The Bond Girls who gave 007 a run for his money

AS the James Bond franchise matures, the “Bond Girls” who accompany him have – sometimes – been more than token love interests, writes Alison Campsie

Daniel Craig and Monica Belluci, the oldest actress to play a 'Bond Girl'. Picture: PA

Bond Girls have been as essential to the success of the 007 franchise as the secret agent himself. Glamorous, athletic and confident, there’s no doubt that Bond had a type.

But not all of his love interests could be secured with ease. Bond may usually get his woman in the end - but some have had their own business to attend to first.

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KGB agent Major Anya Amasova, played by American actress Barbara Bach, was among them.

In 1997 film The Spy Who Loved Me, Major Amasova vows to kill Bond to avenge the death of her boyfriend.

Bond had met his match, possibly for the first time in the franchse. Though they begin the film as rivals, the two end up working on the same assignment to solve a series of submarine thefts.

The major tells Bond she has never failed on any mission; she tells him that one of them will end up “gravely disappointed” because Bond holds the same record.

Viewers see Major Amasova at work, tracking a missing microfilm through Egypt before presenting it to her boss, outwitting Bond along the way in a display of Cold War rivalry.

Her grit coupled with her undoubted beauty has credited Major Anya Amasova as being, in my opinion, the best Bond girl many times over.

But, in the end, the irresistible charm of Bond is enough to topple even the steeliest KGB agent. Though 007 is responsible for her boyfriend’s death, she isn’t put off.

Octupussy also presented a woman completely in charge of her own destiny - a first, at least.

Portrayed by Swedish actress Maud Adams – who also starred in The Man With The Golden Gun – the eponymous villain ran a global jewel-smuggling operation from her floating palace which, to Roger Moore’s eyebrow-raised delight, was only populated by women.

There, the women spent long periods of time relaxing and floating on lily pads until Octopussy formulated her next mission. She was also the ringleader of an all-female circus, training the women to attack wealthy targets with stealth.

Despite her empire, she too was swept away by 007 and sailed off into the sunset with Roger Moore. She did however, help him kill their adversaries first.

It wasn’t until 2006 that Bond did not quite get what he wanted.

In Casino Royale, viewers see French actress Eva Green emerge as Vesper Lynd - a new kind of match for the Commander. Her character is said to have been more closely drawn from Ian Fleming’s original (the films often seen to dilute the author’s true intentions for his female characters).

Dispatched by HM Treasury to monitor his spending, Vesper is portrayed as a powerful and witty professional.

She is the woman to draw 007 out of his shell, save his life and make him fall truly in love. That doesn’t happen very often to Bond, who is on the verge of leaving the service for Vesper, and a vulnerability is exposed.

As Vesper tells him “I am afraid I’m a complicated woman,” Bond can only reply: “that is something to be afraid of”.

Recent films have not always been kind to Bond Girls, though. When Séverine is shot in the head in Skyfall, Bond simply remarks it was a waste of good Scotch when the glass she is balancing falls and smashes.

Moreover, actress Tonia Sotiropoulou is only marked in the credits as “Bond’s Lover” and has no speaking part.

In Spectre, Sam Mendes has rebranded Bond Girls as Bond Women and cast Italian actress Monica Bellucci as 007’s love interest. At the age of 51, she is four years older than Daniel Craig.

It may signal a shift change in the franchise’s portrayal of women, but one thing remains the same. Bond is a lonely soul addicted to beautiful women. Those drawn into his world may only truly change when he does.