George Lazenby as James Bond, rogue British secret agent
Switzerland, December 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
Here in Pittsburgh, the snow has finally fallen and folks are sporting all the cold weather that they can muster. The weather may be different depending on what part of the world you’re in, but Swiss vacationers should make sure they have some snow attire ready to hit the Alps, Bond style.
The latest Bond adventure, Spectre, has released some photos on location of the cast and crew enjoying the icy slopes of the Sölden ski resort in Austria. It’s hard for a Bond fan to see 007 out in the snow in a blue down jacket without recalling George Lazenby’s similar attire for the climactic battle sequence in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
After escaping thrice from SPECTRE assassins on a brutal Christmas Eve, Bond finds himself back in action with his father-in-law-to-be, an Italian crime boss named Marc-Ange Draco. Bond should receive extra credit for not only taking the initiative to return to Piz Gloria for the rescue mission but also for choosing to spend more time with his future father-in-law. How many of us can say that?
It is also this sequence that gives Lazenby’s Bond his most triumphant moment of the film, blasting away at Blofeld’s nameless thugs with a submachine gun as he slides down the ice after his “mercy flight” helicopter descends on Piz Gloria.
Supposedly, test audiences that were initially ambivalent toward Lazenby cheered as he glided along the ice on his belly with Monty Norman’s iconic theme accompanying him on the soundtrack. This shot was a spur-of-the-moment decision by director Peter Hunt whom, despite his excellent work as an editor in prior Bond films, would not go on to direct any future 007 entries. The scene is also notable for featuring the last onscreen use of John Barry’s original Dr. No arrangement of “The James Bond Theme”.
What’d He Wear?
For Bond and Draco’s commando-style raid on Piz Gloria, the team outfits themselves in seasonal but comfortable winter assault gear. Most of the men sport “anonymous henchman” uniforms of white commando suits and black berets, but heroes Bond and Draco wear blue to make them stand out and to prevent the audience from suspecting that “blue screen” techniques were used during Bond’s stunts on the slopes.
Bond’s primary outer garment is a blue lightweight, weatherproof anorak jacket. The jacket’s terminology is a slight subject of debate, as an anorak can also refer to the longer, more insulated parka. While an anorak simply refers to a waterproof pullover hooded jacket, the British term “cagoule” may be more appropriate for Bond’s jacket as it implies a lighter weight. Cagoules enjoyed the most popularity in the U.K. throughout the 1960s and 1970s when Noel Bibby of Peter Storm Ltd. developed a jacket that could be carried in a compact bag or pocket; sometimes even the jacket’s hood doubled as its own carrier.
Bond’s anorak jacket has a generous fit down through his hips, allowing him plenty of movement while chasing Blofeld both in and out of Piz Gloria. Although it is a pullover jacket, there is a quarter-length fly-covered zipper extending down from the neck to allow his chest to breathe and ease taking the jacket off. As per its definition, the anorak also has a hood. The sleeves are secured by a thin strap on each cuff, fastened through a silver-toned buckle.
There are four external pockets. The two large chest pockets close with Velcro flaps (with two Velcro patches on each flap). There are also two slash “handwarmer” pockets on the hips, below the elasticized waist.
Underneath, Bond wears an air force blue ribbed wool jumper. Only the mock neck and cuffs peek out from under Bond’s jacket, but all of Draco’s men appear to be wearing identical blue sweaters.
Bond’s blue snow pants exactly match his lightweight, weatherproof jacket and are held in place with a thin strap that crosses under his crotch. The matching jacket and pants complete the “mountain suit” look preferred by badass winter fighters like Russia’s elite special troops.
The snow pants tuck into Bond’s plain black snow boots. These boots are constructed with waterproof leather uppers and solid rubberized soles. They are insulated to keep the wearer’s (Bond’s, in this case) feet in extreme cold. A thin black strap over the front fastens through a silver buckle.
Bond wears a pair of insulated black leather gloves with elasticized cuffs further fastened onto his wrists with a strap through a silver buckle.
And finally, since this is James Bond, our hero sports his usual stainless Rolex. In this scene, it is a Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual with a black dial and bezel on a stainless bracelet.
Sideshow Collectibles developed an action figure of 007 in Piz Gloria assault mode, designed by Oluf W. Hartvigson with a very accurate likeness of Lazenby’s head. It even gets his weapons – the Sterling submachine gun and standard Walther PPK – correct. The only real inaccuracies are the laced combat boots and white jumper on the action figure; Lazenby wore unlaced snow boots and a blue jumper in the actual film. Still, anyone interested in hunking down $130 for one of these can still pick it up on Amazon.
Go Big or Go Home
Would James Bond really go to all of this trouble just to rescue one of his countless Bond girls? Sure, you could argue that the mission’s real purpose was to destroy Blofeld (“something of a must for me”, as he tells M), but his enlistment of Tracy’s father proves that his love for her is genuine. Unprecedented in the Bond series at the time, Bond’s bona fide feelings for his new love fuel his need for revenge – as proven by his bitter flashback to her snowy kidnapping – and Diana Rigg was certainly the right choice to play the woman that would sincerely reach Bond’s heart.
Combining class, sophistication, and beauty with intelligence, wile, and badassery, Tracy is the perfect counterpart for Bond. In one scene, she shows both sides of her personality: the oft-persued countess who sips Dom Pérignon and quotes James Elroy Flecker… and the ass-kicking judo expert who drives a ’69 Cougar. All qualities that one should desire in a wife.
What to Imbibe
After a snowy day on the slopes, whether you’ve been skiing or bobsledding, there’s nothing more welcoming than a snifter of fine brandy. After Blofeld has “branched off!”, Bond finds himself making the acquaintance of a new canine pal. “Never mind that!” he tells the dog. “Go and get the brandy, huh? Five-star Hennessy, of course.”
IMDB states that Lazenby improvised this line to the Saint Bernard. Imagine a modern-day liquor manufacturer’s joy if Daniel Craig improvised a line ordering their particular brand in Spectre, saving millions of dollars in product placement expenses!
Most recently, Hennessy honored the inauguration of Barack Obama with a limited edition bottle of Hennessy VS (Very Special) featuring a black label with gold lettering and a large “44” on the circular neck seal to commemorate Obama’s term as the 44th president of the United States. A portion of the proceeds from each limited edition bottle’s sale was donated to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
(Interestingly, Obama began his second term of office in 2013, 44 years after George Lazenby ordered his Hennessy onscreen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service! What a contrived coincidence!)
How to Get the Look
As Bond likely intended on just hopping back into the helicopter after rescuing Tracy and capturing (or killing) Blofeld, he dresses warmly against the cold but not necessarily against the snow. Headgear – and I’m not talking about a yellow bobsled helmet – would be recommended for anyone who plans on spending much time outside.
- Blue lightweight, water-resistant, hip-length pullover anorak jacket with hood, quarter-length zip, velcro chest pockets, zip slash pockets, adjustable cuffs, and elasticized waistband
- Blue lightweight, water-resistant snow pants
- Air force blue ribbed mock neck wool jumper
- Black waterproof leather non-laced snow boots with heavy rubber soles
- Black leather gloves with elasticized buckle wrists
- Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual wristwatch with stainless steel case and bracelet, black dial and bezel
Iconic Alternatives has a great rundown of affordable options to channel elements of this, such as the blue anorak jacket, and many other 007 outfits.
For his revenge mission, Bond knows he’ll need a little more firepower than his usual PPK, so he and Draco’s men arm themselves with Sterling Mark IV (L2A3) submachine guns. The Sterling is a very distinctive-looking weapon due to its curved side-feeding magazine. Bond and his cohorts all wear theirs on a brown leather shoulder strap.
The Sterling submachine gun was developed by the Brits during the later phases of World War II as a potential replacement for the Sten gun, but it wasn’t formally issued to the British Army until 1953 as the “Sub-Machine Gun L2A1”. Following orders from the British General Staff in 1944, it fired 9×19 mm Parabellum ammunition and weighed only six pounds. The finished weapon eventually rolled out to a size of 27 inches long (18.9 inches with the stock folded) with a 7.7 inch barrel, but it remained under the six pound weight parameter. The distinctive box magazine held 34 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, which it could spit out on fully automatic at a rate of 550 rounds per minute… 50 rounds more than originally requested.
Several variants were issued over the next few years, with the L2A3 (or Sterling Mark IV) adopted in 1956 as the last regular, non-suppressed version in service. The Sterling was taken out of service in 1988 in favor of the SA80 assault rifle, designated L85A1.
While the Sterling would be most proud of its 35-year service with the British Army, it is likely most familiar to movie fans as the basis of the blaster carbine rifle used by the Imperial Stormtroopers in the Star Wars movies. Still, eight years before Luke, Han, and Leia used them to defend themselves in the Death Star, James Bond proudly wielded one as he touched down in Piz Gloria.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is notably for sticking very closely to Ian Fleming’s source material, but the filmmakers do switch Bond’s choice of assault weapons for the climax. Fleming called for Bond and his team to be carrying “Schmeisser” submachine guns, referring to the German MP40 that you’ve seen in a ton of old World War II movies… as well as this video of the toodles-shooting granny.
Once his Sterling runs out of ammunition, Bond chases after Blofeld with his trusty Walther PPK in hand. This marks the first film in the series where Bond’s PPK has brown bakelite grips, rather than black.
The PPK gets a nice close-up during the bobsled chase, but this close shot also reveals an unfortunate error. After Bond fires a few shots at Blofeld, Blofeld turns around and returns fire with his Browning Hi-Power. One of the Hi-Power rounds ricochets off the front of Bond’s bobsled, cutting across the top of his hand and knocking the PPK away. While this “magic bullet” may be an error in itself, the PPK is shown to have its safety on the whole time… which would have naturally made it impossible for Bond to fire his initial shots.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Guns make me nervous!
Perhaps that’s why he flicks the safety on a mere seconds after firing at Blofeld 😉
I mention this sequence’s use of the original “The James Bond Theme” arrangement for the final time in the franchise. As On Her Majesty’s Secret Service also features one of the better soundtracks of the series, I should also mention the foreboding and slightly eerie “Over and Out”, composed by John Barry as Bond and Draco’s “mercy flight” approaches Piz Gloria. Good stuff.