Ian Fleming – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The movie adaptation of Ian Fleming‘s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963) is in general seen as getting mixed opinions, mainly due to lead actor portraying James Bond giving a poor performance. Personally I think the movie has some strong parts, mainly the action sequences, while the acting isn’t that poor either. All thing’s considered many of the later movies required far less serious acting, so there can’t be much said about those performances either.

With only two James Bond novels and one story collection left to go, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service surprised me as being the first novel which plot is left virtually intact in the movie adaptation, following the story quite closely. Until this book there were always considerable differences and changes to mention, but the differentiations in this novel are only minor. The small parts that didn’t make it to the movie were simply not that interesting. On the other side many scenes have been greatly expanded with more twists and substance, actually making the plot richer and far more entertaining.

So one could see the book as a more straightforward and simplified version of the movie. Because of that it is hard for me to give a substantial review. Nevertheless because it is so similar to the movie I do can say the novel follows the James Bond format as it is known most closely, with a few exhilarating action scenes (though far fewer than the extended and long sequences of the movie) and the typical Bond gusto. Compared to some of the other novels we see here a Bond that we are most familiar with and that’s a thing I haven’t been able to say in my previous reviews.

While there are few surprises, the minor differences do provide a good reason to read this book as it gives the fan background details that has been excluded in the movies. The movies are more impersonal, while Fleming likes his details and does go more personal. That is one of the traits that provide a strong reason to read the novels, even as one has seen all the movies (multiple times). In my list of favorite Bond movies On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is ranked somewhere in the middle, and the same I can say of the original movie. It’s only weakness is a bit too straightforward plot and it lacks a bit compared to the stronger novels, but overall it delivers, providing yet another take on the spy novel, making each James Bond novel characteristic and unique.

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