Christmas themed spy-related entertainment

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service poster

The holidays are fast approaching. With that in mind, the blog is reminded of some Christmas-themed spy-related entertainment.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): The sixth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions may not be an “official” Christmas film but it’ll do.

James Bond (George Lazenby) is hunting for Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) while also falling in love with Tracy (Diana Rigg).

This time out, Blofeld has brainwashed his “angels of death,” who will spread “virus Omega” at the villain’s command. If that happens, that will wipe out all sorts of crops and livestock.

Bond manages to go undercover at Blofeld’s lair in Switzerland but is discovered. Blofeld sends out his latest batch of “angels” on Christmas Eve. Bond manages to escape, meets up with Tracy.

Bond proposes to Tracy, but she gets captured by Blofeld, setting up a big climatic sequence.

It was the first Bond film to end unhappily when Tracy is killed on her honeymoon with Bond. It’s arguably the most faithful adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel and an epic film in its own right. And, for what it’s worth, there are many reminders of Christmas during the Switzerland sequences.

Teaser trailer for Diamonds Are Forever: Diamonds Are Forever was released for the Christmas move season of 1971. The teaser trailer played up the Christmas angle.

The movie also marked Sean Connery’s return as Bond after a four-year absence. But the teaser trailer had a gunbarrel without Connery (but still wearing a hat).

Teaser trailer for The Man With the Golden Gun: The teaser trailer for Roger Moore’s second 007 film utilized a similar Christmas theme.

On top of that, the trailer had a scene between Bond and Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) that didn’t make it into the final film.

Chairman Koz makes a point to Solo and Illya in The Jingle Bells Affair

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Jingle Bells Affair (first broadcast Dec. 23, 1966): The story begins in New York during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (the start of the Christmas shopping season). U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (the latter, after all, a Russian) are acting as bodyguards for a Soviet leader, Chairman Koz (Akim Tamiroff).

Why Soviet? In one scene in Act III, Koz slams a shoe down on a desk, a la Nikita Khrushchev.

At one point, Koz gets separated from the U.N.C.L.E. agents and dresses as Santa Claus and interacts with children. Koz, dressed as Santa, helps to save the life of a sick kid. In the end, East and West call a truce and wish everyone Merry Christmas.

This was a third-season episode when the series went in a campy direction. The Spy Commander’s review on the third-season page of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide doesn’t give it a high grade.

The FBI: Dark Christmas (first broadcast Dec. 24, 1972): FBI Inspector (Erskine) and Special Agent Colby (William Reynolds) are on the trail of a hit man (Don Gordon). The hit man’s target is a family man who once was involved in a criminal organization but got out.

The case reaches a climax on Christmas Eve. The family man is coming home from a job but doesn’t know the hit man is waiting for him at his home. Colby and other FBI agents get the man’s children to safety. Erskine then confronts and apprehends the hit man. Until Act IV, the episode is a basic procedural show. The Christmas themes are mostly in the final act and epilogue.

While The FBI wasn’t a spy show per se, it had a lot of espionage-related stories. Also, it’s the subject of another website of the Spy Commander, The FBI episode guide. This episode gets a relatively high grade on the eight-season page.

Note: This was an early credit for Sondra Locke (1944-2018), who plays a spinster-like character who falls for Gordon’s character.

4 Responses

  1. For years in San Francisco, EVERY James Bond movie opened at the Royal theater on Polk Street going back to my childhood. I was there on every opening day for years and then as an adult continued going and met a friend and he and I would go see James Bond. I can remember one Bond being advertised as coming out in December and the trailer saying ” its your Christmas present ” with a very cute girl doing it. OHMSS ? Maybe But being 66, I do not remember which one. I saw Thunderball there and every Bond until I moved to Sacramento in 1980 from 1964 to 1980/

    I do have a personal tie to James Bond.

    On my Mothers side, Lotte Lenya was an aunt and Kurt Weill was an uncle. When From Russia With Love opened, I wrote Lotte Lenya a letter to her home in New York and asked her just one question in the letter ( after the usual pleasantries and such :

    ” Dear Aunt Lotte,

    I just saw From Russia With Love and enjoyed it. Why did you try to KILL James Bond ?

    Love,

    George

    Being all of 10 I was stunned to see my Aunt try to kill a film hero. I could not differentiate that it was a film. All I could see was MY Aunt was on the screen !

    She and my Mother used to write and call each other and she called my Mother and told her she had received my letter and laughed for a good half an hour and kept chuckling the rest of the day about it. She wrote me a letter about it but sadly it is one of many treasures that I lost when I lost my storage in 2001.

    I enjoy your emails and forward them to my oldest friend Paul Moslander and my friends from time to time.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

    George Senda

  2. George: Wow. That a great story.

  3. In spite of being an obsessive MFU fan, not only was there no trivia to be found (except continuity errors) for the “The Jingle Bells Affair,” it bored me as a kid. Nor was it run in syndication much. My hunch being, an effort to bury it. Benzadmiral (IMO) provided the best send-up, on every detail including the wardrobe! To be fair, when these bombs happened, I always ask myself what were the writers/producers smoking that week!! It was after all, … the 60’s!!

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