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Honor Blackman & the future of ‘Bond Girls’

Written by Culture, Film

Legendary actress Honor Blackman sadly passed away last Monday (April 6). Blackman had appeared in the TV series The Avengers and played Hera in the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, but arguably her biggest role came in the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger, where alongside Sean Connery’s Bond, she played “Bond girl” Pussy Galore.

Goldfinger is often regarded as one of the better Bond films, and it was the first Bond film to win an Oscar. Honor Blackman excels in the role of Pussy Galore, the eponymous villain’s personal pilot.

Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). Image:IMDB

Whilst Blackman played a “classic Bond girl”, recent times have seen a shift in the role of the ‘Bond girl’. The ‘Bond girl’ was typically the attractive titular woman in the film, who usually acted at Bond’s love interest or at the very least, a companion. The role of the ‘Bond girl’ varied in each novel/film, they could be someone Bond loved, who would either die in the film or manage to survive the end right to the end, or they would be a villain, of whom Bond would try to seduce.

In the case of Goldfinger, Blackman’s Pussy Galore ticked the last category, she was working for the eponymous villain and is seduced by Bond. She then secretly turns against her boss and delivers information to Bond in an effort to defeat Goldfinger.

Despite the apparent range of roles a Bond girl can have, older Bond films have still seen Bond as the heroic male at the helm of the film, with a woman suddenly falling under his spell. This misogynistic approach has come under scrutiny recently, with Daniel Craig’s Bond girls starting to shift away from the traditional format.

Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-wrote No Time To Die. Image:IMDB

In fact, in Casino Royale (2006), Craig’s first outing as Bond, the roles are slightly reversed. Bond becomes infatuated with Vesper Green, and leaves MI6 to be with her, but later finds out that she is a double agent and works for the organisation Quantum, which sets up the next film, Quantum of Solace (2008). Furthermore, although she may not be a stereotypical ‘Bond girl’, the great Judi Dench as the fearless ‘M’ also shows how the role of women in these films has changed from its predecessors. M is the top dog in MI6 and isn’t afraid of telling Bond about his faults. In Goldeneye (1995) with Timothy Dalton’s Bond, she describes him as a “sexist, misogynistic dinosaur”. A quip that is only fair really.

Although there’s still the traditional arc of Bond as the male hero with a girl by his side, the Craig Bonds don’t see the girl being as drippy as previous ‘Bond girls’ have been, usually they’re quite headstrong. The role of women in Bond promises to change again with British actress and writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, stating that women in the films be “protected”. Since the last Bond film, Spectre, the “Me Too” movement has flourished, and one of the big questions asked of the next film No Time To Die – currently set for a November 2020 release) – is whether or not Bond can move with the times. Whenever it is released after the Covid-19 pandemic, it will surely be interesting to see whether the role of the ‘Bond girl’ has been well and truly flipped on its head.

Below you can see Blackman as the Greek Godess Hera in the seminal Hollywood epic Jason & The Argonauts (1963).

Last modified: 9th April 2020

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