By Joan Larsen
The latest James Bond movie – SPECTRE – is about to hit the screens in the United States . . . a week after London’s world premiere. Yes, I think we have all noticed that most of the latest films don’t seem to draw crowds as they once did. But James Bond? Bond films have been a continuing presence in the lives of all in our world for 55 years now – a sheer number of years that seems so hard to believe have passed. Perhaps now more than ever, we all have that need to escape, be entertained – as we almost always have been over all those years – by the vast array of Bond films. I believe the well-received SPECTRE may be a good choice to once again head out . . . and go the movies.
Perhaps we no longer remember the names of the actresses that made the Bond movies even “more memorable”, but it certainly would be hard to forget “those Bond girls” who played an unforgettable part in each movie.
And so, let’s take a look at the some of the beauties of the Bond films over the years:
Dr. No: Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder)
The original Bond girl, to me, is still the best. When Ursula Andress stepped out of the sea in the white bikini, complete with the hunting knife and sea shells, she set a standard for every Bond girl to follow. From that first moment on the beach in Dr. No until those final moments when Bond and Honey are seen drifting out to sea on a boat with no fuel, it was a film to see – and then see again.
Goldfinger: Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore)
When we think of “Bond girls”, it is almost impossible to not immediately think of Pussy Galore. That cheeky name, the subtle humor and witty banter in that film, and her famous roll in the hay with Sean Connery in Goldfinger is a performance to be remembered forever.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Diana Rigg (Contessa Tracy di Vicenzo)
Appearing in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diana Rigg’s classic beauty, impeccable style, fierce independence, and athleticism are the traits that made audiences fall in love with her. But she also worked her charms on Bond himself, which earned her the distinction of being the only woman to ever actually tie the knot with 007. That film’s Bond was George Lazenby – and we remember the two slowly falling in love throughout the film – with Tracy tragically killed minutes after their marriage by Bond’s nemesis Blofeld.
Die Another Day: Halle Berry (Jinx Johnson)
Fun, flirty, strong, and ridiculously sexy, we somehow have never forgotten Berry’s Jinx in that scene where she comes out of the ocean in that orange bikini – a callback to Honey Ryder’s similar entrance in Dr. No. (I have found a short clip below for those of you that might? – well, might have missed it.) As Jinx, we seem to see a rare attempt to design a female Bond who actually seems like Bond’s equal, having her own adventures that, only at times, overlaps with Bond. The movie is never dull, it’s fast –and yes, it may be worth seeing again . . . and not just for Halle.
The Spy Who Loved Me: Barbara Bach (Anya Amasova)
Appearing in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, Amasova is one of the few early matches with Bond. In the beginning, Bond is almost killed by Anya’s boyfriend in the Austrian Alps. Her men take care of Bond as she casually walks away. When she discovers that Bond killed her boyfriend later, she vows to kill him when the mission is over. But – as we might guess – she develops feelings for Bond, and when the moment comes, Anya provides a very memorable scene when she shoots the cork out of his champagne instead. An intriguing character, Bach really helps to make that film so good.
A View to a Kill: Grace Jones (May Day)
Disco diva Grace Jones took the role of May Day, Zorin’s natural born killer. . . and how could we forget May Day’s leap off the top of the Eiffel Tower as a great moment in Bond tradition. This statuesque Jamaican woman – with sharp-cut hair to enhance her profile – is cast as a horse-taming, kick-boxing American who, according to Q, ‘must take a lot of vitamins.’ This was to be the last movie with Roger Moore as Bond . . . and Grace Jones as we have never seen her.
From Russia With Love: Shirley Eaton (Jill Masterson)
Shirley Eaton plays the golden girl Jill Masterson in this 1964 film, one of the first of the Bond series. When Bond breaks into Goldfinger’s hotel suite, he catches Masterson helping Goldfinger cheat at cards by using binoculars and an earpiece. Hard to forget those moments! Bond naturally seduces her – and of course, to get his revenge Goldfinger kills her and paints her entire body in gold paint. Any of us who go back to those years may remember this iconic film and its female star were featured on the cover of Life magazine.
Goldeneye: Izabella Scorupco (Natalya Simonova)
Although Pierce Brosnan made four Bond movies, Goldeneye is still considered his best. Natalya Simonova was the highlight of the ‘90s Bond girls – intelligent, cute, with an innocent and playful nature that is often missing from 007’s leading ladies. Portrayed convincingly by Izabella Scorupco, she still seems like the Bond girl you could take home to Mom.
Goldeneye: Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp)
If Goldeneye’s Natalya Simonova was the dream girl you might take home to Mom, then Xenia Onatopp was the nightmare you hoped never to meet. Her beauty and elegance soon draw back to reveal a maniacally grinning psychopath capable of crushing a man to death between her thighs.
Casino Royale: Eva Green (Vesper Lynd)
When Casino Royale was released in 2006, it was the first Bond film in decades to make extensive use of an Ian Fleming story, effectively introducing Daniel Craig as 007. Vesper Lynd was the first Bond girl of his novels, a stronger female character. French actress Eva Green was chosen to play Vesper. Witty and deep, Eva lent a more natural beauty not usually associated with the role.
Tomorrow Never Dies: Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin)
With the release of this movie in 1997, Pierce Brosnan, the James Bond of that era, referred to Wai Lin as a “female James Bond” in reference to her combat abilities. The actress wanted to perform all her stunts, but the director considered it too dangerous. But amazingly, actress Michelle Yeoh performed all her fighting scenes. Watching her playfully but firmly reject Bond’s attempts at seduction is a tease. But, in the end, the plot kept the audience glued, and finally we see Bond and Wai Lin give in to mutual attraction and become lovers. She is high on the lists of “Bond girls”!
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”