Top 5 James Bond Movie Villains

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Photo Credit: You Only Live Twice: ©1962-2002 Danjaq,LLC and United Artists Corporation.

By Lori Acken, ReMIND Magazine
What would Ian Fleming’s MI6 agent James Bond be without those memorable baddies to battle? Just a dapper guy with a tux, great gadgets, cool cars and Judi Dench’s M to keep him in line. Though 007 dodged dangers dealt by more than 100 sketchy souls throughout 26 films (and counting!), some have proved much more memorable than others. With a roster that long and colorful — and a fandom that spans generations and the globe — how folks prefer their Bond nemeses is as unique as the villains themselves. Maybe you’re partial to a creepy-cool physical abnormality (you with your robot hands, Dr. No) or an ultra-extravagant lair (your mountaintop manse and volcano, Blofeld). Or maybe you’re more about quality mano a mano with Bond — or a stylish means to a kill. Since we relish all of it, these are our picks for Bond villain infamy.

Auric Goldfinger
Goldfinger (1964)
Where do we start with the evildoer whose very name means “containing gold”? How about the fun fact that Orson Welles demanded too large a paycheck to play the golfing, gold-smuggling menace, so German actor Gert Frobe stepped in (and, even though he knew just two phrases of English, completely owned the role). Or the part where the guy loves his gold so much that he decides to irradiate — but not destroy — the contents of Fort Knox with an atomic bomb to make his own glittering stockpile worth even more (a swerve from the Goldfinger novel). Throw in a host of other inventive kill tactics (toxic gas here, a lethal laser there and, of course, being smothered with gold), a henchman who could claim his own spot as a top Bond villain in the bowler-throwing Oddjob, and the most famous line in all of Bond-dom (“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”) and we have ourselves a portly, dastardly bad guy bar none.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld
From Russia With Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Never Say Never Again (1983) and Spectre (2015)
A baddie so brilliant he was played by six different actors (Christoph Waltz, Charles Gray, Max von Sydow, Anthony Dawson, Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas) and sent up in Mike Myers’ Austin Powers film franchise, the SPECTRE chief is inarguably Bond’s chief nemesis — dispatching most of Bond’s other tormentors to take him down, and sometimes dispatching them completely if the mission failed. Blofeld’s ability to change his appearance and his temperament made the role a cinematic playground for a variety of actors to leave their mark on the Bond franchise, which some — Pleasence, Savalas and Gray in particular — did to great effect.

Scaramanga
The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
Fleming’s cousin by marriage, Christopher Lee really wanted to play Dr. No, but got no for an answer — which ultimately worked out well. The titular “man with the golden gun” proved a perfect fit for the horror movie vet, who embodied the high-priced assassin in a way that thrilled the book series purists. Planning to rule the world by harnessing the power of the sun (the U.S. oil and energy crisis was in full swing at the time) and encamped at a futuristic island lair purchased with his a-mil-a-kill asking price, Scaramanga had it all for Bond fans — a great gimmick, cool digs, a major challenge for Bond, and an equally scary henchman in the pint-sized terror Nick Nack, played with relish by a pre-Fantasy Island Hervé Villechaize.

Le Chiffre
Casino Royale (2006)
Though Casino Royale was Fleming’s very first Bond novel — making Le Chiffre the very first Bond villain — it took until 2006 for the blood-weeping, poker-playing tormentor to appear on the big screen in the form of Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. Chilly, scary and heartless — his uniquely savage torture tactic is one of the Bond series’ most memorable — “The Cypher” made for the perfect villain to usher in the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. And though we tend to prefer our Bond baddies with grand plans for world domination and an equally jaw-dropping lair, that fearsome eye and his place as Fleming’s first — along with the part where no real Bond-flick fan feels good about lounging in a wicker chair — earn the greedy, dirty banker his spot on our list.

Rosa Klebb
From Russia With Love (1963)
Ya gotta love a gal with career goals — even if said career is nefarious business. The head of operations for SMERSH (a blend of two Russian words meaning “death to spies”) in Bond creator Ian Fleming’s novels, Lotte Lenya’s Klebb defected to the even more treacherous SPECTRE (that one’s “Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion”) in From Russia With Love. Klebb’s plot to steal the Lektor decoder that both SMERSH and MI6 covet was only undone when Bond bedded her comely corporal Tatiana, who takes out her boss before Klebb can fell 007 with poison-and-blade-spiked shoes. Leave it to a fatal femme to sport some literally killer shoes — and had Bond himself actually taken out the scariest dame in the Bond film catalog, we would have moved her further up the list.

What About Jaws?
Even folks who don’t watch Bond films recognize Richard Kiel’s towering, steel-chompered bad guy, who was such a hit in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me that producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli brought him back for Moonraker a few years later. Though Jaws easily outshone his boss Karl Stromberg and had a seriously entertaining knack for survival, we’re docking villain points (but tipping our hat, just the same) to the fact that Jaws found love, redemption — and his voice! — by the end of Moonraker. Well, here’s to your heart, Jaws. But we liked you better bad.

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