Thursday, December 6, 2012

50 Years of Bond Girls (Then and Now)

1962 to 2012: 50 Years of Bond


If you are like me, you have followed the Bond series for many years, secretly wishing to be Bond. If you are really like me, your desire to be Bond is not so secret. You:

  • have seen all 24* movies at least once. 
  • have read some vintage Ian Fleming. 
  • played the Thunderball board game as a kid. 

    Did you play this board game as a kid?
  • have at least one CD of Bond theme songs (I even have an old vinyl album!) 
  • are seriously considering asking Santa for Bond at 50, the complete DVD collection, and you wonder why there are only 22 movies in the collection.



And of course...
  • You have a poster of all the Bond girls. 


What? You don't have a poster of all 50 women (three made multiple appearances) who have played a feature role in a Bond movie either as Bond's love interest or his enemy (and ultimately, his love interest anyway)?

Well, then, this is your lucky day! Here you go: 50 Years of Bond Girls (Then and Now). When you click on the link, a miniature poster opens. Click the poster, and it expands to a view-able size.

You're welcome. 

To push the point just a bit further, if you are like me (and really, at this point, who wouldn't want to be like me, right?) you have:


  • a favorite Bond, 
  • a favorite Bond movie, 
and of course,
  • a favorite Bond girl. 
I'll give you a moment to collect your thoughts.

===+++===


Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona Volpe in Thunderball

My favorite Bond girl is assassin Fiona Volpe, played by Luciana Paluzzi. Not just another pretty face, she uses her intelligence and sexuality to get what she wants. She is Bond's enemy, an agent for SPECTRE. A worthy adversary, she is Bond's equal in skill, cunning, and the art of seduction. She knows how to drive a Ford Mustang convertible fast enough to put Bond ill at ease. That she looks hot in motorcycle leathers is an obvious bonus, but it's not that fact which distinguishes her above the other Bond girls. It's her attitude!

Like all true Bond fans, my favorite movie is the next one! Tied for 2d is the most recent one (Skyfall) and the one that first hooked me (Thunderball). Skyfall is great, but  in 20 years will I still like Skyfall as much as Thunderball?

Another major plus of Thunderball is Sean Connery's spot-on portrayal of James Bond, and the fact that I was playing the board game version of Thunderball before I ever noticed just how much better a motorcycle looks when the person in the saddle is a hot woman in riding leathers.




Another reason to love the now 50-year old Bond franchise in general and Thunderball in particular is Claudine Auger (Dominique Derval, or "Domino"). When it comes to sheer beauty and screen appeal, there are none better in my opinion.

Claudine Auger as "Domino" in Thunderball

I didn't see Thunderball in the theater. (For the record, I was a young lad in 1965!)  But I did watch the film on TV in the early 70s. In fact, I have only seen the older Bond flicks with full commercial interruption on Sunday night TV--another reason to get the DVD collection! But the point is that I watched Thunderball (1965) after I had played the board game in the late 60s and also after Van Morrison's hit song, Domino first graced the airwaves (1970).

"Domino" is Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison's personal musical tribute to New Orleans R&B singer and pianist Fats Domino. But every time I listened to the song, I just kept thinking about Claudine Auger... For this reason, I am still a Van Morrison fan to this day!


Do you have a favorite Bond girl? Who is she? and why?



*There are 25 Bond movies by some count. I have not seen the original Casino Royale, released in 1967 with David Niven as Bond. It's not included in the Bond girls poster or in the MGM Box set because it was produced by Flemming's co-author. Wikipedia offers an explanation full of legal stuff  beyond the scope of this post.

PS--Luciana Paluzzi auditioned for the role of Domino, but was cast in the ultimately more intriguing role of Fiona. Luciana Paluzzi was born in June 1937 and is 75 years young as of this writing. You can compare her then and now photos here: 50 Years of Bond Girls (Then and Now)

PSS--Thunderball was for years the most expensive Bond movie, when adjusted for inflation. All those underwater fight scenes must have been expensive to film! The first three movies cost $1M, $2M, and $3M respectively. Thunderball cost half again as much as all three previous films together: $9M.

PSSS--The non-Eon Productions remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery reprising his role as 007, came in at $36M. This is about $75M today, and that means it's just slightly more expensive than Thunderball, whose $9M budget in 1965 would cost just under $70M today.

PSSSS--The Daniel Craig-era Bond films have blown the top off the budgets. QoS cost about $230M, and SkyFall is estimated to have cost over $200M.