OHMSS’s 40th anniversary Part III: Peter Hunt shakes up the 007 franchise

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James Bond had a co-star of sorts: director Peter Hunt.

Hunt, who had been with the Bond film series from the beginning, had the biggest impact on the 007 franchise by a director since his friend Terence Young directed Dr. No in 1962. He pressed for a return to Ian Fleming after producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had ditched the author’s novel and retained only the title and some characters of You Only Live Twice. His drive inspired Richard Maibaum to write perhaps his best script of the series (helped by Simon Raven, who punched up the dialogue in some key scenes).

Hunt was film editor of the first three Bond films, supervising editor for the fourth, Thunderball, and held that role plus second unit director on You Only Live Twice. OHMSS would be Hunt’s 007 swan song but he made an epic Bond adventure which, for the first time, included an unhappy ending. Back in 2002, after Hunt passed away, HMSS’s Rob Cotton wrote an appreciation of Hunt’s contribution to the series and, especially, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

In the economic sense, Hunt was unsuccessful. OHMSS wasn’t the financial blockbuster (though it earned a profit) of Goldfinger, Thunderball and to a lesser extent, You Only Live Twice. In the artistic sense? Well, Hunt directed what amounts to the most faithful adaptation of an Ian Fleming James Bond novel and a film that some Bond fans say is ranked at or near the top of the series. Also, of all the directors who’ve worked in the series, Hunt was bold enough to work with the least-experienced Bond actor. All in all, whatever you think of the film, Hunt’s impact not only on OHMSS but the series itself is huge.