Saturday, May 09, 2015

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) | Women

Diana Rigg had an impossible job. Without the benefit of all the character development that Literary Bond had been through when he finally met Tracy, Rigg needed to play a character who could convince audiences that she could also convince the wise-cracking, womanizing Movie Bond to give up the only life he knew and settle down. She had some help from the script, which turned her into a much stronger character than Fleming had written. But what Rigg does with it is nothing short of unbelievable. She's beautiful yes, but she's also badass and capable of not only keeping up with Bond, but saving him and herself. When she's Blofeld's "captive" at the end of the movie, there's no sense that she's desperate for rescue. She's already working Blofeld and planning her next moves when her father and Bond show up with helicopters. There's never been another Bond character like her, before or since.

One thing I especially love about Riggs' Tracy is how she subverts the character from the novel. Where Book Tracy would tell Bond, "Whatever you say, darling" completely straight, Riggs does it with a wink and a smirk that lets you know that obeying Bond is the furthest thing from her mind. And later, at the wedding, when her dad commands her to "obey your husband in all things," her reply is, "Of course, Papa. Just as I've always obeyed you." I love this woman and it's completely natural that Bond would, too.

So, if Bond's so in love with her, why does he sleep with Ruby Bartlett and the other patients at Piz Gloria? The easy answer is that it's all for Queen and Country. There's clearly no real attraction there. Ruby is stupid and flighty and the other women are nearly as bad. But that doesn't hold water if Bond is actually already in love with Tracy. He doesn't seem to have the least bit of struggle or crisis of conscience about what to do. He just hops into bed like he always does.

The explanation is in a scene earlier on when Bond's sneaking into the office of Blofeld's lawyer and Tracy and her dad are waiting for him in the car. They talk about her and Bond and she makes it clear that while she's in love with Bond, she doesn't believe he's also in love with her. Draco offers to have a conversation with Bond about it, but Tracy says no. She wants to let the relationship happen naturally, if it's going to happen at all. The important thing for understanding Bond is that he isn't in love with Tracy yet when he gets to Piz Gloria.

We never get into Bond's head enough to know for sure what he's thinking, but my guess is that his experience with the women of Piz Gloria is the final thing he needs to understand his feelings for Tracy. Well, that and seeing her again in the village. The emptiness of sex with Ruby combines with the rush of emotion at seeing Tracy and from there he's thinking about his future until he proposes in the barn. Smartest thing he ever did.

My Favorite Bond Women

1. Tracy Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2. Paula Caplan (Thunderball)
3. Tatiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)
4. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
5. Domino Derval (Thunderball)
6. Honey Rider (Dr. No)
7. Sylvia Trench (Dr. No and From Russia With Love)
8. Aki (You Only Live Twice)
9. Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
10. Tilly Masterson (Goldfinger)

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