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James Bond saves the life of a beautiful, but emotionally broken woman via keeping her from commiting suicide. The lady turns out to be countess Teresa "Tracy" Di Vincenzo; her father Marc Ange Draco, the leader of one of Europe's largest organized crime syndicates, asks Bond to woo and marry her in order to help her deal with her issues. Bond points out the ridiculous nature of this idea, but agrees anyway because Draco has access to information beyond the reach of official organizations and can help him get a lead on the head of SPECTRE, Enrst Stavro Blofeld. Blofeld, meanwhile, has developed a biological agent to induce sterility in plants and animals and potentially wipe out entire species, which he will use if he is not granted amnesty for all past crimes and an official acknowledgement of his claim to French nobility.
Easily the most down-to-earth Bond film (except maybe From Russia with Love, Licence to Kill or the 2006 version of Casino Royale), it has a polarizing effect on fans. Some like it for its emotional depth and realism, some hate it for its (admittedly inexperienced) actor and lack of over-the-top theatrics (though others have come to think he did great).
One undeniable aspect is that unlike most Bond villains, the Blofeld shown in this film has both a realistic goal and a chillingly realistic plan (albeit, a completely over the top execution of said plan). The film is one of the few where James Bond himself has actual emotional depth as well. There is also a twist Downer Ending that is quite unusual for the series, but sadly, it has fallen victim to casual spoilers.
- Action Girl: Diana Rigg as Countess Teresa (Tracy) Di Vincezo. Also a Badass Driver.
- Adaptation-Induced Plothole / Pragmatic Adaptation: Bond and Blofeld don't seem to recognize each other, even though they met in the previous movie. Even though both being different counts, it happens because the book is set before You Only Live Twice.
- Originally, it was to be established Bond had plastic surgery done to explain why he doesn't look like Sean Connery anymore.
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": It's basically known as the movie Bond gets married... but not for long.
- Arranged Marriage: Draco and Bond agree on having the latter marry the first's daughter. Then he and his wife end up loving oen another for real.
- An Asskicking Christmas
- The Bad Guy Wins: Subverted. While Blofeld's main plan is an utter failure, he takes perhaps the most horrific revenge on Bond possible -- robbing Bond from one of the few women he truly loved.
- Becoming the Mask: Bond was supposed to seduce Tracy to gain access to her fathers connections (and maybe convince her to stop trying to kill herself), but he ended up growing fond of her for real.
- Big Damn Heroes: Bond and Draco, supported by the hitmen and mercenaries of the Unione Corse, show up in helicopters to do the job that Her Majesty's Government refuses to do.
- Bond is trapped in the ice-skating rink while SPECTRE mooks search through the crowd. Bond is in despair, expecting to be captured again when suddenly Tracy (whom he last saw in Portugal) appears in front of him, with an ice-modified fast car to get Bond the hell out of there. An impressive achievement for a Bond girl!
- Biggus Dickus: Complete with "It's true!" when Bond seduced Ruby.
- Bond One-Liner: Bond gets a particularly brutal one when a mook falls into a large snowblower and gets cut to pieces by it:
"He had lots of guts!"
- Brainwashed: Blofeld's latest scheme involves turning young women into unwitting bioterrorists.
- Broken Bird: Tracy is a former drug addict, a recent divorcée and has tragically lost her ill child.
- Cable Car Action Sequence: Bond's escape from his cell.
- Call Back: References to Bond's dead wife were made repeatedly in other movies, often cutting off before saying what happened to her; since OHMSS is slightly obscure, quite a lot of people do not know that we actually saw what happened.
- The cheerful "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown" reappears during Bond's Cable Car Action Sequence as a more suspenseful tune, see below.
- Car Chase: With stock cars!
- Cartwright Curse: After marrying Bond Tracy is killed on their honeymoon.
- Chekhov's Gun: Savvy viewers will just know that eventually someone is going to get thrown into that spiky wall decoration. We aren't disappointed.
- Continuity Nod: After turning in his resignation Bond goes into his office and pulls out of his desk Honey Ryder's belt and knife, Red Grant's garrote wire wrist watch and his own underwater breathing device. A bit of music from each film plays along with the props' appearances.
- There's also a janitor whistling "Goldfinger".
- The opening credits feature clips from all the previous films (none featuring Bond himself, of course).
- Death by Sex: See Cartwright Curse above.
- Did Not Do the Research: In-universe. Bond's cover was blown partly because he couldn't get his genealogy facts straight, as Blofeld himself states.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Blofeld kills Tracy on her and Bond's honeymoon.
- Downer Ending: See above.
- Drugs Are Bad: Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate, commits murders, extortion, theft, sexual slavery, and many, many other crimes. But he's a good guy because he doesn't sell drugs.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate (and Tracy's father), agrees to to assist Bond and the entire British Government against the efforts of SPECTRE to gain Bond's help with his daughter. Later, he personally leads an invasion of Blofeld's fortress to rescue Tracy and stop Blofeld's plan to destroy the world's food supply.
- "Falling in Love" Montage: With Louis Armstrong's "We Have All The Time In The World" in the background.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: A flamethrower is featured in the attack on Piz Gloria fortress.
Tracy: People who want to stay alive play it safe.
- The Ominous Music Box Tune use of "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown" below.
- Girl of the Week: Tracy.
- Happily Ever Before: The original ending on the film was Bond and Tracy happily driving off, and the Downer Ending scene was to be the opening scene of the next film.
- Heroic BSOD: Bond at the end of the film.
- Interrupted Suicide: Tracy was about to drown herself, but Bond found her in time.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Occurs because John Barry didn't think the title could fit in a lyric.
- Admittedly, there aren't many words that rhyme with "Service". Besides "nervous."
- Ironic Echo: "We Have All The Time In The World"
- Just Between You and Me
- Karma Houdini: Irma Bunt is the person who actually kills Tracy and she is never seen again in this or any other Bond film, which means that the murderer of Bond's wife got away with it completely. A case of Real Life Writes the Plot, the actress Ilse Steppat died mere days after the film's release. The comics ultimately rectified this, by having her show up again and killed off.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This never happened to the OTHER fellow."
- Double Entendre: He could be referring to Prince Charming, what with the shoes.
- Man in a Kilt
- Moral Dissonance: Bond is falling in love with Tracy throughout the film, but this does not stop him from sleeping with multiple women, one after the other, when he knows they are being experimented upon and brainwashed.
- He doesn't actually fall for Tracy until after that. And he doesn't really know they are being brainwashed, though obviously he's suspicious of the (voluntary) hypnotism, which he only finds out about after he starts sleeping with them. And being Bond, it was obviously too late by then.
- Also, the hypnotism might not have affected that part of their personality.
- Noodle Incident: Draco lost a few of his henchmen in Fort Knox.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: The first few notes of "Do You Know Where Christmas Trees are Grown" (a cheerful song that played in the background earlier) can be heard in a tense scene after 007 is locked in a cable car machine room. It foreshadows Blofeld's gift of a music box to the girls.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: It is not particularly bad, but Bond occasionally slips into Australian in his vowel sounds.
- Overt Operative: Averted by Bond adopting the secret identity of "Sir Hilary Bray," complete with hobbies, personal foibles, insecurities and professional experience.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Life On Mars had an illicit porn operation with a tape called "On Her Majesty's Secret Cervix".
- Percussive Prevention: During the Storming the Castle scene, Tracy's father knocks her out when she refuses to leave without James.
Draco: "Spare the rod and spoil the child, huh?"
- Porn Stash: One of several important documents in a Swiss banker's safe is Playboy. Bond, the cold-hearted bastard, steals it and reads it out of the office.
- Pretty in Mink: Several, including a red fox coat Tracy wears.
- Red Right Hand: To impersonate the Count of Bleauchamp, Blofeld cuts offs his own earlobes. Sound familiar?
- Refuge in Audacity: The basic plot of holding the world hostage with a sterility virus is sound (and, for its time, quite original), but brainwashing a cadre of international beauties so that they will unleash the viruses by radio-induced hypnotic command, is just a tad over the top, don't you think?
- Sacrificial Lion: Tracy and Bond's ally Campbell.
- Same Language Dub: When Bond is passing as Sir Hilary, Hilary's actor is heard instead of Lazenby. Also, Draco is dubbed since the actor had a strong Italian accent.
- Scare Chord: Used when Bond's cover is blown.
- Sex Equals Love: Draco encourages Bond to seduce his daughter because he feels that she needs love and a husband.
- Shipper with an Agenda: As said above, Dracon isn't just a Shipper on Deck.
- So Happy Together: Tracy and Bond's wedding and honeymoon drive, before her murder.
- Stealth Insult: Sir Hillary, er, Bond tells Irma Bunt her name is a naval term for the baggy or swollen part of a sail. "Nothing personal, of course."
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Originally planned for Tracy, but changed at the last minute to keep the plot condensed.
- The Syndicate: The Unione Corse, Europe's largest criminal organization and where Bond can turn when his own government will not give him the support he needs.
- Ten-Minute Retirement: We dare you, dare you, to guess the circumstances of this one!
- There Are No Therapists: Subverted. Draco asks Bond to seduce and marry his daughter in order to help her deal with her suicidal tendencies and crushing emotional trauma, but Bond points out that that is a ridiculous idea and she needs treatment and a psychiatrist, not sex. Then Bond does it anyway because Draco is offering information on Blofeld
- Title Drop: "Her majesty's secret service" is said twice, but never the full title. The World Is Not Enough is dropped thirty years early.
- Title Montage: Various clips from the five previous Bond movies can be seen during the intro sequence.
- What Kept You?: She still needs help to get out of the complex, but when the Big Damn Heroes arrive at the end Tracy has killed the man guarding her and just needs a ride home
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Bond losing his new bride Tracy.
- His contract was for 7 movies, but he left because his manager thought spy movies were getting outdated, believing hippy movies were the way to go. After a couple of hippy movie flops, Lazenby finally decided he had enough and fired him