Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

eBm: Best in Bond Villainy by Era Part 1

all_bond

I’m like most longtime admirers of Bond, James Bond. I’ve my favorites. The venerable series has held a unique fascination of the movie buying public for over five decades now. We’re all pulling for the fictional British Secret Service agent, one licenced to kill. First created by novelist Ian Fleming in 1953 and brought to the big screen in ’62. But like any great character in thrillers, you must have a worthy antagonist to make it work.

Usually, there are exceptions, the better the villain, or henchman (er…henchwoman…oh damn it all… the heavy) the more entertaining the Bond film.

A couple years ago, I briefly touched on this with the best in villainy segment in a compilation piece on the various aspects of the longstanding movies series. Clearly, when each new actor takes the reins with this unique character, it’s a whole new era for OO7. So, purely as another arcane exercise in what I’ve come to call excessive Bond minutiae (eBm™, for short), I’ll pick such for each epoch. From Connery to Craig.

Obviously, I have nothing better to do before Thanksgiving arrives and the turkey is carved. I will be going out-of-order, too, at least at the start. So, beginning with the Bonds with the fewest, and on to the most, I’ll bracket each villain and most of their sidekicks (the important ones) for that specific slate of films. Naturally, there are spoilers to be revealed. No way around it. This then your only warning, or as Bond would say:

Lazenby’s Lone

on her majesty's secret service

Bond Ranking: #6
Films: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Villain: Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Henchwoman: Ilse Steppat as Irma Bunt

Blofeld1

Might as well get the brief George Lazenby era over and done with. Not my favorite Bond characterization by a long stretch, but I still consider it the best story of the series. True but foredoomed love will do that. Even redone to an extent with 2006’s Casino Royale, but we’ll get there soon enough. Telly’s mark as Blofeld not bad, he’s always been a solid rogue when called upon. However, his predecessors were more urbane in their murderous schemes. So his more thuggish interpretation stood out. Not always in a good way, though.

IrmaBunt

latest

Now Ilse Steppat on the other hand did far better as Blofeld’s henchwoman, Irma Bunt. Going against type compared with most of her sisterhoods this early in the Bond series, the older woman was not the beauty fans had come to expect. However, like From Russia With Love’s Rosa Klebb, she’s far deadlier. In fact, I’d say she accomplished the most surprising twist of the entire series, and got away with it.1 Believe me, the women of OHMSS is what makes the film.

Dalton’s Duo

Bond Ranking: #3
FilmsThe Living Daylights (1987), Licence to Kill (1989)
Villains: Joe Don Baker as Brad Whitaker, Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez.
Henchmen: Andreas Wisniewski as Necros, Benicio del Toro as Dario

robert davi

Timothy Dalton, who unfortunately was treated rather unfairly in his underrated and too short stint as OO7, was somewhat shortchanged with rival bad guys, as well. Like Bond’s more politically correct bent during this run, not his fault. Hard to believe Joe Don Baker could deliver one of the lesser villains of the series (he’s more convincing as CIA officer Jack Wade in his successor’s debut), but it’s true2. Easily the more charismatically wicked was Robert Davi as the powerful Latin America drug lord in Licence to Kill.

Necros

latest UnknownShould be said the bad guys in Licence to Kill all had pretty gruesome comeuppance.

Still, The Living Daylights had a few things going for it. Besides Dalton, Whitaker’s (and secondary bad guy General Koskov’s) righthand man Necros topped this category. Andreas Wisniewski had that distinctly 80s European way about him in killing off those who got in the way. He’d go on to be John McLane’s first offed henchmen in Die Hard a year later, too. As entertaining as he was tall, he’s just plain better than Benicio del Toro, who hadn’t got his overacting approach quite down at this point in his young career.


To be continued…


  1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was Steppat’s last role: she died on 22 December 1969, four days after the film premiered.[6] ~ Wikipedia. 
  2. Steadfast Timothy Dalton fan Ruth agrees with me.  
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12 Responses to “eBm: Best in Bond Villainy by Era Part 1”

  1. cindybruchman

    I notice on TV they are playing all of James Bond films. Rob is having a Bond blogathon this upcoming week–I’m doing a review of ‘Thunderball’ and you have Bond on the mind, too. Must be a cosmic calling to discuss Bond films 😉
    As far as your post, I’ll be looking forward to reading all about Bond. The Timothy Dalton 2x stints leave me luke-warm. Sean Connery will always be James Bond to me but feel free to change my mind 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Oh, yeah. I, too, look forward to Rob’s blogathon. Especially now that you’ll be turning in a Thunderball review. Should be a lot of fun. We’re on the same level when it comes to the best Bond of them all — Sean Connery. I was similar to Tim Dalton’s when first exposed to him, but have warmed up considerably since. Many thanks, Cindy. 🙂

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  2. jackdeth72

    I’ll go with ‘From Russia With Love’. Robert Shaw’s “Red” Grant. And Rosa Klebb .

    Can’t do much better than Robert Davi as a bad guy in ‘License To Kill’.

    While ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ and its Blofeld was more of a thug with delusions of grandeur than a full blown, proper villain. A tailored role for Telly Savalas!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      They are indeed wonderful, Kevin. My part 3 will give them a lot of credit for making Goldfinger and From Russia With Love my top two of all-time. Thanks so much for another fine comment to the subject at hand. 🙂

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  3. stevenhartwriter

    Red Grant and Goldfinger stick in my mind as the only two villains allowed to outdo Bond in verbal sparring. “I may take red wine with fish,” Grant snarls during their big dukeout on the train, “but you’re the one who’s on his knees.” Goldfinger, of course, has the immortal line — “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” — but he gets in lots of smaller snaps. One of the things I find most appealing about Goldfinger is what a fuckup Bond is: he gets the sisters killed, he lets that mirror confuse him during the car chase through Goldfinger’s factory, and he unwittingly lets Goldfinger use him as a prop to keep the federales at bay in Kentucky. Just as the dirty nuke is about to explode, the bomb expert steps in to stop the device, then gives Bond a withering get-outta-my-face-youngster look.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Good point. Bond does get verbally lashed more often in Goldfinger and From Russia With Love than other. Yeah, Bond messes up grandly in Goldfinger. I, too, love that withering look by the bomb tech, even outshining the ‘007’ readout on the stopped timer. Thanks very much, Steven. 🙂

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  4. ruth

    Thanks for the link Michael! Hey it’s always a good time to talk about Bond 😉

    Oh I LOVE Robert Davi as Sanchez! He more than makes up for the asinine Joe Don Baker in Living Daylights. He’s the kind of cool but ruthless menace every Bond film should have, but he’s also got that charming elegance that makes him a perfect foe for Dalton’s Bond. I quite like Andreas Wisniewski’s Necros too, that’s true he’s VERY 80s, like he’s in a British band or something. He’s one of the most memorable henchmen in Bond movies I think, and definitely the most lethal movie milk man 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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