Fifty Years of Great Villains in James Bond Films

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One of the most memorable James Bond antagonists in the past fifty years was Gert Fröbe, the German actor, who played Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger (1964). His first name, Auric, is an adjective meaning of gold. In 2003, the American Film Institute declared Auric Goldfinger the 49th greatest villain in the past 100 years of film. In a poll of film fans, Auric Goldfinger was voted the most sinister James Bond villain.  Fröbe, who did not speak English well, was dubbed in the film by Michael Collins, an English actor. In the German version, Fröbe dubbed himself back again.

In the film, Goldfinger is a successful businessman, owning many properties throughout the world including "Auric Enterprises, AG" in Switzerland, and a stud-farm in Kentucky called "Auric Stud". However, Goldfinger's real business is that of internationally smuggling gold, using the method of having a car built with gold body castings and transporting it via airplane before having the body-work re-smelted once it arrives at its destination. After Goldfinger's business affairs come under suspicion from the Bank of England, Bond is sent to investigate.

GoldfingerIn the film, Goldfinger, an avid golfer, reveals a fascination with Nazi gold when Bond tempts him to betting high stakes against a lost, historical Nazi gold bar, an incident not in the novel (the golf game is merely for a large amount of cash). He is defeated, however, when he is tricked by Bond after attempting to cheat.

Goldfinger is later revealed to be planning to place an atomic device containing cobalt and iodine into Fort Knox, rendering the gold radioactive and useless for 58 years, increasing the value of his own gold and giving the Chinese an advantage resulting from the ensuing economic chaos. Bond, at this point held captive by Goldfinger, is able to smuggle the details of the operation out to his CIA associate Felix Leiter, and, taken along on the operation by Goldfinger, ultimately thwarts the operation.

With Fort Knox safe, Bond is invited to the White House for a meeting with the President. However, with his pilot Pussy Galore, Goldfinger hijacks the plane carrying Bond. In a struggle for Goldfinger's revolver, Bond shoots out a window, creating an explosive decompression. Goldfinger is blown out of the cabin through the window. With the plane out of control Bond rescues Galore and they parachute safely from the aircraft.

Rosa KlebbColonel Rosa Klebb is depicted in From Russia with Love as a former SMERSH agent who has defected to become a member of SPECTRE (Blofeld refers to her as "No. 3")., Klebb makes a  last attempt to get Bond and the Lektor. Posing as a maid, she attempts to take the Lektor; when she is caught, she points a gun at Bond. Tatiana then distracts her, causing her to drop the gun, and Bond and Klebb fight. Klebb attempts to kick Bond with the poison-tipped shoe, but Bond blocks the attack with a chair. Tatiana then picks up Klebb's gun and kills her. Lotte Lenya, above, played Klebb.

Dr. Julius No, played by Joseph Wiseman, left, was the main antagonist in the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962).  Dr. No is a brilliant scientist with a Napoleon complex, a self-described "unwanted child of a German missionary and a Chinese girl of a good family.”  He later "became treasurer of the most powerful criminal society in China. “He then "escaped to America with $10,000,000" of Tong gold bullion. He specialized in radiation, which cost him both of his hands; his hands were replaced with crude bionic metal ones. No's hands have great strength (he can crush a metal figurine with them), but are seriously lacking in manual dexterity. This contributes to his demise.

He offered his skills and expertise to the Americans and Soviets, but was rejected. To get revenge, No joined the criminal organization SPECTRE and relocated to his island in Crab Key, Jamaica.

When Bond is sent to investigate the murder of two British agents and any possible connection with recent rocket disasters, No orders several attempts on his life. He is particularly displeased with henchman Professor Dent's failure. He gives Dent a venomous spider which is released in Bond's room. Bond kills it, and shoots Dent.

No fails in his own attempts to kill Bond; first by locking him in a ventilation shaft and then by beating him with his metal hands.

BlofeldErnst Stavro Blofeld  played by Donald Pleasance (left) is an evil genius with aspirations of world domination. Blofeld is head of the global criminal organization SPECTRE and is commonly referred to as Number 1, an official numerical position given to members of SPECTRE.

Blofeld appears or is heard in James Bond films from From Russia with Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and For Your Eyes Only (1981) (the pre-title sequence of which marks his final appearance and apparent death). He also appears in Never Say Never Again, the 1983 remake of Thunderball.

He was played on screen by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray and Max von Sydow, among others. It was initially a convention of the films not to show Blofeld's face, only a close up of him stroking his white blue-eyed Turkish Angora.

Many of Blofeld's characteristics have become clichés of super villains in popular fiction, representing the stock character of the evil genius.

Francisco ScaramangaFrancisco Scaramanga is played by Christoper Lee,  the main antagonist in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). The film was so named because it described Scaramanga's possession of a golden gun.

Francisco is a high-priced assassin, supposedly the best in the world, charging one million dollars per kill. He's best known for being "The man with the golden gun," because he only uses bullets made of gold in a fictitious, 4.2 mm cartridge. All of Scaramanga's dealings go through his henchman Nick Nack, which allows Scaramanga to be anonymous.

After taking Goodnight (Bond's semi-partner in the film) hostage, Scaramanga lures Bond to his private island. Scaramanga seems excited about Bond's visit and gives him a tour about his plan for solar power. Bond has lunch with Goodnight and Scaramanga but Bond presses his luck, which provokes a duel. Once in the funhouse, Bond takes the place of a dummy "James Bond" and tricks Scaramanga into coming out in the open to look for Bond with his pistol drawn. Before he could react to the deception, Scaramanga is shot in the heart by Bond with a .32 Walther PPK pistol and killed.

British and Soviet ballistic-missile submarines mysteriously disappear. James Bond (agent 007) is summoned to investigate. They travel across Egypt together, tracking the microfilm plans, meeting Jaws – an unnaturally tall assassin (Richard Kiel) with steel teeth – along the way.

JAwsBond encounters Jaws, whom he drops into a shark tank. Bond flees in an escape pod as Atlantis is sunk. In the pod Amasova reminds Bond that she has vowed to kill him and picks up Bond's gun, but admits to having forgiven him and the two make love. The Royal Navy recovers the pod, and the two spies are seen in intimate embrace through its large window, much to the consternation of Bond and Amasova's superiors. Meanwhile, Jaws escapes from the shark tank (after fatally biting the shark) and swims off into the sunset.

Mads MikkelsenMads Mikkelsen (left) was Le Chiffre in the 2006 film version of Fleming's novel, “Casino Royale.”

Believed by MI6 to be Albanian and officially stateless, according to his file, Le Chiffre is banker to the world's terrorist organizations. M implies that Le Chiffre was involved in the  September 11 attacks, or at least deliberately profiteered off of the aftermath.

Bond is stripped naked and tied to a chair with its cane seat cut out. Le Chiffre proceeds to torture Bond by repeatedly whipping him in the testicles with the large knotted end of a thick rope, trying to extort the password that will enable Le Chiffre to collect the tournament winnings. Bond refuses to give in and plays on Le Chiffre's fear that there will be retribution from the clients whose money he lost. Le Chiffre then states that if he is unable to retrieve the password than he will still kill both Bond and Vesper Lynd and opt for protection from MI6; Le Chiffre says that he wins either way. When Bond refuses to give in, Le Chiffre brandishes a knife and threatens to castrate him.

Just then, Mr. White (who has already shot dead all of Le Chiffre's associates) bursts into the room, holding Le Chiffre at gunpoint and informing him that he has just become a liability. Le Chiffre pleads for his life, promising that he'll get the money, but it is to no avail; Mr. White responds coldly, "Money isn't as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust" and then shoots Le Chiffre in the forehead with a SIG Sauer P230 fitted with a suppressor.

Visit your local library for more content about the James Bond films.

 

Books by Ian Fleming on WorldCat

James Bond (DVDs) on WorldCat

United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry
Tino Balio, (1987).

Kiss Kiss Bang! Bang!: the Unofficial James Bond Film Companion
Alan Barnes; Marcus  Hearn, (2001).

The James Bond Bedside Companion
Benson, Raymond (1988).

The Politics of James Bond: \From Fleming's Novel to the Big Screen
Jeremy Black, (2005).

Sean Connery; The Measure of a Man
Bray, Christopher (2010).

When the Snow Melts
Broccoli, Albert R (1998).

Shaken & Stirred: The Feminism of James Bond
Caplen, Robert (2010).

Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films
Chapman, James (2007).

Ian Fleming & James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007
Edward P. Comentale; Stephen Watt;  Skip Willman, (2005).

James Bond: The Legacy
John Cork; Bruce Scivally, (2002).

Bond Girls Are Forever: The Women of James Bond
John Cork ; Maryam d'Abo, (2003).

 

 

Images:

1. Article illustration: James Bond (Roger Moore)  meets “Jaws” in the Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

2.Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe).

3. Colonel Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya)
Colonel Rosa Klebb was the villian in “From Russia with Love” (1963).

4. Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman).

5. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance).

6. Francisco Scaramanga (Christoper Lee).

7. Jaws (Richard Dawson Kiel ).

8. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).

 

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