Bond Aging Badly: 4 Things From 007 Movies That Are Tough to Watch Now

By Oliver Lyttelton

James Bond is back in theaters in the 24th 007 movie SPECTRE. Like its predecessor Skyfall, the new film throws in a number of callbacks to previous Bond entries. But there are several elements from 007’s 50-plus-year history in the movies that we’re unlikely to ever see revived. Here are four things from earlier Bond films that have aged particularly badly (and, for the record, we’re not counting Roger Moore.)


Bond (Sean Connery) romances Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) in ‘Goldfinger’ (Everett)

The treatment of women in From Russia With Love and Goldfinger
007 has never been exactly enlightened when it comes to women, but two of the franchise’s very best films — 1963’s From Russia With Love and 1964’s Goldfinger — are particularly queasy-making. The former sees Bond (Sean Connery) hit innocent Soviet clerk Tatiana while trying to get information (a particularly uncomfortable moment given Connery’s later statements on domestic violence). The latter features our ‘hero’ using a woman he’s kissing as a human shield, then later more or less forcing Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore to have sex. Bond might still be a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur,” as M (Judi Dench) put it in GoldenEye, but at least he seems to take consent more seriously these days.

Related: “No, Mr. Bond. I Expect You To Die!” The Red-Hot Story Behind ‘Goldfinger’s Laser Scene


Geoffrey Holder as a voodoo priest and henchman in ‘Live and Let Die’ (Everett)

The racism in Live and Let Die
Racial stereotyping in the 007 movies might have been toned down from the novels — Bond creator Ian Fleming’s 1954 book Live And Let Die is staggeringly offensive even for its day. But there’s still a thick streak of racism running through several of the Bond movies that feels truly sour today. From Bond barking “fetch my shoes” to his Afro-Caribbean friend Quarrel in Dr. No to his dressing up as a Japanese man in You Only Live Twice, there were a number of deeply troubling moments in the Connery era. But things arguably got even worse with Roger Moore in the tuxedo. While the 1973 film of Live and Let Die may have been trying to cash in on the blaxploitation genre, it comes across as foul stew of voodoo clichés and villainous black characters. Later, 1983’s Octopussy relied on similar kinds of stereotypes, this time depicting an India full of shake charmers and swamis.

Related: Oh James! 50 Years of Bond Premieres Starring Princess Diana, Paul McCartney, Grace Jones, and More


Putter Smith and Bruce Glover as Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (Everett)

The homophobia in Diamonds Are Forever
When asked about the prospect of a gay James Bond earlier this year, former 007 Pierce Brosnan said, “It would certainly make for interesting viewing.” That the idea of a non-heterosexual 007 has been floated suggests we’ve progressed from the days of 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. Connery’s last official film as Bond sees him facing off against a pair of assassins, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, who — it’s pretty clear from their “fey” manner and a scene in which they hold hands — are intended to be gay. The film doesn’t make it as explicit as Ian Fleming’s novel did, but it still comes across as deeply homophobic, particularly when Bond dispatches Wint by sticking a bomb between his legs. The franchise isn’t above suggesting its villains are gay these days: Witness Javier Bardem’s chilling Raoul Silva in Skyfall. “There’s a first time for everything,” Silva tells 007 as he provocatively strokes Bond’s thighs. But now at least Bond is allowed to flirt back: “What makes you think this is my first time?” he replies.


Bond (Timothy Dalton) rides with…the Taliban? (Everett)

Bond and the Taliban in The Living Daylights
For the most part, 007 survived the shifting political landscape after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, in part because he didn’t actually battle Soviet spies all that often. But when Timothy Dalton took on the role movies with 1987’s The Living Daylights, the attempt to make a grittier spy movie led our hero to make some unfortunate allies. The film’s third act sees Dalton’s Bond in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war, where he rescues a leader of the local mujahideen and aids them in a battle against the invading armies. As we all know now, the mujahideen in Afghanistan eventually mutated into the Taliban, which was infamously backed by Osama Bin Laden.

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