OHMSS’s 40th anniversary Part V: the film’s legacy

Forty years after its release, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has one of the most mixed legacies of the James Bond film series.

1. While profitable, it would be the first film in the series not to be considered a hit and a major financial success.

2. It scared away producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman from further faithful adaptations of Ian Fleming stories. It wouldn’t be until 1981 (and after Saltzman departed the series) when For Your Eyes Only utilized large portions of two Fleming short stories that much of Fleming’s plots appeared in a film.

3. A combination of No. 1 and No. 2 caused the series to go in a much lighter direction in the 1970s. There wasn’t even a hint of the unhappy ending of OHMSS, which concluded with Bond’s bride perishishing.

4. Despite all that, OHMSS is viewed by many hard-core Bond fans (or “the base” in the language of politicians) as one of the best, if not the best film in the series.

5. Even if you don’t buy into No. 4, it features one of the best of John Barry’s 11 scores for the series, one that Barry has referred to as his “most Bondian.”

6. It had a terrific performance by Diana Rigg as Bond’s doomed bride. While fans debate about George Lazenby’s turn as 007, his Bond was more vulnerable than the one by Sean Connery. It contributed to a film, under the guidance of director Peter Hunt, that took more chances than its immediate predecessors, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. There was still spectacle, but there was emotion to go with it. It’s a unique chapter in the film story of 007, one that hasn’t really been matched since.

RIP the “real” Miss Moneypenny, Dame Victoire Ridsdale

Today’s Times of London reports the passing of Dame Victoire “Paddy” Ridsdale, the purported real-life inspiration for Miss Moneypenny, secretary to the head of Ian Fleming’s fantasy British Secret Service.

Ms. Ridsdale (née Bennet) and Fleming got to know each other when they served together in the British Naval Intelligence Department during World War II.

Dame Victoire Ridsdale and Lois Maxwell

The Times article goes on to mention several other alleged contenders for the inspiration of Fleming’s beloved character. Kathleen Pettigrew was personal assistant to MI6 chief Stewart Menzies. Margaret Priestly helped manage the legendary 30 Commando Assault Unit — Fleming’s “Red Indians.”

The entire article, Woman who provided the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny dies aged 88 is online as of December 19. HMSS extends its condolences to her family and friends.

(On a parallel note, HMSS previously commented on the real-life inspiration for 007’s secretary, Loelia Ponsonby.)