8. Goldfinger: A 'Roll' In The Hay
Goldfinger is the best Bond movie, but its narrative hinges on one of the most awkward plot twists in movie history. Halfway into the film, JB is aboard a plane, being transported to Goldfinger's Kentucky stud farm. Perhaps because he's just been threatened with an industrial laser, then shot in the side with a tranquiliser gun, the pilot is keen to make her passenger feel as comfortable as possible. The first thing she does is introduce herself. Her name? Pussy Galore. Honor Blackman's iconic character was very nearly renamed by the producers (presumably for fear of upsetting the millions of real life Pussy Galores all over the world), and it was only when a press report on a royal visit to the set mentioned the name that they decided to leave it intact. What's more surprising is that the character's lesbianism remains, albeit in muted form. Her rejoinder to 007- "You can turn off the charm- I'm immune"- is ambiguous enough to fly under the gaydar of a mainstream audience, but would've made sense to fans of the novel (where she leads an all-lesbian gang of bank robbers known as the Cement Mixers). A step forward for gay representation in cinema then? Possibly. Yes, possibly. If you ignore the scene where Bond forces himself on Ms Galore, then yes, that would possibly be the case. What's most jarring is that it all starts off as light-hearted fun. There's a bit of playful one-upmanship and Pussy- earlier portrayed as Bond's physical and mental equal- more than matches 007's judo skills. And then, with all the rare tact of a rape scene dumped into the middle of a family movie, Bond lunges at Pussy- "Now let's both play"- and moves in for a kiss. She struggles against him for a few seconds, but because the plot requires her to join forces with Bond, she can't resist for too long. The creepiest thing isn't the perma-smirk on Bond's face, or Pussy's pained breathing- you would expect details like that in a scene of, er, 'non-consensual' sex. No, what really gives the moment its awkward factor is the swooning orchestral music in the background, rising to a crescendo as Pussy gives into Bond's brute strength. Somehow, it doesn't quite convey the emotion of the moment. And that's odd, because usually nothing is more romantic than a sociopathic male thug sexually intimidating a gay woman. Still, at least it all ends happily enough, with Pussy renouncing Sappho and switching the lethal gas canisters that would've killed the population of Fort Knox. Hats off to the producers for portraying the complicated truths of human sexuality. And to think they nearly changed her name to Kitty Galore!