OHMSS’s 40th anniversary Part I: The men who would be Bond

In a few short weeks it will be the 40th anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The film is a) one of the best, if not the best, James Bond movies; b) the “first major hiccup” in the Bond series (as TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz put it in introducing Diamonds Are Forever when that film was shown on TCM in May; c) the rare Bond film with an unhappy ending.

It’s such an important film to the Bond series, we figured it was worth the same treatment we gave to Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary. The best place to start is with the obvious: it was the first film in the official 007 film series not to star Sean Connery.

The reasons for that have been much written about, including Connery’s tiring of the role *and* feeling unappreciated and underpaid (particularly in comparison to the paychecks Dean Martin was getting for the Matt Helm film series). You can’t have a Bond movie without a Bond, so somebody had to be chosen.

Life magazine gave its readers a view of the five finalists in a collage of photographs taken by Loomis Dean.

The late Peter Hunt, the film’s director, described in the documentary Inside On Her Majesty’s Secret Service there were numerous potential Bonds tested. The Life photos gave a hint of that, including actor John Richardson performing a love scene. Also shown was a shot of actor Anthony Rogers’s screen test. Others under consideration were Hans De Vries, Robert Cambell and an Australian model named George Lazenby.

Life also showed actors auditioning for other roles including Agneta Eckemyr doing a screen test, apparently for the role of Tracy, 007’s doomed bride. In that photo Hunt can be seen in the lower right.

In the end, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman went with George Lazenby, the least experienced of the five 007 finalists. The move would have a major effect on the film.

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4 Responses

  1. That “photo” of the five finalists is actually a collage of photos of the five actors.

  2. Delmo: point taken and we edited the text to reflect that. Thanks kindly.

  3. Strange that you didn’t mention…Brigitte Bardot in the Tracy contenders ,who was asked to screen-test for OHMSS too ( she confirmed it in her memoirs ) . By some twisted fate , she co-starred with the ‘real bond ‘ that same year in Shalako indeed …Catherine Deneuve was also asked but declined too .

  4. [...] The rookie was former model George Lazenby, selected from five finalists vying to play 007. [...]

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