100 out of 104 ain’t bad

Today, esquire.com is where the typos lead us. If you haven’t seen the site and are only going on a fifty-year-old image of the magazine, don’t sneer or scoff, thinking it’s for ascot-wearing preppies or suave, sophisticated ladies’ man wannabes. They have some very lucid, clear-thinking minds, they touch on all subjects deep and dilatory, and their writing is top-notch.

In this particular article, All 104 James Bond villains, ranked, we spied at least four mistakes, though we’ll only list three here. First off, the description of Franz Sanchez, as played by Robert Davi in Licence to Kill (British spelling). There’s an apostrophe missing in the last sentence.

esquire.com screenshot: bond villain sanchez

Another unforced error popped up in the writer’s take on Necros, the Walkman-wearing, earphone cord-strangling strongman/milkman also from a Timothy Dalton Bond entry, The Living Daylights, an underrated Bond movie, in our opinion. The balloon in the second line falls a little flat. Dalton would require something a bit firmer to crush in seething rage.

esquire.com screenshot: Bond villain Necros

Last and definitely anti-climactically, the second-to-last sentence in this intro of the whole list must have had too many toos for someone to deal with.

esquire.com screenshot: Bond villain intro

We really do tip our hat to this writer, who nailed 104 heavies’ strong and weak points with enviable writing in every respect, where we might have gotten 20 or 30 worthy of the same praise on a comparable deadline. We did have issues with a couple of profanities that made it into the piece (just our choice not to do that).

As for the ranking itself, we do think there were some baddies who were good enough to have a place on the list but got cast aside like, uh, minor Bond villains, so we’ll attempt to give them their due in a sentence or two, in order of franchise appearance. Not that we’re Bond geeks or anything, either. We like to cast a wide net on the news sources and stories we see, and this was a recent one.

First, from the first installment, Dr. No, set in Jamaica. Of course she had no name in the film version, but we think the beautiful photographer who first tried to shoot Bond at the airport and later tussled with boatsman Quarrel, deserves mention because the actress, Marguerite LeWars, was discovered actually working at the same airport in Kingston, and was in fact the reigning Miss Jamaica, and, if memory serves, was the real-life sister of another Jamaican appearing in the movie (can’t remember who).

From Goldfinger, Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman, whom the British public must have considered a shoe-in for a Bond role, would seem a ringer for this ranking. She was a rare villainess who switched sides and survived. Based on screen time and dialog alone, we’d say she belongs and was a mental lapse on the part of the list-makers. At least give her Honorable mention, guys.

Next, four bad guys appearing in You Only Live Twice, in which 007 swims up onto the shores of Japan. First and most frivolously, a thug we’ll call Spat Guy, as Bond, after chasing and dispatching him, grabs his spats, hat, and coat and disguises himself, groaning in pain from the fight, to bum a ride to the assassins’ lair. Spat Guy had stealthily stabbed Bond’s contact in the back through a paper screen. Of course he’s as minor as it gets, but those spats and their mysterious raison d’etre (to make Bond more identifiable to the driver?) have always stood out for us.

Next, the driver himself, whom we shall dub Sofa Sumo Guy. The ensuing brawl inside the baddies’ HQ was a memorable duel that tried to embody something of the location (that movie was never going to get made without Bond grappling with some sort of sumo figure), not to mention the most creative use of a couch to date in Bond World.

Not to be outdone, perhaps the most glaring omission here, Mr. Osato, whose office the sofa sumo match trashed, and whose other office furniture included a desk that was an x-ray device. Maybe he was one of the “boring” baddies (ag(e)ism, anyone? Villains need diversity, too), but considering his position in SPECTRE’s hierarchy, and how long he lasted in the story, avoiding being the piranhas’ lunch for instance, it’s a surprising snub.

And the fourth YOLT adversary (are we deep enough into this to go using a one-off movie title abbreviation like that? Yes, we are) deserving elevation: The goon played by the late Bert Kwouk, who gained fame and adoration as Kato (Cato), Inspector Clouseau’s manically dedicated martial art pseudo-nemesis in the Pink Panther series. Kwouk, who received an OBE in 2011, appeared in three Bond films.

Lastly, notable for his line after throwing Lana Wood (who did much of the stunt herself) out of a Las Vegas hotel window several floors down into a swimming pool in Diamonds Are Forever, the nameless mobster hood who said after Bond complimented his aim, “I didn’t know dere was a pool down dere.”


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