One day somebody will make a series of movies from the point of view of the Bond Girls. In them, James Bond, aka 007, will feature as the ultimate "homme fatal," because, let's face it, if you're a woman, the man is poison. You take your life in your hands any time you come within his orbit.
This, it turns out, is an important plot point in "Spectre," the 2015 Bond film, which means that Bond Girls have now been elevated from disposable ornaments to story elements, cold comfort for the dozens of them who've died. What follows, are 25 of the many women in Bond's extremely checkered past.
1. Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder
No other image comes closer to capturing the archetypal Bond Girl than Ursula Andress in "Dr. No." She emerges from Caribbean waters like some latter-day fusion of Aphrodite and Artemis, a hunting knife strapped to her thigh. Here, the allure and danger of beautiful women in Bond lore comes together in one cartoonishly obvious, yet mysteriously immortal, image.
2. Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench
Other than Moneypenny, few Bond women have survived from one film to the next. Sylvia Trench was actually Bond's girlfriend in both "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love." She's also the source of the famous Bond self-introduction. In the first scene of the first Bond movie ever ("Dr. No") she greets 007 with the words, "Trench. Sylvia Trench," a locution he mimics, then and forever more.
3. Martine Beswick as Zora
Zora might not be everybody's pick for a memorable Bond Girl. In "From Russia With Love," she's one of two women in love with the son of a Roma chief. They engage in a fight to the death to determine who will get him, but Bond steps in and manages to put a stop to the battle and subsequently spends the night with them both. But none of that is the real reason why she's on this list. The real reason has to with Martine Beswick, the actor who portrayed her, as will become apparent in the next entry ...
4. Martine Beswick as Paula Caplan
In "Thunderball," Paula Caplan is Bond's liaison in the Bahamas. Later in the film, taken prisoner by SPECTRE agents, she prefers death by cyanide pill over torture. And here's the thing: She's played by none other than Martine Beswick, who so memorably incarnated Zora in "From Russia With Love." Did they think we wouldn't notice? The funny thing is that wasn't the last time a Bond Girl actor would reappear as another character. Look for the second instance in the rest of the list.
5. Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson
If there's a rival to Honey Ryder's bikini and knife in the pantheon of Bond Girl images, it's poor Jill Masterson dipped in gold by Goldfinger. Her death is punishment for betraying the eponymous villain with Bond, who wakes up to find her dead, gilded body next to him. How he managed to sleep through such a procedure is nearly as baffling as his own unpainted flesh.
6. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
Of all the ridiculous names in all the Bond films, none comes close to Pussy Galore for sheer bald-faced, puerile absurdity. It's not even a pun, never mind a clever one. Anyway, Galore is in charge of an all-female team of acrobatic pilots in "Goldfinger," many of whom, we are given to understand, she regularly beds. Apparently, Ian Fleming, Bond's creator, believed that Bond was able to "cure" Galore of her lesbianism with his ineluctable Bond-ness.
7. Dame Diana Rigg as Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo AKA Tracy Bond
Maybe it was Diana Rigg's appearance as Emma Peel in a leather cat-suit in the cult British TV series, "The Avengers," that alerted the Bond franchise to her suitability as a Bond Girl. In "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" she became the only woman Bond ever married. Of course, it didn't end well. Was it for this role that she was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1994? Or was it her towering onstage portrayal of Medea?
8. Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki
OK, Bond trivia experts might dispute the claim that the Contessa was the only woman 007 ever married, because technically, literally, pedantically speaking, he also married a ninja named Kissy Suzuki in "You Only Live Twice." But, to be even more pedantic, he was in disguise as a Japanese fisherman (having undergone surgery for the role — don't ask) and under an assumed name, so it doesn't really count.
9. Trina Parks as Thumper
Thumper was one-half of Thumper and Bambi, a team of gymnastics bodyguards in "Diamonds Are Forever." They're memorable for having nearly gotten the better of Bond. In fact, on dry land he stood no chance against them, but once the battleground shifted to a pool, our erstwhile hero was able to subdue the dynamic duo by nearly drowning them.
10. Jill St. John as Tiffany Case
From time to time in the Bond universe, Bond was not only able to convert lesbians to his brand of heterosexuality, he was also capable of convincing certain especially attractive villains to break good. Tiffany Case followed this character arc, devolving from clever diamond smuggler to vapid Bond Girl in "Diamonds Are Forever."
11. Jane Seymour as Solitaire
Like some celibate priestess, Solitaire was doomed to lose her magical tarot reading psychic powers if she slept with anybody. Knowing this, her employer/captor, Dr. Kananga, kept her well away from the Bond who, as every evildoer well knows, automatically amplifies the sex drive of all women in his radius. In "Live and Let Die," the inevitable came to pass — she lost her powers and, consequently, nearly lost her life.
12. Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight
While Bond is famously cosmopolitan in his tastes, he has a particular weakness for Swedish women. In "The Man with the Golden Gun" Mary Goodnight is 007's assistant and as such, might be too competent to truly be classed as a Bond Girl. Especially because, despite several near misses, she never actually sleeps with him.
13. Lois Chiles as Dr. Holly Goodhead
Although her name comes in a close second to Pussy Galore for most egregiously dumb Bond Girl name, Dr. Holly Goodhead makes up for it with, possibly, the coolest gig in the 007 universe — CIA agent in deep cover as an astronaut. She gets to fulfill both roles while helping Bond save the human race from death by poison gas in "Moonraker."
14. Maud Adams as Andrea Anders
At a particularly humiliating juncture in "The Man With the Golden Gun," Mary Goodnight, noted above, gets shoved in a cupboard by Bond so that he can bond, as it were, with another Swede, Andrea Anders played by Maud Adams, when she unexpectedly pays him a visit. Anders is hoping that Bond can free her from bondage (again, as it were) from her evil boyfriend, Scaramanga, the eponymous Man with the Golden Gun. For this betrayal, she paid with her life. But she lived to, as it (finally) were, die another day (see the next entry).
15. Maud Adams as Octopussy
The 007 franchise producers seem to be into recycling. Or maybe it's upcycling. Not only did the "p" word get repurposed in 1983, it got top billing in the film's name: "Octopussy." And staying with the recycling theme, Maud Adams, whose character Andrea Anders expired at the hands of the Man with the Golden Gun, reappeared as the eponymous bad-girl-turned-Bond-Girl Octopussy herself. This time, she survived.
16. Grace Jones as May Day
There never has been a Bond Girl quite like Grace Jones, and probably never will be again. Supermodel, pop diva, fashion icon, her role as an assassin in "A View to a Kill" might be the least of her many roles. Given all that, the actual trajectory of her character (betrays evil boyfriend to team up with Bond and consequently dies) seems almost too piffling to mention.
17. Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp
As Bond Girl names go, Xenia Onatopp in "GoldenEye" must be one of the best. Making puns from Russian names is low-hanging fruit, but Pussy Galore and Holly Goodhead set the bar so very low that Onatopp seems witty by comparison. Then there's Famke Janssen in a pre-X Men role, bringing some serious zing (and a deadly thigh-grip) to her role as a villain who never bothers to turn good girl. Of course, it doesn't end well for her, but at least she dies with her evilness intact.
18. Sophie Marceau as Elektra King
Long before she showed up as a Bond Girl, Sophie Marceau had been a star in France ever since her teenage turn in "La Boum." In "The World Is Not Enough," she follows in Famke Janssen's footsteps as a malefactor too utterly committed to her evil path to veer off it for Bond's sake. Instead, she turns out to be 007's first, fully fledged female arch-nemesis. Naturally, Bond kills her.
19. Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin
Like Sophie Marceau before her, Michelle Yeoh was a huge star before she appeared in "Tomorrow Never Dies." And she was a huge star afterward too, as she proved in classics like, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." In a refreshing change of pace for Bond films, not only was the character of Wai Lin a hyper-competent spy, and therefore colleague, of Bond's, she also managed to survive the film.
20. Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson
In "Die Another Day," Halle Berry famously reprised the image of Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder emerging from the sea in bikini and knife. Like Michelle Yeoh, she too was a spy and working partner/lover of Bond's who lived to tell the tale. Unlike any other Bond Girl actor, she went on to win an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "Monster's Ball," the first African-American woman to do so.
21. Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost
Rosamund Pike exudes intelligence at such high wattage (unless she's playing a ditz, as she memorably did in "An Education") that she nearly makes you believe in her character in "Die Another Day." This despite the fact that Miranda Frost is supposed to be such an excessively competitive fencing champion she's willing to kill to win.
22. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
As Vesper Lynd in "Casino Royale," Eva Green has a memorable scene in which she introduces herself to Bond as "the money" and manages to rattle his cool when she correctly "reads" him for what he is: orphaned and "maladjusted" under his disdainfully worn suit. He recovers himself enough to note appreciatively that he feels as "skewered" as the lamb he just ate. Sadly, despite her vow to keep her eye on the money and not on his "perfectly formed mouth," she eventually succumbs to 007's charms and, well, doesn't make it ...
23. Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine
The character of Sévérine in "Skyfall" was a return to Bond Girl type — a beautiful and mysterious woman who works for the male arch-villain, helps 007 out and gets rewarded with a violent, untimely death. Worse still, she's a former sex-slave who shares her harrowing story with the spy before he seduces her. To top it off, when her boss decides to play William Tell with a glass of whiskey on her head, and subsequently shoots her dead, Bond coldly laments the "waste of good scotch."
24. Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Marcel Proust, the author of "Remembrance of Things Past," the first volume in his monumental modernist work, "À la recherche du temps perdu" is famously transported into a memory when he eats a madeleine. Is the character of Madeleine Swann in "Spectre" an obscure reference to this? Possibly. Why not? In any case, Swann manages to become romantically involved with 007 and live through the final credits, an improvement on the doomed characters seen in the previous several installments.
25. Dame Judi Dench as M
Purists will allege that it's heretical to classify Dame Judi Dench as a Bond Girl and they'll have good reason. First, Dench plays M, the head of MI6 and Bond's boss. Second, her relationship with him is mother/son, not lover/spy. That said, there's a case to be made that Dench is the most important of them all. Like many, if not most Bond Girls, she dies, at the end of "Skyfall." But when she does, 007's reaction to her passing makes for one of the few, genuinely moving moments in the history of the franchise.
Originally Published: Oct 15, 2019