Chris Gelderd on the greatest Bond Girls of all time…
A term that has stood strong for over 50 years, the phrase “Bond Girl” conjures up an image that defines escapist cinema; a dazzling leading lady, side by side with James Bond in his adventures, with beauty and brains to boot. While some may prefer the phrase “Bond Lady” or “Bond Woman” in this era of strong sexual equality and feminist movements, the overall Bond girl is as quintessential in the 007 universe as the villains, gadgets and music.
The cinematic adventures of 007 have introduced many memorable ladies who have graced the screen as heroes, villains or those caught up in the middle. For nearly 60 years we have been treated to some of the most beautiful, charismatic, clever, dangerous and (sometimes) inept Bond girls that all are just as popular as the leading man himself. Some want to love him, some want to kill him. Some need his protection, others can take care of themselves. But who ranks among the greatest Bond girls to have been introduced in the first 24 films?
From their legacy, memorable appearance, story arc and their impact on Bond himself, let’s countdown the top ten James Bond leading ladies. Following this, we will see not one, not two, but three going up against 007 in No Time To Die. We will be taking only the leading actress from each film – the first of any billed group of ladies.
00-10: Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts; A View To A Kill 1985)
Story: Battling Max Zorin in an attempt to keep her inheritance of Sutton Oil, but finding that his money is stronger than her resilience. It doesn’t stop her keeping her dignity against his threats.
Traits: Strong in spirit, but not always brave in the face of danger when she often needs to be rescued and protected from harm over anything else.
Memorable quote: “I’d sell everything and live in a tent before I give up.”
00-9: Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman; Goldfinger 1964)
Story: Personal pilot for Auric Goldfinger and instructor to an aerobatic team, Pussy is well aware of Goldfinger’s crimes, but keeps her head down to stay safe and look after her own invested interests.
Traits: As skilled with a private jet as she is with a pistol, Pussy is headstrong and does not fear looking danger in the eye. She is involved in Goldfinger’s empire, but yearns to live her own life.
Memorable quote: “You can turn off the charm. I’m immune.”
00-8: Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris; Skyfall 2012)
Story: Once active in the field, Eve Moneypenny now works within MI6 as personal assistant to M and keeps check on, and coordinates with, all active intelligence agents, including 007.
Traits: Wanting to serve Queen and Country in operations, Moneypenny’s methodical, analytical and administration skills are more desirable to M helping support MI6 in political and national matters.
Memorable quote: “I like a little flutter, now and then. Who doesn’t like to take chances?”
00-7: Elektra King (Sophie Marceau; The World Is Not Enough 1999)
Story: Kidnapped by terrorist Viktor Zokas, Elektra escaped after MI6 deemed her ransom too high to pay. Following family tragedy, she now owns King Oil, aiming to grow an industrial global empire.
Traits: Once fragile and doted on, but now manipulative, driven and dangerous. Elektra knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it – not caring who she hurts, uses or betrays in the process.
Memorable quote: “There’s no point living if you can’t feel alive.”
00-6: Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress; Dr.No 1962)
Story: Living a solitary life selling shells and treasures she discovers while diving in Jamaica, the naïve Honey is caught up with James Bond investigating the dangerous Doctor No on Crab Key island.
Traits: Honey is self-educated and lives away from bustling civilisations, unaware of wider threats and dangers. However, her bravery and knowledge allow her to survive where many would not.
Memorable quote: “I put a black widow spider underneath his mosquito net. A female. They’re the worst. It took him a whole week to die.”
00-5: Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh; Tomorrow Never Dies 1997)
Story: Colonel and intelligence operative in the Chinese People’s External Security Force, Wai Lin crosses paths with James Bond investigating a plot to launch her country in World War III.
Traits: Trained equally, and often above, that of British Intelligence, Wai Lin can handle herself in any dangerous situation. She has beauty, grace and brains, making her a dangerous foe and valuable ally.
Memorable quote: “Don’t get any ideas, Mister Bond.”
00-4: Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell; Licence To Kill 1989)
Story: A former United States Army pilot turned CIA operative, Pam is working with Felix Leiter to bring down South American drug baron Franz Sanchez and meets James Bond trying to do the same.
Traits: Pam can pilot airplanes, navigate boats and drive cars and heavy tanker trucks. As well as field work and marksmanship, Pam is beautiful and resourceful, making her a perfect match for 007.
Memorable quote: “Look pal, I was an Army pilot. I’ve flown to the toughest hell-holes in South America and I will NOT have you lecture me about professionalism!”
00-3: Teresa di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg; On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1969)
Story: Coming from a family involved in crime and initially used as leverage to locate SPECTRE for James Bond, Teresa (Tracy) gets involved in his battle against Blofeld along with her father.
Traits: Tracy is strong enough to win Bond’s heart with her fiery, intelligent persona even after he has the information he needs. Their respect and love grows, and the two marry following his mission.
Memorable quote: “Why do you persist in rescuing me, Mister Bond?’
00-2: Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach; The Spy Who Loved Me 1977)
Story: A Soviet KGB intelligence operative, Major Amasova is investigating missing Russian nuclear submarine Potemkin. She meets 007 doing the same for Great Britain, all to avert World War III.
Memorable quote: “I have never failed on a mission, Commander. Any mission.”
00-1: Vesper Lynd (Eva Green; Casino Royale 2006)
Story: An HM Treasury agent assigned to keep check on James Bond and his government funds, Vesper gets involved in the dangerous operation to bring down Le Chiffre and his criminal superiors.
Traits: Bond would say stubborn, others would say headstrong. Vesper has youth, charm and intelligence to keep 007 focused on his mission and keep teach him lessons he never expected.
Memorable quote: “As charming as you are, Mister Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money, and off your perfectly formed arse.”
Oscar winners, international stars and veterans of stage and screen have all given life to both literary and original characters. These characters have gone down in history as some of the most glamorous leading ladies ever put to screen. But which of our leads is returning in No Time To Die, and who will she be joined by?
Léa Seydoux is back as Dr. Madeline Swann, first seen in 2015’s Spectre, daughter of now deceased operative Mr White and Bond’s lover. However it’s clear from the trailers their romance isn’t all champagne and roses, with Bond dealing with apparent betrayal and Madeline’s own dark secret. Newcomers to the franchise meanwhile are Captain Marvel’s Lashana Lynch and Knives Out’s Ana de Armas bringing their own spin on the Bond girl role too.
Lynch plays Nomi, an MI6 00 agent brought into field service after Bond’s retirement and given the 007 operative number, meaning she is more than capable of dealing with trouble herself. De Armas is CIA operative Paloma, working out of Cuba as aid to Felix Leiter and Bond. While de Armas has been seen in nothing but a beautifully cut dress to accentuate her frame, she has also been seen shooting dual guns and taking down the bad guys. Do Paloma and Nomi prove that the dispensable Bond girl role is well and truly over, or will they still go weak at the knees for that inimitable seduction and OO-charm?
Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
No Time To Die stars Daniel Craig (James Bond), Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Rory Kinnear (Tanner), Léa Seydoux (Madeleine Swann), Ben Whishaw (Q), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter), and Christoph Waltz (Blofeld), while new additions include Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel), Billy Magnussen (Velvet Buzzsaw), Dali Benssalah (A Faithful Man) and David Dencik (Top of the Lake).
No Time to Die hits UK cinemas on September 30th and US theaters on October 8th.