If you’ve read any of our other James Bond posts, you’ll know that we fall into that camp of fans that actually like George Lazenby and love OHMSS (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). This piece by LIFE is an interesting look behind the scenes. Looking at the pool of candidates, we have to agree with the ultimate casting decision and we would have loved to have seen George in other films. As we note in other posts, we’re not big Roger Moore-as-Bond fans.
It’s interesting what George thought about the Bond franchise. He felt that the films had probably run their course and were making way for a new generation of films with liberated storytelling (we think that’s supposed to mean that stodgy old bureaucrats and dapper spies were going by the way-side), so on the advice of his agent, he turned down a seven-picture deal. As boggling as that is, it’s probably worth noting that movie storytelling was shifting and had the Bond filmmakers stayed pat with the tried and true formula, the run would have ended. To that end, Roger Moore may have been the perfect Bond for the times since tongue-in-check goofiness became a more current mood for movies in the laid-back 1970s. In fact, it’s safe to say that adaptability to contemporary sensibilities has helped the Bond machine successfully shift with each generation. Think about it; 23 films, for crying out loud! And all of them at least OK money makers with most big box office successes. Wow. And to think it all started out with a little piece of ornithology.
Well, as for the “what ifs” regarding George’s could-have-been future as a Bond-man … the things we’ll never know, we suppose.
See? He was right. He would have sucked as a 1970s James Bond. Good call, George. Now go get a haircut ya damn hippie!
Originally posted on LIFE:
In the early 1960s, movie producers adapting Ian Fleming’s novels about a suave British spy named James Bond plucked a relative unknown, Sean Connery, from obscurity and offered him the role of a lifetime. When Connery left the franchise after five movies (although he would briefly be back, in 1971, in Diamonds Are Forever) the hunt for another Bond was on.
In 1967 LIFE sent photographer Loomis Dean to casting sessions for the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The magazine published a handful of those photos in an article on the film and on the Bond phenomenon. But some of Dean’s choicest frames — Bond wannabes suiting up, brandishing guns, sipping faux martinis, wooing women — never ran in the magazine.
Here, LIFE.com presents photos from those 1967 auditions, featuring the five top candidates — including George…
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