Movies

We Have All the Time in the World: A Portrait of Tracy di Vincenzo Bond

“People who want to stay alive play it safe.”

Unlike his fellow James Bonds, George Lazenby only played 007 once, and as such only has one Bond Girl to his credit. Fortunately for his rather limited legacy, she’s one of the best and absolutely deserves an entry in our Bond Girls series all to herself!

(Read our discussion of Sean Connery’s Bond Girls here)

*Spoilers for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service*

The one and only Mrs. Bond, Tracy di Vincenzo first comes into 007’s life when he rescues her from trying to drown herself in the ocean. Her father says that she clearly likes Bond, and asks him to pursue her and “dominate” her. He offers Bond information regarding Blofeld, and for that Bond accepts. However, James develops sincere feelings for Tracy throughout the first half of the movie. Blofeld does kidnap her, but Bond and her father bust her out. In the end they marry, and James refuses a dowry for Tracy, stating that “hers is a price above rubies.” Lovely, independent, smart, beloved; the only girl Bond ever married is all of this and more.

Virginia: Tracy has to be one of my favorites. She’s got class but she’ll also kick your ass.

Alex: She does, and that’s important. She’s the one Bond falls for, and the one for whom he’s willing to forsake all other women, because she has everything he admires in women. She’s all the things you said, the best features of all the other women (this is pre-Tiffany, so she doesn’t count).

V: Tiffany…*shudders* Anyway, she truly does. She’s got an interesting back story, she’s got intelligence, and she’s an adventure. She’s a really unique individual and my favorite Bond woman up to this point.

A: She’s also a mystery, to us and to Bond. She’s the only girl Bond can’t seem to size up, and the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes how amazing she is. The women at Piz Gloria, for example, he can read and manipulate very easily, but he can’t figure out Tracy until much later in the movie.

V: Nobody cared when Jill Masterson died, and nobody cares about all the girls Bond’s spent a single evening with only to forget about. Tracy’s lasting legacy is her presence within an absence. Watching this movie, you really see why Bond likes this girl so much, why it’s this one out of many. When I rewatched the movie recently, I just found her completely charming. You fall in love with her right along with Bond.

A: Definitely. She’s beguiling in a way that even someone like Pussy Galore wasn’t. She shouldn’t be; she’s a rich girl who can have whatever she wants and satisfy her every whim. But she bucks that because she isn’t content to just be idly rich. She takes these insane risks, like at the baccarat table, but she’s not stupid; she’s just looking to break the monotony of her life.

V: I also love her relationship with her father. He really wants her to get married and slow down, but she just wants him to stop meddling. I think anyone who’s ever been a parent or a child can relate to that.

A: I agree, and it’s a great running theme throughout the movie, with him trying to keep her sheltered while she tries to pull herself free. It’s never over-simplified, though. Draco isn’t a bad guy (aside from running an international criminal organization); he just cares about her, and she resents his domineering attitude, but it’s undercut with love. It would never fly if this were made today, but the “Spare the rod, spoil the child” scene makes me laugh.

V: If they made this movie today, Tracy would have three jobs, be an agent herself, and be the one who proposes to Bond, not vice versa. I kid, I kid. Or maybe not. I really only have one complaint about Tracy as a character: I wanted more! In the middle of the film, when Bond is with the allergy girls, all I could think of was how boring they all were and I wanted to see Bond hang with Tracy again! But if anything that works to the film’s advantage. The portion of the film without Tracy makes clear to Bond, as well as the audience, that she’s the key ingredient to this soup.

A: That’s exactly it. He leaves her and goes into his usual spy world, and all the girls are dopey and easily manipulated – basically everything she’s not. It’s a great idea to give us the same yearning for her that he has. And when he runs into her during his escape, she immediately leaps into action and helps him get away. This is the final piece for him, where he sees how capable and resourceful she is when she can’t rely on her money.

V: She does make one heck of a getaway driver. Every Clyde needs a Bonnie, right? She can play her own game while still beating other Bond ladies at theirs. She’s clearly perfect, right?   That can mean only one thing…

On the run from Blofeld, Bond asks Tracy to be his wife. She accepts, overjoyed. She makes a lovely bride, and all the major MI6 players are there to see how happy James is. It almost seems too good to be true…

…because it is. James and Tracy have the perfect wedding, but on the way to their honeymoon, Blofeld and Irma Bunt kill Tracy in a drive-by shooting. Bond clutches her lifeless hand, telling a concerned onlooker not to worry because they have “all the time in the world”.

A: The ending to Bond and Tracy’s story is so heartbreaking because the movie does such a great job of selling their romance. Their wedding doesn’t feel like a stunt, but like Bond has really found the one. He’s forgotten all about Blofeld, and doesn’t even seem to care that his enemy got away yet again, and after seeing the Bonds leave their wedding, so have we. It’s a stark reminder of the world he lives in.

V: Exactly. When I was younger I didn’t much like this movie, mostly because I found it boring. I think the main reason for that involves what kind of movie this is. There is spy stuff, of course, but it’s a much slower story. This is a romance. I find the slow moments and bonding (see what I did there?) with Tracy much more compelling than the scenes at the Piz Gloria. The movie builds up to the wedding perfectly, and when James insists that Draco not give him a dowry for Tracy, it’s come full circle from him courting her to gain information about Blofeld. It’s hard to accept Tracy’s death at first, because she has been taken away from us as much as Bond. Over the course of the movie, from her suicide attempt to her wedding, we’ve fallen for her as well.

A: That’s right. The suicide attempt and her self-destructive behavior in the beginning is important, too, because the final scenes give the impression that Bond has finally saved her, as she saved him. Her death isn’t just a tragic loss for him, but a personal failure. Ultimately, he couldn’t save her, and it was his drawing her into his world that killed her.

V: He saved her soul, but led to the demise of her body. Until Casino Royale 37 years later, this would be the most depressing ending to a Bond film. And I say this still has Vesper beat, as Bond succeeded in marrying Tracy and Tracy wasn’t a double agent. This was a game changer in the film franchise, first to have Bond fall sincerely in love and then for it to end in tragedy.

A: It humanized him in a way that the other films hadn’t. It showed that he really had a heart underneath his cold demeanor. There were flashes of that in some of the others, like his anger at Jill Masterson’s death in Goldfinger, but it was never explored as fully as in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And when the possibility of a normal, happy life is taken away from him, it’s like he loses a piece of himself. He never entertains the idea of leaving spying behind again. It may be because he’s never met anyone like Tracy again, but it could also be, at least in part, because he doesn’t believe it’s possible, that it will always catch up to him and whoever he lets in his life.

V: That’s a great point; he knows for certain now that nobody would be safe with him. I’ve seen that concept explored in spy and superhero films, but I admire it being implicit here. They don’t have to say it out loud or have Bond make a speech about this dilemma because he’s broken, and the fairy tale is over. It’s clear that this was his one true love (if you believe in such things), but they allow the audience to piece it together. If only more modern movies worked this way.

A: I also really like that the series makes it clear that Bond never forgets her. Her death casts a shadow over the other films, and every so often she’s brought up. In The Spy Who Loved Me, for example, Anya rattles off a list of facts about Bond she obtained from his KGB dossier, all of which he takes in stride until she says he was married once, but his wife is dead. Before she can finish her sentence, he cuts her off sharply with, “Alright, you’ve made your point.” Tracy may be gone, but she’s still the easiest way to hurt him, if not the only way.

V: That scene makes me want to slap someone. It was a poignant reminder to the audience, but I feel angry on James’ behalf. I’m also reminded of a scene in Licence to Kill (a great film on its own merits) where Bond simply brushes off Della’s garter; Felix explains that Bond was married once, a long time ago. Twenty years later, and the series still makes direct reference to this seminal tragedy.

A: It’s a wonderful moment, and there are lots of them throughout the series, even into the Brosnan era. They’re subtle enough so that the casual viewer won’t be lost, but fans know that Tracy’s death still weighs on him. For a series that endeavors to make its movies as standalone as possible, particularly later on, it’s a really nice piece of continuity.

V: It makes the world of Bond seem much more real, as well. Even if the plots of individual films aren’t connected, there are constant reminders of a lost love. Things like that run deep and are never really forgotten.

A: Something I love about this movie too is that, up until she’s killed, Tracy never loses herself. They don’t fall into the trap of having her “tamed” by marriage (brief though it may be). When her father tells her to obey Bond, she tells him she’ll obey her husband in the same way she always obeyed Draco. She’s still Tracy, still strong and confident, and that’s the way Bond would have it. She’s a very consistent character, very well-written (and, of course, acted).

V: That’s a very good point. Rather than changing Tracy’s core characteristics (a very lazy and disappointing writing strategy), being in love brings out the best in her. And the same could be said for Bond. He finds the perfect girl, and with her happiness. So naturally, SPECTRE is ready and waiting to destroy his joy with a single bullet. Being a spy isn’t all glamour, babes and martinis after all. And Diana Rigg is a goddess; I can’t be convinced otherwise!

***

In conclusion: Tracy is a badass. She’s classy, smart, beautiful and mature. She has all the best qualities of other Bond girls, but more than that, she has something they lack: 007’s heart.

Next, we’ll look at Roger Moore’s leading ladies!

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