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With 50 years and, with “Skyfall” hitting wide release in the States tomorrow, 23 films under his belt, James Bond possibly has more screen time to his credit than any other character in film history. Sure, 007 has treated us to plenty of memorable catchphrases and set-pieces over those many hours, but not every one was a winner. There have been some pretty strange moments over the decades – here are 10 things you won’t believe actually happened in a Bond film.
Bond vs. the Beatles – Goldfinger (1964)
James Bond’s musical taste is so classy it’s almost anachronistic – the only thing he ever listens to in the series is pretty much classical, with the occasional smooth jazz thrown in for serious love-making sessions. But, hard as it is to imagine Bond inhabiting the same universe as the Fab Four, the super-agent did apparently at one point try out some of that new-fangled rock’n’roll stuff all the kids are listening to. Here’s his conclusion:
Bond in yellow-face – You Only Live Twice (1967)
Cloud Atlas has been taking flak in some corners for the race-bending makeup jobs meant to make white actors like Jim Sturgess and James D’Arcy appear Asian. But no matter your feelings on that issue, I think we can all agree that this is way more racist:
That’s from about midway in the film, when Bond is “disguised” as a Japanese man to avoid SPECTRE assassins. Apparently to turn Sean Connery into an Asian man, you just need to give him a Charles Bronson wig and…bushier eyebrows?
Bond has gotten married…twice – You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
A lot of series enthusiasts will happily shatter your image of Bond the playboy by telling you about the time he got married to Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (she promptly got killed and Bond forgot about her by the next film). But many people forget that Bond also tied the knot in his previous film. Right after his yellow-face transformation, Bond gets married in a traditional Japanese ceremony to undercover agent Kissy Suzuki. Sure, it’s all staged as part of Bond’s cover, but it’s a damn convincing fake, to the point that one wonders if a quickee divorce wasn’t necessary after the whole thing was over.
Bond wears a kilt – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
In the original books, Bond’s family history wasn’t fleshed out until Ian Fleming’s penultimate novel – at which point the film version of Dr. No had already come out and Sean Connery’s depiction of 007 almost certainly influenced Fleming to give Bond Scottish ancestry. Surprisingly it wasn’t Connery, but Australian actor George Lazenby who fully embraced the Clan Bond on screen, when he paraded around a party in tartan. We know it’s technically accurate to the character’s background, but good lord is it silly to see Bond out of a tuxedo.
Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd – Diamonds are Forever (1971)
Lest you think that Connery’s yellow-face was an isolated incident of bigotry in an otherwise-unmarred series, we present Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, a pair of gay assassins from Sir Sean’s last outing. The couple feed into a lot of harsh stereotypes, including Mr. Wint’s preening and some hints at sado-masochism that are terribly jarring and uncomfortable today.
Bond goes to Harlem – Live and Let Die (1973)
James Bond is pretty much one of the whitest people who ever existed, so the series’ attempt to cash in on the 70s blaxploitation movement by sending Bond to New York was predictably bizarre. 007 strolling around jazz clubs and battling cocaine peddlers felt teleported in from a completely different series.
J.W. Pepper – Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
A horribly mistaken attempt to play the series’ bigotry for laughs, Sheriff J.W. Pepper is a Southern lawman who crosses Bond’s path during a motorboat chase in Louisiana. This outspoken caricature of a man wasn’t funny the first time, but for some inexplicable reason he was brought back in the next film, turning up for no reason in Thailand. Sadly, whenever J.W. Pepper shows up, Bond turns into a Dukes of Hazzard-wannabe:
Margaret Thatcher drops by – For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Daniel Craig’s appearance with the Queen at the London Olympics wasn’t the first time that Bond has had a brush with a real-life figure. At the end of Roger Moore’s fifth film, the super-spy receives a congratulatory call from then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (played by an actress, of course). Once again the object is some terrifically unfunny comic relief, so it’s probably a good thing that Bond usually keeps out of politics:
Bond makes quiche – A View to a Kill (1985)
Moore’s last film might also be his campiest (which is saying something), and the pinnacle is probably when Bond, hoping to seduce yet another sexy scientist, bakes her a quiche. We know that Bond can do everything, but really? Quiche?
Bond helps the Taliban – The Living Daylights (1987)
Timothy Dalton’s first stab at the series featured Bond going up against an unscrupulous arms dealer with plans to profit off of both sides in the Soviet-Afghan War. At the film’s climax, Bond needs to attack a Soviet air force base, getting some help from the local rebels to do so. Yes, James Bond teams up with Mujahideen, the same warrior clans who would soon after turn into the Taliban. History hasn’t been terribly kind to that decision.