George Lazenby seems to split Bond fans down the middle - they either love him or loath him. Personally, I'm somewhere in between, but I do consider OHMSS one of the most important Bond moments and, in many ways, one of the best films.
The most striking difference about this film is the tone, underpinned by the unthinkable notion that James Bond could fall in love. Despite Lazenby shortcomings as an actor, the relationship between Bond and Diana Rigg's Tracey is completely believable, and this is what gives the films its clout, even today.
The set-up is nothing new. Blofeld plots to brain-wash and hypnotise a group of conveniently sexy young women and use them to spread a virus for which only he has the cure. It's all very well until the hypnotism scenes, which ripped off the laughably bad ending from The Ipcress File (on which Peter Hunt, OHMSS's director, was the editor).
Location wise, the film-makers struck gold in Switzerland. Consequently, this film is graced with some of the best ski-chase sequences of the series and some beautiful cinematography too.
Some of the fights are a bit clumsy, and the editing seems particularly cack-handed in places. Ironically the director, Peter Hunt, had been the editor on four of the previous Bonds. The editor replacing him was John Glen, who went on to direct five Bond films which were among the best as far as action goes.
This is really only a small gripe though, as this film is not about the action but about character. Not until 'Casino Royale', nearly 30 years on, would we see a Bond this vulnerable again. Shame really, especially given that they subsequently followed this film with the light and largely pointless 'Diamond Are Forver'.
Whatever you may think of Lazenby, this film is an essential part of the Bond saga and, for my money, a genuinely moving piece of dramatic cinema as well.
As with all the new Bond DVDs, the picture and sound have been remasted to stunning effect. Watching these films on an upscaling DVD player, you will be amazed at how clean they look, sound and feel. Extras are superb too, with a nice 30 minute documenatry and a wealth of other tidbits.