Monday, September 19, 2016

Worst to Best: Bond Girls

What does "Bond girl" mean?
That's a question that I find nearly impossible to answer, but one would be forgiven for assuming I felt that I had answered it, because here I am writing a post about it.
It's a logical assumption, and I guess that I have answered the question, if only for myself.  That said, during the process of compiling my list, ranking the "girls" in question, and then writing this post, I've consciously steered clear of setting firm boundaries for what I think the category means.  Here are a few common motifs one finds in discussions of Bond girls:
  • Bond girls are females who have sex with James Bond
  • Bond girls are females who are sufficiently sexualized and attractive that James Bond probably would have sex with them if given a chance
  • Bond girls are females whom the audience is expected to find sexually alluring

Of those, I'd say that the third is the one closest to my own thought process for this post.  But if one used that as a guideline, one could end up with a list of Bond girls probably five times longer than this one will be.
Would you count every poolside bathing-beauty separately?  How would one even begin to decide who did and didn't count?  Is a beautiful woman working at an airline ticketing counter fair game, or is that not quite sufficiently sexualized for her to count?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  If one finds Rosa Klebb to be hot -- and let's not rule that out, because Lotte Lenya was a right looker in her day (though arguably much less so in the day of From Russia With Love) -- must she be included?  Wouldn't Sheena Easton have to be included -- AS HERSELF -- as a result of starring in the opening credits to For Eyes Only?

It's an impossible situation, folks.  I can't set firm guidelines, and you probably couldn't, either.

So here's what we're going to do: we're going to wing it.  What criteria am I using?  I'm making it up as I go along.  Some decisions will be based on how I value the character's physical attractiveness; others will be based on how I value her intelligence, cunning, resolve, wherewithal, etc.  Still others will almost certainly be strongly influenced by my thoughts and feelings about the actress playing the role.

All of this is highly subjective, and you're possibly going to disagree with the vast majority of it.  It's opinionated, inconsistent (even with the already-expressed opinions you'll find within some of my posts about the individual movies), and maybe even hypocritical.

That's what it's like in my brain, though, especially when it's being bombarded with the mind-numbingly awesome collection of desirable women that is what I'm referring to as "Bond girls."  And for better or worse, mapping the contents of my brain is what I'm here for.  Might not be what you're here for, but them's the breaks, o reader of blogs.

So if one of your favorite minor Bond girls -- Virginia Hey's character from The Living Daylights, for example, or Dink from Goldfinger, or the wrestling Gypsies of From Russia With Love, for example -- has been left off of this list, don't take it as a personal slight against you OR against the lady in question.  I had to leave some people off, and I let intuition be my guide in that process.

With all the prevarication in mind, let's now turn our attentions to the bottom of the list.

Except I don't want to start at the bottom!  Let's have some positivity first:

Honorable Mention -- Rosika Miklos (Julie T. Wallace), The Living Daylights

I like the idea that James Bond has a worldwide network of women of all shapes, sizes, and inclinations, ready at a moment's notice to put their bosoms to use in order to aid both him and the cause of Western politics.  It's a goofy notion, really; but a cheerful one nonetheless.
Back in the day, I'd have described Rosika as "fat," and I can remember thinking it was funny -- by which I mean humorous -- that such an ugly woman would appear in a James Bond movie.  Ugly women don't exist in James Bond's world unless they're baddies!  How silly.  And hilarious.

Well, what can I say?  I was 13.

I'm 42 now, and not only does Rosika not seem to be particularly fat to me, she seems a long way from ugly.  In fact, I find her to be quite alluring.  Yes sir, works for me.

I honestly don't know whether Rosika belongs on a list of Bond girls, but I figure 42-year-old me owes her an apology on behalf of 13-year-old me.  Cultivating a list of babes is an invitation to exclude those who ought not be excluded, not merely in James Bond fandom, but in life.  And from my current vantage point, I'd say that a life would likely be enhanced considerably by a Rosika Miklos.

So welcome to the party, darlin'!  You never deserved to not be invited.

#66 -- Molly Warmflash (Serena Scott Thomas), The World Is Not Enough
There's a special place in Hell for those who use phones in a theatre, and there's also a special place in Hell for government agents who are so weak-willed that all takes to get them not to do their jobs correctly is for James Bond to get his dick out.  Look, the guy's cock is not magic.  I'm sure it's fine; if one imagines it at all, one imagines it to be both thick and lengthy, and almost certainly quite durable.  I get why if you were a lady doctor for MI6, you'd probably have carnal thoughts about the fellow from time to time.

This does not excuse your willingness to set aside your duties to Queen, country, and Hippocrates in order to take part in the pleasures that might accompany that distinguished phallus.

So for me, Dr. Molly Warmflash earns the bottom-of-the-barrel award for the series.  I expected it to be somebody else, frankly, but she was always in contention for that designation.  I feel obliged to point out that this is in no way the fault of Serena Scott Thomas, who is lovely and a competent actor and probably deserved better than this.

Also, "Molly Warmflash"?!?  I get that it's fun to come up with Flemingian-female pun-names; I once coined "Ivana Schtupya," so I definitely get that.  But guys, you've got to know when to pick your battles on this front.  If you can't come up with a good one, don't bother.  "Warmflash" isn't especially kinky, or especially clever.  It's just as apt to make one think of post-menopausal issues as it is the flushing of pelvic desire.

For that, and for the reckless abandonment of duty, Molly Warmflash is hereby consigned to the wastebin.

#65 -- Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), The Man with the Golden Gun

Mary Goodnight is an appallingly idiotic character who at nearly every turn unwittingly undermines James's efforts at foiling this movie's villain.  That might have been okay under certain circumstances.  For example, if Goodnight were simply some bimbo who ended up embroiled in this tale of high-powered energy and would-be assassination, her imbecility would be forgivable.  I'm no fuckin' Stephen Hawking my damn self, you know?

Unfortunately, this screenplay is asking us to believe that Goodnight is a British agent.  Perhaps this was anti-governmental subversion on the part of the production; maybe they were not only expecting us to find Goodnight atrociously buffoonish, but were also hoping that we'd downgrade out opinion of all Great Britain in the bargain.  If that's the case, well-played, sirs and madams.  It worked like a charm.

More likely that that's not the case, of course, and with that in mind I'm not sure how you can justify Mary Goodnight as a character.  I'm not sure how you can cut the film slack for employing her as a character; it's disastrous.

Goodnight was strongly considered for cellar-dweller status, but I opted not to put her there because, hey, after all . . . Molly Warmflash at least seems smart enough to have not to do what she was doing.  In that sense, Mary Goodnight must be preferable.


#64 -- Lucia (Monica Bellucci), Spectre

This may be unfair, but I'm giving Lucia a spot this low on the list at least partially because of outside-the-movie reasons.  A great deal was made in the press leading up to Spectre's release about how Monica Bellucci was the first over-fifty Bond girl.  (Please don't bring "Bond woman" to my table.  That's not necessary.  Trekkies are not Trekkers, they're Trekkies; and Bond women are Bond girls.  If either of those things offends you, you are in the wrong place.)

And let's have no misunderstandings: I think it's fantastic that the series went that route.  Monica Bellucci was just the woman for the job, too, because she's hot as nards and probably still will be at 60.  Plus, great actor.  What's not to love about that casting?

Well, as it turns out, the actual role was barely more than a cameo.  Was this honestly the best idea the producers and screenwriters and Sam Mendes had for putting Monica Bellucci to use?  If so, shame on every single one of them.  Lucia comes off as desperate and pathetic, and there's nothing sexy about the scene in which Bond seduces her.

#63 -- Helga Brandt (Karin Dor), You Only Live Twice
You Only Live Twice is an awful movie, and you can expect to see it mentioned several more times before we get a great deal farther into this list.  None of its female characters are worth a durn, but Helga Brandt gets my vote for worst of them all.
Why?  Well, once again, she's an idiot.  She's tasked with killing Bond, but instead of just killing him, she fucks him and then takes him up -- alive -- in an airplane only to parachute out so it can crash, killing him.
The idea, I suppose, is that she wants his death to look like it came as the result of the plane crash.
Apart from that, Brandt is Diet Fiona Volpe, an unsuccessful attempt to create another red-haired femme fatale like the one from a mere one film ago in the series, Thunderball.  If you're going to go to that well again, you're well-advised to wait a few movies before doing so.
#62 -- Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), The Spy Who Loved Me

Here's the thing: I wanted to put her in last place.  I know some folks love her, but I sure as shit do not.

On paper, Major Anya Amasova could have been a great Bond character.  That's clearly the intent, albeit in a semi-cartoony kind of way.  We're asked to believe that she represents both an advancement in the series' approach to women AND that she represents a changing attitude toward the Soviet Union.

As presented in the film, she fails in both regards.  Sure, she gets to seem competent and forthright on occasion; but she is eventually relegated to damsel-in-distress status, so that kind of invalidates the "look how badass we think women can be" argument.  You weren't serious about it, guys; you just wanted me to think you were.

As for how Amasova makes the Soviets look, well, would you be happy if the strong-woman contingent of your country was represented by an actress as utterly devoid of charisma as Barbara Bach?  I sure wouldn't.  If lack of on-screen charisma was a superpower, she'd be an Avenger, and X-Man, AND a Defender.  She's awful, and she kills the movie for me.

She's lovely, of course, which counts for something, especially when she's wearing a dinner dress.  But that's not enough for me, not by a damn sight.

#61 -- Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), You Only Live Twice
Like Anya Amasova, Kissy Suzuki looks pretty good in skimpy clothes.  She's not as top-heavy as her Soviet counterpart, but that's no requirement at You Only Blog Twice.  We value breasts of many sizes, including tiny, and we also regret having typed that lest it somehow be used against us in the future.  But it's the truth, so help us God.
In any case, Kissy is also a fairly useless character.  She's not put forward as a champion of modern femininity, so she's not offensive in the way Anya is.  However, she does virtually nothing for the film.  Why is she there?  She show Bond how to swim to a certain place.  That's it.  Otherwise, she's just there to be in a bikini for the final act.  She looks good doing it, but Mie Hama went to the same charisma school Barbara Bach attended, so there's just nothing special about Kissy.
Sorry, fans!
#60 -- Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), Diamonds Are Forever
It seems odd to me that somebody as hot as Jill St. John would rank a mere #60 on a list.  Not even sure it matters what the list is.  "Top 100 Walmart Greeters of Idaho," she'd crack the top twenty even if she didn't work at Walmart.  Here, a mere #60.  Odd!
As I've said, though, it's about a lot more than looks around here.  Even if the looks are as impressive as these are; and these are REAL impressive, especially once the bikini is broken out.
Thing is, once the bikini is broken out, the brain is turned off.  Tiffany Case has been presented as a strong, cunning, and capable woman up to this point in the film; but once we get to the oil rig finale, it's almost as if she's taken near-overdose levels of stupid pills since last we saw her.  There's simply no reason for it, either.  The only benefit to the story involves her dunderheaded efforts to steal a cassette tape.  Could the plot point not have been satisfied in some alternative manner?  Did you have to make Tiffany into a dimwit?
Tiffany was never going to rank super high on this list, I suspect, even if the character hadn't been ill-treated during the climax of the film.  St. John's performance is a bit too shrill, and while she's gorgeous, she's not gorgeous enough to overcome the fact that she's not terribly exotic, which is what many of the best Bond girls have going for them.  But at a guess, I'd say she'd move up twenty or so places on the list if not for the way she changes once the bikini goes on.  She's at least an attempt -- a mildly unsuccessful one, but mild success is preferable to the abject failure in the case of Anya Amasova -- at bringing a strong, independent, self-interested woman into the series.  She was doing just fine before James Bond showed up, and she'll be doing just fine once he fucks off again.
These qualities are betrayed by her screenwriters in the end, however, and she must pay the price for their lack of consistency.
#59 -- Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger), Never Say Never Again
I hadn't realized I'd done so, but I seem to have placed three Americans all together here toward the bottom of the list, with this version of Domino the second of the three.  What this tells me is that I'm an anti-American libtard who hates freedom and babies.
Either that, or Bond movies are by their nature showcases for the exotic, a quality that is not possessed by American women.
That's a silly generalization, of course, and as a statement it's a wrong one.  But these three particular American female characters are mostly very boring, especially vocally.  It's hard to believe that I live in a world in which Kim Basinger has more Oscars than Tom Cruise, but god dang if that isn't exactly the world in which I'm living.  I've never liked Basinger; she's okay in L.A. Confidential (which won her that Oscar), but otherwise, she has always struck me as Diet Daryl Hannah.
I certainly don't like her in Never Say Never Again, which is arguably the worst James Bond movie ever made.  The people who made it had no understanding of what made for a successful 007 flick; their thought process began and ended with Sean Connery, and did not contain the notion that maybe you didn't spell "glamour" with a D-I-G-D-U-G.
The one thing I'll give Basinger is that she does okay in the scenes in which Domino dances.  Basinger was a trained dancer, and it shows.  But her character is a bore through and through, with none of the alluring tenderness that it would have taken to make her work.
#58 -- Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher), Tomorrow Never Dies
The third leg of our mediocre-Americans tripod is Paris Carver, a character who had potential but is weakened to the point of failure by miscasting.  Teri Hatcher was and is a good actor, and she was in the prime of her powers in 1997, but her strengths are not put to good use and what the character needs to succeed -- haunted vulnerability mixed with haughty strength -- is either not in her skillset or was not exploited by director Roger Spottiswoode.
As is, it's a missed opportunity.
Side-note: in formatting this post, I'm having an unbelievable amount of difficulty getting Blogger to keep the banner-line for #58 at large-font size; it keeps changing it to small-font size.  I'm not changing the fucking thing again, so if you see it and it looks tiny, know ye one and all that I didn't skip it out of laziness; I tried, but the damn thing wouldn't take.
#57 -- Miss Caruso (Madeline Smith), Live and Let Die

I don't hate her scene in the movie, and Madeline Smith was a right proper looker.  Why, then, doesn't Miss Caruso fare a bit better in this heated competition?

Mostly because Caruso seems (pardon the pun) a bit beneath James.  She's a continuation of the odd fascination with bubbleheads that the series cultivated in Diamonds Are Forever, and I just don't have much tolerance for it.  Caruso is an innocuous example of that approach to Bond girls, I guess, but that's faint praise indeed.

#56 -- Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), You Only Live Twice

Aki is nothing special, but I'd give her the edge over the other Bond girls from You Only Live Twice simply because there's nothing offensive about her.  The film has the sense to give her an air of mystery and allure, and doesn't go too far overboard in the way of sexualizing her (e.g., she doesn't spend half an hour of the movie in a bikini).

She meets an untimely demise as a result of her interest in James's phallus, unfortunately.  It's one of the movie's best scenes, so I'd be reluctant to let go of it; but part of me wonders if the movie wouldn't have been significantly better off rolling Aki and Kissy into one character.

#55 -- Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), The World Is Not Enough

There's no denying that Dr. Christmas Jones is a ridiculous character: her name is awful; Denise Richards is (let's be charitable) ill-suited to play a nuclear scientist; she has very little charisma with Pierce Brosnan; and her character is mostly inconsequential to the plot.

All that said, I'd characterize it as a mere misfire.  The execution isn't awful; Denise Richards should never have been put in this role, but once there, she does her best.  She's leagues better than Barbara Bach or Mie Hama, for example.

Still, this is not a highpoint of the Bond series.

#54 -- Moneypenny (Caroline Bliss), The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill

The Living Daylights

Licence to Kill

Controversy time!

Many Bond fans will perhaps feel that Moneypenny does not count as a Bond girl.  I'm of a mixed mind about it myself, in fact: I never counted Moneypenny as a Bond girl in my reviews of any of the films (except the 1967 Casino Royale), preferring to include her in the "Bond's allies" category.

We'll cover the reasons why I've gone a different direction later, when we talk about better Moneypennys (NOT Moneypennies, you will note) than this one.

The character as portrayed by Caroline Bliss is a bit too vanilla, has too little edge, does not in any way seem to pose a challenge to Bond.  She listens to Barry Manilow, for Pete's sake!

We'll see more suitable Moneypennys later on, though; count on it.

#53 -- Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux), Spectre

It's hard for me to see what the filmmakers were going for with Madeline Swann.  The movie is set up to be a conscious echo of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and while I'm sure it's defenders would object to that assertion, I don't think there's much denying it.  The marketing practically screams it, and I know that marketing is different than the movie, but the job of marketing is to frame expectations about the movie.  So if the marketing is hollering OHMSS, and the movie fails to deliver on that expectation, it's a bit like crying wolf.

With that in mind, the efforts -- which are both slender and ineffectual -- to put Madeline in position to be the love of James Bond's life are ludicrous.  She's not as believable in that capacity as Christmas Jones is in hers, to be honest, and I considered placing her considerably further down the list.

I ended up not doing that because if nothing else, Léa Seydoux's performance is fine.  It's not great, but it's okay, especially considering how disengaged Daniel Craig seems from what's going on around him.  It feels like Seydoux is giving her all but is not being given the benefit of Craig's full efforts (a few scenes excepted).

So for Seydoux's sake, I've put Madeline this high.

No further.

#52 -- "Countess Lisl von Schlaf" (Cassandra Harris), For Your Eyes Only

I'm just not a fan, and I can't entirely figure out why.  I think maybe it's because she seems typical of the trope wherein Bond has to fuck a woman who ends up dying as a result of it.

What do we think about that trope?  It appears fairly frequently in the Bond series, beginning with Goldfinger.  I think maybe it works better in some films than in others, and while I think it works okay in For Your Eyes Only, that's the best I can say for it.

My reluctance is perhaps because I'm not particularly attracted to the character.  Cassandra Harris was a beautiful woman, but she wasn't particularly sexy, the above screencap notwithstanding.  Or at least, she wasn't particularly sexy in this movie; something about the way her makeup was done made her look a great deal older than she actually was.  Is it possible this was purposeful?  Beats me.

All I know for sure is that she doesn't rank very high for me.

#51 -- Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet), Goldfinger

Tilly Masterson was a difficult one for me to rank.

Pros: not automatically put into a state of horniness by Bond's mere presence; tragic without the tragedy seeming cheap and engineered; beautiful; determined.

Cons: not a great performance; ineffectual enough that one wonders how she was able to make as much progress as she made; incapable of lying well.

My final determination was that there's nothing special about her except perhaps for the manner in which she dies.

#50 -- Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry), Live and Let Die

Rosie is rather a bungler, although perhaps not quite as bad in that regard as Mary Goodnight; she's a bit of a bimbo, as well, which is rarely (if ever) a virtue in a Bond film.

However, I have very fond nostalgic feelings for old Rosie.  I credit her with having a small, but probably vital, role in helping young me develop a relatively racism-free personality.  For a boy growing up in Alabama in the late seventies and early eighties, this is no small thing.  It sounds silly to say that seeing James Bond kiss a black woman taught me a small lesson about life, but it being silly doesn't make it any less true.  And maybe it's not actually all that silly.  I don't know.  Somebody else can make that call; I'm comfortable thinking it was important.

That personal note aside, look at that tummy!  If you're a straight man or a gay woman and that doesn't work for you, I don't know what planet you're coming from.  Different one than the one I'm from, that's for sure.

Rosie is a rather weak character, though; I can't deny it.  She's ostensibly a CIA agent, but is actually a double agent working for Mr. Big and/or Kananga; and she's pretty shitty at both jobs.  I blame Felix Leiter for this.  He'd clearly read the novel Live and Let Die and knew what was supposed to happen to him and was too busy fretting over it to pay proper attention to Rosie.

I don't know what Kananga's excuse is.

#49 -- Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet), Casino Royale 1967

I considered not including Mata Bond simply because she's James's daughter.  I don't know that I feel good about thinking of James's daughter as a "Bond girl," simply because of the associations brought up by doing so.

Ultimately, I felt as if I had to include her, and so I have.

She's introduced in a decidedly odd Bollywood-type sequence, and I guess it's a decent enough scene, although there's a chance a viewer might implode from wondering why it's all happening.  I know she's in other scenes of the movie, but I'll be damned if I can remember a single one of them, and I don't care enough to check.

#48 -- Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton), A View to a Kill

The original plans for this character were apparently to bring Anya Amasova back, but those plans failed to come to fruition.  Given that Anya is one of my least favorite Bond girls, you'd think that I'd be happy about that; but instead, I think it's a bit disappointing.  I enjoy the rare occasions when the pre-Craig films flirted with continuity, and this one have been a good opportunity to tie a few of the films together explicitly.

It wasn't to be, though, and we shouldn't hold that against Pola Ivanova, or against Fiona Fullerton, who would have made a far better Anya than Barbara Bach did.  As Pola, she conveys most of what would have been conveyed by the actual presence of Anya; the sense of history is there, as is the chummy-yet-oppositional competition.  Pola gets the point across.

Where Pola loses major points is in her stupidity.  She's outfoxed by Bond entirely too easily, which theoretically makes Bond seem more powerful, but in my opinion only makes him seem weaker.  You want his victories to have at least a whiff of challenge to them, and this has none.

Overall, though, Pola is okay.  Fullerton is lovely, and gives a good performance, so we're starting to get somewhere interesting, finally.

#47 -- Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), The World Is Not Enough

I was a big fan of this movie at one point in time, and also of this character/performance.  I still think the performance is fine, for the most part, but my most recent rewatch revealed to me that I find the character to be extremely shallow and underwritten, and the performance isn't good enough to overcome that set of flaws.  I wouldn't blame Sophie Marceau for this in any way; sometimes, problems on the page are simply insurmountable, and this is one of those cases.

A big part of my problem, by the way, isn't so much that Elektra King is a shallow character but that The World Is Not Enough wants me to believe she is complex and meaningful.  If I went to a restaurant and ordered a steak and the waiter brought me a 44oz. cow-flop and then asked me if it was cooked to my liking, I wouldn't congratulate the kitchen for a well-achieved medium-rare.  I'd ask why I'd been given cow feces instead of a ribeye.

In that analogy, Sophie Marceau is the medium-rare.  Maybe you got that, but I wanted to be clear that I wasn't comparing her to cow dung; Elektra yes, but not Marceau.

She's obviously a beautiful woman, which always counts for something in a Bond-girls discussion, but if I'm being honest, I have to admit that she simply doesn't do it for me the way a lot of other women on this list do.  She's similar to Barbara Bach in that regard: my brain accepts that they are beautiful examples of womanhood, but I'd so much rather look at Gloria Hendry's tummy that it's not even a competition for me.  This, obviously, is a highly subjective element of assessing Bond girls.  Many men -- a majority of Bond fans, I feel certain -- would think I'm nuts for shrugging at Elektra King's physical attributes.

Won't stop me from shrugging, though, and when you add weak characterization that thinks it's strong, this is about as high as you'll get on my list.

#46 -- Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson), For Your Eyes Only

I always disliked Bibi even during the many years when For Your Eyes Only was my favorite Bond movie; she embarrassed me in a way I wouldn't have been able to articulate sensibly.

I still don't entirely understand it, to be honest.  I think it has something to do with Bibi perhaps not being quite AS attractive as she seems to think she is, but that's an uncharitable way of thinking about any woman, so if that's the case I'm not sure I feel good about it.  Maybe there's also something to do with her being oblivious to how age-inappropriate her attraction to James is.  But is that fair?  The series has on more than one occasion offered a sort of inverse of that equation, with Bond pursuing and bedding women who are scarcely any older than Lynn-Holly Johnson was.  (It's unclear whether Bibi is intended to be younger; I suspect she is.)

The older me finds something interesting in the way the movie handles this issue, however.  Bond is so aware of his unsuitability for Bibi that he shies entirely away from the issue, which is a relatively rare moment in which the series permits Bond to be fully human, complete with self-awareness, discretion, and grace.  He's able to rebuff Bibi with no hint of judgment or disdain; he is very kind to her, all things considered.

Also, to be honest, why shouldn't Bibi go for James?  She's correctly identified him as an expert lover, and she's obviously a liberated young woman who wants to enjoy her time on Earth; so why not go for it when she's got an opportunity?  I know it's normal for people to think that people should only have sexual relationships with people who are in more or less the same age range, but there's certainly an argument to be made that as long as nobody is preying on anybody else's lack of experience it's all fair game.  Bibi seems perhaps to be a fine example of that philosophy, and while it's possible that she's merely a middle-aged man's perverse fantasy, it's just as possible that she's typical of a specific sort of woman who exists -- perhaps even abundantly -- in the real world.

That's how it seems to me now.  In other words, I think that this element of For Your Eyes Only has some actual meat on its thematic bones, and that younger me sensed that and was -- understandably -- incapable of processing it.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

#45 -- Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood), Diamonds Are Forever

"But of course you are."

No evading it: I hate Diamonds Are Forever.  Not through and through; I can still squint mentally and pretend to be the young boy who got a kick out of the movie.  One thing that still tickles me pink is the above-referenced scene's dialogue.  "Named for your father, perhaps?" asks Bond, droll as all drolldom.  Great!  I'm never going to not love that.

Why, then, am I ranking Ms. O'Toole so lowly?  I mean, hey, Lana Wood was hot as microwaved lava, so that ought to be keeping her afloat.  And yet, it doesn't.

Not for me, at least.  Here's my thing: Plenty is, like Mary Goodnight, quite vapid.  If that's your thing, good on ya.  Dumb people need love, too.  It's not my thing.

It's not James Bond's thing, either.  Never has been, unless some screenwriter is doing a poor job of writing him.  Plenty is a realistic-enough character: she seems to be a simple money-hound, willing to offer up her companionship -- or, at the very least, the illusion of that companionship -- to any high-roller who can afford to keep her on his arm.  Is sex part of the deal?  I wouldn't assume that it is; it might be, but I wouldn't assume it.  But I would certainly assume that she would want her targets to think that it is.  She's an opportunist, nothing more.

The movie might could have done something with that idea, but nobody had any interest in going that route.  Instead, she exists in the screenplay purely to be vapid, get tossed out of a window, and be drowned with cement shoes.  Even then, there's a way to make a version of that character work.

This movie isn't interested in that, though.  But I'll give it credit for at least this much: it doesn't pretend that it is.  It's a silly movie, and Plenty is a silly character, but she's obviously a woman who has no mandate placed upon her to not be silly.  In that sense, she's a fundamentally honest character, and that counts for something.

And also, she is indeed brutally hot.  That's not always enough, but in her case, it's something.

In my review of Diamonds Are Forever, I believe I singled Plenty out as being the all-time worst Bond girl.  In thinking about her now, that seems entirely uncharitable of me, and a long way from correct.  I don't think she's all that great in the overall sense of things, but worst ever?  That's silly.

#44 -- Manuela (Emily Bolton), Moonraker

I actually like Manuela a good bit; Emily Bolton is beautiful, if nothing else.  And she's beautiful in a way that both does and doesn't typify the Bond movies (i.e., she's exotic and highly desirable, but not merely a big-titted white woman).

The major strikes against her: first, she falls into coitus with Bond WAY too quickly; and, second, she simply disappears from the movie.  It's almost as if Jaws actually had succeeded in killing her.  While writing that sentence, I became curious as to whether the screenplay had perhaps gone that route.  I don't have access to it, but I do have the novelization by its author, Christopher Wood; so I pulled it down from the shelf and checked, and...

...nope.  She lives.

It remains a curiosity, then.  Nevertheless, I like this minor character and wish she had had a bigger role somehow.  Speaking of which...

#43 -- Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), Quantum of Solace

In at least three ways, this is one of the most embarrassing characters in the entire series.  To wit:

  • When we meet her, she is dressed in such a manner as to make one think she is a streaker.  Why?  Did somebody on the film have a fetish for women in short raincoats and long boots?  I cannot fault this individual if so, but you've got to wedge that stuff in sensibly, and having a field agent for the British government be dressed in a manner that is absolutely certain to draw a significant amount of eyeball-attention seems well short of sensible.
  • Her character's name is one of the worst clever-Bond-girl names of them all.  To compound matters, the name is never actually given in the film.  When asked her name, she says, "Fields; just Fields."  She's obviously embarrassed by her full name, which begs the question, why not change it?  But the movie seems embarrassed by it, too, because the only place you can get it is in the end credits.  It's a joke to which the punchline is buried.  So why make the joke?  It's a problem that seems increasingly typical of the Daniel Craig era of films: a desire to hew closely to the formula that made the series popular for decades, combined with a desire to stay away from juvenile shenanigans like that in favor of gritty realism.  In related news, I have a piece of cake which I would like to eat, but would also like to still have later on.  Whatever should I do?
  • Fields falls into bed with Bond with virtually no prompting.  It's almost as if it were part of her assignment or something.  I can let that slide in an intentional trifle like Moonraker, but in a would-be serious film, no sir, that don't fly.  But otherwise, Bond would have had sex with zero women during the course of the film, and it's obvious that somebody decided that would be unacceptable.  Eat cake; keep cake.

That said, Gemma Arterton is extremely attractive and gives a solid performance that is completely in line with the newfound increase in performance quality in the series.  She's not at fault in any evident way for the character's shortcomings, and so I could not in good conscience put Strawberry Fields any further down than this.

#42 -- Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), A View to a Kill

Stacey's not as bad as her reputation, y'all.  Is she prone to damsel-in-distress syndrome?  Well, yeah, she is.  But she's a civilian!  This isn't a case of a British agent getting kidnapped and failing to do anything about it besides wear a bikini; this is a lonely and scared woman who is being menaced by some genuinely evil people, and who finds help from a mysterious stranger.  She's thrown from a dangerous situation into a downright perilous one, and she handles it with relative aplomb, as far as I can tell.

It probably hadn't occurred to be before just now, but I wonder if this character's poor reputation isn't due partly to the fact that Tanya Roberts had been one of the stars of Charlie's Angels.  People who heard about her casting prior to the film's release would almost certainly have expected her to play an ass-kicking female agent of some sort, and might have been disappointed for her to instead be relegated to a role that is somewhat opposite to that.  If so, then it makes a certain amount of sense that contemporary reactions to her were negative, and that those reactions have set the tone for the way Stacey has been perceived ever since.

I'm not going to be continuing that narrative.  My only specific familiarity with Roberts is via this movie, and I've never disliked her.  She's not one of my favorites, either, but she's just fine in her own regard, and I think she's a long way from being the embarrassment that she's often credited with being.

#41 -- Estrella (Stephanie Sigman), Spectre

I hate Spectre.  Sincerely, guys; I don't like that movie worth a damn.

But, as with the small handful of other Bond films I dislike, there are individual elements that work for me, and this minor character is one of them.  For one thing, Stephanie Sigman is gorgeous; never a bad quality in a Bond girl.  For another thing, she's a major part of what is almost certainly the single best costuming sequence of a film series that is over fifty years old.  That's an achievement.

My complaint: Bond doesn't fuck her.

Let me clarify.  I neither need nor want Bond to have sex with every woman with whom he comes into contact, even the ones who are willing and able.  What fun would that be?  Other priorities need to be ascendant at times, and that's not merely fine with me, but preferable to me.

However, Spectre had the implicit and explicit aim of returning the series to a tone and approach that was more like the jovial and escapist tendencies of previous films in the series.  They didn't necessarily want to go full Roger Moore, but they wanted to get closer to it.  And with that in mind, it is unforgivable that Bond didn't land that helicopter and then return to the hotel room to finish that tryst with Estrella.  "Now," he could have said with a wry smile, "where were we?"  Cue the music.

Estrella, then, represents a failure on the filmmakers' part to fully commit to what they were doing.  It's a problem that drenches Spectre from beginning to end, and the Bond girls of the series are especially damaged in the process.

For my money, Estrella emerges the least scathed.

#40 -- Naomi (Caroline Munro), The Spy Who Loved Me

I probably could have chosen a better screencap for Naomi, but this is the scene that came to mind, so it's what I went with.

Naomi is an incredibly minor character, and under certain criteria might not even count as a Bond girl.  She and Bond never get it on, or even get close.  But as I've explained, that matters not in this dojo, so of course she is included here.

Caroline Munro was devastatingly hot during the seventies (and probably still is if you like older women), so on the basis of that alone, she deserves mention.  And that's really about all there is to her.  She's cut from the same femme-fatale mold as other hench(wo)men in the series, but -- unlike, say, Fiona Volpe -- she isn't given enough to do to really make a major impact.  Instead, she functions almost as a comic-book character: she's got a somewhat iconic look and is a collection of behaviors moreso than an actual character.  I'm a bit surprised Naomi wasn't resurrected as a cartoon character in James Bond Jr, actually, now that I think about it.

And if she had been, it probably would have worked!

#39 -- Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), Tomorrow Never Dies

I want to love Wai Lin.  I want to love Tomorrow Never Dies.

I can't; or at least, I don't, in either case.

It wasn't a bad idea for the series to bring in a genuinely ass-kicking woman to be Bond's equal and to never fall into his seductive arms.  It's a good idea to do something different with this series every once in a while; for example, I'd kind of like one of the movies to eventually be a Bond-and-Felix buddy-cop-type of movie, and while it might be problematic to disrupt the formula to that extent, it might just as easily be fun to take a one-movie detour like that.

So in no way was I against Wai Lin.  I just don't think it worked particularly well.  I do not blame Michelle Yeoh for this; she's just fine, lovely when she's asked to be lovely and tough when she's asked to be tough.  She has no chemistry with Brosnan, but that's true of most of his leading (and secondary) ladies, so Yeoh should not receive any more criticism for that than the others.  Her fight scenes are merely okay, but that's seemingly because the filmmakers failed to bring their imaginations to work with them on the days those scenes were being planned and executed; one senses that Yeoh would have been up to the task whatever it might have been.

With Wai Lin, it's a swing and a miss.

#38 -- Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress), Casino Royale 1967

One of a small club of actresses to play two Bond girls, Ursula Andress in the 1967 Casino Royale is, if anything, even more beautiful than she had been in Dr. No five years previously.

Which is saying something.

However, it's one of the few virtues the character can claim.  The 1967 Casino Royale is charming enough if you are in a certain mindset (or perhaps if you grew up with it), but in an objective sense it is a big old mess of a movie.  Consequently, it's hard to give this version of Vesper Lynd much more than the faintest praise once you get beyond the considerable attractiveness of the actress portraying her.

Two things worth noting: first, she's half of the sequence which introduced Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love" to the world, so that ain't insignificant; and, second, the movie does at least try to replicate something of the duplicity of the character from Ian Fleming's novel, which arguably gives this Vesper an advantage over some of her sistren on this list.

#37 -- Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), Licence to Kill 

Lupe is okay for most of Licence to Kill, but suffers massively from the efforts the screenplay takes to try to convince us that she's fallen in love with James.  "I love him so much," she says breathlessly at one point.  I'm not sure I've gotten over the eyeroll that gave me; to this, I'm still suffering from that a tiny bit.

I'm assessing the damage via Lupe's ranking on this list.

That scene excepted, she's okay.  Talisa Soto is not exactly the most skilled actor to ever appear in a James Bond film; she's adequate in most of her scenes, but stunningly inadequate in a few others (including the above-quoted profession of love).  She's super-duper hot, though, so there's that.

#36 -- Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera), Never Say Never Again

I mostly despise Never Say Never Again, a mercenary production which simply has none of the class, charm, or production value that makes most James Bond films both a hoot AND a holler.

One of the film's few merits can be found in the somewhat lackadaisical but nevertheless fun performance of Sean Connery.  Another can be found in the over-the-top performance of Barbara Carrera, who gives it her all as Fatima Blush, the femme fatale of the story.  She's unhinged enough to be playing Harley Quinn -- or maybe even the Joker himself -- and seems to be having a grand old time.  Like most of Never Say Never Again, what's her character is doing doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense.

However, the sheer strength of her performance is enough to keep her in relatively prominent placement here.

#35 -- Moneypenny (Barbara Bouchet), Casino Royale 1967

Playing the daughter of the original Moneypenny, Barbara Bouchet in the '60s Casino Royale is thunderously hot.  If I were going on sheer attractiveness, she might have cracked my personal top-ten.

As is, though, we're taking other considerations into account, and the fact is that the movie is what it is: ridiculous and not particularly successful.  There's not much to Moneypenny apart from her attractiveness, so I'm not inclined to place her any higher than this.

#34 -- Bianca (Tina Hudson), Octopussy

Bianca is only in Octopussy for a few minutes, and could reasonably have been omitted from this list altogether.  Something told me not to do so, though, and I have obeyed that instinct.

I like several things about her:  First of all, Tina Hudson is beautiful.  Second, she's sexualized without being explicitly linked to James himself except in their having a working relationship; I kind of enjoy having there be female characters who seem to have had a sexual life before Bond came around and seem likely to have one long after he is gone.

Finally, she simply seems competent.  She's not stupid in any evident way; she seems as if she may have been doing her job for quite some time, and probably at a high-performance level.

She seems like a pro, in other words.  She can, will, and does get shit done.

I like that.

 #33 -- Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters), Thunderball

Also known as "the one Bond rapes in a shower."

If you watch Thunderball and that's what you take away from the relevant scene, then you're probably watching from a 2016 mindset moreso than a 1965 mindset.  Hard to blame you too much for that, I guess, but I'd ask you to at least try putting on your mid-sixties cap and considering what's actually happening in the scene.

Bond, a seasoned ladies' man who has practiced his hobby around the world, walks into Shrublands recovery center and meets nurse Patricia Fearing, with whom he has an immediate spark of sexual chemistry.  Now, I may as well admit that the amount of sexual sparks I exude could not power a fly's wings, so I don't actually know this for a fact, BUT . . . it is my considered belief that if there is sexual chemistry between two people, it probably doesn't take long for the two of them to figure that out if they are self-conscious, thoughtful, and reflective people.

What's happened between Bond and Fearing, then, is that two sexually forthright people have encountered each other in a place where it would be inappropriate for one of them (Fearing) to act on the heat between them due to it being her workplace.  Bond, perhaps due to his familiarity with situations like that (vis a vis his relationship with Moneypenny), mostly takes his foot off the gas pedal until an accident happens: when Count Lippe tries to kill him and Fearing discovers Bond in time to save him, Bond says something along the lines of "Somebody's going to pay for this."  He knows exactly who has made this attempt on him, and is referring to Lippe when he says that; understanding that is a crucial element in correctly reading the scene.

Fearing incorrectly interprets this as a threat to her job (assuming that she is somehow to blame for the accident with the machine, or at least that her employers will blame her for it).  Bond sees this, and then does something which you might interpret to be tasteless and unkind: he takes advantage of her vulnerability and more or less implies that he';ll keep his mouth shut if she screws him.

Is this rape?  I'd say it isn't; it's certainly coercion, but there's a difference.  If I want you to go to a movie with me, and keep pestering you about it until you give in and do it, that's not kidnapping; if I hit you over the head and put you in my car and then drive you to the theatre, that's kidnapping.  This doesn't mean that I'm a nice guy; I should probably just let you go or not go as is your preference.  But hey, maybe I knew you wanted to see the movie, but that something was preventing you from taking the step of actually going to see it.  So maybe what I do is I find a means of allowing you to give yourself permission to go.  I've persuaded you, possibly through disingenuous means; but I've still left the ultimate decision in your hands.

That's my interpretation of what Thunderball wants us to think has happened between Bond and Fearing.  I think it's there in Molly Peters' performance, as well as in Connery's; it's there in the direction and the writing, too.

I'm aware that that's just my interpretation, though, and it's always tricky when a straight man is telling (hypothetical) women what does and doesn't count as rape.  I don't want anyone to think I'm ignorant of that fact, and what I'll add is that if I were in that situation, I would not behave in the manner Bond behaves.  However, that doesn't change the fact that I don't believe "rape" is an accurate descriptor for this act.

Let's save that for when we talk about Pussy Galore.

In any case, I think Pat Fearing is a mostly admirable character, who has both a liberated sense of sexuality and an air of professionalism.  She's also played by a beautiful woman.

Final note: you will perhaps have figured out that the equivalent to this character in Never Say Never Again got left off of the list.  I've got no better reason for that than that it bored me to figure out what to say about her in the way of justifying placing her lower on the list.  Several legit Bond girls were abandoned in that manner.  We here at You Only Blog Twice do not particularly regret the exclusions.

#32 -- Miss Taro (Zena Marshall), Dr. No

Miss Taro is the series' first femme fatale, an enemy agent who has infiltrated the government and who uses her feminine wiles in an attempt to subvert and destroy James Bond.  Some people object to the callous manner in which Bond uses her, but those people seem to be forgetting that she is attempting to use (and murder) him.  I'd have busted that nut, too, if I were him.

Modern viewers -- a sensitive lot -- may also object to British actress Zena Marshall going in yellowface to play the role.  Modern viewers seem not to be aware that the world was once a vastly more segregated place than it is now, and that it was quite common for white actors to play characters of different races and ethnicities.  Was it racist?  Well, yeah, obviously; it was a racist world back then.  There's honestly no need to rail against that when it comes to a movie like Dr. No, which would likely have been seen as progressive and perhaps even a bit radical in some ways.

Miss Taro can't in any way be seen as a poster-child for changing times, but the mere fact that a movie in 1962 was able to have a character who was this open (with the audience if not with James himself) about using sex as a weapon represents something of a step forward.  Sex, Dr. No is saying, is a great many things; more than you've been led to believe, including -- hand motion toward Miss Taro -- this.

I just can't see that as a bad thing.

#31 -- Octopussy (Maud Adams), Octopussy 

There's just not much to Octopussy, to be honest.  She's kind of a Pussy Galore figure, but Maud Adams doesn't quite have the cool fire that Honor Blackman had to make that idea work; she comes close to being the series' first primary villain who also happens to be a woman, but the screenplay wasn't willing to take that step; she's ostensibly a strong and ruthless gangster, but she needs James Bond to save her bacon once the chips are down.

This is a step backwards masquerading as a step forward.

What saves it from being a disaster is that Maud Adams delivers a solid (if uninspired) performance, and has good chemistry with Roger Moore.  She's beautiful (though I don't find her to be as ravishing as I did when I was a boy), and her costumes are wonderful.  I wish I loved her; I don't, but I like her well enough.

#30 -- Corinne Dufour (Corinne Cléry), Moonraker

Corinne is the sacrificial-lamb character of Moonraker, and as played by Corinne Cléry, she may be one of the most purely beautiful women of the entire series.

There's not much to the character, but she's sweet and seemingly innocent of the villainy going on around her as an employee of Drax Industries.  She falls into bed with Bond rather quickly, but I can rationalize that by thinking that perhaps she is very devoted to her work, which keeps her in relative isolation and offers too few opportunities for her to have the dalliances which she seemingly enjoys.  Nothing wrong with looking for, and enjoying, a one-night stand, provided nobody involved is under illusions that something else is happening.  It's nice that the Bond films typically offer no moral judgment against female characters who behave in this manner; they've been forward-thinking in that way since the very beginning.

Some of you may perhaps feel that Corinne's fate is a moral judgment against her.  I don't see it that way; I see it as a representation of the mortal -- with a "t," mind you (that's not a typo for "moral" -- danger in which she unwittingly puts herself by linking with Bond.  Put another way, this can be seen as a moral judgment against Bond himself, whose approach to information gathering has gotten many a woman murdered over the years.
Few, if any, of them have suffered the way Corinne does, though.  In some ways, it's too dark and serious a scene for a movie as effervescent as Moonraker, but I'd argue that since it happens in complete absence of Bond himself, the scene actually represents both the pros and cons of his existence.  It's horrifying, partially as the result of his actions; but it also demonstrates the need for his continued existence, as an agent working toward taking down villains like Drax.

Personally, I find this to be a case of the series managing to successfully have its cake and also eat it.

#29 -- Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), Licence to Kill

I've generally tried to avoid (A) looking at my previous reviews of the films to remember what I said about these characters and (B) pilfering those posts when and if I do look at them.

However, in the case of Pam Bouvier, I more or less remembered what I'd said.  I don't think I'd say anything more insightful about her this time; I got it right the first time.  So let's pilfer (with some mild revisions):

The main Bond girl of record this time is Pam Bouvier, ex-CIA spook, ex-Army pilot, and general badass.  On paper, you've got to love that.  This chick basically IS James Bond, as evidenced by the scene in which she tosses a fuck at Bond mere minutes after meeting him for the first time.

Where the role falls apart somewhat is in the casting.  Pam is played by Carey Lowell, a former fashion model who had only had three film roles of any size up to this point.  Lowell isn't bad here -- in fact, she's rather good at times -- but she does not scream "badass."  It would have benefited the film for Pam to have been played by someone like Terminator 2-style Linda Hamilton, or, failing that, Aliens-style Sigourney Weaver.  (Jesus, how cool would that have been?)  Instead, the role was filled by someone who seems as if she was better suited to play Tom Hanks' deceased wife in the flashback scenes of a romantic dramedy (which is exactly what she did a few years later in Sleepless in Seattle).

That said, Lowell does reasonably well.  I buy her as a badass WAY more than I buy Barbara Bach as same in The Spy Who Loved Me, so if nothing else, this is a step forward.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that the screenplay undercuts Pam's character massively by turning her into an implausibly-lovestruck woman who is jealous of Bond's involvement with Lupe.  Bad move, Wilson/Maibaum.  The character ought to have been more of a female 007, and a female 007 would never become as clingy as Pam becomes over the course of this movie. 

I stand by all of that.  Pam isn't without her deficiencies, but overall I do like her a good bit.

#28 -- Magda (Kristina Wayborn), Octopussy

I actually prefer Madga to the Bond girl in Octopussy whose name the film bears.  That ribbon-twirling dismount from the balcony has stuck with me since 1983, boy.

Magda is another example of the Bond girl who is not afraid to use sex for her own purposes.  She's not quite a femme fatale in that regard, but she comes from a similar school, and she's the quality that I find to be most important in those characters: she seems to have an inner life and a motivation that has nothing to do with James Bond.  She seems like an actual person, in other words.  Don't misunderstand me: I don't think there's anything deep or complex about the way the character is written or performed, but those qualities need not exist in abundance as long as they are hinted at successfully.

Magda also gains points for being involved in one of Roger Moore's very best reactions.  "That's my little octopussy," she answers when asked about her tattoo.  What happens next should have won Moore an Oscar; maybe not THE Oscar, but certainly AN Oscar of some sort.

It's not too late, Academy: get on it!

#27 -- Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), Die Another Day

Pretty much all of Bond fandom loathes Die Another Day, and perhaps that is as it should be; but when you see people talking about which elements they enjoy, Rosamund Pike's performance is typically prominent in that conversation.

As well it should be.  Pike is an Oscar-nominated actress who hasn't quite broken out into superstardom, but seems capable of doing so at any moment.  I doubt she'd list Die Another Day among her finer achievements, but she's certainly got nothing to be ashamed of, despite the movie itself being fairly awful.

What works most in her performance is a slight unreadability; you always sense that something is going on behind those cool eyes of hers, but you never quite find out what that is.  Even once all of her cards are ostensibly on the table, you sense that perhaps she's got a few others hidden away someplace, forever out of your sight.

Works for me.

#26 -- Ruby Bartlett (Angela Scoular), On Her Majesty's Secret Service 

Ruby always kind of freaked me out as a child, but she's grown on me significantly over the years.  And how!  She's a bit outside the realm of what is often thought of as a Bond girl -- I think the Brits might describe her as a chav -- but is nonetheless a bright, appealing, and horny woman who knows what she wants and goes after it with sparkly determination.  She's even learning to eat chicken again, so that's good.

Scoular might be considered to be a repeat Bond-girl, having previously appeared as one of M's daughters in the 1967 Casino Royale.  Should she be included on this list?  Maybe, but there's about gajillionty-seven women in that movie who fit the bill of "Bond girl" as loosely defined here, and durn it, some of 'em had to be omitted.  Dahlia Lavi and Jackie Bisset were the next closest to inclusion, with Deborah Kerr also nearly making the cut.

Also omitted: all of the Blofeld girls from Majesty's not named Ruby.  I almost included Catherine Schell's Nancy, since Bond actually does bed her; but she's otherwise no more significant than the others, so I've left all of them off.

Except the delightful Ruby, of course, whom I love.

#25 -- Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Moonraker

I think there's a lot to like about Holly Goodhead.  So why don't more people like her?

I suspect it's partially because Moonraker is a weakly-regarded Bond film, and partially because Lois Chiles was neither especially voluptuous nor especially dynamic as a performer.

But does that mean she's bad?  "Fuck" and "no" would be the components of my answer to that question.  In my opinion, she's a fairly successful attempt at creating a believable double-agent who is also a rocket scientist.  Consider how much more suited to that profession she seems than Christmas Jones.

I can even live with the silliness of "Goodhead" as a family name; it sounds just vaguely-British enough to pass muster for me.

  #24 -- Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), For Your Eyes Only

When I was a wee lad, For Your Eyes Only was my favorite Bond film, and it stayed that way for probably the better part of a decade, before I developed a mad crush on On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

If you borrowed a TARDIS and used it go back in time and tell young Bryant that in the far-flung future of 2016, Melina Havelock would rank a mere #26 on this list, he'd probably be very confused.  I mean, for any number of reasons, actually; but he'd certainly wonder why poor Melina had been devalued so greatly.

The fact of the matter is that 2016 Bryant just finds her a bit boring.  In my review of For Your Eyes Only, I pointed to the dubbing of her dialogue as a big part of the reason for that.  Dubbing lines can sometimes create a nearly-subconscious disconnect between the performance you are seeing and the performance you are hearing.  It seems to me like that might be what's happening here, and it seems entirely possible that it's not even Carole Bouquet's voice you're hearing.  It wouldn't be the first time that had ever happened.

In any case, I still like Melina, just not as much as I once did.  She's fiery, self-motivated, determined, and never in a damsel-in-distress situation unless Bond is in it right along with her.  As a character, it's hard not to like her.  In other news, she's got lovely eyes, gorgeous hair, and . . . um . . . a mustache.  Not in every scene, perhaps, but it's sufficiently present that one is tempted to wonder if Tula was not the only transgender woman in the cast.  And hey, that's fine, but it's not necessarily a quality I look for in a Bond girl.

  #23 -- Solange Dimitrios (Caterina Murino), Casino Royale

Solange exists, as much as anything else, to both subvert and reaffirm expectations about the Bond series.  You will perhaps recall that Casino Royale's status as a reboot was something of controversy for fans whose fandom predated 2006.  We mostly didn't need the series to be rebooted; we mostly didn't want the series to be rebooted.  So for a reboot to work, it was going to have to win us over.

Solange is the first woman we see this version of Bond become entangled with, and the shock for us comes when he fails to follow through on the opportunity to have sex with her.  Why?  Well, because he's got a mission to perform; he'd be happy to dip his wick in this manner, but he's only doing so in an attempt to get information from Solange, so when that information is delivered, what else would he do but drop everything and act upon that information?

You'd never get that approach in Moonraker, but that's okay, because Casino Royale is an entirely different beast.  It's a movie that wants to at least approximate reality; Moonraker mostly wants to escape it.  Both approaches are fine; it's consistency that is the key, and the fact that Bond is willing to do this one little thing we've never seen him do -- walk out of the room when he could be walking (so to speak) right into a vagina instead -- means something.

It only works if Solange is desirable, and Caterina Murino was well-cast in that regard.  Beyond that, there's nothing hugely special about Solange, but that's okay; there need not be.  Nevertheless, when we discover that she has been murdered as a result of her loose tongue, we feel genuine remorse for it.  Murino's performance helps make that possible.

#22 -- Moneypenny (Samantha Bond), GoldenEye through Die Another Day


Tomorrow Never Dies

The World Is Not Enough

Die Another Day

As previously discussed, I've made the executive decision to count Moneypenny as a Bond girl.  Once again, I'm going to mostly defer discussion of the specific reasons for that to a discussion of a different Moneypenny; but I will say for now that Samantha Bond made for a fairly smashing Moneypenny.  She's cute as a button, and prone to call James out on his bullshit.  Can't pass that up, fellas.

This particular Moneypenny would almost certainly have cracked the top twenty if not for her regrettable hologram scenes in Die Another Day, in which she uses a government training tool -- a holographic simulacrum of 007 -- as a masturbation aid.  I've got no problem with Moneypenny rubbing one out, but I do have a problem with her using government resources to do so; a goddamn holodeck has got to be expensive to run, and taxpayers ought not to have to foot the bill for a bout of bean-flicking on an executive assistant's part.

Even worse, I don't know that I want Moneypenny to feel actual lust for Bond.  Isn't it kind of pathetic if she does?  She seems stronger and more self-possessed than that.

#21 -- Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick), Thunderball 

Paula is cut from basically the same mold as Manuela in Moonraker and Bianca in Octopussy: she's a gorgeous field agent who is highly competent but who is (or at least might not be) not above having a bit of fun where she can take it.

In fact, she seems to be the originator of that mold, and she's far and away my favorite example of that type of character.

It's almost entirely due to Martine Beswick, who looks absolutely smashing in a bikini.  Amazingly, she's not even the most impressive bikini-wearer in the above-pictured scene.  Nevertheless, she's a proper babe who flips pretty much every switch in my lizard brain.

Beswick was the second actress to play two Bond girls, by the way: I left the first (one, alongside Aliza Gur, of the two wrestling Gypsy girls in From Russia With Love) off the list.  I also left off both characters played by Nadja Regin, the series' first repeat lady.  She was a bona fide Bond girl in the opening scene of Goldfinger, and portrayed a Kerim Bey girl -- which may or may not also count as a Bond girl -- in From Russia With Love.  Both appearances seemed a bit too inconsequential to actually rank, but they certainly merit mention.

#20 -- Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Skyfall and Spectre



If it wasn't for Spectre, Eve would probably be a bit further up this list; and it's entirely possible that over time, as her tenure on the series (hopefully) progresses, she'll move up.

Harris is great in Skyfall, and while I wish I'd been able to watch the movie with no idea she was playing Moneypenny, that -- along with many of the movie's other revelations -- had kind of been burned for me ahead of time.  This is why reading stuff about a movie before its release does not always pay off.

Still, even with the knowledge of who she was probably playing, it's a satisfying performance.  I might even go so far as to say it's the single best Moneypenny performance; it gives depth to the relationship we've been seeing all these years.

Too much depth, one might argue.  One of my only reservations about Skyfall was that I was afraid that once the series had cast heavy-hitting performers like Harris, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Whishaw as the MI6 office staff, there was no way the movies were going to avoid giving them subplots all their own just to justify keeping them around.  I you want to see some evidnce of my fears being well-founded, look no further than Spectre, in which Ralph Fiennes is great as M playing out an utterly worthless subplot.  Moneypenny is sidelined too greatly, and seeing that, one wonders how the filmmakers can possibly justify squandering Naomie Harris in such a fashion.  One also wonders how the problem can do anything but worsen.

So for that reason, I've parked this Moneypenny right at the bottom of the top twenty.

#19 -- Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Goldfinger 

There's an argument for making Jill Masterson the #1 entry on this list.  After all, she is the iconic golden girl, an image that would be recognizable even today, over fifty years later, to what I assume would be billions of people worldwide.  Would all of them -- or even most of them -- be able to tell you it was from Goldfinger, or even know it was from a James Bond movie?  Probably not.  But they would feel a spark of recognition at the image itself.

That counts for a lot.

And yet, I found that I simply couldn't give Jill the nod for that reason alone.  All of that helped, but just wasn't quite enough.

There isn't much to Jill as a character.  She's a pure opportunist, one of the select group of Bond girls who have decided it is acceptable to loan their bodies out to an older man in exchange for what seems to be a life of glamour, ease, and (one imagines) generous shopping.  We'll encounter at least one more of those a bit further up the list.

What do we think about that?  What I mean to say is, what do we think about women like Jill?  Should we judge them?  After all, they probably don't know they're hooked up with world-threatening villains.

What's interesting is that the films seem mostly to have no intention of judging these characters.  What Goldfinger as a movie is telling its audience is that what an adult chooses to do with her body is her business.  That doesn't mean that she's not open to the possibility of trading up, though, and in James Bond this one senses an opportunity to do so.  Not for money, or for leisure, but seemingly just for fun.  Jill Masterson is out to enjoy life; she can do so by putting the money of a man like Auric Goldfinger to use, but she can also do so by simply being with someone else who offers rewards of a different sort.

She might not be the marrying type, but she's got her virtues.  Paint-resistant skin is not among them, sadly.

#18 -- Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry), Die Another Day 

Jinx is so much better than most of the other would-be ass-kicking Bond girls that it doesn't even seem to be a conversation worth having.  Halle Berry is actually pretty convincing in that regard.  I mean, yeah, sure, she looks a bit like a Hollywood actress pretending to be something she isn't, but unless you've got Gina Carano or somebody like that playing the role, that's always going to be the case.

The fact is, Berry does a more convincing job of it than Barbara Bach and Lois Chiles and Carey Lowell put together.  She's more attractive by far than Bach and Chiles, and maybe Lowell, too; that's no knock against those three ladies, either, it's just a recognition that Halle Berry is next-level hot.

I think her performance is just fine, too.  She's got a couple of weak line deliveries of lines she should not have been asked -- or, perhaps, allowed -- to deliver, but she's one of the few Bond girls of the Brosnan era to have any chemistry with her leading man.

There was talk of spinning Jinx off into her own movie, and while I'm mostly glad that that never happened, she's one of the only Bond girls who would even have gotten close to being able to carry her own film as that character.  There are a few others; but only a few.

#17 -- Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), Quantum of Solace 

Kurylenko is hands-down one of the most beautiful women to appear in a James Bond movie, in my opinion.

Her character's attractiveness is mostly played down, though, and indeed Camille does not -- apart from one brief, ill-advised kiss in her character's final scene -- fulfill the role of a traditional Bond girl.  If one wished to use a set of criteria different from the one I'm using, you could actually leave her off the list.

What a silly list that would be.  Camille is a strong, dedicated, and ingenious character who would seemingly have achieved her objective without breaking so much as a sweat if good old James Bond hadn't shown up and screwed everything up for her.

The major problem with Camille is that the screenplay turns her into a weakling during the climax of the film.  I think that was a bad move that weakened both her character and the overall movie.  I think we, as viewers, wanted to see her stone-cold murder Medrano; we didn't want to see Bond have to console her, we wanted to see her as an equivalent of Bond.

Maybe it's just me who feels that way.  But I do, and if Camille was the character she could and should have been, she'd probably be in the top ten, if not the top five.

#16 -- Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), The Man with the Golden Gun 

The Man with the Golden Gun is a wildly inconsistent film, veering from the ultra-silly to surprisingly serious in a way that only a few Bond movies have managed to do successfully.  Looking at you, Moonraker; NOT looking at you, Tomorrow Never Dies.

Not all of Golden Gun works, but I think that the character of Andrea Anders is one of its most successful elements.  Maud Adams is effortlessly beautiful, and projects exactly the type of quiet desperation that the character needs.  It's Andrea who sets the movie's plot into motion, and the way in which this happens helps distinguish the film from most of its brethren.

The mistake the filmmakers made was in killing her off.  Rewatch the movie at some point with the idea in mind that it's Mary Goodnight who gets killed, and Andrea who then has to be rescued from the clutches of Scaramanga.  Not only would that have made the film better, but I'm convinced that Andrea would be remembered as one of the better Bond girls.

It didn't happen that way, obviously, but I think Andrea nevertheless earns a solid spot on this list.

#15 -- Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), GoldenEye 

Famke Janssen is so sexy in this movie that it is literally scary in a few scenes.  I had her in the top ten until I began writing this summary, at which point I realized that I didn't have any real reasons for placing her ahead of quite a few of the other characters that didn't involve my carnal urges.  Nobody wants to discuss my carnal urges, including me, so I'm forced to conclude that Xenia, despite her many charms, doesn't deserve to be in the top ten.

She is a great villain, though, and an incredibly sexy Bond girl.  So don't think I don't love her; I do.

#14 -- Kara Milovy (Maryam D'Abo), The Living Daylights

One of the less-frequently-utilized Bond-girl types is the innocent girl who finds herself in over her head while the world explodes all around her.  You could describe at least three of the women in my top fifteen that way, so I think the series has had fairly good success working with that mold.

Kara is arguably the most innocent of all of them, a doe-eyed, tender-hearted young woman whose emotional energies are mostly poured into making beautiful music emerge from a cello.  I'm not sure what she's doing hooked up with Koskov, to be honest; it's hard to imagine her having an actual sexual attraction for him.  Maybe that's naivete on my part, though.

Kara also has a more compelling character arc than the vast majority of Bond girls: she begins the movie as a frightened but optimistic innocent and ends it as a self-reliant woman of the world who is still optimistic.  What's not to like about that.

Maryam D'Abo gives a solid performance, and it's worth noting that D'Abo would go on years later to co-author an indispensable book called Bond Girls Are Forever.  If you've enjoyed this post even a tiny bit, trust me: you want a copy of that book.

#13 -- May Day (Grace Jones), A View to a Kill 

You almost never see May Day pop up on lists of the best Bond girls, but I'm not sure there's an argument against it that I'll be able to fully buy.  She's one of the three best femme fatales in the series, and unlike the other two, she has an actual character arc.

I seem to be in the minority in thinking that Grace Jones was a babe in 1985.  Kind of a manly babe, I guess, but only kind of.  She's got great legs, gorgeous skin, lovely lips, and piercing eyes.  What's not to like about those assets?  She's got some weird costumes, I guess, but that's a minor complaint; she's also got some nice costumes.
What about the actual performance?  I think Grace Jones is pretty great, personally.  She's a little unhinged, but so is Christopher Walken as Zorin; Jones's performance is wholly appropriate alongside Walken's.  I think that both of them do a good job (albeit in a cartoonish manner) of conveying the fact that their characters are a thin veneer of control stretched over a lake of insanity; but both are, through concerted effort, keeping that veneer in place enough to convince the outside world that they are on the up and up.  Jones pulls this off quite gracefully, if you'll pardon the pun.
With all that out of the way, what you've got left is a strong femme-fatale hench(wo)man who arguably ranks not only among the best Bond girls of the series, but also among the best henchmen, if not the best villains.
I'm not sure she shouldn't be higher on this list, to be honest.

#12 -- Domino Derval (Claudine Auger), Thunderball 

Thunderball is one of my absolute favorite Bond movies, and from a standpoint of physical attractiveness, I'd say that Claudine Auger is maybe top-five in the series.

We're not making that list, though, and if I'm being honest then I have to admit that Domino is a slightly weaker character than she might optimally have been.  Don't misunderstand me: I don't think she's bad, I just don't think she quite measures up to the rest of the film.

She's perhaps the apex of the series in regards to a particular type: the kept woman who is content to sell her body to an older man in order to live a life of ease and comfort.  We've talked about that type before, and I don't think the series ever did it better than it's done here.  During the scene in which Bond and Domino have lunch by the pool, you can see in Domino's eyes that she knows that Bond knows what type of woman she is, and that he knows that she knows; she simply doesn't care.  She also doesn't care that he knows she finds him attractive; she practically comes out and says to him that without a pile of money he's useless to her.

She's got another great scene: Bond telling her that her brother has been murdered.  It's kind of astonishing how much emotion is played right underneath the surface in that scene: Domino is greatly affected by the news, but maintains a good bit of her composure nonetheless.  Meanwhile, Bond is visibly shaken by the interaction, but you only know it if you're paying attention to his hand, which trembles after Domino takes her brother's dogtags out of it.

For too much of the rest of the movie, Domino is a bit too much of a blank, though, and it's equally due to the screenplay and to Claudine Auger's performance, which is never bad but is rarely more than that.

She's got those two scenes, though, and you've got to love the fact that Domino gets to kill Largo using a speargun.  I kind of regret not having her in the top ten, but I couldn't honestly put her above the other ladies on the list.

#11 -- Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), Goldfinger

Is this too low?  It seems a bit weird to not have Pussy Galore in the top ten, but this is another case of me not being able to mentally justify placing her above of the other characters who did make my top ten.

We may as well go ahead and talk about the rape scene.  Let's see what I had to say about it back in 2011 when I reviewed the movie:

I may as well just say it right up front: I'm not the world's biggest fan of the character Pussy Galore.  Yeah, yeah, the name makes me chuckle, too (still); and Honor Blackman is good in the role, and attractive in a severe sort of way.  But try as I might, I just cannot get all the way on board with the reversal the character goes through.  There is really no way to put it other than to say that James Bond fucks a woman out of villainy and back to heroism.  In the novel (and arguably, by implication, in the film), it's even more distasteful: there, Bond fucks a lesbian back into heterosexuality.  This is just hard to take in 2011.  It was probably kinda hot in 1964, but in this respect, the movie just hasn't aged well ... and that's without even bringing up the question of whether Bond's advances toward her in the hay can be counted as rape.  I'm going to leave that for more socially conscious minds than mine to determine.

That said, Honor Blackman is quite good in the role, and there is at least the implication that Galore is really only in all of this for the money.  She clearly has no sexual interest in Goldfinger, and once Bond tells her that Goldfinger is "really quite mad, you know," it seems that she quickly does the mental mathematics on her odds of surviving this whole affair, and finds that she's better off siding with Bond.  In that sense, it's possible to say that Pussy hasn't surrendered to Bond at all; instead, she's merely using him to help extricate herself from a potentially lethal situation.

Hmm.  I simply avoid the issue, eh?

Well, let's rectify that now.  I think you've got to count it as rape.  The fact is that the scene begins with Bond physically subduing Ms. Galore and then forcing himself upon her.  As it plays out in the film, Pussy sort of relaxes into it once Bond begins kissing her, with the implication being that she's changed from "no" to "yes."

I can see how this would have played okay with most people in 1964, but I can also see how 2016 audiences would be revolted by it; and while I often find myself at odds with how the average 2016er thinks, I can't find a lot of fault with this.

Thing is, I myself am still able to see it from a . . . well, from a 1984 perspective, if not a 1964 perspective.  I was born in '74, right between those two times, so I can mostly get to where I need to go; or, if you prefer, I'm stuck where I ought not to be.

Your choice, really.

#10 -- Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), GoldenEye

Natalya is not unlike Kara Milovy in many ways, except she's been cut free of the kept-woman aspect that gives Kara a mildly questionable arc.  Instead, Natalya is a completely innocent outsider, a technical whiz who nevertheless has a hidden reserve of physical resilience upon which she can draw when she needs to do so.  She needs it in this movie, for sure.

She also serves in some ways as James's conscience, and represents a metafictional commentary wherein the audience is allowed to be on her side as she takes him to task for some of his shortcomings.  She is similar to Judi Dench's M in that regard, which is sort of an interesting note.  Old James never quite changes his tune in the movie, but give Natalya credit: neither does she.

It's also worth noting that Izabella Scorupco is thoroughly beautiful.  How many men born between 1980 and 1985 found themselves watching GoldenEye and feelings things they'd never felt before?  A lot, I bet.  Probably a decent number of girls, too.  Apart from one mild swimwear scene, Natalya is never put into highly-sexualized costumes as are so many of the other Bond girls, which is another point in her favor; she's so hot, she doesn't need to be in a skimpy dress.

  #9 -- Severine (Bérénice Marlohe), Skyfall

Guys . . . she's pretty great.  She's one of the best Bond girls of this or any other era, because -- thanks to a terrific performance by Bérénice Marlohe -- she seems like a real person.  She's got all the glamour and confidence that a woman in her position would need to succeed, but she's also obviously scared to death of Silva because she knows what will happen if she crosses him.
And that's exactly what happens, so her fear is justified.  This gives a real emotional weight the scene in which she is talking to Bond and visibly shaking despite making every effort to keep her composure.

Fuck, man, there's no doubt about it: Skyfall is one of the best Bond movies ever made, and you said it was THE best, I'd argue with you not at all.  It ended up at #1 in my rankings of the movies for this very blog, in fact, so I'd likely give you a big thumbs up.

Severine exudes mystery, danger, sex, sensuality, vulnerability, tragedy, and hope.  I don't know what else you'd want in a Bond girl.

The main argument against her is that Bond doesn't seem to give a shit that she is killed.  I've got one friend who was downright outraged that Bond didn't at least try to save her.  I don't know that Bond ever had a chance of saving her, but I do agree that he could have shown a bit of remorse; it kind of works for the movie that he doesn't, but still, it wouldn't have hurt.

Either way, I don't think it prevents Severine from going into the books as one of the all-time greats.

#8 -- Solitaire (Jane Seymour), Live and Let Die 

I can't make any grand statements about the strength of Solitaire as a character.  She's kind of a misfire as a character, actually: she does relatively little for the plot apart from serve as a mechanism by which Bond sets Kananga off.  And what about the possibly-supernatural element of her second sight?  Solitaire would have fit right in on James Bond Jr with a character trait like that.  It doesn't bother me that much, but this is probably only because Live and Let Die has been in my life as long as I've been in this world.

If such an element were to pop up in the next Bond movie, I'd probably lose my shit.

So it's time for honesty here: Solitaire is in the top ten simply because of how beautiful Jane Seymour was in 1973.  And boy howdy, was she beautiful.

#7 -- Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson), Dr. No and From Russia With Love

Dr. No

From Russia With Love

Is there a Bond girl more underrated than Sylvia Trench?  If so, I'm not aware of it.  In order to counteract that to some tiny degree, I actually wanted to find a way to get her into the top five.  I couln't justify that, though, so she's landed here.

But don't let that failure to crack the top five confuse you: I absolutely love Eunice Gayson in these movies, despite the fact that she doesn't really have all that much to do.

Let's examine the facts: Sylvia Trench is (unless you count the dancing girls of the opening credits, or Strangways' secretary, or the woman inside MI6) the first Bond girl to ever appear on screen.  Not only is she gorgeous, glamorous, confident, and assertive, she's also the woman whose phrasing when giving her name -- "Trench . . . Sylvia Trench" -- prompts Bond to utter a catchphrase which will reverberate around the world for at least the next 54 years.

Do NOT sell that short.

She's also the woman whose sexual adventurousness and confidence will frame the films' approach to feminism for the first few films.  There are some missteps -- the wrestling Gypsies, Dink, the rape of Pussy Galore -- but on the whole, those first few films are working diligently to say that women are, and should be, free to move through the world doing as they see fit.  If you're a woman like Sylvia Trench who sexually desires a man like James Bond, you should be free to follow those desires wherever you see fit.

It is with this immediate attraction that our sense of who James Bond is begins.

There were plans for Sylvia to appear in more films, serving as James's at-home steady girlfriend (or occasional plaything at least), but she never made another appearance after her second.  Seems like a shame to me, but it's understandable.  I think it'd be cool if the modern series resurrected her whenever the next actor takes over, but I'm not holding my breath waiting on that.

Regardless, we've got those precious few minutes with Sylvia, the first Bond girl ever, and still -- in my opinion -- one of the best.

#6 -- Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), From Russia With Love


There's nothing to not love about Tatiana Romanova.  Even Joseph McCarthy would have wanted to buy her some chocolates.  I suppose it might be possible to find her distasteful simply because she has sex because her government wants her to do it; but if you've got the opportunity to bed 1963-vintage Sean Connery, would you resent your government ordering you to do it?  I doubt it.

Tatiana is resilient, funny, sensible, and loyal to whatever inner forces are motivating her.  The Russians would call her a traitor, I suppose, but I don't think she ever betrays herself.  And anyways, she ends up on the side of the good guys.

Nothing more for me to say; she's close to perfect, and I regret not being able to put her at #1.

#5 -- Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), Dr. No 

Probably not the screencap you were expecting.

I try to inject a modicum -- a quantum, even -- of impartiality and objectivity into these lists, and indeed most of my writing.  I feel no mandate to make a huge effort to do so; after all, true objectivity in the assessment of the arts is impossible: an illusion, a myth.  But I do think it's a good idea to try to stand outside one's self on occasion and at least try to take the opinions of others into account.

With that in mind, I knew there was simply no way for me not to have Honey Ryder in the top five on this list.  She's too iconic, too celebrated; I couldn't do it.  I toyed with the notion of having her outside the top ten, but quickly came to the determination that most people who read this list would see that and disapprove mightily, and that they'd be right to do so.

The fact is that Honey Ryder appearing out of the sea, standing on a beach without a care in the world and with a knife on her hip, shook the very world.  As an image, it's arguably -- and I'm by no means the first person to make this suggestion -- as indelible as the Venus de Milo.  Aphrodite given form, that was Ursula Andress in that particular moment of time in 1962; it lives forever thanks to the magic of celluloid and, now, digital storage.

My problem is that I don't think all that much of Honey as a character.  She's a naif, one whose innocence might have made for an interesting exploration in a different form in some other movie; but here, she's really just a woman Bond meets and screws while in the midst of an island adventure.  Nothing special about that.

The Aphrodite moment, though...?  There was definitely something special about that.  And I think it would be wrong for me not to acknowledge that.  It's another one of those cases where if you said this aspect of the movie made her the #1 on the list, I couldn't disagree much; the best I'd be able to manage would a passive lack of agreement, rather than an active disagreement.

#4 -- Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), Thunderball 

I've long harbored a not-so-secret admiration for redheads.  One day in the late nineties, I was discussing this with somebody.  We were watching a women's volleyball match -- we were working it, FYI, and were not there simply to perv out -- and there was an absolutely stunning redhead playing for the opposing team.  I was scarcely able to avoid my jaw dropping all the way to the floor like Pepe LePew, and my friend/co-worker asked me what made her any different from the other stunning women running around the court (of which there were routinely several).  I responded, "Well, she's a redhead."

"So what?" he asked.

I didn't have an answer, apart from just sort of waving my arm in a "See? Look at that!" type gesture.  It set me to wondering why I was having that reaction and he wasn't.

I'm not sure I'd ever figured it out until a few years later, when I was rewatching Thunderball and Luciana Paluzzi appeared.  "Aha!" I said mentally, or perhaps aloud.  "There it is: the Bryant-loves-redheads origin story, the me-as-perv equivalent of being bitten by a radioactive spider."  I know for a fact that I saw Thunderball at a relatively early age (late seventies at latest), and while I can't remember being especially intrigued by Fiona, I know that had changed by the mid-to-late eighties.  She wasn't the only Bond girl who affected me in that way -- by no means -- but she was possibly the most impactful of the group in that regard.

She remains so to this day.

I really dig Fiona (and Paluzzi's embodiment of her) through and through.  Fiona is THE pinnacle of bad-girl villainy in the series, and part of what's notable about her is that she's equally plausible as both a normal woman and as a psychopath.  Take a look at that screencap of her holding the gun above: does she appear to be acting in any way, or does she look like someone who is very comfortable both holding a gun and coldly putting it to use?  She rides a motorcycle that has a rocket launcher on it, and while it should be faintly comic when she stops and removes her helmet, spilling that avalanche of red hair after murdering Count Lippe, it doesn't provoke laughter.  She looks completely natural.  She's a born killer, not unlike the spider I mentioned a few sentences back.  This is what she does; this is what she is.

And yet, she also seems normal enough that you don't for a moment question her ability to move through the world without people sensing that something is off about her.  As much as I love them, you can't say the same of Xenia or May Day.

What does that matter?  It grounds the movie, keeps it believable where it might otherwise seem cartoonish and silly.  It helps Largo seem more competent and powerful; he's had the sense to hire somebody like Fiona, as opposed to somebody like Fatima Blush (who seems utterly insane and can barely conceal it).

It's a big part of the success of this particular movie, have no doubt about it.  Fiona also seems completely capable of killing Bond if she decides to do so.  Bond barely escapes her, in fact, and he seems lucky to have done so.

The only bad thing I have to say about Fiona is that she didn't act quite decisively enough when she needed to; she allowed Bond to best her.  I'm glad he did, but part of me regrets it.

You hate to see a great redhead squandered.

#3 -- Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Dr. No through A View to a Kill

Dr. No

From Russia With Love



You Only Live Twice

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Diamonds Are Forever

Live and Let Die

The Man with the Golden Gun

The Spy Who Loved Me


For Your Eyes Only


A View to a Kill

I wrote a version of this post wherein Moneypenny was #1.  I never quite felt right about it, though, because I simply couldn't bear to slight the two women who ended up in the top spots in that manner.

Ultimately, it seemed right that Moneypenny end up in some manner of also-ran status, but I refused to go any lower than #3.  She is, in her way, as iconic as Honey Ryder or Pussy Galore or whoever else you wish to name.

She's also a great example of femininity that needs not resort to over-sexualized shenanigans.  She's professional without sacrificing her love of flirtation; she's not shy about telling you you're full of shit when you are, in fact, full of shit; she's beautiful; she's confident; and she's always there.

If anything gives me pause, it's that last bit.  For really, that's the legacy of Miss Moneypenny: she's the one who waits.  Waits, mind you; not "pines."  I get little sense from the films that Moneypenny sits around composing turgid poetry about her unresolved feelings for old double-oh-seven.  Yeah, sure, she's crying as On Her Majesty's Secret Service comes to an end; but as she says, she always cries at weddings, and I see no reason not to take her at her word.

In my mind, Moneypenny's willingness to wait is born out of her professionalism: she's not merely waiting for Bond, she's waiting in general.  It's part of her job; she occupies an extremely sensitive place in the government, and her duties clearly occupy too much of her time to permit her to have any sort of vital romantic relationship, with Bond or with anyone else.  None of that's actually in the films, of course; this is me explaining how I view them, and that shouldn't be mistaken for canon.

For me, though, it tracks.  And while it's rather sad to think of Moneypenny living her life in that way, it's also entirely admirable.  How many British lives has she helped to save by living her life in that manner?  Probably a great many.  Has it turned her bitter and jaded?  Nope.  She remains her jaunty, graceful self.

She also presents quite a fine model of a woman remaining true to herself despite her advancing years.  I think it's pretty damn great that the Bond series kept Lois Maxwell around through the end of the Roger Moore era.  They kept Moore's Bond women fairly young in age, but seemingly felt little to no urge to trade Maxwell in for a younger model.  (Penelope Smallbone in Octopussy notwithstanding.)  Nor did Maxwell feel the need to turn to surgery to try and trick us all into thinking Moneypenny was still 35.  She was content to age gracefully and naturally, and while she looks her age by the time 1985 rolled around, her personality and confidence still shines through and keeps her beautiful.

There have been other Moneypennys after her, but none of them yet has achieved what Maxwell achieved.

And probably none of them ever will.

#2 -- Tracy Bond (Diana Rigg), On Her Majesty's Secret Service

First, I had to decide what to name her: Teresa Draco, Teresa di Vicenzo, or Teresa Bond?  Or should I use "Tracy" instead of Teresa?  I settled on Tracy Bond; seems right.
It so pains me to not have Tracy ranked #1 that I considered calling it a tie.  What a fuckin' copout that woulda been!  If nothing else, I hope not to be a copout on my own blog.  So when the time came to make the hard decision, I made it, and consequently the Bond girl who has been my personal favorite Bond girl for, oh, at least the past twenty years has ended up at a mere #2.

That doesn't mean she isn't great, though.  She's great through and through, and Rigg's performance is handily one of the best in the Bond series.

The thing about Tracy is that you have to believe Bond would actually leave the Secret Service for her.  I believe it.  Here is a woman who is challenging enough that Bond would never, ever get bored with her.  He'd get bored with Tiffany Case, or Natalya Simonova, or maybe even Tatiana Romanova or Solitaire.  But Tracy...?  No way.  She might get bored with him, but that's not the same thing, is it?

Tracy is also a profoundly damaged woman, and if there's a reason why I relegated her to second place, it's probably because the movie she's in never quite manages to explain why that is adequately.  You'll get the story in the novel, and it's hinted at in the movie, but it could have used a bit more active exploration.  I don't know where it would have gone in the movie, but that's the movie's problem to figure out, not mine.

That's the only negative I see in Tracy, who kicks ass, is smoking hot in a completely different way than most other Bond girls, and whose tragedy is that she finds a reason to live just in time to die.

Speaking of which...

#1 -- Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Casino Royale

No way it's anybody other than Vesper.

If you are required to believe that Tracy would inspire James Bond to marry her and leave his former life behind, then you are required to believe that Vesper would inspire James Bond to become James Bond.

I, for one, believe it.

It's a legitimately great performance from Eva Green, not merely within the confines of the Bond series but simply as filmmaking; there was talk of Daniel Craig getting an Oscar nomination for Casino Royale, and there should have been talk of Green getting one, too.

What Vesper represents for the Bond series is the notion that the women who most appeal to Bond are the ones whom he can never truly know.  Easy enough to figure out a Mary Goodnight, one supposes; quite another thing to figure out a Vesper Lynd, who will always have secrets.  She will always remain a mystery in some way.  Even after she is dead and you have brought her killers to justice, the mystery remains; solving that mystery only deepens it, somehow.  This is maddening, haunting, irresistible.  One must spend a lifetime running away from it and toward it simultaneously; one will never make the slightest bit of progress.

It's all there in Eva Green's performance.  And as much as I love Diana Rigg as Tracy, I can't deny that Casino Royale offers the meatier material.

So, yes, I think Vesper is #1.

And I'm not sure it's all that close a contest.

You Only Blog Twice will return in . . . "Worst to Best: Bond Villains."


  1. I’m totally with you on your top 12, with one exception (Severine) and I agree with you on the order and importance of the various Moneypennys. Good job representing their importance and appeal to the franchise, particularly the Lois Maxwell in memoriam.

    Otherwise, our Top 12s are pretty much parallel. You like Severine more than I do, but I appreciate seeing Eunice Gayson in there. Maybe I’d switch Daniela Bianchi with Ursula Andress.

    I definitely find Karin Dor, Lana, Wood, Barbara Bach, and Britt Ekland hot enough to place them much higher, as well, but I can’t disagree with a single word you wrote not object to where you’ve placed them. They each have demerits that must be accounted for, plot and script and Bond wise. Nevertheless… I just cannot. That goes for everyone in “You Only Live Twice” pretty much. And all the girls in “Moonraker” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Octopussy.” And Zena Marshall. Okay, so I get carried away.

    Excellent list all around. I actually typed a bunch of things and discovered it was mostly a lot of redundant “she is an exceptional beauty” remarks. But that of course is self-evident. This is by no means a failure of what you wrote to point to the non-self-evident aspects of Bond Girls evaluation, just my own inability to change lanes on the topic!

    Totally with you on Wai-Lin. It’d be cool if she was an awesome Bond Girl, or even an awesome Bond Ally. But nothing really takes off in that one.

    Nice to see Tina Hudson appreciated. You’re right, too – compared to, say, Goodnight, this lady’s double-oh material.

    As for Grace Jones, that’s interesting to place her that high. I definitely hear you on the eccentric performance being a match for and making perfect sense in context of Walken’s. But she does straddle, no pun intended, both the Bond villain head henchman/maiden and Secondary Bond Girl role, so that’s important to note. She definitely had (has, I guess) an iconic look. I’m not sure I’d go this high, but you caused me to re-evaluate things.

    1. I did not initially have May Day anywhere near that high. But when I got to the point of writing her section -- which was originally somewhere in the upper twenties, I think -- I realized as I was typing the words out that there really isn't any sort of a persuasive argument against her. Not in my own brain, at least. So I finished typing up her section and left it sitting at the bottom of the post, unnumbered; then I waited for a Bond girl to come along who I felt was better.

      It took a while.

      The exact same thing happened with Severine, who I think was initially in the thirties somewhere.

      A fun and self-revelatory process!

      "I definitely find Karin Dor, Lana, Wood, Barbara Bach, and Britt Ekland hot enough to place them much higher, as well, but I can’t disagree with a single word you wrote not object to where you’ve placed them. They each have demerits that must be accounted for, plot and script and Bond wise. Nevertheless… I just cannot. That goes for everyone in “You Only Live Twice” pretty much. And all the girls in “Moonraker” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Octopussy.” And Zena Marshall. Okay, so I get carried away."

      Nah, you just sound like a normal Bond fan to me. I am hoping that whenever I rewatch the movies again -- in a year or two, probably -- I will get to "The Spy Who Loved Me" and enjoy it again. I've rekindled a love for all the Roger Moore movies except that one, so it'd be nice to bring it back into the fold. Not sure even that would help me love Barbara Bach again, but who knows?

      I don't think I said anything about it, but I was mightily tempted to rank all of the Drax girls as one. I couldn't make myself actually do it, so I left 'em all off; but I was tempted.

  2. That vengeful look on Melina's face in the still you posted? That's me looking at you for not putting that Greek goddess in the Top 5!

    Blaming the dubbing is a lame excuse: it didn't hurt Ursula Andress and Daniela Bianchi in their placement on the list.

    I knew you'd rank Anya Amasova low...but below KISSY SUZUKI? Denise Richards is "leagues better"?? She's worse than Madeline Swann, Plenty O'Toole, friggin' Strawberry Fields??? God, at least she beat Mary Goodnight.

    IS she a damsel-in-distress at the end of the movie? She's basically in the position in which Bond finds himself frequently, biding time with the bad guy as a prisoner until he can make his move (DR. NO, GOLDFINGER, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, LIVE AND LET DIE, MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, all the way up to SPECTRE). The only difference is, Amasova has to wear a chest-revealing outfit. 'Cause she's a Bond Girl. But I'm sure it helped to distract Stromberg and ulimately played a part in helping Bond take him down.

    As far as being "put forward as a champion of modern femininity", I think that may be your personal reading of what the writers/producers intended for that character. She's more independent than, say, a Honey Rider or Domino Derval but I don't think making her a Russian agent was a conscious attempt to upgrade the Bond Girl under the same agenda that demanded Wai Lin years later, or to single-handedly soften the western view of the Soviet Union. I think having her be an agent is just an idea they came up with after realizing it would be cool to write a story where the title could refer to either Bond or his female partner. (Also, may not be worth mentioning, but compared to the obnoxious damsel-in-distress in the Fleming book, Anya is the most progressive female on the planet.)

    You just stick it to poor Anya every chance you get on this list! I find it legitimately vexing that you're so offended by her. I'd never attempt to dissuade you from your personal view - you've obviously given careful and intelligent consideration to the matter - but for every successful argument you've made in your posts, this one just falls flat for me.

    On the other hand, you totally sold me on Sylvia Trench. Your suggestion that she make an appearance in the rebooted franchise is a good one - heck, they could make her the main Bond Girl!

    And you placed Eva Green at #1, so I can't be mad at this list. She's the money.

    1. You make some great points about Anya. I don't know they're great enough to make me feel any differently about her, but they're food for thought. It might be that I hate Barbara Bach's performance so much -- and I do think she is genuinely awful -- that it's made me overreact to other aspects of the film/character.

      I appreciate a passionate defense, though, so thanks for making this one!

    2. Her performance is infinitely better than that of Mie Hama or Denise Richards, and I'd rank it above those of Gemma Arterton and Lea Seydoux (if for no other reason, the most interesting thing those actors are given to do is to lie on beds). Not to get into too heated an argument, but attractiveness and charm is part of a performance and Bach provides that in spades. As I said, I wouldn't try to convince you she's a Top 10 B.G., I'm just always surprised that she's yo-yo example of a BAD Bond Girl.

    3. Your *go-to* example of a bad Bond Girl, ha ha. Stupid auto correct. But she does resemble a yo-yo in that, if she went away from me, I'd want her to come back! (A sentiment with which I'm guessing you would disagree.)

    4. I wouldn't be able to listen to her talk. But maybe that's okay; if I saw her in a grocery store, she'd certainly turn my eye.

  3. "(Felix)'d clearly read the novel Live and Let Die and knew what was supposed to happen to him and was too busy fretting over it to pay proper attention to Rosie." LOL!

    "Even Joseph McCarthy would have wanted to buy (Tatiana) some chocolates." Love it.

    Your theory that Octopussy may have originally been groomed to be the first female head baddie is intriguing - that would have been a great idea! Almost as much as missed opportunity as failing to cast Persis Khambatta as Octopussy, an actual Indian actress who probably would have brought a lot to the role.

    It's a shame Bellucci has to be so low, but I can't argue with you - the use of the character is atrocious. I read/saw an interview with Daniel Craig where the interviewer complimented the film for casting a woman "of a certain age", to which Craig responded something like: "I'm in my late 40's. She's the RIGHT age." Worthy of a high-five. Unfortunately, relegating her to a single scene in favor of a gal in her late 20's worked against such a statement.

    Reading your list made me realize: she'd have been a really good Paris Carver, back in the day. Same basic idea - damaged wife of a bad guy who has one scene with Bond - but with a little more to work with, definitely could have pulled off "haunted vulnerability mixed with haughty strength."

    Your placement of Teresa di Vicenzo/Bond got me thinking about that character, and how unique she is in the Bond Girl canon. Figure this - you've basically got 8 categories of Bond Girls:

    1. Allies

    2. Independent Agents (Subcategory: Gals Out For Revenge)

    3. Civilians (Random Gal Who Gets Mixed Up in Bond's Business)

    4. The Wife/Girlfriend/Unwitting Muse of a Bad Guy

    5. Bad Guys

    6. A Good Guy Who Turns Out to Be a Bad Guy

    7. A Bad Guy Who Turns Into a Good Guy

    8. Bond Fuck Buddies (for lack of better label)

    Which of those categories does Teresa fit into? You could argue that she's a civilian. Or that she's the daughter of a would-be villain. That she turns into an ally. But personally, I can't place her comfortably into any of these tropes. She's just that well-developed a character - she's unclassifiable, even if she is the quintessential "sacrificial lamb."

    1. Hmm...! Great question. She COULD go into several of them: #1, #3, even #7 or #8 if you want to stretch them.

      I think she most closely fits into #2, though, with the caveat that she's apparently out for revenge against herself, at least initially.

      She's really her own thing, though, isn't she? There's no other Bond girl quite like her. I feel bad for not making her #1 on this list!

      Regarding Bellucci, it's that disconnect between what the marketing said the character was and what the character actually ended up being that annoys me so much. Craig does seem to have been on the right side of that issue in all his interviews, but that only worsens my feelings about the movie, which ends up seeming hypocritical. Ugh; screw "Spectre."

      Oh, man . . . Persis Khambatta as Octopussy! Or any Bond girl, really. I can't approve of that suggestion strongly enough. I love her in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" even without hair.

    2. Yes, screw SPECTRE. The fact that Madeleine is a pale imitation of Vesper, as you pointed out in your review they don't even go through with killing her even though that's the clear character progression, just makes it that much more of a second-rate version of previous films.

      Out for revenge against herself! It's true, the movie never does give a clear reason for her suicidal inclination (or for why she passes out in Bond's arms initially when he pulls her out of the water??) I guess they just figured the "Bond cure" wiped out any need for exposition on that end.

      Knowing Khambatta was in the running for Octopussy is like Warren Beatty not playing Bill - the "oh man what if?" factor weighs heavily on my mind and slightly mars the movie for me upon reexamination. And the idea of her being the lead bad guy...again, seems like a missed opportunity. (She's kind of completely worthless after she joins up with Bond, isn't she?)

    3. Very much so. The series was in no way ready to commit to that sort of thing; I'm not sure it is even today.

  4. I know you went out of your way in the introduction to justify the exclusions, and apologized for them more than once over the course of the list. But just a few names that didn't get mentioned I thought that I'd bring up:

    Ling (Tsai Chin) in You Only Live Twice: Gives good duck.

    Bambi and Thumper: I know you hate this scene, but they're undeniably Bond Girls.

    Felicca (Olga Bisera) in The Spy Who Loved Me: 'Bye, Felicca.

    Mary Stavin's iceberg submarine pilot in the pre-credit sequence of A View to a Kill (identified in credits as "Kimberley Jones"): I realize she's really not any more remarkable than the harem tent girl in Spy Who Loved Me or the private jet hostess in Moonraker, but she's also a temporary ally who saves Bond's bacon in the Bianca tradition.

    Alison Doody's Jenny Flex and Papillon Soo's Pan Ho: Pan Ho doesn't get to do much other than stand around and die, but Jenny Flex at least introduces herself to Bond, gets the classic Plenty O'Toole response AND one of Moore's trademark saucy quips.

    Della Churchill (Priscilla Barnes) in Licence to Kill: True, she's Felix's girl but she's beautiful, and she sure dies like a Bond Girl. (And he sure as shit seems more broken up about her death than, say, Aki or Severine.)

    Prof. Inga Bergstrom in Tomorrow Never Dies: You made cases for girls being included based on hotness alone, here is my personal candidate.

    1. I almost DID include Prof. Bergstrom for the very reason you mention, but decided there wasn't enough there to justify it.

      You know, I didn't even consider Della, but she probably does count. She'd probably have done fairly well, too.

      Jenny Flex and Kimberly Jones almost made the list, as did Felicca. (You got a LOL from me with that "Friday" reference, by the way.) Same goes for Ling.

      Bambi and Thumper might be the most egregious omissions, since they are part of a major sequence. But, as you have correctly sensed, I just hate them so much that I left them out. They'd have been bottom of the list, probably.

      Thanks for all the input!

    2. Della should certainly count. It goes back to what you were saying, what qualifies a character as a Bond Girl? Although she doesn't bed Bond, there's an obvious attraction (she practically makes out with him in front of Felix, on their wedding day!) He spends the whole movie getting revenge for her death. That's another important quality of a B.G. - how much her absence haunts 007. If you did a list of Best Dead Bond Girls, I think she'd rank pretty high: that blank, almost accusatory look on her open-eyed corpse is absolutely chilling. Vesper would probably still rank #1 on such a list, just because her death is so epic and unsettling and stays with Craig's Bond throughout his series, but Della might give Teresa a run for her money for #2.

      Thanks for the great list! I don't think I've seriously disagreed with you on your estimations of Bond villains (although I like Pleasance's Blofeld, I have to agree he's inferior to the "no face" cat-stroking version in the earlier films), so I probably won't have many complaints to drop in the comments there, ha ha.

    3. I don't know; you've got the original Golden Girl herself on that list of dead lasses, too, so competition is fierce.

      I am persuaded. Della really SHOULD be on this list. I might consider revising it.

    4. And your reference to Jill Masterson has convinced me that a "Best Dead Bond Girls" list would be worth considering! At least on that list you couldn't knock Anya Amasova left and right. (You'd still slip in comments like "she's more dead than Barbara Bach's performance in Spy Who Loved Me," wouldn't you? Grrrrr, you're so mean Bryant!)

    5. "Best Dead Bond Girls" is a creepy sounding damn list. I approve.

    6. Really enjoyed reading (and looking at) your list of Bond girls. I agree with a lot of what you say, but cannot defend Jinx Johnson who ranks very low with me. She is not as bad as Mary Goodnight but runs her pretty close. The script doesn't help her but the delivery of some of those lines is embarrassing at times. Still I think you are spot on with your assessment of the other girls and as always it was an entertaining read.

    7. Thanks! This reminds me that I need to get moving on my ranking-the-villains post.

  5. Yaaa! Ranking the villains post please

    1. It's in the works. They've been ranked, just got to do the writing part, aka the hard part.

  6. Saw this for really cheap the other day and swooped upon it..picked it up thinking it would be pretty great to see some old Connery, Moore movies..but reading the back..its mainly films starring other Bond related actors..Ursula Andrews, Christopher Lee etc..but was thinking, if they did make a box set of pre-bond movies starring the actors who played Bond...what would be the best ones to include for each? Would be cool to hear your thoughts..!

    1. I'm not terribly familiar with most of their pre-Bond careers. For Connery you could go with "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," which is a terrific film. For Craig, probably "Munich" or "Layer Cake." For Brosnan, maybe "The Fourth Protocol"? (I'm tempted to say "The Lawnmower Man," though, despite how shite it is.)

      Dalton...? How about "Brenda Starr," which almost lost him the role.

      For Moore, supposedly he's great in "The Man Who Haunted Himself."

      For Lazenby, I think there's just those chocolate commercials!

      Not a bad idea for a box set, to be honest.

  7. I heard recently that Rollercoaster Films are making a documentary on the Goldeneye 007 Nintendo 64 game...Here is a piece from nme today:

    1. I believe its called "GoldenEra" and is out at the end of this year.

    2. Nice title!

      I hope to have that ranking-the-villains post finished by this time next week, by the way.

  8. Replies
    1. I missed that deadline, obviously! I got close, but discovered as I was closing in on completing it that I'd made several MASSIVE errors -- mostly of omission -- and had to rework the entire thing.

      I'm almost there, though. I can share with you, apropos of nothing, that Professor Joe Butcher from "Licence to Kill" ranked #60 out of 119.

    2. Douglas Adams once said "I love deadlines...I love the whoosing noise they make as they go by"

      Was wondering the other day if you were going to use the BB patented 00-scoring system on the movie "Freddie As F.R.0.7"? a Bond parody starring a toy frog!

      Not sure if you've even heard of it..don't think it ever came out on VHS/DVD..but it can be viewed on youtube in the original UK version and the redubbed for US distribution - with James Earl Jones narrating! The only reason I know of it is because Asia did the song for it (Lay Down Your Arms - a late entry for your top song list? :) )

      Oh - and I just found out today about the forthcoming Lawnmover Man 2 disc Blu-ray coming out soon.

    3. Yeah, I pre-ordered that, God help me.

      I have not heard of the toy frog movie. I suspect that one will continue to fly under my radar ... but never say never.

      Work continues on the villains post! A day or two; maybe three. Fingers crossed...

    4. I'm not surprised, it's the 3rd lowest grossing animated movie of all time! Did just notice that Grace Jones is on the soundtrack cd too!

      Really Looking forward to the villains post! A stephen king villains ranking would be awesome too!

    5. It would indeed. Maybe someday!

  9. I "play for a different team" so I am probably not the best judge about Bond girls but I am glad to see Tracy so high on list. I think she was Bond's ideal mate because she had the same hunger for life. A great mixture of masculinity and femininity. Regarding the basis of her depression, my guess is her upbringing. Draco mentioned spoiling Tracy at a young age. Often, children who are spoiled end up depressed later in life.

    1. Makes sense!

      I don't think playing for the other team invalidates your opinion of Bond girls one iota, by the way. I did my best to have this list not merely be based on my standards of physical attractiveness. A bit of that crept in, of course (as well it should, since it's a big part of the allure), but I think the best Bond girls/women are way more interesting than that. The series hasn't always done a great job in that arena, granted.

    2. I am glad they stopped picking "Former Miss Whatever" to play Bond girls. Diana Rigg was a hell of actress and as a matter of fact, I saw her in Witness for the Prosecution and she was great.

    3. Sorry, I forgot to mention that I saw Witness for the Prosecution for the first this year. One of my favorite films is the Billy Wilder adaptation from 1957.

    4. I've never seen that, but I'm sure it's great; I've never heard a bad word about it. Man, I really need to be more familiar with Wilder. I have been wanting to see "The Apartment" for years now, and keep managing not to do so.

      Speaking of seeing Bond girls in other roles, this weekend I watched "Death on the Nile," which co-stars Lois Chiles the year before she was in "Moonraker." She's good in it; and quite stunning, too. Great cast all the way around, actually. And a good movie!

  10. Again, I had soooo damn much fun reading your list! Even when I didn't agree with it which was only about 20% of the time.

    To start with -- my favorite line in this entire blog: "a thin veneer of control stretched over a lake of insanity"! What a delightfully perfect description of the Walken/Jones pairing!

    As to your rankings in general...well, life is too short to comment on each one. But, choosing a few that jump out at me, I'll start with your assessment of Barbara Bach. To be concise, I agree with it. I would, however, have Wai-Lin switch places with Jinx and ditto with Fatima Blush and May Day. I would also have ranked Honor Blackman's iconic Pussy Galore several places higher. She's a top-tenner for me for sure. But for subtlety and emotional layering combining to make a massive impression in a less than massive role, Severine does indeed deserve her place in the top 10. But I would respectfully remove both Eunice Gayson from such a high ranking, and, much as I adore her, Lois Maxwell simply doesn't belong on this list -- along with all the other Moneypennys. I see them as Allies, not Bond Girls. Sorry.

    But, saving your two unassailably best choices for last -- Tracy and Vesper. ZERO argument with that. They, too, would be my top 2 choices as well, and for all the same reasons you enumerate.

    1. My rationale for including Moneypenny is that I feel like the series consistently sexualizes her. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that it romanticizes her. Bond need only make a move, and they're eloping to St. Moritz. That he knows better than to do so doesn't change the fundamental attraction.

      So for me, she's close enough that it felt doable to include her here, at least for my own purposes.