The Horror Movie Magazine You Can
Really Sink Your Teeth Into
Issue #6

They Only Wanted to Rule the World: A Celebration of Cinematic Villainy, Part VI  

M. Christian

“Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor...except crime!”

Of all the cinematic genres, the one that most celebrates the allure of the villain—their intelligence, imagination, malevolence, pro-activity, and style—has to be the James Bond series. The 1962 production of Dr. No (produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, directed by Terence Young, written by Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood) from Ian Fleming’s novel set the stage for the 23 (and climbing) subsequent films: exotic locals, devious devices, incredible stunts, a debonair hero, and a diabolical villain. In many ways, the films have established the markers of the first-rate “villain,” infusing other genres’ villains with their imagery, attitude, determination, and even fashion sense. A white Persian cat and an eye patch automatically transforms an otherwise blasé character into another Ernst Stavro Blofeld or Emilio Largo, wringing his hands as he prepares to carve up the globe.

Bond villains are among the most memorable elements of the series. Aficionados, experts in what clothes were worn, who sang the opening song, or how often Bond uses his Walther PPK, never have to resort to reference to fondly recall the villains on the receiving end of the 007’s license to kill. All of them, from Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman) to Victor ‘Renard’ Zokas (Robert Carlyle), seize the screen as they try to seize the world. After all, Bond is a tuxedoed Superman, remaining immaculate despite defending himself against hoards of ninjas, assassins, thugs, hired guns, and femme fatales. His adversaries have to be incredible and flamboyant to merit Bond’s attention; otherwise they are in danger of being dismissed with as much effort and annoyance as head cold.

Even though they lose, how close they come to achieving their goals is a tribute to their audacity and their genius. Bond villains have done everything from stealing nuclear bombs to trying to trigger earthquakes, from threatening biological warfare to satellite-based laser weapons. Bond villains don’t just sit around and wait, they act. Agreed, their goal is to profit from tremendous destruction, but at least they are in motion, not just waiting for the phone to ring. They are figures of authority, people with incredible resources and imagination. The cliché springs instantly to mind: twisted, but brilliant. The antagonist snaps his fingers, and dozens upon dozens of fashionably outfitted killers descend on our unfortunate Mr. Bond from every corner of an outré-designed fortress. When he’s captured—ah, but never killed—our British hero is always restrained in some manner, threatened with his impending, and always gruesome, demise. Bond always escapes, but not without having had an opportunity to at least pause and admire the inventiveness of the scheme. And if Blofeld, Goldfinger, Scaramanga, Zorin, or Rosa Klebb had just done that one thing differently, hadn’t missed that tiny little detail, they would have, indeed, ruled the world.

Looking at Bond villains through the ages, it becomes apparent that they fun house reflect the fears of the time, even beyond their usual diabolical affectations. In times where the fear of nuclear war seemed as possible as winter rains, Bond villains sought to accelerate its coming. When the economy was on a downturn, it was attacked even more by some criminal genius in his foreign stronghold. Drugs became a social ill, and so an evil plotter embraced heroin. Despite their transparency as grotesque manifestations of social issues, Bond villains remain potent and in some ways attractive features of the genre, even though, of course, they are defeated, the world is saved, our fears put to rest, by a man in a tux, as fast with a quip as a karate chop. Bond is absolute machismo—handsome, charming, sexual (and always heterosexual), potent (in both sex and violence), intelligent enough for his tasks (but never truly intellectual), and utterly indestructible. His adversaries, however, are complete polar opposites. They are cruel, ugly, supremely intellectual, physically weak (or prove themselves to be having been after being defeated in battle), or threatening of what We (at the time) Hold Dear.

Among Bond fans, there can be little doubt as to the “true” Bond. The debate is for the spot of second-best, 008 so to speak. Sean Connery remains Bond, James Bond, to all but a small minority. Starting with Dr. No, and concluding (with a side-step for the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s George Lazenby) with Diamonds Are Forever (and the unfortunate Never Say Never Again, in 1983) Connery cemented the role, perhaps for all time. It’s easy to see the attraction: Connery: is handsome without being ‘pretty’ (such as with Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan), tough without looking like an ape in a tux, and manages to transmit a fairly complex range of emotion through what could have been a ridiculously confining role. After all, Bond is all but invulnerable, escaping each and every picture 100% intact, physically and—most importantly—emotionally (with the exception of the death of his wife, Tracy Draco (Diana Rigg) in the already mentioned On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).

Because of the virility of Bond, there is another quality that emerges in most of his adversaries, rather flamboyantly in two films that are often sited as the best of them all. In these, the sexual power of Bond is matched by: a) a complete lack of sexual interest, and b) by rather obvious homosexuality. The villains in these two films attack Bond not only with weapons, but also with their sexuality: a libido either completely sublimated beneath a powerful, sterile fetish or one the equal of Bond’s ravenous appetite but towards a member of the same sex. The Bond films not only save the Free World, but also the sexual mores of the men in the audience who lust after the famous Bond Girls and the women who lust after Bond himself.

Two of the most spectacular examples of this homosexual panic on-screen also happened to be have been produced during the full swing of the Sexual Revolution: a time when gender roles were blurring, when sexual minorities were first finding their voices and proclaiming their existence from all kinds of closets. It’s ironic that in these PC times, Bond would no doubt be written battling prejudice and hate, when in the early films of the series he was stylishly executing adversaries who—in addition to their unfortunate career choices—just might happen to find him as sexy as any Bond girl.

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Besides the best Bond, there is another debate among Bond devotees: the one over the best Bond film. The most frequent answer also includes, in my opinion, one of the two best villains. There are many points to consider in assigning 1964’s Goldfinger the number one (or 001) spot: Guy Hamilton’s direction, a great screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn (based, of course, on the novel by Ian Fleming), Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman as producers, Ken Adam’s wonderful design work, a stirring opening song by Shirley Bassey and an excellent cast, topped by Connery. But the character of Auric Goldfinger (played by Gert Frobe, though voiced by Michael Collins) lifts the production from memorable to legendary.

There are many reasons to point at Goldfinger as a superb villain, especially for Bond: he is intelligent, determined, devious, resourceful, and murderously inventive. Yet it’s in the combination of these factors-plus an ingenious twist to his methodology and psychology-that makes him one of the best adversaries in the series. We first meet Auric Goldfinger cheating at cards in Miami by having a paid associate, Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), use a paid of powerful binoculars on his opponent’s hand. Told to keep an eye on Goldfinger by his MI5 bosses through his friend Felix Leiter (Cec Linder), Bond not only forces him to loose or risk being turned over to the Miami Beach Police, but also steals Jill from him. Goldfinger, however, is not one to take such humiliation lightly and exacts a particularly photogenic, though hardly realistic, way of executing poor Jill for her treachery: she’s painted to death, dying through “skin suffocation.” The image of the girl, dead, laying on her stomach, gold and shimmering as music crashes is particularly haunting-a perfect symbol for the film, and Auric Goldfinger: a man who obsessed with gold. As Goldfinger waxes later in the film about his favorite metal: “All my life I’ve been in love with its color, it’s brilliance, it’s divine heaviness. I welcome any enterprise which will increase my stock—which is considerable.”

Goldfinger, however, is not a drooling fetishist. There is strength about him, a determination that fills his plans, plots, and even carriage with menace. He might consider gold more precious than life—especially other people’s—but that doesn’t mean that he becomes lost in lust for the material. Only once does this seem to occur, at the start of a golf game, the first time Goldfinger and Bond meet “socially.” Instructed to find out how Goldfinger has been smuggling gold, Bond is given a £5,000 bar of it as bait—which he bets against Goldfinger in their game. The golf scene is memorable for many things, including how it becomes an excellent cat and mouse between Goldfinger and Bond as well as the few times that the solid Goldfinger seems to lose is ever-present cool. Responding to Goldfinger’s challenge as to what “game” Bond is playing—Goldfinger, recognizing him from Miami—Bond offers the bar, dropping it dramatically at Goldfinger’s feet as the villain attempts to putt. At the sight of the shimmering, “divine” heaviness, Goldfinger misses the easy stroke: his lust for the metal obviously betraying his immense control for wink of an eye, or the swing of a golf club. It’s also worth mentioning that Goldfinger cheats once again, just as he did in Miami. As the late Jill told Bond: “He likes to win.” Not only does it reinforce Goldfinger’s controlling nature, but also further stacks the deck against him in the eyes of the audience: only an truly evil villain, the film seems to say, would not only cheat at cards, but also at (shudder) golf.

Despite being furious at loosing despite his efforts to the contrary, Goldfinger makes good his wager. He also warns Bond that he will have him executed if their paths should cross again, supplying a demonstration by Goldfinger’s massive, and mute, Korean bodyguard, Oddjob (Harold Sakata) who neatly decapitates one of the club’s oriental statues by flinging his steel-edged hat. The scene could easily be comedic-the ludicrousness of a flying hat versus simply putting a bullet between Bond’s eyes-yet the scene manages to work, more than anything because of the ‘reality’ of the film. The world these characters inhabit barely makes contact with our own: heroes don’t bleed; an Aston Martin DB5 is fitted with an ejector seat, women die from being painted gold. Within this violent dream, a massive Korean gentleman throwing his hat as a weapon is just another fantastic element, right along with the beautiful sets, and the incredible stunts.

Following Goldfinger to his Swiss metallurgical installation, Bond encounters Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet), the late Jill’s sister, trying to kill Goldfinger for murdering Jill. Her plan, though, goes awry, her passion exceeding her skill as an assassin. Her efforts result in her death and Bond’s capture, following a spectacular chase through the installation and Bond’s all-time classic device: the tricked-out Aston Martin DB5. [On a side note, it’s ironic that the Aston Martin should be so fondly remembered by most Bond fans since it’s very quickly dispatched—by all things the simple use of a mirror at the end of a dark alleyway. Q, no doubt, was heartbroken.]

The next scene is one of the defining moments for Goldfinger. Awakening spread-eagled on a slab of the precious metal, Bond is told that he’s about to die, vivisected by one of the scientific wonders of the early 1960s, a laser beam. Disarmed in every way, he’s told by Goldfinger that not only does the villain know that he’s a 007 agent, but that he has no fear of MI5 reprisal. Bond acts brave: “You expect me to talk?” Goldfinger, however, has no interest in anything Bond has to say. “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” Panicking (and that’s the word for it), Bond tries everything he can, but Goldfinger could care less. It’s only after Bond plays his last card, two words he overheard while spying on the complex: “Operation Grandslam”—two words that Goldfinger ironically is correct in saying “—can have no meaning to you or anyone in your organization.” It’s only after one of his Chinese associates is alarmed by the slip that Goldfinger reluctantly decides it might be better to keep 007 alive—for the time being. Seeing Bond terrified is, in itself, terrifying: here is a man who does not show fear, who faces down assassins of every type, jumps from planes without a parachute, and calmly cuts a bomb’s blue wire—but there he is, actually frightened. Goldfinger proves himself to be a memorable villain many times in the film, but that scene alone—showing no fear of Bond or interest in anything he has to say-is a defining moment for both the character and the film. Goldfinger might be obsessed, but he’s as cold as the priceless metal he adores.

Taking up again with Bond, waking after being sot with a tranquilizer gun, 007 is en route to Goldfinger’s ranch in Kentucky on board his private jet—piloted by (no laughs now) Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). Ironically, Blackman gave up her role in the wonderful Avengers TV series to play Pussy—and sadly all-but vanished pretty much from films or TV after. Blackman’s character is clearly a lesbian, though that is never expressly stated. It is to be inferred, if anything from the line “Turn off the charm, I’m immune” when Bond attempts to flirt. Pussy’s role in the film is clear: she is a paper tiger. For an audience of primarily heterosexual men, having a strong, powerful woman who has no interest in them whatsoever is a powerful sexual threat. In Pussy, here’s a big, mean, lesbian right up there on the screen right along with one of their most potent virility figures—her sexual defeat, and even betrayal against her “immunity” is just a matter of time with Bond on the scene.

Goldfinger’s sexuality is asserted from the onset. Who but a sterile, possibly impotent man would surround himself by the lesbian Pussy and her all-female flying circus? Goldfinger is hardly queer—his association with Oddjob obviously more servant and master than lover. There is, however, the other interpretation, very clearly spelled out when Bond first meets Jill Masterson and he questions her about her and Goldfinger’s relationship: “He pays me,” she says, “and for being seen with him.” Seeking to clarify where his adversary stands on the sexual battlefield, Bond asks for clarification: “Just seen?” An indignant Jill shoots back, “Just seen.”

It would be easy to simply make Goldfinger’s “Grandslam” the theft of gold from Fort Knox. Goldfinger demonstrates his plan to various mob groups who have helped him smuggle his equipment into the United States. The scene, full of great sets and fantastic visual acrobatics, is capped by one of the best lines ever uttered by a cinema villain. Filled with pride, Goldfinger says: ““Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor... except crime!” Despite his coldness, his brutality, his cheating at cards and gold, it’s still hard to keep from standing up and applauding.

The speech helps reinforce the idea of the theft of the gold, but is deceptive. After escaping from his cell and confronting Goldfinger, Bond notes that the plan is impossible: it would take too much time, effort, energy and equipment for Goldfinger to pull it off. It is then that the trap is sprung on Bond as well as the audience. “Who said anything about removing it?” He plans not to remove the gold, but to explode a small but “particularly dirty atomic device” in Fort Knox, making the US gold supply next to worthless through radioactivity, thereby increasing the value of Goldfinger’s stock. The twist is elegant: the man fascinated with gold does not want more, but to make what he already has more precious.

A couple scenes that simply needn’t exist, serving no purpose put to demonstrate a few original deaths, are the only serious flaws in the film. Though he has no reason to, Goldfinger gasses his mob contacts after needlessly going through the effort of explaining his plan to them. The one dissenter is then killed by a simple shot to the chest and is pointlessly crushed with his car in a compactor. Still, the fantasy world holds pretty much together, and it’s only after looking at the film many times that the scenes become clumsy and unnecessary. But, as with Oddjob’s hat, the scenes serve to stack fantasy on top of spectacular fantasy.

The conclusion of the film is as amazing as it’s beginning. Operation Grandslam swings into operation. Pussy, however, turns herself over to the good guys: rather than spraying lethal nerve gas, she and her Flying Circus only pretend, and informed government forces fake their deaths as the planes fly over. In the vault, Bond is handcuffed to the “device.” Goldfinger, saying goodbye, moves to leave. The outcome, as in all Bond films, is predictable, but Goldfinger has an elegant card up his golden sleeve. As the good guys attack, he realizes the tables have turned and removes his uniform, revealing a US Army one underneath. Even with everything in his favor, he has still thought ahead, providing a neat way out, just in case.

The bomb, of course, does not explode. The final count down is stopped at 007, and the world is saved. Goldfinger escapes to threaten Bond in the film’s closing minutes, only to be sucked out of an aircraft at 30,000 feet as foreshadowed by Pussy and Bond, Bond’s conquest of the lesbian being instrumental in Goldfinger’s demise. Goldfinger’s is defeated by good-ole’ heroic heterosexuality. Bond’s passion and seductive prowess prove to be Goldfinger’s downfall.

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While not frequently listed as one of the best Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is still a wonderful depiction of Bond versus a spectacular adversary. Connery is back, after a brief hiatus during which Lazenby stepped in to fill the role. The firm, in fact, starts where On Her Majesty’s Secret Service left off: Tracy Draco has been killed and Bond is pursuing her killer, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played in Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Telly Savalas, but now by the—in my opinion—better Charles Gray). The opening sets the stage for one of this Blofeld’s more unique attributes: that he hides himself among several ‘doubles’, volunteers who have undergone plastic surgery and special, electronic voice modification. The device is ingenious, adding a level of complexity to the character and the film. After all, despite the death of multiple ‘Blofelds’ (two complete copies and one partial) who can say that any of them were the ‘real’ article? It’s ironic that despite this elegant device, Blofeld does not return in any subsequent Bond films, and not because of his death but because of legal action. Blofeld and his organization, SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) were the creations of Fleming associate Kevin McClory and couldn’t be used after legal action by McClory (although a Blofeld look-alike was killed in an embarrassingly poor scene at the start of For Your Eyes Only in 1981).

Gray is a wonderful villain, although he’s not the first to play Blofeld. Blofeld first appeared in From Russia With Love (1963) and returned in Thunderball (1965) as a faceless menace with a white Persian cat. He’s seen as a full person in the form of Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice (1967). While Pleasence’s performance is good, he doesn’t do much beside sit in a chair and order Bond killed...several times. Gray is much more adroit as Blofeld: a clever, resourceful, intelligent adversary who elegantly manages to keep Bond on his toes at every turn. He’s also stylish: in addition to his trademark cat, he also spends the film with a long cigarette holder-an affect that more than one analyst has pondered as a phallic symbol, especially in light of his use of Kidd and Wint and (later in the picture) Bambi and Thumper. Diamonds Are Forever is rife with pseudo-sexual imagery, all of it directed at Bond with all the force and accuracy of a sniper’s bullet. Despite a very gay cadre of operatives and a cigarette that could very well be more than a cigarette, Blofeld is not depicted as unquestionably homosexual, as evidenced by his ogling of Miss Case’s posterior towards the closing of the film. Rather than muddying his possible homosexual menace, this appreciation for a pair of “cheeks” only reinforces his threat towards Bond and his audience: Blofeld doesn’t just play for the other side, meaning gay, but seems to be able to be an unexpected source of competition for the damsel in distress. On many fronts, Blofeld is not just the threatening opposite of Bond, but rather is as charming, humorous, and lethal as 007.

Like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever deals initially with smuggling, in this case diamonds rather than gold. Bond is being called in to investigate how gems are being slipped out of South Africa. But before Bond can get on the case, we’re introduced to two of the most obviously homosexual characters ever to appear in a James Bond film: Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover), who appear to murder anyone connected with smuggling operation, starting with a South African dentist (Henry Rowland). As opposed to characters like Pussy Galore, there can be no doubt that Kidd and Wint are gay: after killing the dentist (with a scorpion, no less) they walk off into the sunset...holding hands. From the onset, a less-than-subtle battle is fought in the film, between the rampant heterosexuality of Bond and the obviously gay sexuality of the villains. Bond even goes so far as to use the label “Tart” which, in retrospect, isn’t as bad an epithet as it could be, but is still alarming, especially in light of today’s more open climate. The audience is given what they wanted: villains who are clearly marked as villains, as much by their homosexuality as by their criminal actions. The villains of Diamonds Are Forever aren’t just out for world domination, but also to make the straight men in the audience uncomfortable.

If that scene weren’t enough, there are many instances that try to make Kidd and Wint as repellant to the audience as possible. Even their appearance-the bloated Kidd and the greasy, balding Wint-seems designed to push aside any affection for the characters (no insult intended to the actors who played them). Rather than the eye-patched, scarred assassins that usually populate the series, Kidd and Wint are soft and almost child-like: like psychotic schoolyard bullies rather than trained killers. Like Pussy, they exist to firmly place the film’s villain in the “other” camp, but unlike Pussy their defeat ends in death rather than conversion.

Bond appears in Amsterdam posing as Peter Franks, another link in the diamond smuggling chain (Kidd and Wint have, by this time, disposed little-old Mrs. Whistler, played by Margaret Lacey) and makes contact with Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). The banter between Tiffany and Bond is priceless, especially as Case is depicted as a no-nonsense ‘broad’ of the old school who doesn’t immediately fall onto her back the instant Bond, James Bond smiles at her. The Amsterdam segment concludes in a violent and interesting manner with Bond discovering that the real Peter Franks (Joe Robinson) has escaped from MI5. Ambushing Franks as the real smuggler tries to get to Tiffany, Bond finally kills him after a spectacular close-quarter elevator fight, and then neatly leaves his own ID tag on the body. Naturally Tiffany assumes that Franks had killed Bond and not the other way around. It’s interesting to note, though, that Tiffany knows the name ‘James Bond,’ but not the man. One wonders about the efficiency of the villains’ network if they know the name but not the face of the man that’s wiped out so many of their members and ruined so many of their plans.

In Las Vegas, the film becomes pure Americana. Caught up in the liquidation of the diamond smugglers, Bond (still impersonating Franks) is just about burned alive in a crematorium when he’s saved, only because he’s traded the gems for fakes. Out to spend the counterfeit money he was paid (“You wouldn’t burn up fifty thousand real dollars would you?” he says to the mortuary director), he encounters, in quick succession, Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) and Tiffany (again). One of the best lines comes when Bond returns to his suite with Plenty in tow, only to have the gangsters chuck her neatly out the window...and into a conveniently placed pool. Looking out the window, Bond remarks “Exceptionally fine shot” to which the goon replies: “I didn’t know there was a pool down there.”

Hooked up with Tiffany again, Bond manages to convince her that she, too, is on the assassination list, and that Bond can keep her alive and possibly even out of jail. They find Plenty dead a day later—a case of mistaken identity, as Kidd and Wint thought she was Tiffany. With her help, Bond tracks the diamonds to a high tech laboratory owned by the very rich and very reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean). [Real reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes did allow filming in his buildings and casinos for this film.] After a excellent scene were Bond impersonates a lowly tech named Klaus Hergerscheimer (Ed Bishop) to try and learn why the diamonds are so important, he’s spotted and has to make a spectacular escape, first by moon buggy, then ATV, and finally by car, through downtown Vegas with the cops following close behind.

Despite the fact that his pal Felix Leiter (this time played by Norman Burton, continuing the tradition that the character is—mostly—played by a different actor in each film) refuses to move against Willard Whyte, Bond decides to investigate, climbing the outside of Whyte’s hotel to reach the penthouse. There he’s quite shocked to find out that the man behind the whole operation is someone we, the audience, has already seen killed: Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In fact, Bond is confronted by two Blofelds (reinforcing the fact that there are many Blofelds, while only one of them is the real villain). The odds on killing the real Blofeld rise considerably when Bond kills one of the copies, but as a Persian cat with a diamond collar proves, he picked “the wrong pussy.”

In true Bond villain style, Blofeld doesn’t kill Bond, instead trusting him to Kidd and Wint, who try to kill 007 by having him entombed in an underground pipeline. Escaping (as we knew he would) Bond uses the same electronic trick Blofeld used to make himself sound like one of his Blofeld’s cronies to trick him into revealing where the real Whyte is being kept. There Bond meets two more rather ‘gay’ assassins, Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks). Despite giving Bond a good beating, they are defeated when they get in the water with him (as any Bond fan knows that Bond was a Commander in the Royal Navy, and so water is second nature to him). While Bambi and Thumper are never overtly shown to be lesbians, the inference is still quite clear—they never hesitate in their beating of Bond, and in fact seem to take great pleasure in trying to hurt him as much as possible, even kneeing him in the balls. This lack of any conventional femininity combined with their ferocity could easily been seen as indicative of “dyke” behavior, at least for 1971. Also important is the fact that Bond has to torture them in a particularly humiliating fashion to get any information out of them. Had they any percentage of heterosexuality in them, the film seems to suggest, Bond would have just needed to smile to get what he needed.

In the next scene, an unusual side to Blofeld is shown as Tiffany, now working for the Good Guys, spots something very odd in the casino. Investigating, she finds a rather homely woman with a white Persian cat, in other words Ernst Stavro Blofeld in drag! If there was any doubt as to Blofeld’s threat not only on a global scale but also on a personal, sexual one, it’s put to quick rest by this scene. With no doubt many ways to escape from the casino, which better for a Bond villain to escape than in women’s clothing. Not only is Blofeld depicted as a coward, but also a perverse figure that would stoop to dresses and lipstick to avoid Bond.

Soon after, the film’s threat to the world is revealed: Blofeld, having escaped with Tiffany in tow, has managed to launch a satellite packed with the smuggled diamonds, turning it into a monster orbiting laser, which he plans to auction off among the world’s superpowers, the winner being awarded nuclear supremacy.

In a slick piece of plotting, Blofeld’s base is discovered purely by accident: Bond, frustrated at not having a clue where his nemesis could be operating from, is rattling off Whyte owned and controlled businesses when he mentions Baja California—then Whyte comments that he doesn’t have anything there, so it must have been set up by Blofeld. Had Ernst kept his ego in check and not decorated his global conquest map with his own secret base, his plan could have succeeded, a lesson that he and other Bond villains have failed to learn over the course of the movie series.

The film concludes in predicable fashion with Bond’s infiltration of Blofeld’s oil-platform base and a subsequent attack by the Good Guys. Throughout the scene, Blofeld is the perfect villain: intelligent, gloating, snide (“The satellite is now over...Kansas. Well, if we blow up Kansas the world may not hear about it for years”) and resourceful. Blofeld’s laser-expert accomplice is Professor Doctor Metz (Joseph Furst) a “committed idealist” who Blofeld has neatly conned into thinking that his plan was designed to bring about world peace. Metz, while a brilliant scientist, is depicted as a foolish coward, who doesn’t recognize Blofeld for what he is. Again, scientists are depicted either as gullible fools, or too power-mad to be trusted.

During the climax, Blofeld also struts his lust for Miss Case, admiring her form in a bikini. Later though, when he spies the satellite control tape hidden in her bikini bottom, he remarks, “We’re showing a bit more cheek than usual” and “What a pity, they were such nice cheeks, too. If only they were brains.”

As the Good Guys are closing in and Bond has (once again) escaped his clutches, Blofeld proves himself to be a smart, worthy adversary. Rousing his troops to battle, he slyly prepares his escape in a tiny “bathosub.” Alas, the man on the end of the launching crane is naturally 007, who subsequently uses Blofeld and his submarine to batter the control building to pieces.

While it’s assumed that Blofeld perished in the explosion of the platform, we never have any evidence of this, leaving the possibility that he managed to escape (proved, but largely ignored by Bond fans, in For Your Eyes Only)—or, as is more likely, that the Blofeld on the platform was never the ‘real’ one at all.

Though Blofeld is supposedly killed, Kidd and Wint, posing as waiters, while 007 and Miss Case sail off on a well-deserved vacation, threaten Bond during the film’s final credits. Two factors help Bond discover the true nature of these two assassins. First, Bond is an expert on food and wine, as well as executing evildoers, and spots their ruse immediately. The other factor reinforces the production’s obvious homophobia: having never really met Kidd and Wint, Bond’s tipped off by Kidd’s ‘effeminate’ aftershave lotion, some of it having been accidentally spilled onto Bond during his internment in the pipe. Recognizing the “Tart’s” smell, Bond neatly executes the two men, Wint by flambé and Kidd by jerking his hands roughly between his legs and then flipping him over the side with a bomb tied to the tails of his waiter’s coat.

Despite the disturbing homophobia in both Diamonds Are Forever and Goldfinger, the two films still remain stylish depictions of not only James Bond, but also of two major villains and their various cohorts. Looking at them today, it’s hardly difficult to see both Goldfinger and Blofeld as physical manifestations of the fears of a certain period in time. By defeating them, Bond not only saves his fantasy world of Vodka martinis, shaken not stirred, but also the sexual mores of the audience. Had these two fascinating villains succeeded in their plans, who knows how the world could have turned out? Would the sexuality of Pussy, Kidd and Wint have become commonplace—even acceptable? Would the US dollar sunk to an all-time low? Would weapons of mass destruction orbit high above our heads, to be used at the whim of a madman? Time has seen many of these fears materialize, and while it’s debatable whether the dollar has suffered as much as it would have been if Goldfinger had triggered his atomic device, or if we do have terrifying weapons in orbit over our heads, the world has grown to recognize that while Pussy, Kidd and Wint—as well as the asexual Goldfinger and the perverse Blofeld—may have been dangerous, it’s not their sexuality that makes them villains.

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M. Christian is the author of over 100 short stories, editor of seven anthologies, columnist and, in general, a really busy guy. His first collection of short stories, Dirty Words, is out now from Alyson Books—with a second volume, Speaking Parts, coming out next year (also from Alyson Books). For more information, check out his website.

Copyright © 2002 by the author. All rights reserved.