The Mrs Jim - she is a definite article - whilst scampering through her diurnal litany of my frailties and whims, put it to me yesterday that the depiction of women in Bond films is “awful”. Assuming this not to mean “full of awe” but instead possessing a vibe of the casually negative, I was - and you’ll be proud of me for daring - immediately seized of the witty riposte “No it’s not, you horrid old ratbag”.
On reflection, I fell right into that trap but, succumbing to such gay repartee, The Mrs Jim parried with “What about that one where he smacks that woman about and threatens to break her arm?”
Unaware of when Mrs Jim may have bravely subjected herself to The Man with the Golden Gun on the sly, the lissome scamp, I did pause and maintained my dignified position i.e. huffed off in a sulk and took it out on next door’s cat (insufficiently wounded).
However (and there is a point to this piffle) it did set me thinking whether the depiction of women in the Guy Hamilton films especially has a rich vein of the really-not-quite-great about it, and perhaps that does sow the popular thought-seed that the Bonds are a bit, well, off.
Woman in nightclub - there to dance about a bit and then get beaten up. Lovely.
Dink - is Dink. Self-defining. Man-talk. Etc.
Jill Masterton - slightly loose, used and abused and then deaded (I accept this is basically from the novel but then the novel is awful)
Moneypenny - yearning and disrespectful of male authority. Fated to stay exactly where she is as a result.
Machine-gun Granny - a violent old maggot. Possibly the most richly nuanced female character thus far, however.
Tilly Masterton - there to be a victim. Not quite as offensive as the novel, admittedly. But still bullied by Bond and generally tormented.
Her on the 'plane, the stewardess - cabin crew. S’about it.
Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus - capable pilots, no doubt - one questions why they have to be dressed so.
Pussy Galore - sexually dominated into changing a broad selection of her ways. Super.
Diamonds are Forever
Marie - strangled and horrifically abused. Little purpose other than to be bikini-bound and then throttled.
Mrs Whistler - greedy patronising racist idiot, although still capable of breathing even when long-drowned, which is a skill-set I s’pose.
Moneypenny - callous hagbag who bangs on about engagement despite events of previous film. Also, ever-so-slightly desperate. (Not unique to the Hamilton films, I accept).
Tiffany Case - all over the place, total mess, but possibly (a generous reading) doing what she needs to do to survive. Quite why this involves becoming a shrieking idiot is unclear.
Plenty O’Toole - a greedy idiot who winds up dead. I suppose that may be a moral warning to us all. Or just more of the same.
Ape woman in circus - an ape woman in a circus.
Bambi & Thumper - powerful women suppressed by having their heads pushed underwater. If you can’t beat 'em, beat 'em.
Blofeld in drag - a bleak pastiche of femininty. Or something. Not touching that one.
Live and Let Die
Miss Caruso - a bit of fluff and nothing more.
Moneypenny - has become slightly matronly by now. Possibly a more positive representation.
Rosie Carver - a simpleton.
Solitaire - Oh Lord, where to begin? Bond does a virgin, she gets slapped about and then needs perpetual rescuing without offering very much for the last half of the film.
Mrs Bell - a foul-mouthed old biddy but up there with Machine-gun Granny as possessing rock-hard character development.
The Man with the Golden Gun
Andrea Anders - a victim, an interesting story in here somewhere but in wholly the wrong film given how pathetic the rest of it is. Abused by everyone. Ev-er-y-one.
Moneypenny - deliberately made to look and sound nasty, one suspects. Circumstantial, I accept, but the track record above isn’t good.
Whassface the belly dancer - a belly dancer.
Mrs Lazar - does not understand Big White Man Saying Words Very Slowly and Loudly. Accordingly, rice-gobbling thicky.
Goodnight - a desperate cretin who does all the wrong things in a charmless manner. Also there to be repeatedly abused although this time “played for laughs”. Christ…
Karate Girls in School Uniforms - there’s something not quite healthy about that, especially the suggestion in Goodnight’s (not entirely enviable) mind that they’re “going along with” Bond. Worrying.
Chew Mee - might as well be called “F***'s Sake”.
Mrs Pepper - shrill, thick and fat. Little to distinguish her from Mr Pepper. Subtext of equality since Man and his Wo-Man are interchangeable here, so that’s possibly progress.
Some of the above is more serious than others but as a body of work, it’s not overwhelmingly positive, is it? Lewis Gilbert’s films each had the women as capable secret service agents, the John Glen ones usually had some redeeming features (fnarr), something that gave them a bit of hope and character etc. I just get the feeling there is a vibe running through the Hamiltons that teeters on… indolent misogyny?
Just feel a little uneasy (always do when having to face up to The Mrs Jim being right about something), although that might be the “cup of tea” she has just presented unto me. Should it smell of almonds?
(I accept that the three later films may equally have Mankiewicz spread all over them as well).