Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Babes of Bond


For reasons that should be obvious in this age of enlightened equality, I will resist any temptations regarding sexist posts or articles about women featured in the James Bond films. But not that much.

So here it is; The Babes of Bond; celebrating the fifty years of the Bond Girl,
Variously disposable, vacant or downright bad news, the Bond Girl is a phenomenon unlike any other. Seen as a launch-pad to an acting career, often the Apollo 13, the call from Mr’s Broccoli and Saltzman was eagerly awaited by many an actress. Many famous names were made by just such a call, with Honor Blackman, Britt Ekland, Jane Seymour and Arsela Undress (Sorry) to name a few.
Starting from the very beginning, 1962’s Dr.No set the standard – the film featured, amongst others one Eunice Gayson.
Playing Bond’s girlfriend Sylvia Trench, this has to be one of the sexiest women in – or out of – the movies. I’m not sure when the press and public latched on to the whole Bond Girl ‘thing’, but it was clear that by the time Goldfinger hit the screen they were here to stay. Even the hairy-armpitted monster of feminism couldn’t kill off the Bond Girl – despite rising criticism of the films ‘objectifying’ women, the Bond Girl simply got smarter – with later BGs regularly getting the better of our man from MI6. Even the remarkably doe-eyed Moneypenny spurned Bond, with latter-day ‘Penny Samantha Bond (!) famously declaring that ‘You’ve never had me’ to a chastened Pierce Brosnan.

So. Lets take a gander at some of our favourite Bond Babes!. To do this important and serious subject justice, we shall firstly focus on the BBs of the 1960s…

Clockwise from Top Left; Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench, Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder – the scene on the beach remains one of the most memorable in cinema (Amusingly parodied by Daniel Craig's homage in Casino Royale).
Below; Zena Marshall plays the ill-fated Miss Taro.

Lets not forget the real Bond girl; Lois Maxwell brought the role of Miss Moneypenny to life; no other actor featured in more Bonds, save the irrepressible Desmond Llewellyn.

Move over Sylvia!, poor Eunice was to be replaced in Bond's affections by Tatiana Romanova; Italian beauty queen Daniela Bianchi was possibly the only Bond girl even hotter than Sylvia Trench (Her last appearance).

Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb; the villain of the piece and an amoral killer.

The film also featured two hellcat gypsy girls in a catfight scene; this starred Martine Beswick and Aliza Gur – and no, I haven't got any pictures, so there...

Everyone's favourite Bond (Except mine) and something is becoming clear; the girl's names aren't exactly written straight-faced; sure, we could have guessed from Honey Ryder and Sylvia Trench that Ian Fleming liked a joke – but Pussy Galore?. The American press went wild-with Honor Blackman coquettishly suggesting it was rather a cute name...

Blackman came in from her run in The Avengers, thus paving the way for Diana Rigg to follow in OHMSS. Erm, Miss Galore is refreshingly independent, working as Goldfinger's personal pilot and heading her Flying Circus – but without the lesbianism implicit in the book. Despite her judo-tough character, she still succumbs to Bond's attempts at seduction – a scene that, with hindsight, seems distinctly uncomfortable now. Still, if we knew what would become unacceptable in thirty, forty or even fifty year's time, you wouldn't have been reading this bit. If, indeed you actually are reading and not just ogling the girlies...
Shirley Eaton plays Jill Masterson – Goldfinger's companion (They don't, thankfully) who helps him cheat at cards, tsk-tsk. Bond uncovers the skulduggery and Jill to boot. Betraying a Bond Baddie isn't a healthy move for any girl, though; inevitably she gets murdered. If you don't know where this is going I can lend you the DVD (Don't ask: I won't do any such thing); yes, she's covered in paint – GOLD paint!!!. People still think this would be fatal today, despite the myth being comprehensibly rumbled by various scientific types. Later, by an incredible co-incidence Bond bumps into none other than Tilly, Jill's sister – who's on a revenge trip of her own. 

Tania Mallet – sounds like a Bond name itself – plays Tilly Masterson, who is herself killed by Oddjob with his frisbee-death hat. Which all leads to Dink, played by Margaret Nolan. Now, I would never condone sexism, perish the thought. Google Nolan's name on image search with safe search off and you'll see two good reasons why.
A regular in the Carry-On films (My raison-d'etre if I ever had one) and many a gentleman's magazine, Nolan is also the girl featured in the incredible title sequence, with images being projected onto her statuesque form;
Nadja Regin plays Bonita, a girl we see at the start of the film who seems to be there mainly to kiss the face off of Sean Connery.


Several Bond Babes here; Luciana Paluzzi plays Fiona Volpe, the girl on a motorcycle who dishes out retribution for SPECTRE by firing rockets, while Molly Peters is Patricia Fearing, a Health Spa employee she mainly fears the sack for letting Bond almost get pulled apart by a mechanical back-stretching machine. Of course, 007 lets it be known his silence can be bought with a bit of the usual...

Domino Derval is the main girl in this story, though; played by French actress Claudine Auger, Domino's brother is the treacherous Petacci who, after a facelift gasses the crew of an R.A.F. Vulcan and razzes the nukes for evil Mr.Largo. As seen above and below, Domino is a sizzler...
-->Martine Beswick – yes her from the Gypsy scene in FRWL - is Paula Caplan, an ally of Bond who ends up swallowing a suicide pill.
Tsai Chin is Ling, the undercover girl in Hong Kong who helps Bond stage his own death at the start of the film – flipping up the bed he's lying in so it can be apparently riddled with bullets. Karin Dor plays smoking-hot redhead Helga Brandt, who works for the ruthless Osato and who ends up as piranha food.

The main girl, though is resourceful Aki, played by Akiko Wakabayashi. Despite the film repeatedly portraying Japanese women as servile, docile types, Aki saves Bond's skin twice, using her racy Toyota GT2000 to good effect – something that clashes with the view of Fleming's Bond that women drivers were a mild hazard in general... (MILD?, they're LETHAL...). Sadly, all good things and poor old Aki gets the old poison-down-the-thread treatment from a careless Ninja. Bond then, how bizarre is this; Bond then 'marries' Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama) to help him in his quest to find Blofeld's volcanic lair.

Mrs.Bond? - well, yes, exactly; James Bond gets married!. The final Bond film of the sixties (Lets not bother with Casino Royale) sees new Bond George Lazenby rescue a suicidal girl from drowning. The daughter of crime boss Draco, Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo as portrayed by Diana Rigg is a complex and vulnerable character, lending some real weight to the back-story here. Of course, marrying 007 is a risky business, and especially so here – poor Tracy doesn't make it out of the honeymoon car alive, taking a bullet from Blofeld (Telly Savalas) hench-woman Irma Bunt in a revenge drive-by. Oddly, Rigg was one of two 'Avengers' in the cast – she played Emma Peel in the series, whereas Joanna Lumley – one of Blofeld's 'Angels of Death' – played Purdey in seventies spin-off 'The New Avengers'.
Did the women's equality movement of the seventies kill off the Bond girl?, was the ultimate lady-killer foiled by the machinations of the bra-burners?... Tune in next time (What's in this coffee?) for the answers!...

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