The Ten Spot: Best Bond Girls!
As much as I love SKYFALL, (and I LOOOOVE it), the one area it admittedly comes up short in is the Bond girl area. Like QUANTUM OF SOLACE, there’s no real love interest for Bond, other than a minor tryst or two, and the gal that gets the most screen time is probably Dame Judi Dench as Bond’s pseudo-mother figure, M. Then again, it’s a new Bond for a new era, and who knows? The next film may have a Bond girl that’ll knock our socks off.
Until then, whaddaya say we take a look back at the franchise’s fifty year history, and countdown the best Bond girls? These are my personal favorites- with my criteria being hotness, importance to the plot, and performance. Agree with my list? If not, strike back below!
NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is not an "official" Bond film, but it does
feature Sean Connery as Bond, so- good enough. While the film is stolen by Barbara Carrera as the evil Fatima Blush, there aren't many girls in the series sexier than Basinger. While all of the character beats were already done with Claudine Auger's take on the part in THUNDERBALL, Basinger is Basinger. And Basinger is- without a doubt, one of the sexiest actresses ever.
Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy is a pretty passive Bond girl, and maybe not quite as ravishing as some of the others, but there's a goodness and simplicity to her that brings out a protective vibe in Timothy Dalton's Bond that distinguishes him from his predecessors. The romance between her and Bond feels like one of the more authentic relationships in the series, and it's one of the things that makes THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS one of my favorites.
OCTOPUSSY is a Bond film everyone loves to pick on, but I must admit that it's always been one of my favorites, as I grew up watching it over and over again as a child. One of the best things about it is Swedish beauty Maud Adams as the exotic Octopussy, who runs an island populated by an army of beautiful thieves and circus performers. Adams, who also played a minor Bond girl in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, has great chemistry with Roger Moore- who, let's face it- was a little long-in-the-tooth by this time. Nevertheless, Adams is a lady, and her obvious attraction to Moore makes us believe he's still capable of being Bond. And here- he was. The next film (A VIEW TO A KILL)? Not so much.
For ninety percent of the movie Domino doesn't do much but look hot- in the end she not only proves her mettle looking for nukes aboard her lover/villain Emilio Largo's boat, but in the end, she even puts a spear through his back, being a bit of payback for her brother, who's killed by Largo's S.P.E.C.T.R.E goons early in the film. Otherwise? To be honest, she's not terribly memorable, but it has to be said, Claudine Auger is one of the most beautiful women to ever grace a Bond film.
The first, and certainly one of the most memorable Bond girls was Ursula Andress. While Honey Ryder, being a child-like wild-child is more a male fantasy come to life than a full-blooded character, Andress' entrance into screen history sporting a white bikini and a knife is iconic. Other than being hot, does Honey do anything? Nope- but in sex-appeal she's certainly among the best.
Barbara Bach, aka Mrs. Ringo Starr, is a wooden actress- and her readings as Amasova are rather one-note. But, she looks terrific, and- most importantly, has an exotic vibe that puts her over as the KGB Major sent to work opposite Bond. Adding some suspense to THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is the fact that within the first few minutes of the film, we saw Bond, as played by Roger Moore kill her lover, and once Anya finds out, she promises to return the favor by killing 007. Or, ya know- falling in love with him. Yup- guess which of the two happens? Nevertheless, a very memorable Bond girl in one of the highlights of the Moore era.
A tough Bond girl for the eighties, Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier perfectly towed the line between being bad-ass and hot. Her introduction, where Bond meets her in a dive bar before beating the crap out of Benicio Del Toro (love when she shoves a shotgun barrel into his crotch), is a classic. Of all the Bond actresses, Lowell probably deserved to become a star post-Bond, but whether it was the so-called “curse of the Bond girls” or the fact that the movie flopped, it never quite happened. Then again, she was on LAW & ORDER for years and is married to Richard Gere, so she hasn’t done too badly to put it mildly. She’ll always be one of my all-time favorite Bond girls, and one of the few that always struck me as a real good match for 007.
“My name is Pussy Galore.” Certainly one of the most iconic lines in film history. Dear Pussy sets the mold for the bad Bond-girl set straight by some sweet, sweet lovin’ courtesy of 007- although, really, only Connery was able to pull this kind of thing off. Nowadays, the hay-loft scene where he seduces her with judo looks an awful lot like rape, but- hey, it was the sixties! Blackman is sexy, and her sparring with Bond, both verbal and otherwise is sharp. The only issue is that the film is more than half over by the time she finally shows up, but no matter. She’s unforgettable, although- I can’t help but wonder, if they had caved to MPAA pressure and named her Kitty Galore, would she still be on this list?
An early Bond girl, and a favorite, Daniela Bianchi is not only one of the most beautiful girls to ever grace the franchise, but she also sets the prototype for later Bond girls such as Anya Amasova in that she’s an enemy agent- who Bond may or may not be able to trust. Like many of the Bond girls, Bianchi is dubbed, and her transition from (reluctant) KGB spy to Connery love slave is a tad hard to swallow, but damn- is she gorgeous! The hotel seduction scene is a classic, and one that apparently is still used in Bond screen tests (on the OCTOPUSSY Blu-ray, you can watch James Brolin act it out, and on LIVING DAYLIGHTS, you can see Sam Neil nail-it). A few years after FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE- Bianchi starred opposite Sean Connery’s brother, Neil- in the obscure Bond spoof, OPERATION KID BROTHER (aka AGENT DOUBLE 007). Yeah- there’s a reason it’s obscure.
Eva Green just so happens to be my all-time screen crush (next to Monica Bellucci- who was almost a Brosnan-era Bond girl), and I think she made the ideal Vesper Lynd, as- like Tracy, she had to convincingly win Bond’s cold heart. Unlike Tracy, who stayed true to Bond, Vesper was duplicitous, being pulled into Quantum’s web, and Green- in addition to looking drop-dead gorgeous throughout, bring a certain tortured quality to the part. Her climactic suicide was really the scene that alerted me to the fact that this new Craig-led franchise was going to be a major departure from the relative levity of the other films.
My top pick is bound to be controversial, as Diana Rigg happens to be the leading lady in the most obscure film in the franchise’s history. Say what you want about George Lazenby as Bond (better than people remember actually) but it can’t be denied that Rigg brings sexiness, toughness, and vulnerability making it believable that of all the Bond girls, this could be the one to win Bond’s heart. As such, she ends up, for a few minutes anyways, as Mrs. James Bond. I have an inkling that the Bond producers are going to find a way to rework this character, or at least traces of it, within the next few films.