From Bond girl to Bond woman, here’s how 007’s lovers graduated from sexy accessories to partners in crime.
007 might get through women faster than his signature martinis, but it would be unfair to dismiss his bevvy of beauties. The enduring mystery of the Bond girl is how they manage to conform to a stereotype, yet remain utterly unique. From murderous ninjas to shell-divers, pilots to evil masterminds; no two are quite alike.
The latest Bond venture, Spectre, claims to be the ‘first feminist Bond’. The casting of 51-year-old Monica Bellucci has made headlines across the world stating: "Oldest Bond Girl Ever", yet the actress herself casts the label aside, dubbing herself a ‘Bond woman’ instead.
We’re taking a look back at the ghosts of Bond girls past and speculating about the Bond women yet to come.
Honey Rider – Dr No, 1962
The moment when Honey Rider emerges from the sea, clad in her iconic white bikini, is one of the most memorable in cinematic history.
Although Honey seems commanding at the film’s start, her independent credentials soon fade. Constantly infantilised by Bond—at one point she even needs help buttoning her shirt, later, she believes that Dr No’s "dragon" is the real deal, despite very clearly being a tank covered in cardboard.
Ursula Andress won the role of Honey after she sent the director a photograph of herself wearing a wet black t-shirt, beating competition that included Julie Christie.
Pussy Galore – Goldfinger, 1964
Pussy Galore was the first manifestation of the modern Bond girl.
Throughout Goldfinger, James endeavours to (quite literally) turn Galore from an assertive lesbian career woman into a passive heterosexual girl.
The villainess demonstrates her power over Bond both through her cutting dialogue and her physicality. At one point she pulls the spy’s legs out from beneath him with laughing ease.
Despite Galore’s power, cracks in her character eventually show. Even though she has clearly identified as lesbian, Bond ultimately seduces her when the two engage in a very literal roll in the hay.
Aki – You Only Live Twice, 1967
Image via You Only Live Twice
A senior agent in her own right, for all intents and purposes Aki could well be Bond’s match. An accomplished ninja and a daunting driver—she tears up the roads in some impressive car chases in her white Toyota 2000GT.
Aki meets a sticky end when she swallows poison intended for 007. She is swiftly replaced by her colleague Kissy Suzuki, supposedly the film’s main love interest, but Aki’s tenacity has earned her a place as many fan’s favourite Bond girl.
Plenty O’Toole – Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
The name alone is a heavy clue as to this Bond girl’s feminist credentials!
Plenty is a casino gold-digger whose ample assets aren’t purely of the financial variety. She first catches Bond’s eye across the casino floor and soon the pair are headed back to his hotel room.
Plenty is wearing nothing but her underwear when three thugs arrive and literally kill the mood—she is thrown from the hotel window into the pool below.
Anya Amasova – The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977
Image via The Spy Who Loved Me
In the latter half of the 1970s, the Bond girl became more independent and sophisticated in order to reflect the feminism of the time.
This Bond girl’s full title is Major Anya ‘Triple X’ Amasova, she’s a top secret agent as highly respected by the KGB as Bond is by MI6.
For most of the film, Bond and Amasova are portrayed as equals, constantly fighting to outdo one another in their mission objectives. Of course, amid all that competition, they can’t help but fall in love.
Major Anya is certainly one of the most progressive Bond girls, wholly appropriate for the liberal era in which she entered 007’s world.
Octopussy – Octopussy, 1983
Octopussy is a wealthy businesswoman who made her fortune diamond smuggling.
Like Pussy Galore, she has her own harem of dedicated female followers including the ringleader of her circus, fellow Bond girl Magda.
Despite its disappointing tagline, ‘Nobody does him better’, Octopussy is the only Bond film to be named after a female character. The titular woman might be powerful in the business world but even she remains helpless in the face of Bond’s charm.
May Day – A View to a Kill, 1985
As the henchwoman and lover of chief villain Max Zorin, Bond girls don’t come meaner than May Day.
Played by the indomitable Grace Jones, May Day also appears to have superhuman strength—at one point she lifts a man above her head with no apparent strain.
Despite fighting on opposite sides, it doesn’t take long for May Day to sleep with Bond. The pair ends up working together once she accepts that Zorin doesn’t care for her and she eventually sacrifices her life in order to end his wicked plans.
Jinx – Die Another Day, 2002
When interviewed about her character, Oscar-winner Halle Berry described Jinx as “fashion-forward, modern and the next step in the evolution of women in the Bond movies”.
Amazingly the character of Jinx was the first black Bond girl not to be cast as a villain. An NSA agent herself, she meets Bond when they are both assigned to spy on rogue North Korean agent Zao.
Far more than an accessory to 007, Jinx is every inch the action hero in her own right. So much so that studios were originally considering giving the character her very own spinoff film.
Vesper Lynd – Casino Royale, 2006
When Daniel Craig emerged from the sea in that Casino Royale scene, he reminded audiences of Honey Rider’s infamous entrance into the Bond franchise some 40 years earlier. In this way, the film positioned itself as a new breed of Bond, in which the spy became a sex symbol himself.
What better time to introduce Foreign Liason Agent, Vesper Lynd—one of only two Bond girls to ever capture 007’s heart (the other, Teresa di Vicenzo, was briefly his wife before she met a sticky end).
Vesper is one of Bond’s most complicated women. A reluctant double agent, her name is a pun on West Berlin, representing the way in which her loyalties are split down the middle.
Lucia Sciarra – Spectre, 2015
Image via Spectre
At 51 Bellucci is the oldest Bond girl to date, taking up the mantle from Honor Blackman who played Pussy Galore when she was 39.
Belluci has caused a media stir with her profession that: “I can’t say I’m a Bond girl because I’m too mature… I say Bond lady, Bond woman.”
“Men think that women when they’re not able to procreate anymore, become old. That’s not true—they are still amazing!” Amen to that.
Get a sneak peek at Bellucci’s Bond woman here:
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