Sifr's random movie discourse thread! | The Popjustice Forum

Sifr's random movie discourse thread!

Discussion in 'TV + Film' started by sifr, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. Hello all and welcome to what is essentially my own film chat show (except not on TV). Each week - or more likely when I'm bored with time to kill, I'll post on something filmic that probably doesn't matter to anyone but me, but others may care to amuse themselves reading.


    There are a lot of misconceptions about Bond Girls. For a start - what one actually is. Whenever FHM shoots an extra who stands behind Pierce Brosnan for two frames in Tomorrow Never Dies, they call her a Bond Girl. She's not. She's an actress in a Bond film. When many people list the best Bond Girl's ever, they routinely mention Famke Janssen's Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye. A great performance yes, a kick-ass character, yes...but she's not a Bond Girl. She's a villain. Being a girl and being in a Bond film does not make you a Bond Girl.

    To be clear - the Bond Girl is the one who ends up with Bond at the end of the movie. No-one else counts. Grace Jones doesn't count, Teri Hatcher doesn't count, Sophie Marceau doesn't count...there are 22 movies, and 22 Girls. That's all. (There are three notable exceptions to the "ends up with Bond at the end of the movie" rule, but the girls involved still count as the main interest of the film)

    There have been lots of debates over this, and routinely there'll be online votes whenever a new movie gets released, but I'm rarely happy with the polls - they count nostalgia and looks above the actual character. Ursula Andress normally ends up as No.1 and poor Denise Richards ends up as "the worst Bond Girl ever". She's far from that - in fact, she's far better than Ursula and I can prove it with evidence, so there. I had occasion last year to study all the movie closely and get to know all the Girls - not just the performances but the actual characters themselves, and this is what I take into account below.

    (Oh, beware ye of spoilers below)

    So, low and behold, here's is Sifr's list of the Bond Girls, starting at 22 with the actual worst Bond Girl ever.

    #22 Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton in A View To A Kill

    Jesus. Could she do any less? Poor Ms. Roberts is saddled with not only playing a unconvincing geological genius but a particularly dim one. Spends most of her screen time yelling "James" in an aggravating fashion and generally reacting to events a minute after she should have. Contributes nothing whatsoever to the mission except to make Roger Moore feel even older. But fear not, it gets better...

    #21 Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice

    ...but not yet. It'll tell you how integral Kissy is to the plot of the movie that we never actually hear her name spoken in the movie. Not once. Unless you stick around for the credits, Bond simply (fake) married a "girl". She does bugger all frankly, apart from live with Bond and his dodgy bowel-cut for a few days. Really annoying because earlier in the film Bond loses Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) to the old poison-down-the-string-at-night trick. Now if she'd stuck around, we'd be talking top 10. But she didn't.

    #20 Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight in The Man With The Golden Gun

    Somehow, the British Secret Service saw fit to employ the cretinous Ms. Goodnight for a period in the early 70s, possibly through some kind of an equal opportunities mandate. They tried to make the best of it by sticking the bungling fool out in the Far East, but sadly that's where three-nippled assassin Scaramanga chose to set up shop. Roger Moore's already overworked eyebrows go into overdrive as he bears witness to a series of increasingly dumb fuck-ups and when she does manage to destroy the Solex Gun at the end of the movie it is entirely by accident. She probably still doesn't even know she's done it...

    #19 Jill St. John as Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever

    Venal, greedy, impulsive,, aren't you the catch? Sean Connery deserved better for his last Girl, but got the rather irritating Ms. Case. Pretty she may well be, but how she even got into diamond smuggling in the first place is a mystery. Blofeld's cat would probably have been a better operator. I'm not holding the Marching Band/Satellite control tape mix-up at the end of the film against her though, because I've seen the movie nigh on 10 times and I'm still not entirely sure what Bond thinks he's up to with that.

    #18 Maud Adams as Octopussy in (surprise) Octopussy

    Hard to measure this one. Presented as a thoroughly competent leader and forthright woman, but she doesn't actually do much in the film (aside from give Louis Jordan occasion to utter, time and again in smooth syllables "Oc-tow-pus-se, Oc-tow-pus-se") But she owns a barge and a circus of women, which is always a plus.

    #17 Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr. No

    That's right, the original and best languishes at 17, because Honey may have set the template, but she doesn't do much with it. I'll give her props for doing the shell collecting and being an independent woman, but the inescapable truth is her character arc is Meets Bond - Follows Bond - Captured with Bond - Has Dinner - Is Tied Up - Waits for Bond - Still Waiting for Bond - Escapes with Bond - Does Bond in a boat. That's your lot, folks and iconic status wins no points with me against action.

    #16 Eva Green as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale

    The first of the "exception" Girls as, if you've seen the film, you'll know she doesn't exactly walk off into the sunset. That said, she makes one hell of an impression given she doesn't come into the movie for an hour, and she's sufficiently arresting to captivate a newer, greener Bond. Very smooth (except after watching two men die in front of her, in which case she just won't come out of the shower) and seemingly able to bullshit people with aplomb. Gains points for excellent verbal sparring and cocktail inspiration.

    #15 Jane Seymour as Solitaire in Live And Let Die

    So was she really psychic or what? The poster girl for not putting your faith in fortune telling, because said faith enables Bond to basically (and there's no way around this) date-rape her. Using the Tarot equivalent of rohypnol, Bond scores a double whammy of a) Virgin and b) Villian's girlfriend. She doesn't seem too pissed off though, and makes a pleasant but non essential companion for the rest of the movie. Trophy girl, I'm saying, but she doesn't do anything as stupid as some of the others, hence the higher placing.

    #14 Diana Rigg as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    Commentators regularly call OHMSS one of the best Bond movies, saying if it had Connery in it would be the best. Have they even watched it? For the first hour Bond does nothing but lounge about in a frilly shirt and annoy Blofeld and when the action does kick in it's pretty lame. Many holes can be picked in this (how come Blofeld doesn't recognise Bond, for one) but one that can't is Diana Rigg's performance as Tracy. Her presence lifts the movie into something great at times, and though Tracy isn't really an active Girl she's an intriguing one. Obviously doesn't end well though, all the time in the world and all that...

    #13 Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger

    Yes, you honestly think her parents named her that. Gets in here for her active role towards the end of the movie - without her interference old Auric would probably have pulled his Fort Knox plan and lived happily ever after (until anger gets the better of him at the next celebrity golf tournament) But the fact also remains that until her tumble in the hay (literally) with Bond she was perfectly happy to go through with the plan, killing many, many people. So actually a bit of a bitch then, really. Oh.

    #12 Halle Berry as Jinx in Die Another Day

    Halle Berry radiates confidence in the movie and Jinx is a thoroughly compentent CIA operative. Most of the time. Actually, she does tend to get captured/in trouble quite often from the midpoint of the movie onwards, so perhaps she's not all she's cracked up to be, but she gives her all, even when trapped in an icy hotel room (shouldn't have booked Travel Lodge) Only kills Miranda Frost because her opponent forget to get the first "bitch" of the fight in.

    #11 Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me

    The original XXX spends most of the movie in top form, sparring on equal terms with Bond and only really losing the match-up because Russia couldn't afford to give their agents as many gadgets. Sadly, the film doesn't let her be the total bad-ass she so clearly is, and she spends the last fifteen minutes tied to one of Stromberg's uncomfortable looking chairs. D'oh!

    #10 Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights

    Wow, this is one devoted chick. How many girlfriends would fake an assassination attempt on their partner just because he asked nicely? And how many would then ride into a freakin' battle zone just to catch a plane with their next boyfriend? Plays a mean Stradivarius and delivers a mean kick to the face. Also good at encouraging freedom fighters to action. Nice one.

    #9 Lois Chiles as Dr. Holly Goodhead in Moonraker

    The estimable Dr. Goodhead (she's also CIA, by the way) is another Bond Girl who frequently gets knocked in the polls. Oh really? Let's see...infiltrated the villain's organisation to a high-level before the British are even aware there's a problem, carries a flame thrower in her purse and, oh yeah, she can fly a freakin' space shuttle. Also encourages double-entendres like a pro.

    #8 Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes in Quantum Of Solace

    Smashing straight into the top 10 is the more than capable Camille, pursuing a revenge as single-minded as Bond himself. Kurylenko is tough and bright, rarely letting her vulnerable side show - and when she does it's only to explain why the hell she's so tough now. Fear of room-fires is hardly a knocking point, especially when she's beating the shit out of someone in the midst of panic attack. The last girl on the list not to end up in Bond's arms, she's probably in Europe somewhere, looking beautiful or kicking ass. Most likely simultaneously.

    #7 Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies

    Entirely capable ass-kicker with little regard for anyone in her way, including Bond, she takes on anything the Carver Media Group can throw at her. Cutely does a "Hi-yah" even when she's just turning and firing her gun at an console. Only ends up in trouble at the end, but the guy capturing her is admittedly built like a Terminator. The agent Jinx wishes she was.

    #6 Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova in From Russia With Love

    Single, working girl? Can't get a date? Don't worry, two secret organisations will set you up at once! And she's actually worth it. Tatiana is a good girl caught up in events she doesn't fully understand - planned by a chess master for goodness sake! - but she takes it in good humour. More than that, she saves Bond's life in the end before SPECTRE room service can do him in. Well done that girl! Also utterly gorgeous, natch.

    #5 Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only

    You have to admire this girl's method of avenging her parent's execution. Henchman? Crossbow to the heart. Assassin? Crossbow to the back. Another henchman? Crossbow to the chest. Survives trauma, grief, keelhauling(!) and several bumpy rides in a 2CV and her hair looks amazing throughout. Bad-assness slightly curtailed at end of film by a bit of Bond moralising, which is a bit rich given his pedigree. You can't really judge Bouquet's performance as she's been rather clumsily dubbed over, but if looks could kill she wouldn't need all those crossbow bolts.

    #4 Claudine Auger as Dominque "Domino" Derval in Thunderball

    Another clumsy dubbing job leaves it impossible to evaluate Auger's acting, but Domino makes an impressive journey in the movie, from sheltered, naive girl to sly spy. Undergoing a fairly nasty torture scene, she emerges in the last minutes to put a spear through her ex-boyfriend, thus saving Bond and going for the EPIC WIN.

    #3 Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough

    That's right, every other internet poll going - Number Three. Suck it. I don't care what you think of Richards herself (I happen to think she does just fine in this movie) but let's look at what Dr. Jones does in this movie:
    - Works in a nuclear research centre
    - Is alert enough to call the guards on suspicious intruders (alright, wrong call, but she made it)
    - Pilots a rig through a tunnel at phenomenal speeds and defuses a nuclear device. She defuses it, not Bond. Do you see bloody Ursula Andress doing that, do you?
    - Helps Bond investigate the Elektra King problem when she could have fucked off, job done.
    - Risks drowning more than once to help Bond defeat Renard and avert another nuclear disaster. Without Christmas, Bond would never have made it to the other end of the sub. Do you get that, Entertainment Weekly pollers that voted her the worst girl ever? Does that process? She literally helped save the world and you place her below someone who collects shells and gets tied up for a whole movie.

    The fact she looks great in a sparkly mini-dress and sneakers, and also provides Bond with his flat out filthest double entendre are just bonuses, but basically, she rules.

    #2 Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier in Licence To Kill

    Speaking of underrated, here's a Girl who never gets the credit she deserves, but does more than enough to earn it. Working as a CIA informant for Felix Leiter, Pam is running guns and drugs to South America on a regular basis, but eagerly helps Bond on a mission even more dangerous - taking down drug lord Franz Sanchez. The kind of girl never to be seen without a bullet proof vest, she brings a sawn-off shotgun to bar meets, and knocks down more people in the ensuing brawl than Bond does. She doesn't look as good once she gets her Executive Secretary haircut, but makes up for it by robbing evangelist Joe Butcher and taking out Benicio del Toro's satanic henchman. (Well, taking him out enough for the coke grinder to finish the job) Flies aircraft like a pro, even under rocket fire and matches Bond step for step the entire movie. Awesome.

    And so, to number one. She never gets mentioned, she never gets polled...overshadowed by the other female performance in the movie but, moment for moment the strongest Bond Girl of all, I give you:

    #1 Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova in GoldenEye

    Who knew the toughness that was waiting inside Natalya. A sweet, unassuming programmer who, as traitorous Boris says, "works on the guidance systems" of the GoldenEye satellites, her journey begins as she sees her co-workers brutally murdered, and then the whole bloody building falls down on her. Undeterred, she then starts to investigate the GoldenEye theft on her own before meeting up with Bond in an-about-to-blow-up helicopter.

    Surviving that and a prison escape/car chase, she then starts to face off with Sean Bean's superb Alec Trevelyan. Unafraid as he intimidates her, she adds him to her list of people to fuck with. Folllowing Bond to Cuba she gets the chance. It might be Bond who takes out Trevelyan, but it's Natalya who saves England as she reprograms the one thing she knows well - the guidance systems. Her "I fucking got you" look as Trevelyan, and especially Boris, discover this, is pure brilliance and it's her encryption that prevents Boris from saving the satellite before the array goes up in flames (okay, Bond helped with that bit)

    Scorupco is great in the role, fiesty, strong, and a match for Brosnan, calling him out on his screwed up track record with the past. Natalya is, in my view, the bravest and best of the Bond Girls, not only because of her competence and achievements, but because unlike the other major ass-kickers, she isn't trained for anything like this. She just does what is right and best, and damn the consequences. We also learn that she can handle a gun well and tastes like strawberries. Bonus.

    Well, there we go - some myths overturned and some praise given to characters that don't always get it. And did Sean Connery's Bond really get saved by the girl at the end two movies out of six. Wow. I hope you found this interesting and who knows what other weird and wonderful stuff I'll blather on about in future.

  2. Totally agree with your #1 choice. Just some random computer geek kicking so much ass deserves credit. She is also rather attractive.

    I always liked the girl from The Living Daylights but I imagine that was in a large part due to my age at the time.
  3. *applause*

    Brave choices. I too agree on the #1.
  4. I do hope you have the Bond Girl playing cards set!

    Now you've got me wanting to check if they've followed your golden eyed rules.

    Any excuse to look at them again, eh.

  5. I would have put Vesper at Number One (or at least top three) but there you are.
  6. Very good list and nice commentary too

    This reminds me that one day i need to get round to buying the complete Bond box set and sit down and watch them all.

    I guess it's partly down to those were the ones i saw when i was growing up but i've always had a soft-spot for 90s Bond - i think Tomorrow Never Dies is amazing
  7. I got really worked up about Sifr 's list and wanted to write an amazing counter argument, but I'm simply too lazy and inarticulate to do so.

    However I will throw my opinion in on this in an abridged version;

    Xenia Onatopp, Pam Bouvier, Holly Goodhead and Anya Amasova are the best Bond Girls. Villian or not, a Bond Girl is a female who features prominently in the film, and Xenia does do that. The fact she is evil and nuts is beside the point.

    Jinx, "Dr" Christmas Jones and Mary Goodnight are all awful. Mainly because the actresses can't act for shit, their characters are completely rubbish and when on screen just irritate the fuck out of me.
  8. I agree with a lot of what you said. Especially about Izabella Scorupco! She is simply amazing in Goldeneye. This is kinda biased by the fact that it was the first new Bond that I had seen and loved. But I think that Barbara Bach just pinches it for me. Just because she is fabulous in my favourite movie.
  9. Christmas Jones was capable, yes, but I don't think it makes her a good character, not even close. She could make the heads of enemies explode with her mind alone and use fragments of their evil minds to cure cancer somehow, all while wielding a rocket launcher with its own tits, would it actually make her any less shit? Okay, it probably would, bad example. I'll let you off with your #1, in any case.

    I don't know, Rosa Klebb...?
  10. Diana Rigg was always my favourite but I guess I'm just a sentimental sod. With love seeping over from The Avengers. Can't really disagree with your #1, though, and I'm glad someone sticks up for Denise Richards, who I thought was actually rather good in The World is Not Enough.

    I look forward to more of these... I'm not a huge Bond fan hence my lack of interesting things to say.
  11. "A View to a Kill" makes for troubling decisions as to what is and isn't a Bond girl, as Roger Moore goes out with a bang - he shags four different birds. In terms of characterisation, Grace Jones has a very cool character. The bird he ends with is the insipid Tanya, who's all right but a very bland character doing the minimum required to advance the plot.
  12. Very good list - on my own personal list Eva Green would probably be higher - I remember being completely transfixed by her for the entire movie, her being nothing like the expected bond-girl.

    Although a large part of the love is directed at Green, not Vesper - I've adored her since The Dreamers.
  13. I would have put Vesper at Number 1...if you throw away her tiny betrayal, she's the perfect woman.

    Ok, soooooo maybe I just love Casino Royale.
  14. The first time I watched Casino Royale it was dubbed in Russian with Chinese subtitles. I quite enjoyed it. Not bad at all for 15p actually.
    I watched it in English about a month later and it wasn't as good.
  15. I've never seen Die Another Day, but I agree that Denise Richards was fucking dreadful. Not quite as bad as Gemma Arterton in Quantum Of Solace though - that performance should have been sponsored by MFI. Thank God they killed her off after five minutes - it was all I could do not to stand up and cheer.
  16. But..but.. Mike.. I love Gemma Arterton. Is she really that bad?
  17. I thought Gemma Arterton was just fine - it was a small, fun role, in many ways the biggest throwback to the rest of the films since the reboot.
  18. She's ok, she's not really in it enough to critique her.
  19. Tribal Spaceman

    Tribal Spaceman Oh, OK.

    Nice countdown sifr!
    Lara Croft was originally going to be a Bond girl - that might have been interesting.
    Christmas Jones was partially based on her once the deal fell through.

    I wonder when they'll go back to making proper Bond movies again?
  20. Excellent thread! My view on the best Bond girls is coloured by which ones I fancied most. Barbara Bach was always "on top" due to her looks and sassy character in Spy. And that came out in my peak childhood era. Britt Eckland was uber-annoying but her part was so meanly-planned. She keeps getting bundled into cupboards and is always grateful for it rather than smacking James in the chops. Kim Basinger in Never Say Never Again was equally drippy.
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