World domination is not a solo enterprise. In fact, all the doomsday devices and stolen nuclear warheads on the planet will get you nowhere if you don’t have a top-notch inhuman resources department. The villains of the James Bond universe seem to understand this better than anyone. Of the many recurring tropes of the Bond franchise, apart from the fast cars, sexy women, and why-don’t-I-have-one-of-those gadgets, is the parade of sinister sidekicks that aid the various villains in their heinous hijinx.
Revisiting pretty much the entire series of late, thanks to the gorgeous new Bond 50 Blu-ray set, it was high time we ranked our favorite henchmen. They may all be #2’s, but who managed to rank #1?
10. Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
One of the great things about The Man with the Golden Gun is that its titular villain was played by Hammer Films titan Christopher Lee. As Lulu’s outstanding theme song attests, he kills with a single shot; effectively making the golden gun the most coveted weapon in the Goldeneye N64 game. With such a larger-than-life villain, clearly the appropriate compliment was…Herve Villechaize.
Nick Nack may not have height advantage over his cohort colleagues, but where he really measures up is loyalty to the antagonist. Though it may seem like he was trying to skill Scaramanga by, well, hiring assassins to kill Scaramanga, Nick Nack actually proved vital to the big guy’s training and keeping him one step ahead of the upstart hitmen seeking to unseat him as the best.
9. Three Blind Mice (Dr. No)
There they go, all in a row. The three blind mice of Dr. No are in deed some of the first characters to which we’re introduced in the entire Bond franchise. This trio may seem blind as moles, but they were really just playing possum as they relieved MI-6 of some of its best agents and associates. These guys were bad enough to earn their own segment of the very first James Bond title sequence. While Dr. No had no definitive title song, apart from Monty Norman’s iconic theme, the calypso arrangement of “Three Blind Mice” is the one many of us associate with the inaugural film in this series.
8. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
Bad guys are great and all, but bad girls are even better. The Bond franchise has always been equal opportunity when it comes to henchmen, or henchwomen as the case may be. 1965’s Thunderball featured one of action cinema’s greatest femme fatales in Fiona Volpe. Played by gorgeous Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi, Fiona Volpe was well-equipped to seduce any enemy, but don’t be fooled into thinking she’s just a pretty face.
Volpe’s lethality is the stuff of legend. If her beauty doesn’t drive you to your doom, her weaponized motorcycle should ensure a speedy exit to the next life. If only Largo had taken more care with the hiring of his more blue-collar goons, maybe she’d still be alive.
7. Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
It’s not always the case that a Bond henchman is also an important figure in Haitian voodoo, and yet such is the case with Live and Let Die baddie Baron Samedi. When he’s not busy serving as the spirit of the dead, Baron Samedi seemed to find it in his best interest to assist Mr. Big/Kananga in becoming the undisputed heroin kingpin. The look, and especially the laugh, of Baron Samedi (played by actor Geoffrey Holder) makes him one of the most recognizable characters in Bond canon, despite the fact that he actually did very little other than look scary and laugh.
6. Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
1964’s Goldfinger represents one of the few times within the franchise that the main Bond girl was also a former henchperson. Actress Honor Blackman thought she already had an awesome name, until she was handed her copy of the Goldfinger script and saw she’d be playing Pussy Galore. The sexually suggestive name–yeah, the way Swedish orgies are sexually “suggestive”–turned out to be far from the most impressive thing about Pussy.
She’s a master pilot, knows kung fu, and has her own army of lady thieves. Ultimately though, it was James Bond’s love that forced Ms. Galore to switch sides and help thwart Goldfinger’s plan to rob Ft. Knox.
5. Xenia Onatopp (Goldeneye)
From Goldfinger, we now move to Goldeneye. Women have always proven to be one of Bond’s greatest weaknesses. More than a few beautiful gals have managed to put the squeeze on him, but none more so than sultry Russian assassin Xenia Onatopp. Xenia has a very particular set of skills that make her a master killer. And by “skills,” we of course mean “thighs.” Though she’s also handy with an AK-47 and is an expert pilot, it’s Xenia’s powerful legs that have ushered plenty of hapless men off the mortal coil. The irony of her inevitable demise was especially spectacular. This was the role that made actress Famke Janssen a household, if somewhat hard to pronounce, name.
4. Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
Sometimes one henchman isn’t enough. Sometimes what you really need is a dynamite duo of henchmen. When SPECTRE needed their entire network of diamond smugglers liquidated, they called the oddly close hitmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Their quirky demeanor is matched only by the diversity of their killing tactics. They may not look super menacing, but there is no shortage of ways these guys will effortlessly end your life. Bombs, scorpions, the Dutch waterways, these two are absolute artists. The implied homosexuality of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd was also rather progressive for the early 1970s.
3. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
There is absolutely no way this list would be worth the paper it’s not internet paper it’s printed on if it did not include Auric Goldfinger’s right-hand manservant. Wrestler-turned-actor Harold Sakata brought to life the tough-as-nails silent sidekick Oddjob with vicious grace. His skills as a caddy, and his grasp of the English language, may have left much to be desired, but there is no denying his deadly tactics.
Not only can he paint girls gold until…they die, but he also has a real flair for homicidal haberdashery. That boomeranging bowler will slice right through marble statues and snap the necks of any who dare flee from him. You might say he’s brimming with brutality, if you were hellbent on making the worst joke ever.
2. Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
1963’s From Russia with Love is one of the best Bond films of the entire franchise, hands down. One of the interesting things about the film is how many different villains are employed to carry out Blofeld’s dastardly scheme. Promising SPECTRE rookie Red Grant could be argued to be the film’s chief antagonist, but in many ways he’s just another pawn. Grant is played by the incomparable Robert Shaw, who brought so much poise and nuanced menace to one of Bond’s most formidable foes. The fight scene between the two of them in the claustrophobic train car is astounding.
1. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me & Moonraker)
The appropriateness of moving from a henchmen played by Robert Shaw to one named Jaws is not lost on us. It was not easy to choose the number one number two; the mental juggling act of Red Grant, Oddjob, and Jaws went on for far longer than our doctors have warned is healthy. Ultimately, it was simply a matter of looking at the scoreboard. Jaws, the owner of the preeminent grill, proved to be so bad, his violent deeds could not be confined to just one film. The enormous Jaws, played by the almost exactly as enormous Richard Kiel, proved a thorn in Bond’s side in both The Spy Who Loved Me as well as Moonraker. It seems late 70s Bond films were something Kiel could really sink his horribly obvious joke into.