There are many things we love about the Bond movies – the action, the gadgets, the moustache-twirling villains and their insane lust for power…
But 007 has rarely been accused of metrosexuality. He is, to quote M, “a dinosaur”. And while we cherish the films for capturing a moment in history, there are several times when, in retrospect, the filmmakers’ choices – thematically and through their hero’s behaviour – have been a little suspect. Sometimes much more than a little.
Here are 10 of the worst, in no particular order…
Bond becomes Japanese in ‘You Only Live Twice’
Going undercover in the Far East is always a tricky proposition if you are a six-foot-plus Scotsman, but Sean Connery “Oriental-ing” is one of the most embarrassing moments in the franchise’s history.
And he doesn’t even look Asian, he just wears a worse toupee.
Homophobic treatment of villains in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’
Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are amongst the most beloved Bond henchmen ever, thanks to their off-kilter performances and idiosyncratic kills. Not so surprising when you consider that Wint is portrayed by the father of Crispin Glover, aka the awesomely weird actor who played George McFly in ‘Back To The Future’.
The pair are also implied to be gay. Which is fine in and of itself, dare we say progressive, if it wasn’t for the uneasy sense in which the filmmakers treat the pair. It’s almost as if being gay is the reason why they’re sadistic assassins. The result is icky.
Bond hitting his love interest in ‘From Russia With Love’
Sean Connery has publicly admitted that he thinks it’s okay for a man to hit a woman if circumstances require it (and not because they’re trying to kill you or anything).
Which is lucky, because as Bond, he does it a bunch of times.
Like when he slaps Tatiana (Daniela Bianchi), a cipher clerk being used as a pawn by SPECTRE in 007’s 1963 second outing. Watching now, it’s a shocking and unpleasant moment, even if some commentators argue it’s applicable to the time the movie was shot and the character.
That may be fine in theory, but it’s still something a gentleman would and should never do.
007 whacking a woman for no reason Part 2 in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’
But then Bond clearly isn’t a gentleman, because poor old Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) feels the back of his hand in ‘Diamonds’ just because she – a petty gem smuggler – says he sounds like a cop.
Again, apologists argue it’s 007 in undercover character, but her genuinely frightened reaction makes you realise how wrong it is.
James also throttles Pussy Galore in ‘Goldfinger’ and turns her straight
Of course, Bond’s most notably misogynistic move is in the 1964 classic.
He fights and hurts Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) – but the filmmakers make it worse by a) making it seem like she kind of likes it and b) then having her fall for him when she’s clearly supposed to be a lesbian.
In the book, her homosexuality was explicit, in the film it’s much more wishy-washy, though it’s alluded to when she initially says she’s “immune” to James’s charms. Nevertheless, she complies soon after. Frankly, it’s the least savoury part of what is otherwise a brilliant piece of cinema.
Bond takes advantage of a sex-trafficked woman in ‘Skyfall’
During their exchange in 2012’s ‘Skyfall’, Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) tells James she was abducted from her home as a young teenager – essentially a child – to become a prostitute and Bond recognises the tattoo on her wrist as her belonging to the Macau sex trade.
Yet after a brief flirtatious conversation and despite him seeming to show concern, he then shags her in a shower and essentially forgets about her (okay, so he doesn’t shoot at her when asked, but does deliver one of his more unedifying quips after her demise).
Casual racism about New Orleans in ‘Live And Let Die’
Released during the Blaxploitation era, Roger Moore’s first go as Bond is clearly trying to capitalise on the trend, only with a complete lack of guile and white middle-class approach.
Not only does it stereotype Louisiana and the fictional Haiti-like island of San Monique as a place packed full of nefarious voodoo and jazzy funeral processions, but the film tackles it in a patronisingly jokey fashion.
Supporters would argue the movie features the first black Bond girl, but she turns out to be a duplicitous double agent secretly working for Mr. Big, which kind of defeats the point.
Objectifying women in the sexy credits
In many ways, the opening titles of a Bond movie are magnificent – whether it was initial designer Maurice Binder’s work or latterly Daniel Kleinman. They’re innovative, languid, iconic and definitely influential.
But take a moment to think: oodles of naked women draping themselves around guns, doing nude roly-polys for no reason? Sure, it sums up the affluence and old-school nature of 007’s world, but politically correct? Don’t think so.
Indian racism in ‘Octopussy’
A subtle take on race relations has never been at the heart of the franchise (see above), but what makes 1983’s ‘Octopussy’ particularly suspect is the way it approaches the Indian customs which a wink-wink jocularity, which let’s face it is Roger Moore’s modus operandi.
In the same way that almost every Hollywood film about London features a shot of Big Ben and a character called Nigel (just how many Nigels do American think live in Britain?), ‘Octopussy’ is full of reductive Indian stereotypes, from a snake charmer to Moore’s line, “That should keep you in curry.”
Sloppy and casually racist.
Master-servant embarrassment in ‘Dr. No’
The relationship between Bond and his local Caribbean contact Quarrel (John Kitzmiller) is good for the most part. Until, that is, 007 asks his friend to fetch his shoes.
Released in 1962, the same year as Jamaica’s independence from the UK, the moment has a seedy undertone watched all these decades later, of British master and his black servant. Not cool, especially since Quarrel is awesome.
Photos: United Artists/EON/MGM/Moviestore/Rex_Shutterstock/Everett/Snap