top of page

The Inconstant 007. Part 3.

By Tom Colton

Sylvia Trench, originator of the "Bond, James Bond" introduction.

Picture Courtesy Screenmusings.

In the previous two articles (HERE and HERE), Tom Colton talked about the internal consistency of the James Bond films with regard to maintaining the characters. Here, he talks about maintaining consistent relationships.

Maintaining the same relationships (and the first Bond retcon)

Generally speaking, the episodic nature of the first six or seven Bond films lend themselves to relative ease in maintaining character relationships, although extra effort was in fact taken for James Bond’s very first on-screen romance, Sylvia Trench (the woman who teaches him to introduce himself by his surname first).

For a very long time, Ms Trench – who didn’t exist in the novels – was the only Bond girl to hang around for more than one movie, and her appearances are fairly early in both Dr No and From Russia With Love. Now, the first movie ended with James Bond and Honey Ryder in a boat together (and he’d slept with Dr No’s agent, Ms Taro before that), but that doesn’t stop him from coming back to Ms Trench in its sequel.

It’s a short scene, but their relationship is established pretty clearly as they’re canoodling in a punt while Bond chills champagne in the river, and he tries to disguise the fact that he’s idling with her when Ms Moneypenny’s call interrupts him (although Sylvia in turn interrupts that call), leading her to complain that the last time they had any time together, he left for Jamaica – a clear reference to Dr No. [1]

At any rate, that’s the last we see of her, and Bond hooks up with Tatiana Romanova anyway. Come Goldfinger, there’s no indication that Sylvia Trench is in Bond’s life.

In terms of adversarial relationships, the only important one of note, by dint of said character being the only recurring enemy, is that between Bond and Blofeld, and here’s where character consistency starts going a little haywire.

Blofeld, Mark I.

Picture Courtesy Screenmusings.

As most people know, Bond and Blofeld’s first on-screen confrontation takes place in the last act of You Only Live Twice after the movie adheres to the convention of avoiding showing Blofeld’s face like in From Russia with Love and Thunderball. This, in theory, should be something of a watershed – even if Blofeld did escape at the end of this one, the two foemen recognise each other on sight, and now there’s a personal level to their enmity, rather than just a professional one.

... but they don’t recognise each other in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and even though Bond has disguised himself as Sir Hilary Bray from the College of Arms and Blofeld is operating under the guise of the supposed Comte de Bleuchamp (and they’re both played by different actors than in You Only Live Twice), logically speaking they should recognise each other.

Also Blofeld.

There’s no way around this, and remember: the filmmakers have been going out of their way to impress upon the viewer that George Lazenby’s James Bond is the same as Sean Connery’s, with the same history; not only that, the events of You Only Live Twice are implied to have happened because they appeared in the opening credits!

Something has to give here, and the simplest explanation is that despite appearances, OHMSS only follows up from SPECTRE’s first three appearances and not You Only Live Twice because the plot would break down otherwise [2].

Beyond inconsistent character appearances (Felix Leiter), the same character being split into more than one (Boothroyd/Q, and later on in Live and Let Die, Quarrel and his son Quarrel Jr; the first draft of Diamonds Are Forever had Goldfinger’s twin brother instead of Blofeld as the villain – but that’s a story for another time), this is a fundamental rewriting of 007’s history, which we won’t see until...



... uh, well, the next movie, Diamonds Are Forever. It’s less obvious here, but the opening scene takes place in Japan (where You Only Live Twice left off) and Connery’s Bond is a lot more jocular about smothering Blofeld’s body double in mud (not to mention the rest of his interactions with the “real” Blofeld!) than someone avenging the murder of his wife, which is how On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ended.

In short, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service takes place in a world without You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds Are Forever takes place in a world where On Her Majesty’s Secret Service seemingly never happened, although that is less clear. This limbo would persist through the Moore years until Blofeld’s final appearance in For Your Eyes Only, where Bond plants flowers on Tracy’s grave and Blofeld (here credited as “Bald Man With White Cat” due to Kevin McClory’s claims to the character) is bald like Telly Savalas’ and Donald Pleasance’s Blofelds, tipping the scales towards the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service “world state”.

Saying Goodbye.


[1] This is the second such reference in the film after the SPECTRE meeting where Bond’s demise is seen as a bonus benefit to their plan for hoodwinking the British and the Russians, which is a key piece of dialogue along with Bond and Trench’s banter in establishing that the movie is a direct sequel to that one, rather than being a disconnected episode of James Bond’s like like, say, the vast majority of Sherlock Holmes stories.

[2] As mentioned earlier, this problem didn’t exist in the novels because On Her Majesty’s Secret Service preceded You Only Live Twice and Blofeld does recognise James Bond on sight in the novel’s events, albeit with some prompting from Irma Bunt.

Comment on this article Here.


bottom of page