Everyone has something to talk about from last night’s Oscars. There was certainly a decent amount of joyous news, like the surprise of CODA being named this year’s Best Picture. Then there’s also serious matters, such as Chris Rock and Will Smith’s altercation, which is still being discussed and investigated by The Academy itself. In-between the highs and the lows of the 93rd Academy Awards are moments that landed ok, but still needed some work. Yet even when I had identified the ways that last night’s tribute to the James Bond movies could have been improved, one factor needed to be discussed on its own: the speech introducing the clip reel itself left out a very important actor.
In case you missed the show, or even just the 60th anniversary celebration of 007 that The Oscars ran, I’m going to let you watch the video below. While watching presenters Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater and Shaun White discuss their take on the James Bond franchise. See if you can notice who’s missing from the lineup of actors who have played the role:
That’s right: George Lazenby, despite being quite present in the video montage set to the tune of “Live and Let Die,” wasn’t even mentioned in the opening speech. The second actor to play the role, in-between the exit and brief return we saw in the Sean Connery era of James Bond, Lazenby’s solo entry, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is considered by some as one of the most underrated films in the 007 canon. Which, sadly, leads to moments where his contributions to the series are overlooked; and it’s a total shame whenever it happens.
No ill will is harbored towards the presenters, as Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater and Shaun White were reading from the same teleprompters everyone else had in front of them. So if anyone’s going to be held accountable, it should be the writers of the show, unless someone can prove that the introduction written was supposed to include George Lazenby. Even then, the nerves of the night may have led to some sort of snafu; which could have easily been corrected, among the other tweaks the 007 tribute should have made to this celebration.
Putting all of those caveats into play, the omission of Lazenby is still somewhat of a travesty; even more so than trying to debate whether or not On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a Christmas movie, which it absolutely is! Though the actor himself had some complicated feelings on the James Bond canon back in the day, he has gone on to embrace it fully. By the time George Lazenby saw No Time To Die last fall, he noticed how Daniel Craig’s big departure took its cues from his own singular outing, and felt nothing but love for that fact.
Which brings back a very important aspect of how that movie factors into the 007 legacy overall. Ill-received in its time, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has gone on to represent a touchstone for some of the most important references and course corrections that the James Bond franchise has undertaken. In almost six full decades of cinematic service, the twists and turns of this movie helped define the world of James Bond throughout the generations that would follow in its footsteps.
Through every actor that would succeed him in the tuxedo, George Lazenby’s iconic entry has influenced some huge choices in the films that followed. Roger Moore visits the grave site of the slain Tracy Bond in For Your Eyes Only, while Timothy Dalton and even Pierce Brosnan’s incarnations have callbacks to that moment in their handling of romantic relationships. It was all thanks to the shocking ending Lazenby’s single adventure revealed to its fans, which inspired a rather fantastic echo in the recent past, as you’ll see below:
That moment feels like part of the inspiration that Daniel Craig must have drawn from when requesting that at the end of his tenure, James Bond should die. Making that decision all the way back in the Casino Royale days, Craig always knew where he wanted Commander Bond to end up. In the long run, that decision is even a fantastic mirror to the chain of events that saw Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) sacrificing herself in order to save 007. All that was left was for co-writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga to connect the dots and mine On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for some further inspiration. Thus, history was made in No Time To Die.
Seeing how important On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has always been to the cinematic legacy connected to Ian Fleming’s literary giant, leaving George Lazenby out of the introduction to the Oscars’ big celebratory montage is an unfair slight. Other Bond fans have noticed this, and Mr. Lazenby has in turn picked up on the public’s outpouring of respect for his crucial role in making James Bond history.
As one of those fans myself, I will close by simply saying thank you to George Lazenby. You may only have one film to your credit in the series, but James Bond wouldn’t be anything like what it is today without On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. For you, sir, the Bond fandom has all the time in the world, and we thank you now and always.