Understanding 007: Dr No to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

With six Bond films under my belt – Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – I thought it was time to take a look at some of the supporting casting that make the series so enjoyable, namely the Bond girls, the baddies and the British Secret Service.

“Oh the things I do for England”

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr No.

Bond (Sean Connery) uttered this fantastic line just before he made love to SPECTRE agent Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice. I’m not sure which line I prefer regarding his ‘unwilling’ sexual endeavours with villainesses, that one or this one from Thunderball, which he says after making love to another SPECTRE agent, Fiona Volpe: “My dear girl, don’t flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don’t think it gave me any pleasure, do you?”

Sometimes, however, his sights are fixed on women of the less evil variety. These beauties include Domino Derval (Claudine Auger, Thunderball), Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi, You Only Live Twice).

My perfect Bond girl from those featured in the first six films would have the looks and body of Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress, Dr No) with the personality of Aki and the intelligence of Tracy Di Vicenzo.

“Like your friend you’ve been a little too clever, and now you are caught!”

Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger.

Spoken by SPECTRE agent Largo in Thunderball, Bond does have the odd close shave now and again. One of the closest was at the hands of Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger where he was strapped to a table and had a giant laser edging its way closer to his privates. Well, that was until some quick thinking and carefully chosen words managed to secure his release.

So far my favourite villain is a tie between Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe, Goldfinger) and Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya, From Russia With Love). Goldfinger is this larger-than-life character who has this extraordinary and devious scheme to break into Fort Knox, detonate a dirty nuclear weapon inside and contaminate the United States gold reserve thereby increasing the value of his gold holdings – madness!

A gold obsessive with a rotund belly and too much tweed, Goldfinger could be quite camp and comical were in not for the fact that he has an incredibly strong henchman, Oddjob, who uses a steel-rimmed bowler hat as his weapon of choice plus his own personal army of Korean soldiers.

Klebb, on the other hand, is a very cold character who follows her orders to the letter. She uses a poison-tipped dagger concealed within her shoe – a gadget that I’m sure Q would have been very impressed by! – to attack Bond during the closing scenes of From Russia With Love.

This lethal shoe would inspire quite a legacy, much like the white bikini worn by Andress in Dr No and Oddjob’s bowler hat.

“Try to be a little less than your frivolous self, 007”

The ever-faithful Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell).

Good old Q, by the time it came to Bond’s fourth outing in Thunderball he really did have him sussed. Q, the British Secret Service’s quartermaster, is the mastermind behind Bond’s fabulous gadgets. Desmond Llewelyn held the role of Q from From Russia With Love until his death in 1999. In Dr No, Peter Burton appeared as Major Boothroyd, the person who gives Bond his pistol and handgun – Llewelyn’s Q is actually the same Major Boothroyd, though he is only referred to as ‘Major Boothroyd’ once during the Bond series.

As well as his firearms, during the first six films Bond is given a host of fantastic equipment by Q, including Little Nellie (You Only Live Twice), a tiny air supply that provides 4 minutes worth of air in emergencies (Thunderball) and a homing beacon that is fitted in his shoe (Goldfinger).

Joining Q at the British Secret Service is M, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service, and Miss Moneypenny, M’s secretary. So far M has only been portrayed by Bernard Lee, and Moneypenny by Lois Maxwell. Not much is known about M as he doesn’t have much screen time. He does, however, on more than once occassion say: “What would I do without you, Moneypenny?”

Moneypenny, on the other hand, has a very flirtatious relationship with Bond, though one that is never consummated. Though she may seem fairly lovesick, she understands Bond very well and is highly dedicated to her job anyway.

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7 thoughts on “Understanding 007: Dr No to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

  1. Good stuff Claire…as a kid I was a bigger fan of Bond than I am now. The latest films fail to appeal to me which has distanced me from the character and the franchise. However, this overview sets the nostalgia butterflies racing and reminds me of my favourite Bond films from Connery and Moore.

    1. I’m really enjoying these early Bond films. Watching them from a 2012 perspective I do find them quite farfetched – especially that fantastic, but completely bizarre, secret volcano hideout – but that’s their beauty.

      Thanks for commenting, Dan.

  2. Hi, Claire and company:

    ‘Dr. No’ was the first, though not the best Bond film. High marks for introducing a long lasting character and the best Bond girl with Honey Rider. Also notable for Jack Lord as the premier Felix Leiter.

    ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ will always be misunderstood and that’s a shame. George Lazenby was a more than serviceable Bond and having Diana Rigg as Mrs. Bond was close to a stroke of genius. The film falls short with Telly Savalas as Blofeld. Who was more thug than polished arch villain.

    With all this, the film still plays out better than many of the later Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton attempts at Bond.

    1. Honey is certainly a looker but I’m still torn as to who is my favourite Bond girl. Once I’ve seen all 22 I’ll do a Top 10!

      I thought Lazenby did a great job as Bond but it was a little too long for my liking and I really did not like Savalas’ portrayal of Blofeld. He was far too much of a gangster for my liking.

  3. Awesome post, Claire! I love that you’re a Bond fan, too. I grew up w/ this franchise ever since I was a wee girl and the fascination never seem to wear off.

    I quite like the Money Penney in the Roger Moore films but they keep casting different ones in the newer Bonds and I’m not too keen on any of ’em. I look forward to your ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ review. That’s the one Bond film that’s quite polarizing and perhaps I have been treating it unfairly because I didn’t like Lazenby. Did you know it’s Christopher Nolan’s favorite Bond film?

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