Thursday, December 4, 2008

BONDzology's Top Ten Bond Girls

<--Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder

10. Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice, 1967)

Kissy is the first girl who Bond marries, albeit as a cover, in You Only Live Twice. A Japanese Ama girl who makes her living diving for shells, she also works for the secret service and assists 007 in his search for SPECTRE's hidden rocket launching base.

By 1967, Mie Hama (born 20NOV1943 in Tokyo, Japan) had appeared in over 65 films. Both she and Akiko Wakabayashi were chosen to appear as Bond girls in You Only Live Twice, however, the pair switched roles before filming began and Hama played Kissy Suzuki (whose name is never actually mentioned in the film) - the first girl Bond married. Hama learned English during the production, hoping to secure a chance to appear in more international films.

When Mie Hama became ill during shooting, director Lewis Gilbert faced a dilemma: he desperately needed her for a sequence in which she dives into the water while posing as pearl diver, however, Hama was suffering from stomach cramps and was too unwell to swim. An unorthodox solution was arrived at: Sean Connery's wife, actress Diane Cilento, donned a black wig and bikini and doubled for Hama in the long shot of the sequence. This marks the only time to date a Bond actor and his wife have appeared in a 007 film.

9. Lois Maxwell, Caroline Bliss and Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny

If there is one constant woman in Bond’s life it is M's secretary Miss Moneypenny. Over the years she has been played by different actresses, who each brought their own style to the role. Moneypenny’s affection for James is unwavering in the face of his philandering, murderous, mercenary cool. Plus she can hold her own in a battle of wits.

8. Halle Berry as Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson (Die Another Day, 2002)

Die Another Day drew decidedly average reviews, but Halle Berry rejuvenated interest in Bond girls when she pulled herself from the ocean in an orange bikini and knife belt, in an overt homage to Honey Ryder.

Jinx proves an excellent partner for Bond, lending her numerous skills to the mission at hand. The film’s climactic fight sequence sees Jinx brawling alongside Bond. We are left to wonder, could 007 have saved the day this time round without his Bond girl?

7. Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova ‘Triple X’ and Caroline Munro as Naomi (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)

Barbara Bach (wife of Beatle Ringo Starr) is Playing with the audience’s preconceptions of gender as we are introduced to Russia’s top spy in an intimate bedroom scene. As the scene unfolds it emerges that Triple X is the woman of the equation, not the man.

As deadly as she is beautiful, Roger Moore’s Bond is unable to resist the Russian spy. “When this mission is over I will kill you,” declares Amasova early in the film. Inevitably, he seduces her, but Triple X remains primarily Bond’s accomplice rather than merely his conquest.

Caroline Munro, a beautiful brunette (real name Caroline Mu; born 16JAN1950 in Windsor, Berkshire, England ) played the part of Stromberg's beautiful assistant, Naomi; she is not only an excellent hostess, but also a helicopter pilot with a deadly aim. After allowing 007 and XXX to leave Stromberg's Atlantis headquarters, she tries to gun them down in their Lotus Esprit. Munro has been a most welcome decoration in such adventures as Casino Royale (1967), Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), At the Earth's Core (1976) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Not surprisingly, Munro has become a cult favorite.

6. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore (Goldfinger, 1964)

Blackman was brilliantly cast as the Bond girl with the most memorable and overtly sexual name in the harem of 007. Bond's attempts to foil Goldfinger's plot are all in vain until he meets and seduces Pussy Galore.

The seduction itself is frankly violent with Bond and Galore trading blows as well as kisses before succumbing to one another's brutal advances. While audiences at the time may have been familiar with this particular brand of tough cinematic loving, the scene today looks something of a period piece.

Even though Galore helps Bond and the CIA foil Goldfinger’s plot, she doesn’t leave her evil lover. Ever the independent spirit, or subjugated by the various males in her life? The debate lives on.

5. Diana Rigg as Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969)

The only girl ever to marry Bond is a fascinating, multifaceted character from a film that tends to polarise the Bond community. George Lazenby’s sole outing as Bond has been both lauded and pilloried, with its darker than usual take on the British secret agent.

Diana Rigg described her character Tracy as “a bit of a mixed up lady”, who seems to be suffering from the ill-effects of a privileged upbringing. “I gave her too much, it brought her nothing” her father says.

Suicidal at the very beginning of the film she is rescued by Bond, both literally, when he saves her life, and figuratively as she ultimately falls for him.

Tracy is beautiful, smart, wealthy, cold and wilful. A good choice of wife for Bond? Undoubtedly so.

4. Famke Janssen as Xenia Zaragevna Onatopp (GoldenEye, 1995)

After a six-year absence due to legal wrangles, Bond burst back onto the screen in the mid-Nineties with Pierce Brosnan at the helm in the stunningly successful GoldenEye. The world weary, knowing X-generation needed a new kind of hero, and Brosnan fit the bill perfectly. The film had its tongue so firmly in cheek, it is surprising there was any room left for Austin Powers’ Bond parody at all.

Into this spirit of self-mockery Onatopp was perfect as the femme fatale who orgasmed as she crushed the life out of her victims with her powerful thighs. Onatopp’s encounter with Bond in a steam room is both absurd and hilarious, and Famke Janssen’s Russian accent is as preposterous as the character she plays. Wonderful.

3. Claudine Auger as Domino Derval (Thunderball, 1965)

From small roles in French television and cinema, Claudine (born 26APR1941 in Paris, France) was flung into big-screen stardom with James Bond's 1965 outing, "Thunderball" - but it took several twists of fate to land the part.

Faye Dunaway was first offered the role, but she declined so that she pursue a role in 1967's "The Happening". Raquel Welch was then signed, but was released as a favour by producer Cubby Broccoli so she could appear in the 1966 production "Fantastic Voyage".

Julie Christie seemed like a perfect choice until she arrived for a meeting disheveled and uncomfortable. As the start of filming approached, director Terence Young and the producers launched a worldwide talent hunt. A French film writer suggested they test Auger. She wowed the producers with a near perfect audition.

In the original draft James Bond's latest leading lady called for an Italian character named Dominetta Palazzi. The role of Domino was rewritten to accommodate the young French actress. After securing the role, Auger took regular lessons with Au Pair, London in order to brush up her English. While her English skills were above expectations on set, she was ultimately dubbed as her voice was so low. She also helped design the risqué bathing suits she wears in the film. For many of the underwater scenes, Auger was doubled by Evelyn Boren, the wife of underwater cameraman Lamar Boren. Domino was a hit among cinemagoers at the time, and hailed as the most well rounded character in a Bond girl yet.

2. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale, 2006)

Eva Green brought a delicacy and humanity to the role of Vesper Lynd as the franchise ‘rebooted’ itself with the 2006 production of Casino Royale.

Green reportedly fought hard to keep her clothes on throughout the film, particularly in a scene where she and Bond huddle together in a shower. Pressure had apparently been applied for Green to appear in the scene in her underwear, but she resisted, and the scene is one of the most tender moments in any Bond film.

“I got very angry when people kept asking me, 'What's it feel like to be a Bond girl?' As if I was soup,” confessed Eva Green, highlighting the peculiarly mixed experience being a Bond girl is for many actresses.

Lynd’s death at the end of the film seems a tragic loss. As the first significant relationship Bond has with a woman, the loss of Lynd could be seen to define his relationship with his job, himself and, crucially, every other woman – or indeed girl – he ever meets.

1. Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder (Dr. No, 1962)

In the same year Stanley Kubrick released his controversial take on the classic Lolita, Dr. No came to cinema screens offering an alternative feminine ideal to Marilyn Monroe’s alluring innocence that had so dominated the Fifties.

The birth control pill had recently been released in the UK, and the sexual revolution was in full swing. Set against this backdrop Honey Ryder emerges from the ocean in a white bikini, clutching two shells. She draws her knife on Bond as he emerges from the shadows, with all the swaggering grace Sean Connery brought to the role.

“I promise I won’t steal your shells,” says Bond. “I promise you won’t either,” says Ryder, without blinking.

Self-taught from her father’s encyclopaedias, the marine biologist tells Bond she has killed before. She is a force to be reckoned with, and gorgeous to boot.

1 comment:

Starkplug said...

Ursula Andress, mamacita, she was a decent actress too. This is an awesome top ten list, you should post this to my buddy's site and you can link back to your site. You can also let other people vote on the rankings if you want.