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Countdown to Skyfall: Week Two: Top Bond Girls

From the moment that a mysterious man holding sway at the baccarat table at Le Cercle lit a cigarette and revealed himself to be “Bond. James Bond,” the film series based around Ian Fleming’s literary super spy has gone on to be the most successful film franchise in history (the Harry Potter franchise has raked in nearly 8 billion dollars worldwide [if you adjust for inflation, Bond’s total jumps from 5 for 12 billion]). Twenty–two films have been released over the course of fifty years. Six actors have played the iconic role including the first (and arguably the best) to play the role, Academy Award winning actor Sir Sean Connery. On November 9th, the twenty-third entry in the storied franchise (get it? because it’s based on stories) hits theaters as Daniel Craig makes his third outing as 007. Craig’s “Casino Royale” was the highest grossing film in the history of the franchise, so how will his new film, “Skyfall”, stack up against the other films? Over the course of the next few weeks, I will take a look at some of the facets of the Bond series that have made it so successful. The beautiful Bond ladies are on tap for week two.

“Behind every successful man, there’s a strong woman.” Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to the Bond series. While he is a fantastic shot, a master at hand to hand combat, and a cunning linguist (see what I did there), James Bond can’t and never has done it on his own. From the moment that Ursula Andress came sauntering out of the sea in a white bikini as Honey Rider in Dr. No, the importance of the Bond girl was evident. After all, 007’s nickname is “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”(the kiss kiss part being before the bang bang part [see, because you can’t have one without the other {or something like that}]). Some of his female companions have been better than others, and this week we look at my top three Best Bond Girls.

Contessa Teresa diVicenzo (Tracy Bond)

She is perhaps the most important Bond girl in the history of the series. From the very first moment that James (and the audience) lays eyes on her (fittingly enough through the scope of a gun), Diana Rigg, star of The Avengers (No, not the Joss Whedon one [and definitely not the Uma Thurman dog turd {though that fantastic piece of cinematic crap was based on the 1960’s popular spy show}]), captivated 007(and the audience). She is a distraught woman who shares Commander Bond’s devil may care attitude. She is a woman with a past that challenges the super spy.After the events of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James (played by an often under appreciated George Lazenby)and Tracy tie the knot. Yes. That’s right. For those of you that aren’t familiar with all of the Bond series, the infamous Lothario was once a married man. A married man that was ready to settle down and start a family. That is until his mortal enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, ended all of that.

Mrs. Bond’s tragic demise helped to define the literary character far more than his film counterpart, but references to Tracy have been made throughout the series including a glimpse at her grave the pre-titles sequence in For Your Eyes Only (which involves an awesome helicopter stunt sequence [Stunt people are crazy people])and at the wedding of Felix Leiter in Licence To Kill. A woman that showed the audience determination over humor made her the pinnacle of Bond girls, for she was actually Bond’s only girl.

 

Wai Lin

The single solitary (not Solitaire from Live and Let Die [although Jane Seymour looked smoking hot in her outing as a tarot card reading psychic in the 1973 film]) most bad ass Bond girl in the history of the series. Played by the amazingly talented Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh (of Super Cop and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame),not only is she stunningly beautiful and exotic, but she’s also every bit the match to James Bond’s usual brute force methods (as a colonel in the Chinese People's External Security Force). Throughout the course of Tomorrow Never Dies, Wai Lin out spies 007, as well as single-handedly pummels nearly a dozen men as Bond stands by looking amazed. The actress choreographed all of her fights, brought in her own Hong Kong film crew to shoot them (for added authenticity) and performed all of her own stunts (including an amazing motorcycle chase as well as a leap off of a skyscraper). While the “Hi-yah!”s get a little ridiculous  (including a completely unnecessary “Hi-yah!”when she shoots an unarmed computer panel aboard Carver’s stealth boat in the film’s final act), she is responsible for saving Bond MORE than he’s responsible for saving her. She’s one of the few Bond girls that rejects the super spy, doing so both humorously and forcefully, and while she does eventually wind up in the arms of 007, it was only after the duo had toppled Carver’s attempts at starting World War III and he revived her with mouth to mouth. She showed up at a time in the series where the action made a serious leap in production quality, and having an actress do all of her own stunts not only legitimized her as a performer, but the series moving toward the new millennium.

 

Anya Amasova

While her codename is the comically bad porn moniker, Agent XXX (but honestly no worse than Pussy Galore[from Goldfinger], Holly Goodhead [from Moonraker] or Octopussy [from…um…Octopussy], her impact on the series is obvious. A KGB agent who is forced to work with the man that killed her lover (in a classic pre-titles sequence that involves a world record ski base jump and the infamous Union Jack parachute), Anya is not only a formidable spy (who will use her guns as well as her…. “guns”), but also one of the first females in the series that is shown to actually have a brain of her own (a crazy idea in the 70s!). Without Barbara Bach’s performance in The Spy Who Loved Me there would have been no Wai Lin. There would have been no Jinx in Die Another Day. No Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only). No Pam Bouvier (Licence To Kill). And most importantly,no Eve in the upcoming Skyfall. Yes,Pussy Galore was a good start, but the producers made her far too weak (as well as saddled her with a memorable yet horrendous name that made it impossible to take her seriously). Not only did she battle Bond (and her subsequent feelings for him [I mean, it is called The Spy Who Loved Me]), but she also did battle with the most infamous henchmen in the history of the series: JAWS!


Do you have a personal favorite that I didn't touch on? Let me know down in the comments section!
Posted in: Movies
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