In 1968, Australian car salesman turned model, George Lazenby, landed the much coveted role of James Bond without ever having acted a day in his life. In 1969, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released and became a box office success, despite largely negative reviews. Lazenby was then offered a lucrative multi-picture deal to continue on as .007 which he inexplicably turned down, becoming an odd footnote in the franchise’s history and an occasional answer to a crossword clue.
This is the tale of George Lazenby, the man who would be king …remembered now – if at all – only as a punchline.
Hulu’s new documentary Becoming Bond aims to elaborate on that skimpy narrative by allowing the man himself to tell his side of the story. Director Josh Greenbaum steadies his camera on a silver haired— but still dapper – Lazenby as he speaks about his childhood, first love, job as a car salesman, subsequent modeling career and numerous sexploits. Giving ‘life’ to his, at times, soporific recollections are a series of dramatic recreations depicting different moments of significance in his life. The only problem is, nothing ever seems particularly significant…at least in relation to how he became James bond, which after all is the goddamned title to the documentary – BECOMING BOND!
Rather, Lazenby spends most of the film waxing wistful about his upper crusty ex-girlfriend, Belinda and the halcyon days they spent together. It’s all pretty banal stuff, no different than any other generic tale about ‘the one that got away’. To tell you the truth, by the time he eventually got around to the circumstances behind his audition for the role, I was completely disinterested. Still, I hung in there to the end, which in fact was a rushed hash job revealing nothing we hadn’t heard before. He got the part, and while filming he had a lot of sex, drank a bit, smoked a bit, had a lot more sex, blah, blah. None of his anecdotes are ever engaging, or reveal anything of consequence. Which brings me to the most infuriating part of all. He never answers the main question surrounding the George Lazenby story: Why the hell did he walk away from the role of Bond?
We never find out. Sure, he hems and haws a bit, but ultimately utters a flimsy response equivalent to that of a slight shoulder shrug.
So, In short, if you’re remotely interested in how George Lazenby actually became Bond, skip the documentary and take a quick trip to Wikipedia. However, if you’re feeling in the mood to watch a 77-year-old man babble on at length about his first love, then by all means give it a shot.