Bond films wouldn't be half so interesting, popular - or, let's face it, nearly as scenic - without that crucial ingredient: the Bond girl. It's always big news when a new Bond girl is cast in an upcoming 007 film. Often winning a role as a Bond girl can be a mixed blessing. While a few actresses can look back fondly at their experiences as a Bond girl at the end of a long and fruitful career, many more have found their casting a hindrance, their high-profile appearance perhaps branding them, often unfairly, as lightweight cheesecake, and failing to lead on to the bigger and better parts they initially dreamed of.
Either way, for better or worse, these actresses have become part of the worldwide Bond legacy, forever linked to this 50-year-old series in the eyes of fans past, present and future.
So, then...What are the ingredients that make for a good Bond girl?
Beauty goes without saying. While beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder, I think few could argue that nearly every actress to appear on screen in a James Bond film has been quite attractive, to say the least (personally speaking, I would have to exclude the mannish Grace Jones from that assessment, though I'm sure she has her fans).
Therefore, beauty and sex appeal alone are not enough. The women who have lit up the screen in the James Bond series, the ones that truly stand out, bring a special something extra to the role: either a worldly sophistication, an easy elegance, a sureness or confidence of manner, or a fierce intelligence. And even more importantly, a memorable Bond woman needs an allure, an aura of mystery, that exquisite unknowability that drives regular men to distraction - an allure sufficiently powerful enough to turn the head of the notoriously bed-hopping, love 'em and leave 'em 007.
As far as I'm concerned, the typical James Bond girl comes in three essential categories: the Leading Lady, the good girl who sides with Bond and (usually) survives to the end of the film; the Sacrificial Victim, either on Bond's side from the get go and eliminated by the bad guys, or won over by his charms to such an extent that she will foolishly turn her back on the villain and pay for it with her life; and, of course, the Black Widow, the bad girl, unredeemed by her tryst with Bond, happy enough to sleep with him knowing full well that she will try her best to kill him later, and enjoy it.
As Bond fans, we all have our personal favorites in every aspect of the series, from actors, villains, theme songs, pre-credit sequences, etc. Bond girls are no different. So here, then, are the ladies I feel deserve the best - and worst - accolades.
1) The ravishing Claudine Auger as Domino in Thunderball
2) Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me
3) Luciana Paluzzi as very bad Bond girl Fiona Vulpe in Thunderball
4) Diana Rigg as Countess Theresa "Tracy" Di Vicenzo, a.k.a. Mrs. James Bond, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
5) Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova in Goldeneye
6) Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova in From Russia With Love
7) The sultry Caroline Munro as bad girl Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me
8) English rose Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger
9) Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only
10) Jane Seymour as Solitaire in Live and Let Die
And a special "Honorable Mention" to the original Bond girl, the iconic one who started it all: Ursula Andress as Honey Rider in Dr. No
And now, from the sublime to the ridiculous. The following actresses, while undeniable gorgeous, just don't make the cut, either due to deer-in-the-headlights, youthful inexperience and lack of acting talent (Tanya Roberts), miscasting or just plain being a wrong fit for the glitz and glamor of a Bond film (Denise Richards), or were saddled with a badly-written, stupid or inconsistent character (Jill St. John).
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