TOP 10: Bond Girls

May 6, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak & Karissa Klosss

This week the podcast tackled the Best James Bond Film. While doing our research, we realized that a critical component of a successful Bond movie is a great Bond Girl (or two). By Bond Girl — a term that could be considered dismissive, if these collected women didn’t kick so much ass — we mean one of the female leads of the films, good or bad.

Below find Great Pop Culture Debate panelists’ Eric Rezsnyak and Karissa Kloss’s Top 10 women of James Bond, as well as one Worst Of pick apiece. Did we forget your favorite Bond Girl? Tell us about them in the comments!


Best James Bond Film

Best “Doctor Who” Companion

Best Super Hero Film

Best Film of 1999

Worst Bond Girl (Eric Pick): Bibi (For Your Eyes Only)

It is astonishing that anyone ever thought this character was a good idea, but the 80s were a hell of a drug. Played by Lynn-Holly Johnson, Bibi is a teenage figure-skating prodigy who, upon meeting Bond — played by Roger Moore, then in his 60s! — immediately throws herself at him. Repeatedly. Shamelessly. It’s literally teenaged nymphomania, from a totally male point of view, and it is pure cringe. Additionally, Bibi is useless to the plot and just plain annoying.

Worst Bond Girl (Karissa Pick): Dr. Christmas Jones (The World Is Not Enough)

Five words: Denise Richards playing nuclear scientist. Actually, three more: Dr. Christmas Jones. A name written solely for that groaner of a last line.

10. Solitaire (Live and Let Die)

Solitaire makes our list for the sheer novelty of the character. She has psychic powers! Prognostication! Some kind of telepathy! That is, until James Bond takes her virginity, and she is suddenly powerless. Absolutely WILD! The problematic choices continue to her costuming, which brought in elements of Caribbean spirituality and Indian aesthetics that, truly, you could never get away with today. But a psychic Bond Girl is kind of brilliant.

9. Paloma (No Time to Die)

Ana de Armas’ stunning Cuban secret agent would be higher on our list if she had more to do in her movie. Paloma is sharp, a sharp shooter, and absolutely stunning. From the few brief scenes we get with her, she’s skilled at spycraft and combat, and her effervescent attitude made her an instant fan favorite. Hopefully we see Paloma again in the future. Oodles of potential, just needs to be developed more.

8. Jinx (Die Another Day)

The best thing about a terrible movie. Producers knew that DAD would be the last turn for Brosnan’s Bond, and there would be a few years before they could reboot with a new actor and approach. So they approached Oscar winner Halle Berry about using this film as a backdoor pilot for her own U.S.-based super spy, Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson. A spinoff flick was announced, but ultimately cancelled due to — according to Berry — the studio being unwilling to invest in a black-female-led action film. It’s a bummer, because Jinx had promise.

7. May Day (A View to a Kill)

Grace Jones’ May Day also stands out as one of the few Bond Girls to have extraordinary abilities — in this case, super strength and enhanced speed due to nebulous genetic treatments. May Day is absolutely crazy, lethal, and effective as a lead henchman. She’s a great “bad” Bond Girl, but that last-minute heel turn when she helps Bond after being ditched by her boss/lover is a real bummer.

6. Pam Bouvier (Licence to Kill)

Carey Lowell’s Pam is an unassuming Bond Girl, for arguably the most grounded of Bond films. More tomboyish than many of 007’s conquests, Pam is smart and capable — in many ways she reminds me of Pussy Galore. Pam holds her own in numerous gun-fight sequences, and in the last third of the film has her own sideplot involving a hilarious encounter with Wayne Newton.

Top 10 Lists

5. Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)

Michelle Yeoh’s Chinese super spy is probably the most physically capable Bond Girl. Giving Tomorrow Never Dies a heaping helping of the Jackie Chan-esque fight sequences that were wildly popular at the time, Wai Lin can do undercover work, she has access to all kinds of weapons and gadgets (what is the Chinese character equivalent for “Q”?), and she kicks a shocking amount of ass. We subtract points for her not really having much of a character. There’s a way to do both kick-ass and character filled — I would argue they did it with No Time To Die‘s Paloma — but Wai Lin’s fighting chops can’t fully compensate for an almost total lack of characterization.

4. Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)

She’s a pilot, entrepreneur, AND capitalist! Pussy Galore, played by the similarly astonishingly named Honor Blackman, is among the most memorable of the Early Bond Girls. She is herself a pilot, and owns and operates her Flying Circus of all-female daredevil pilots. That is badass! She was totally on board with Goldfinger’s diabolical plan to irradiate the United States’ gold supply — until Bond essentially shags a conscience into her. Her name is the obvious inspiration for multiple other campy Bond Girls, but also Alotta Fagina, her analogue in the Austin Powers movies.

3. Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)

Brilliant, seductive, tragic. Eva Green gave us this modern twist on the Bond Girl, one who is still beautiful — although more classically so than many of her predecessors — but also able to hold her own. Vesper is both a great “good” Bond girl, staking Bond as he continues in the high-stakes poker game to take out Le Chiffre, but also ultimately gives us a great “bad” Bond girl as her role in the heist is revealed. Then she gives us one of the best examples of the “tragic” Bond girl as she comes to terms with her death in that spectacular sinking palazzo sequence. Vesper’s ghost loomed large over the entirety of Craig’s run, and it’s easy to understand why.

2. Tracy Draco (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

How significant was Tracy as a Bond Girl? She’s the only one he ever wifed up with. Tracy has a genuinely satisfying arc in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starting out as a kind of Taming of the Shrew counterpart to Bond, and then softening — arguably a little too quickly — toward Bond, before becoming a legit partner for him in some of the movie’s best action sequences, including a road rally and some intense ski chases. Her last-minute (literally) death motivates the Bond/Dalton Bonds the same way Vesper motivates Craig’s.

1. Xenia Onatop (Goldeneye)

I LOVE HER SO MUCH. The Brosnan movies were a pivotal moment for the Bond franchise, with the producers heightening just about every successful element of the movies — the larger-than-life action set pieces, the clever spycraft — in turn leading the franchise to even bigger box-office results. That includes their Bond girls, as Xenia Onatop unleashed Famke Janssen onto the world as a crimson-haired killing machine who prefers to dispatch her pray by squeezing them to death with her thighs. Life goals! In addition to Famke devouring the campy role with relish, Xenia is also notable in that she stays a bad guy throughout the film. Most of other “bad” Bond girls had a heel-turn moment, but Xenia is ready to kill from the start.

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