Dame Judi Dench said it best when she chastised Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye for being a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur”. But isn’t that part of his charm?
Skyfall beauty Berenice Marlohe may insist that her role as the enigmatic Severine isn’t “a Bond girl” but rather a “unique character”. But isn’t she just repeating the same old mantra peddled by countless Bond birds before her? Indeed, James may not be the most PC spy on the secret agent block. Truly, though, would the audience want him any other way?
Let’s look back at some of James’ most questionable moments.
“Man talk” (Goldfinger)
“Run along now,” Sean Connery tells Dink the masseuse when Felix Leiter turns up with some news. “Man talk!” And with that he sends her on her way with a slap on her rear. “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman,” Sean would later claim.
“My dear girl…” (Goldfinger)
Have you got a girlfriend who won’t leave you alone when you’re on the phone? Well, why not do what Sean Connery does: place a hand on her face and shove her on to the bed. She won’t be mad, provided you then regale her with a soliloquy on Dom Perignon ’53.
Tracy: “You’re hurting me.”
Bond: “I thought that was the idea for tonight.”
– On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
“Like a blowtorch through butter” (Goldfinger)
Being menaced with a pistol doesn’t stop Connery giving Pussy Galore a condescending lecture on the perils of shooting fire-arms in pressurised compartments. “You know a lot more about planes than guns,” he declares airily. “That’s a Smith and Wesson .45.” Like she was thinking it was a hairbrush.
“I’ve been admiring your form” (Thunderball)
The 1960s Bond was such a patronising git he could not pay a lady a compliment without denigrating her gender in virtually the same breath. “Most girls just paddle around,” Sean Connery’s 007 tells Claudine Auger’s Domino following their first underwater encounter. “You swim like a man.” High praise indeed.
Honey Ryder: “Looking for shells?”
Bond: “No. I’m just looking.”
– Dr. No (1962)
“The things I do for England” (You Only Live Twice)
“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” a bound Sean Connery tells Helga Brandt as she threatens to take a scalpel to his mug. In no time at all though, his hands are free and he’s using that scalpel to slice through Helga’s dress straps.
“Women drivers” (The Spy Who Loved Me)
The van Roger Moore is in might be under attack by Jaws, yet he still finds time to mock Barbara Bach’s motoring. “Would you like me to drive?” 007 says, having sneered at her ignition skills (“Try the big one!”) and stick-shift technique (“Can you play any other tune?”).
Bond: “What can I bring you back from Holland?”
Moneypenny: “A diamond… in a ring.”
Bond: “Would you settle for a tulip?”
Moneypenny: (calls after him) “Yes!”
– Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
“Do you come with the suite?” (Moonraker)
Newly arrived in Brazil, Roger Moore gets over his jetlag by spending some quality time with vodka martini-making beauty Manuela (Emily Bolton). “How do you kill five hours in Rio if you don’t samba?” he asks the lissome lovely, pulling at the belt that lies around her impossibly narrow waist.
“Close but no cigar” (The World Is Not Enough)
Instead of bringing Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) chocolates or an engagement ring back from his trip to Bilbao, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond gives her a cigar inside a distinctly phallic metal tube. “I know exactly where to put that,” M’s loyal secretary smirks suggestively, only to toss it immediately in the nearest waste basket.
Tanya: “I think my mouth is too big!”
Bond: “It’s just the right size… for me that is.”
– From Russia With Love (1963)
“You’re Miss Stephanie Broadchest” (Casino Royale)
Sexist quips don’t exactly trip off the tongue of Daniel Craig’s Bond, but he can still rise to the occasion when the occasion demands. Witness the saucy alias he assigns to Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), or their subsequent risqué banter about what he can achieve with only his little finger.