I suppose I let Once Upon A Time In The West go by in 1969 because it didn’t have Clint Eastwood. On HerMajesty’s Secret Service of the same year was also a pass because Sean Connery didn’t play Bond. What was I thinking? Now I consider both classics, and could kick myself for not having gone at a time when they would have had a far greater impact upon my youthful psyche. A lot of Eastwood followers may have stayed away from Once Upon A Time for the same reason I did --- Paramount only realized two million in domestic rentals. This was way down from the 6.0 United Artists captured for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly a few years earlier (worldwide on that one was 18.4). Even A Fistful Of Dollars doubled Once Upon A Time’s domestic take with 4.2 million. Here’s Sergio Leone directing Claudia Cardinale as to the proper use of firearms.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was a disappointment for United Artists. The loss of Sean Connery was really felt at the ticket windows. It’s now my favorite in the whole series, but where was I in 1969 when UA really needed me? Majesty’s took 9.1 million in domestic rentals, plus 15.7 foreign. Final profit was 7.3 million. The previous You Only Live Twice, itself a letdown after Thunderball, was good for 19.3 domestic, while 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever racked up 19.7 domestic and 27.7 foreign. Profits for that one were 16.6. It would be the late eighties before I’d see Majesty’s for the first time, and that was a 16mm scope print shown by a collector friend of mine (hey, Steven, where you been?). Can’t wait for Sony to get this one out in high-definition.