hippest cultural icons. By then, it no longer mattered if he was miscast as Ian Fleming's James Bond: Bond and Connery were synonymous. If the Beatles were bigger thanJesus, Connery as Bond wasn't far behind. Every lad wanted to be Connery, every Dad thought he already was. "Sean Connery is James Bond!" screamed the posters for You Only Live Twice in 1967. But in 1969 he wasn't. George Lazenby was. And everyone resented Lazenby for it.

Worse, a decidedly hostile press dreamt up an alleged on-set feud between Lazenby and Rigg. The relentless negative publicity provoked Lazenby into displays of truculence that fed the popular but grossly inaccurate perception of him as an uncouth, arrog a nt Aussie. Lazenby found himself the most misrepresented actor in screen history and felt compelled to resign from future Bondage even before On Her Majesty's Secret Service had wrapped.

Lazenby's career never recovered. Despite some notable performances in films like Universal Soldier (1971) and Peter Bogdanovich's Saint Jack (1979), his film appearances have been sporadic at best.

He made a wry Bondian cameo performance in the 1983 television movie The Return of the Man from UNCLE, and hosted a biopic of Ian Fleming on American television in 1990. Yet Lazenby's link with Bond remains ignored by audiences and the industry's bizarr e prejudice against On Her Majesty's Secret Service persists: it's the one Bond film MGM / UA Home Video has not re-released as a "special collector's edition".

Lazenby didn't survive Bond, but Bond easily survived him. Sean Connery returned for Diamonds Are Forever (1971) before handing over the licence to get rich to Roger Moore. Every Bond film ends with the promise that "James Bond Will Return". Sadly, Geor g e Lazenby's 007 never did.

Martin Sterling

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks