Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Special | Movie Style: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

'On Her Majesty's Secret Service', released in 1969, is arguably the very best film of the entire franchise for countless reasons. The focus here will be on giving a rundown some of the great styles that are worn in the film. A good deal of the plot occurs during Christmastime –– and the designs  captured in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' are the epitome of late-1960's fashion sensibilities.
Lady In Distress (In THAT Dress)
Diana Rigg, as Tracy, first appears wearing a beautiful mermaid-like sea-colored, paisley-pattered sequined gown with bell sleeves. The dress shimmers in a scene that occurs on a beach at night while Tracy is in danger. Bond, wearing a white shirt and tuxedo trousers, saves her life -- and their fates are sealed forever.
Suited & Booted, Beaded & Needed
'Why do you insist on rescuing me, Mr. Bond?' Bond's next encounter with Tracy occurs in the hotel casino where they are both staying when he bails her out. 'Tracy, next time play it safe, and stand on five.' She counters with, 'People who want to stay alive play it safe.' Lazenby's Bond feels a genuine concern for this doomed lady. 'Please stay alive… At least for tonight.' In this scene, Tracy wears a white dress, its shoulders and low neckline intricately beaded with small white pearls. Bond wears a sleek and classic tuxedo. His white shirt has front ruffling that would soon be more common for tuxedo styles in the 1970's.
A Leisure Suit, Tweed & Dual Equestrian Styles
Tracy's father, Draco, asks Bond to marry his daughter -- to help keep her grounded. Bond is reluctant to make such a personal deal, but information from Draco can be useful in tracking down the whereabouts of his nemesis, Blofeld. When Bond has this discussion with Draco, he wears an actual leisure suit. It is a dark tan-colored leisure suit and he wears an orange mock turtleneck underneath. This is a very neat, late-1960's transitional look. Next, Bond joins Draco at his birthday party, where Tracy insists that her father gives Bond the information he needs without any more talk of marrying her off to him. From that point on, Bond and Tracy fall in love with one another legitimately, without ulterior motives on either side. In this scene, Bond wears a tweed jacket to top off his equestrian style, complete with riding boots; Tracy wears a high-collared white lace shirt with a black riding suit, hot pink cummerbund-like belt, black hat, gloves and boots.
'We Have All The Time In The World' Sequence
'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' is in many ways the epitome of the Bond franchise. The action sequences. The cinematography. The aesthetics, from the the cars to the buildings, to the interior design. Peter Hunt's impeccable direction. George Lazenby -- who played Bond only once but left a lasting impression. He is the only 007 who looks and behaves not like an actor playing a spy, but instead like a capable man who could have actually been a spy in real life. Diana Rigg -- the only Bond girl to become a Mrs. Bond -- who was already beloved at the time for having been Emma Peel. Telly Savalas as Blofeld. John Barry's musical score, Louis Armstrong's beautiful tune. The locations. The fashion from 1969.
And the romance –– which is unlike any other in the series, since James Bond actually marries Tracy. The sequence that follows Draco's birthday is also unlike anything that's ever occurred in the Bond series. We see glimpses of James and Tracy's blossoming love to the lovely sound of Louis Armstrong's 'We Have All The Time In The World'. Immediately following the sequence, during which the new couple shops for an engagement ring, Bond, Tracy and Draco share a car. Draco sits awkwardly and cramped in the middle as Tracy and James look at each other adoringly from either side of him. The chemistry between Lazenby and Rigg in OHMSS is palpable. Tracy wears a 20's-inspired ensemble of yellow tweed, complete with silk scarf and a smart hat. James wears another beautifully tailored gray suit with light blue-gray shirt and a black tie. When they drop 007 off, he says: 'I'll get cracking on this appointment and catch up with you later.' Tracy, casually and amused: 'The story of our life, James?' James: 'Just keep my martini cold.' There is an easiness and casualness to their rapport that lends to their wanting to be married to each other. It's touching, and believable.
During the sequence, Tracy wears an ice blue mini dress while James wears his tuxedo; Tracy wears a white, light green and yellow color block mini-dress while James wears a navy inspired military-style blazer with gold buttons, navy tie and khaki slacks; Tracy wears a light pink mini-skirt suit with a purple scarf and light pink hat while James wears a beautiful light gray suit as they shop. Throughout the sequence, in each moment together, James Bond puts his arm loving and adoringly around Tracy's shoulders. It is the most romantic sequence in all of cinema. At least in this Examiner's estimation (and it would've been perfect, except for my wanting to hug -- and free -- the adorable bears who appear very briefly in a zoo at the very end of the sequence.) 'Nothing more. Nothing less. Only love.'
A Spy In Disguise, The Angels Of Death & Christmas At Blofeld's
In OHMSS, Bond goes undercover. He poses as genealogist Sir Hilary Gray in order to get close to Ernst Stavro Blofeld. For these scenes, Bond amusingly dresses in Sherlock Holmes style, complete with caped wool coat, tweed cap, horn-rimmed glasses and pipe. He also assumes a stuffier British accent. He dresses for dinner in his (Sir Hilary's) proper Scottish Highland dress with kilt -- where he meets the beautiful patients at Blofeld's 'allergy-research institute'. Each one is lovely and they're dressed as if they've walked right off of a runway, in silks, beads, jewels, brocades, pearls, bright colors. The interior of the institute looks like the most elegant ski resort drawing room. Bond might be in a pickle, surrounded by these incredibly lovely, vulnerable ladies (not only accessible, they're more than willing) while he's engaged to the loveliest of them all. And Tracy is far away at the moment.
After a couple of trysts (this is Lazenby's Bond, after all, not poor Dalton's) Bond's cover is blown, the 'angels' are hypnotized and sent off to perform their actual missions, and Bond is left to spend Christmas with Blofeld and his henchmen. During some of the scenes, Bond wears a tan cardigan, tie and slacks. Another timeless men's look. During his getaway, Lazenby as Bond dons a chic blue ski suit, and his stunt man performs perhaps the most incredible ski chase sequence in the history of film set to John Barry's incomparable score. He's rescued by Tracy at a skating rink. Tracy is dressed in a caramel-colored skating ensemble, with matching quilted headband. After spending a night getting reacquainted in a shack, James and Tracy make a run for it (or ski-for-it to be exact); James wears the same blue ski suit from the previous day and Tracy maintains her color-coordinated wardrobe by wearing a caramel-colored ski suit. Tracy can keep up with James as they race away on skis, which is yet another testament to their being a perfect match.
Attack At Blofeld's & Tracy's Rescue
The furs worn in OHMSS would be nice if replicated using synthetic materials. The first one is Tracy's coat when she rescues Bond; she wears it over her caramel-colored skating outfit. And one truly worth noting is Tracy's leisure outfit when she is held captive by Blofeld. It's an all black ensemble, save for the gray trim (a replica of this look would be nice with fake fur) along the neck, hood and sleeves. Blofeld tells Tracy before taking and kissing her hand: 'Now, if you're very, very nice to me -- I could make you my countess.' Tracy replies, taking her hand away: 'But I'm already a countess.' Blofeld, irritated by her insolence: 'Whereas if you displease me I can promise you a very different estate.' When Tracy realizes 007 and her father are on their way to rescue her, she feigns interest in Blofeld, just until the attack. During the attack, Tracy, a.k.a. Diana Rigg, demonstrates her Emma Peel-like fighting skills and holds her own against Blofeld and his men.
All of the action here is superb, again. And it all ends on a happy note when an adorable St. Bernard pads over in the snow, drops and rolls next to James Bond to offer him his hand in affection. 'Never mind that,' Bond jokes. 'Go and get the brandy, huh? Five star Hennessey, of course.'
A Beautiful Wedding & A Most Tragic Ending
James Bond parks his Aston Martin DBS in front of the jewelry store. He wears a sky blue suit. He chooses the ring he and Tracy had eyed before, a unique band of silver and gold melted into each other. The ring was designed for the film -- and it actually spells out 'All The Love In the World'.
For his wedding, James Bond wears a black morning coat over gray waistcoat with matching gray trousers, light gray silk tie, and a white carnation in his lapel. He also has a bowler hat. Tracy wears what appears to be a dress entirely of a daisy motif lace, with a white gauzy chiffon coat over it; however, she does not marry James Bond in a dress. The lace beauty she wears is, in fact -- and incredibly -- a wide-legged trouser jumpsuit. She is a very modern woman. For Diana Rigg to be married in a jumpsuit on film, at that time (and the jumpsuit is only evident in publicity photos, not in the film) would have surely been an ode to Emma Peel -- with her iconic jumpsuits -- as well.
It is painful to watch the final moments of this film. Any couple, especially one as happy as James and Tracy, should have the chance to live an entire lifetime to love one another. Indeed, they should have had all the time in the world.


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