Well, it’s tempting to heap all kinds of hopes and dreams on a mythical Connery OHMSS. Sure, he was sleep-walking through YOLT, but why not when his job was to push buttons on gadgets for two hours and do and say things that don’t add up to anything approaching logic? He wanted to act, and the script treated him like a “Thunderbirds” marionette.
Maybe, the fantasy goes, Connery’s creative juices would have flowed again if handed a script that actually dealt with human emotions, a real romance for Bond instead of another wanton fling, a shocking ending where Bond does NOT come out on top and loses someone he really cares about. Maybe he would have put real effort into it then, poured out his heart and soul and given his – or anyone’s – best turn in the role.
And maybe, the dream continues, the positive experience would have kept Connery on for another film, or several more. Maybe DAF could have been a “revenge” flick, maybe this, maybe that…
But as I said above, I think it’s just as likely, maybe more so, that if Connery had stayed on, we’d have gotten more of the same…YOLT in the snow…a happy-go-lucky explosion-fest. Maybe the powers-that-be would’ve felt no one would want or accept a more vulnerable Connery, that it’d be impossible for audiences to buy the guy who treated all those other women as disposable playthings to suddenly do an about-face and say, “this one really matters.” And they may have been right. It would have put a lot on Connery and it’s always possible it would not have worked. And with Connery on board, there might not have been the pressure to hire on as impressive an actress as Diana Rigg (because now there’d be nothing to “compensate” for). Could the romance have worked with Bardot as Tracy, or the female phenom-du-jour?
I agree there’s a humanity to Laz that makes the story work, and it’s entirely possible that with Connery’s imperturbable superman on board, it would have fallen apart. At the same time, Laz is so young, and with no history invested in the role no matter how many souvenirs he pulls out of his desk, that things are still missing the sense of import and significance they would have had otherwise.
OHMSS will always be fascinating to me for how very close it comes to being perfect, before falling short. I imagine if Connery had been on board, that “almost” aspect would remain the same, even if the reasons would be different.