30. March 2016 09:23
Back in October and November of 2012, as James Bond celebrated it's Golden Jubilee and Skyfall was on the brink of release, columnist Daniel Chan wrote a series of articles about James Bond for The Malay Mail, of which this was the first:
Bring on the Bad Guys
Reflecting on the best Bond baddies in the 50 years of the screen 007
FAMOUS - Every Wednesday With DANIEL CHAN
EVERY time a new James Bond movie is announced, there’s tremendous interest in who’s the new Bond Girl and the latest Bond Villain.
In Skyfall, opening in cinemas here exactly three weeks from now, on Nov 1, the bad-die Raoul Silva is portrayed by Oscar-winning Javier Bardem who had won Best Supporting Actor for his chilling turn as a relentless hitman whose weapon of choice is a pump-gun, in 2007’s Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men.
As cryptically hinted in the Skyfall trailer, Silva seems to have a connection to Bond’s MI6 boss, M (Judi Dench in the role for the seventh time since 1995). In a scene where Bond (Daniel Craig in his third outing as agent Double-O-Seven) has been take captive, Silva taunts: “She sent you to me knowing you are not ready, that you will most likely die... Mommy was very bad.”
Our judgment on whether Silva is one of the more outstanding Bond Villains will have to wait until we catch the movie, but the odds are against Silva being especially memorable.
For the sad truth is that the best Bond baddies on the big screen were mainly in the 1960s for the simple reason that the best Bond novels by British author Ian Fleming (1908-1964) were adapted during that decade.
Fleming had a knack for fashioning larger-than-life villains with sadistic quirks and unusual physical traits, not unlike comicbook baddies, such that Bond’s rogues gallery rivals that of Batman and Spider-Man.
And in most of Fleming’s Bond novels, 007 will get captured and tortured, with the megalomaniacal baddie egoistically revealing his nefarious scheme, allowing Bond to escape and Die Another Day.
The greatest Bond Villain remains Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe should have been Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actor) who also had the best retort. In the scene where Bond (Sean Connery in the role) lies spread-eagled on a slab of steel and a laser beam inches towards his crotch, our hero desperately asks “Do you expect me to talk?”, and in reply, Goldfinger mocks: “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!”
Joining the front-row ranks of Goldfinger are Fu Manchu-styled Dr Julius No with his metallic hands (played by Joseph Wiseman), lesbian Rosa Klebb with her poison-tipped shoe (Lotte Lenya), one-eyed Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) who’s as debonair as Bond, and Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) who tortures Bond with a thick rope swung against the hero’s genitals (in the novel, Le Chif-fre used a carpet-beater).
In the first four Bond movies, the villains were all secretly working for an international crime cartel called Spectre whose leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who has a penchant for stroking his pet Persian cat, finally confronted Bond in a titanic trilogy from the fifth to seventh movies. Blofeld does not appear in this writer’s shortlist of best Bond baddies because his stature was spoilt by the casting of three different actors (first Donald Pleas-ance and then Telly Savalas, both bald, and finally Charles Gray with hair as in the novels).
The top four Bond baddies also had some of the most audacious and intriguing plots: sabotaging US missiles by sending them off-course (1962’s Dr. No, which opened in the US on Oct 5, 1962, just before the Cuban Missile Crisis from Oct 16 to 28 in which the US and USSR almost engaged in nuclear warfare), humiliating Bond’s secret service agency MI6 by framing Bond in a sex-and-murder scandal (1963’s From Russia With Love), making the US gold bullion reserves in Fort Knox, Kentucky worthless by detonating an atomic device there (1965’s Goldfinger) and blackmailing the world by hijacking nuclear warheads (1965’s Thunderball).
Finally, this focus would not be complete without a tip of the hat to the henchmen, a few of whom almost stole the show from their dastardly bosses, among them, femme fatales such as kiss-then-kill Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi in the role) in Thunderball and assassin Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) who slays her targets by suffocating them with her thighs in 1995’s Goldeneye.
For most Bond fans, the henchman who wins hands down remains bowler-hatted Oddjob with Harold Sakata well-cast as the silent but ever-smiling manservant of Goldfinger (Sakata was an Olympic silver medalist in weightlifting and also a professional wrestler).
Let’s examine the services rendered by the aptly-named Oddjob: chauffeur, butler, and caddie (even helping Goldfin-ger cheat when his employer played a round of gold with Bond). Above and beyond that, Oddjob slays pretty girls who had betrayed or threatened his master, notably, killing Goldfinger’s mistress Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton in an iconic role) by painting her in gold, and later on when Jill’s sister Tilly Masterson (played by Tania Mallet) tries to exact revenge on Goldfinger, Oddjob flings his steel-rimmed hat to break Tilly’s neck.
While the Bond villains are no longer as unforgettable as those during the Swinging Sixties, we fans will continue to expect the Bond film-makers to bring on the bad guys.
Photos: LATEST BOND BADDIE: Javier Bardem as Raul Silva, MADS MIKKELSON as Le Chiffre, JOSEPH WISEMAN as Dr Julius No, LETTE LENYA as Rosa Klebb, ADOLFO CELI as Emilio Largo, EST VILLAIN: Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) taunts James Bond (Sean Connery), BEST HENCHMAN: Oddjob (Harold Sakata)
The Bond Villains
1. Dr. No (1962): Joseph Wiseman as Dr Julius No
2. From Russia With Love (1963): Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb
3. Goldfinger (1964): Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger
4. Thunderball (1965): Adolfo Celi as Emilio Largo
5. You Only Live Twice (1967): Donald Pleasance as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969): Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Charles Gray as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
8. Live And Let Die (1973): Yaphet Kotto as Dr Kananga alias Mr Big
9. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974): Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga
10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Curt Jurgens as Karl Stromberg
11. Moonraker (1979): Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax
12. For Your Eyes Only (1981): Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos
13. Octopussy (1983): Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan
14. A View To A Kill (1985): Christopher Walken as Max Zorin
15. The Living Daylights (1987): Jeroen Krabbe as General Georgi Koskov
16. Licence To Kill (1989): Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez
17. Goldeneye (1995): Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan
18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver
19. The World Is Not Enough (1999): Robert Carlyle as Renard
20. Die Another Day (2002): Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves
21. Casino Royale (2006): Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
22. Quantum of Solace (2008): Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene
23. Skyfall (2012): Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva
[Source: Malay Mail, October 11th, 2012, P.24-25. Copyright © 2012 Malay Mail Sdn. Bhd.]