On Her Majesty's Secret Service vs. Casino Royale



Ah, the battle of the Tragic Bonds. Calling "Casino Royale" a remake of OHMSS would be going entirely too far, but there are certainly a lot of deliberate call-backs to its predecessor. Both had little or no use of gadgets, favoring a leaner James Bond who fought hand-to-hand. The scores are among the stronger works in the 007 canon (though I think I prefer John Barry's energetic, driving instrumental title theme). I'll take Diana Rigg, circa 1969, over Eva Green, circa 2006 but just barely. Rigg's performance as Tracy demonstrates considerable range, from self-destructive apathy to genuinely fragile vulnerability to infectious sweetness. Ultimately, this showdown can only be decided by the performance as James Bond, and in this Daniel Craig emerges over George Lazenby. Craig's Bond is headstrong, focused on the task at hand at the expense of anything else. Lazenby's Bond is a playboy caught up in the business of being a government agent, which perhaps reflects the actor's view of the role.

True, these two films have many similarities, but Casino Royale did nearly everything better. For me, On Her Majesty's Secret Service had two glaring problems: 1) George Lazenby had some pretty big shoes to fill when he replaced Sean Connery as James Bond and, in my opinion, he didn't pull it off. He just didn't have that "I'm a smooth, cool badass" aura that Connery had. 2) The continuity problem of Ernst Stavro Blofeld not recognizing Bond, even though they had already met face to face in You Only Live Twice. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but that continuity issue really bugged me as I watched. In the end, Casino Royale is still my favorite film in the James Bond franchise and On Her Majesty's Secret Service doesn't even come close to touching it.

It's worth remembering that when Bond and Blofeld met at the end of YOLT, Bond was (supposedly) made over to look Japanese and when he travels to Piz Gloria in OHMSS, he's also somewhat disguised as Sir Hilary Bray. The difference between Bond and either disguise isn't very strong, but maybe the difference between the two disguises was enough since Blofeld hadn't actually met Bond in his normal appearance? Anyway, I've always kind of read it that Blofeld knew it was Bond but played along with the charade.

That isn't quite correct, however. When Bond and Blofeld first met in You Only Live Twice, Bond didn't have on his disguise (he had lost it diving in the water) and Blofeld immediately addressed him by name the moment his helmet was removed. Blofeld obviously knew who he was and what he looked like (he was, after all, SPECTRE's biggest nemesis). In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond did "Clark Kent" himself up a bit becoming Sir Hilary Bray but, like you said, it wasn't much of a disguise. Since On Her Majesty's Secret Service was originally supposed to be the fifth movie in the James Bond series (with You Only Live Twice following it), my guess is the filmmakers just decided to disregard the events of You Only Live Twice. Oh, how I wish they would've just stuck to the original plan. You Only Live Twice would've been so much more cool if Bond had with him that extra motivation of avenging his wife's murder at the hands of Blofeld.

I thought Blofeld was playing along as well. The disguise was weak, yes, but Blofeld made Bond believe his disguise actually worked. I thought Blofeld even said something like 'the real Sir Hillary Bray would've known that, idiot'. And they don't disregard the events of YOLT either. Bond says to Draco that he only wants to romance Nancy if Draco tells him the whereabouts of Blofeld. The movie doesn't explain who this man is and why he is evil, so the filmmakers assumed the audience at least knew who Blofeld was. They did the same thing in From Russia With Love, where they didn't really explain who Dr. No was. Anyway, I prefer OHMSS in this match-up. Lazenby is probably the worst actor to play James Bond in the official franchise, yes, but OHMSS is an excellent Bond film. There's genuinely great acting for once, the cinematography is beautiful and Peter Hunt does a good job directing, a shame they didn't ask him for any of the later films. It’s kind of sad that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was followed by Diamonds are Forever, in my opinion one of the worst Bond movies. There’s not a single mention of Tracy’s death and Blofeld is more like a clown than the menace he was in OHMSS, even dressing up as a drag. Diamonds are Forever is painfully campy in comparison to the relatively serious OHMSS. Oh well, I digress. Casino Royale is great as well, but I have some small problems with it. OHMSS wins.

Sorry, but I can't buy into the idea that Blofeld was just "playing along" because that would make James Bond a complete idiot for believing he could trick his arch-nemesis with a simple pair of glasses. This is similar to the "HAN SHOT FIRST" debate. If Han Solo REALLY waited for the guy sitting just a few feet in front of him to shoot first, that would make him a dim-witted moron. Taking such a reckless, suicidal chance like that just doesn't fit the Han Solo character, which is why there was such an uproar when George Lucas made the change. Like Solo, Bond is supposed to be a savvy guy and, as such, it doesn't fit his character for him to think he could fool his arch-nemesis with some second-rate disguise. It just doesn't make sense, based on what we know of Bond. I maintain that the filmmakers just got lazy/sloppy with the chronology of the two films.

First off, if James Bond isn't the dumbass, then Blofeld must be the dumbass. I can re-use your argument here by saying 'well, that doesn't fit the character at all' and that's right, because Blofeld is a genius in OHMSS. Why would he not discover right away that it's Bond? It doesn’t make sense, so it seems all the more logical Blofeld is playing along. Second, in the first conversation Blofeld and Bond have with each other, Bond makes a mistake about the ancestral home of the De Bleauchamps, and Blofeld doesn't even correct him. Hell, he doesn’t even let Bond get captured right away. And third: James Bond ALWAYS had second-rate disguises. Always. The fact that he turned into a Japanese man in YOLT didn't mean he looked like a regular Japanese man, and still, even with the disguise, his thick Scottish accent didn't disappear at all. In some movies, all he does to disguise himself is putting on a white coat or an outfit of the enemy, and he STILL blends in perfectly. Disguises, whether they are simplistic or elaborate, have always been a part of the James Bond franchise.

And the continuity / chronology is all over the place in the James Bond franchise, so I don't really know why it bothers you so much.

You're making my point for me, MysticSpoon. The reason why Blofeld wouldn't "discover right away that it's Bond" is because the makers of On Her Majesty's Secret Service disregarded chronology and made Blofeld unaware of what Bond looked like. Neither character is a "dumbass," which is specifically why the "he was playing along" theory doesn't work.

Actually, the Bond continuity is pretty consistent; everything from "Dr. No" through "A View to a Kill" is clearly about the same timeline. The Dalton films can be interpreted as a sort of soft reboot, as can the Brosnan era. Good catch on Blofeld's reaction to Bond in "You Only Live Twice", though! I never saw the "playing along" theory as requiring either Bond or Blofeld to be stupid. Rather, I saw it as part of the chess game they played. If you're Blofeld, you might prefer to play along with Bond-as-Bray if only to find out what Bond actually knows. If you're Bond, you're really just hoping Blofeld gives you enough time to complete your mission. Chalk it up to mutual curiosity or mutual respect, or even some kind of gentlemen's agreement of sorts, but it doesn't require Bond to actually think he got one over on Blofeld or for Blofeld to have retrograde stupidity.

I'm not going to debate....Casino Royale...and it isn't close for me....

I love the idea of a James Bond timeline. Which one beat Ganon the first time again?

Two amazing Bond films, but Royale is my favorite.

Both have similar themes and explore Bond on a more personal human level, but Casino wins it by a mile. Still would recommend On Her Majesty's as an underrated gem of the series.

Casino Royale is my favorite Bond film, OHMSS is my least.

OHMSS is my favorite Bond film, Casino Royale is... well, it's not my least, but I'm not a big fan.

No contest here. Best Craig Bond film vs worst.

Two masterpieces in the Bond franchises! I think these two are great films in general. OHMSS, yeah, as mentioned above it does have some continuity issues in the context of the franchise. But as a standalone, I really can’t fault it. It’s a great example of British cinema. Even Lazenby fits the role in this film perfectly. Maybe not as a replacement to Connery or the same Bond in films like "Thunderball" or "Live And Let Die" but they were going for a more shy, dare I say more dork-ish character and Lazenby is perfect in that aspect. Yeah, Blofeld doesn’t recognise Bond... it doesn’t work but I can ignore it. The filmmakers wanted to make a movie that stuck more to the books and that’s why it’s more character driven and grounded in reality. It’s essentially a love story. It was the longest until Casino Royale and definitely the most slow paced but it’s too gripping to realise the length. Oh, and it’s up against Casino Royale one of the favourite movies period. Like OHMSS, it’s a serious standalone that deals with the psychological problems of Bond. But this isn’t Bond yet, he’s a human being who’s damaged and experiences lost. Yet, it’s not pretentious or overly gritty. The tone is suited well. It’s also the most well made Bond movie and a perfect example of how to do a three act structure (first act being more action heavy, second act being a casino movie, third act being a tradgic love story)!

OHMSS is either the best or the worst. My family thinks it's the worst, I'm in the best camp. On Her Majesty's Secret Service>Casino Royale

I think OHMSS would have been good with the right Bond. Its such a important movie for the franchise and considered one of the best Bond books. Its a collusal mess up by the studio to rush the film while had they waited a year or two Sean Connery likely makes this a potential top 5 bond movie. However, Casino Royale is a top 5 Bond movie to begin with.