Like other Bond villains Blofeld is a physically large man, weighing twenty stones, or 280 pounds – he had been an amateur weight-lifter in his youth but had run to fat. His hands and feet were long and pointed. He has black eyes which, like Le Chiffre’s – and Mussolini’s, Thunderball tells us – have the whites showing all the way around the iris. His face is large, white and bland, and his black silken eyelashes could have belonged to a woman. The jut of his jaw suggested authority. His nose is squat, his mouth thin and cruel and he has violet-scented breath from the cachous he sucks.
Besides his extraordinary physical appearance, Blofeld has a relaxed manner, a quality of inner certainty and a powerful animal magnetism which leads Fleming to compare him to Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Napoleon – even Adolf Hitler. In his one brief appearance in Thunderball, he wears a well-cut double-breasted suit with roomy trousers to contain his vast belly. His wiry black hair is crew cut and there are no bags under his eyes or any other side of debauchery, illness or ageing.
By On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he appears in casual wear – at first, in a black woollen slip. He has lost a lot of weight and is now around twelve stone, or 168 pounds, though his flesh has not become saggy. There have been other changes. His mouth is now full and friendly with an unwavering smile. There are wrinkles on his brow. His hair is now long and white; his nose aquiline, rather than short and squat. His eyes are disguised by green contact lenses and his heavy earlobes are gone, perhaps to help support his claim to the de Bleuville title – as the Bleuvilles were said to have no lobes.
In You Only Live Twice, he swaps his suits for a silk kimono, or a suit of medieval Japanese armour when out in the suicide garden. His white hair has receded. He now has gold teeth, and a grey-black moustache that droops at the ends, mandarin-style.
Blofeld, it is said, neither drank nor smoked, ate little and had never been known to sleep with anyone of either sex. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice, he seems to have had some sort of relationship with Irma Bunt, apparently based on a shared enjoyment of inflicting pain. However, in John Gardner’s novel For Special Services, Blofeld’s daughter Nena makes an appearance and Bond sleeps with her, although she has only one breast. She is ostensibly the daughter of Blofeld’s French mistress. She can hardly have been Irma Bunt’s.
When Bond first meets Bunt in Switzerland, he notes that she looks like a sunburnt wardress. She has a square, brutal face with yellow eyes and an oblong mouth without humour or welcome and with blisters at the side which she licks. Her hair is brown and flecked with grey, tied in a tight bun at the back. Her body is short and strong, and she is dressed “unbecomingly” in tight trousers and a windcheater.
She is little more attractive in Japan, though as Frau Emmy Shatterhand, née de Bedon, she purports to be the wife of Blofeld aka Dr Guntram Shatterhand. Her mousy hair is still tied back in a bun; her eyes yellow. Her face is puffy and square, and her thin mouth still reminds Bond of a wardress. Besides, when Bunt first appears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Blofeld’s right nostril has already been eaten away by what Bond assumes is tertiary syphilis, though it has been repaired by the time Bond sees him again in Japan. Whatever their relationship, it is clear that Bunt encourages Blofeld in his madness.
In the films of From Russia With Love and Thunderball, Blofeld only appears stroking his trademark white cat. Seen from the rear, he has a full head of black hair. It is only in You Only Live Twice that Bond meets him face to face. There Blofeld is played by Donald Pleasence with a bald head and a long scar down the right-hand side of his face, and Blofeld adopts the collarless Nehru jacket that also becomes his marque.
Blofeld is played by Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where Irma Bunt makes her only appearance and fires the fatal shot that kills Tracy. The actress playing her, Ilse Steppat, died just after the film came out.
In Diamonds Are Forever, Blofeld is played by Charles Gray. While Pleasence and Savalas are bald, Gray has silver-grey hair. He is bald again and confined to a wheelchair in For Your Eyes Only. Then in Never Say Never Again, he is played by Max von Sydow with a full head of grey hair and a bow tie.
In From Russia With Love, Rosa Klebb is a super-bad Irma Bunt. In the book she is a colonel in SMERSH which, Fleming says in the author’s note, is portrayed accurately as it was in 1956 when he wrote the novel. Klebb is head of Otdyel II – “the Department of Torture and Death”. She is a sadist who keeps a bloodstained smock and a low camp stool in her office. It was said that Rosa Klebb would let no torturing take place without her: “She would take the camp-stool and draw it up close below the face of the man or woman that hung down over the edge of the interrogation table. Then she would squat down on the stool and look into the face and quietly say ‘No. 1’ or ‘No. 10’ or ‘No. 25’ and the inquisitors would know what she meant and they would begin. And she would watch the eyes in the face a few inches away from hers and breathe in the screams as if they were perfume.”
Studying the victim’s eyes, she would quietly change the torture, picking another number – 36 or 64 – and the torturers would do something else. Then she would coo softly: “There, there my dove. Talk to me, my pretty one, and it will stop. It hurts. Ah me, it hurts so, my child. And one is so tired of the pain. One would like it to stop, and to be able to lie down in peace, and for it never to begin again.”
Klebb is also portrayed as a predatory lesbian. After the interview with Tatiana in her apartment, she appears in a semi-transparent nightgown with a brassiere consisting of two large pink satin roses underneath and old-fashioned knickers of pink satin. She has also taken off her glasses and applied a heavy coat of mascara and rouge and lipstick – “She looked like the oldest and ugliest whore in the world.” No wonder Tatiana fled.
However, strangely, given her power, when she examines Tatiana to judge her suitability for seducing Bond she only gets her to take off her jacket. When she examines Red Grant for his suitability to kill Bond she gets him to strip – only to hit him in the solar plexus with a knuckleduster.
In the movie, she is portrayed by Lotte Lenya as more of a comic-book villain and has left SMERSH to joined SPECTRE, where Blofeld, played here by Anthony Dawson (who played the duplicitous Professor Dent in Dr. No) with voice dubbed by Eric Pohlmann, refers to her as “number three”. She still shows a marked propensity for uniforms and sensible shoes – albeit with daggers in the toes.
Donovan “Red” Grant is even more of a villain in Fleming and Bond’s world. He is a traitor. The chief executioner of SMERSH, he was the son of a German weight-lifter and an Irish waitress who was paid half a crown – 12½p – for a quick assignation on the damp grass behind a circus tent outside Belfast. Born in 1927, the twelve-pound boy was name Donovan after his father’s ring-name “The Mighty Donovan”. His mother died six months after he was born and he was brought up by an aunt in the village of Aughnacloy, near the border with the Republic. He grew up healthy and strong, but was quiet, communicating with other children only with his fists and taking anything he wanted. Feared and disliked, he made a name for himself boxing and wrestling at local fairs where his guile and the bloodthirsty fury of his attack gave him victory over older and bigger foes. This brought him to the attention of Sinn Fein and local smugglers, who used him as a strong-arm man.
When he was sixteen he began to experience strange feelings that came once a month, around the time of the full moon. First he strangled a cat. The following month he throttled a sheepdog. The month after that he slit the throat of a cow at midnight in a neighbour’s shed. It made him feel good. Fearing that he would get caught, he would ride his bicycle further out into the countryside to kill chickens and geese. Then one night he slit the throat of a sleeping tramp. After that he began cruising the countryside at dusk looking for girls who were out meeting their boyfriends. He would kill them, though he would not interfere with them sexually. Kill alone slaked his desire.
When he was nearly eighteen, he grew careless and strangled a woman in broad daylight and hid her body in a haystack. Police reinforcements and journalists combed the area, looking for the “Moon Killer”. Grant was stopped several times on his bicycle, but his cover story was that he was in training. By then, he was a contender for the light-heavyweight championship of Northern Ireland, which he eventually won after half killing a sparring partner.
Although the war was over, he was called up for National Service and sent to England for training. There he took to drink to suppress his murderous instincts. When the full moon came round, he would disappear into the wood near Aldershot with a bottle of whiskey and drink himself unconscious. Trained as a driver in the Royal Corps of Signals, he was posted to Berlin during the Soviet blockade. He fought in the Army boxing championships, but the finals took place on a full moon and he was disqualified for persistent fouling. The whole stadium was in uproar, but the worst booing came from his own regiment. Scheduled to be sent home, he was sent to Coventry by his colleagues. As no one would work with him, he was made a despatch rider. One day, after making a pick-up at Military Intelligence Headquarters, he seized his opportunity to speed across the border. Skidding to a halt outside a pillbox in East Berlin, he demanded to see the Soviet Secret Service. The secret papers he brought with him convinced them that he was serious. When he was finally interviewed by a colonel in the MGB, he said he wanted to work for the Soviet Secret Service as an assassin. They put him to the test, sending him back into the Western sector of Berlin to kill a man. He was then sent to Moscow, where he underwent more tests and learnt Russian. A psychological assessment concluded that he was a manic-depressive whose cycle coincided with the full moon. He was also found to be an asexual narcissist with a high tolerance of pain. Otherwise he was in superb health, but poorly educated, though he possessed a low cunning. Plainly he was a danger to society and it was thought that the best thing to do was kill him.
However, with the continual purges in the Soviet Union, there was a shortage of executioners. There was a need for his talents. Consequently his name was changed to Granitski and he was assigned to SMERSH Otdyel II. But first he was sent to the Intelligence School of Foreigners in Leningrad for political education. His written work was poor, but he mastered the basics of spycraft. His end of term report read: “Political value nil, operational value excellent” – just what Otdyel II wanted to hear.
After a year, he was sent to the School of Terror and Diversion outside Kuchino for advanced training. Twice during the year, without warning, he was taken at full moon to a Moscow jail where, with a black hood over his head, he was allowed to carry out executions with various weapons – ropes, axes, sub-machine guns. At the same time he was given electrocardiograms. His blood pressure was measured and other medical tests were performed on him. From time to time, prison execution sessions were laid on as a reward for having carried out an assassination in cold blood – that is, when there was no full moon.
He was made a Soviet citizen, given the rank of major with pension rights dating back to his defection, paid five thousand roubles a month, with a holiday villa in the Crimea, and put to work in the Eastern sector of Berlin. He was given two bodyguards to stop him “going private”. And once a month he was taken to a jail to carry out as many executions as deemed necessary.
Grant had no friend. Everyone who came into contact with him hated and feared him. He did not care. The one thing he thought about were his victims and his own rich internal life. The only distraction was the occasional massage administered by a topless girl and, of all things for a man who had turned his back on Britain, the occasional novel by P.G. Wodehouse. For his peculiar talent, he was richly rewarded. He had a money clip made of a Mexican $50 piece, holding a substantial wad of notes, a gold Dunhill cigarette lighter, a gold cigarette case with a turquoise button made by Fabergé and a gold wristwatch made by Girard-Perregaux with a face that also showed the date and, of course, the phases of the moon. In time he rose to become SMERSH’s chief executioner – that is, the top executioner in the whole of the Soviet Union. The only way he could climb any higher would be to kill another country’s top assassin – James Bond, say.
In From Russia With Love, he has a body that sends his masseuse’s pulse racing. It is the finest body she has ever seen, but – though she knows nothing about him – she is terrified and revolted by its rugged perfection. His head is small, his neck sinewy. His tight golden red curls have a classical beauty and hang down to the nape of his neck. There is fine golden hair on his back and his pale skin is red from sunburn.
In the movie he is played by Robert Shaw with bleached blond hair. Like Rosa Klebb, he is now working for SPECTRE rather than SMERSH and is first encountered on SPECTRE island where he is being trained by the sinister Morzeny, played by Walter Gotell, who went on to play the genial KGB spymaster General Gogol. The plan to discredit and assassinate Bond is cooked up by chess master and SPECTRE number five Kronsteen. When the plot fails, he is killed by Morzeny with a knife tipped in poison.
There is another villain in From Russia With Love, the Bulgarian enemy of Kerim Bey – Krilencu, who is working for SMERSH. In the film, Kerim Bey kills him as he emerges through Anita Ekberg’s mouth. In the books it is Marilyn Monroe’s. This is because Cubby Broccoli was plugging his own movie Call Me Bwana staring Ekberg and Bob Hope.
Grant gives himself away by ordering red wine with the fish – something no gentleman would do. However, Bond overlooks this social gaffe until it is too late. Also, in the film credits he is listed as Donald Grant, rather than Donovan.
Dr Julius No
Dr No is another sinister foreigner. Like other Bond villains he takes time to explain himself. Born in Peking, he is the illegitimate son of a German Methodist missionary and a high-born Chinese girl. To his parents, he was an encumbrance. Robbed of parental love, he was brought up by an aunt. In Shanghai he went to work for the Tongs and got his first taste of murder, theft, arson and conspiracy. This, he considers, was his rebellion against the father who betrayed him. He freely admits loving the death and destruction of people and things, and became adept at criminal techniques.
There was trouble. But No was too valuable to kill, so the Tongs smuggled him into the US. In New York, he became treasurer of the Hip Sing Tong, controlling over a million dollars. In the 1920s, the Tong wars broke out, pitting the Hip Sings against the On Lee Ongs. Hundreds were killed on both sides. No joined in the murder, torture and arson with delight. But the police moved in, in force and the ringleaders were jailed. However, shortly before the Hip Sings were raid, No received a tip-off, emptied the Tongs' safe and went to ground in Harlem with a million dollars in gold. Foolishly he did not flee the country. The leader of his Tong in Sing Sing gave orders for his men to find No. They spent a night torturing him, but he would not tell them where the money was. In the end, they cut off his hands, so that people would know that his corpse was the corpse of a thief. Then they shot him and left him for dead. However, he was one of those rare individuals who have their heart on the right-hand side of their body so the bullet did not kill him.
When he left hospital, he invested all his money in stamps so it could be carried easily and, anticipating World War II, would be proof against the inflation that would come with the hostilities. Then he changed his name to Julius No – there is no mention of what his name was beforehand. He took the first name Julius after his father, and the surname No to symbolize his rejection of him and all authority. He changed his appearance, wearing built-up shoes and undergoing traction to make himself taller. He had his hair taken out by the roots, his nose thinned, his mouth widened and his lips sliced. He swapped his mechanical hands for wax ones inside gloves, he said, though on Crab Key he had pinchers. And he threw away his glasses and began wearing contact lenses. Then he moved to Milwaukee – where there were no Chinese people – and enrolled in medical school, he says, because he “wished to know what this clay is capable of”.
Having completed his studies, he left America and travelled around the world, calling himself doctor because people shared confidences with doctors and it allowed him to ask questions without arousing suspicion. Finally he settled on Crab Key, where he has lived for fourteen years, earning money selling guano. He spent what he earned building his secret lair, giving it the façade of a sanatorium in case the authorities visited.
He uses his base on Crab Key to electronically sabotage US missiles from the testing centre on “Turks Island” three hundred miles away on behalf of the Russians, who have trained his men and given him a million dollars' worth of equipment. To make his business even more profitable he is putting out feelers to the Communist Chinese. And he plans to go further, bringing the missiles down near Crab Key and selling the prototypes for millions. If discovered, he would simply divert the rockets so that they landed in Havana or Miami – even without a warhead they would cause considerable damage – and escape in the resulting confusion. Now that Bond and Honey know the secret they cannot be permitted to live. But Dr No assures them that their passing will not be in vain. He intends to torture them to death, record their endurance and, at some point in the future, publish his findings. Plainly Dr No is a sadist. He tells them that he has already had a black woman eaten alive by land crabs. It took her three hours to die. Now he wants to repeat the experiment with a white woman for the sake of comparison. Dr No relates the details with obvious relish – telling Honeychile how she will be staked out naked and how her warm body will feel the first cuts of the crabs' pincers.
In the book, Dr No wears a kimono, not the Nehru jacket worn by Joseph Wiseman in the film. His biography is slightly different in the movie. He escaped from the Tongs in China with his hands intact and $10 million, and fled to the US. There he took an interest in nuclear physics that cost him his hands. On Crab Key he has mechanical hands rather than hooks and his lair is disguised, rather prosaically, as a disused bauxite mine. No longer a freelance criminal, he is a member of SPECTRE. And he dies because his mechanical hands cannot grip well enough to pull him out of boiling radioactive cooling water; instead, more fittingly, he is buried under a mountain of guano.
Like Drax in the book of Moonraker, Auric Goldfinger is an immensely rich Bond villain who can’t help cheating at cards – though, again, he does not need the money. He also cheats at golf. Colonel Smithers at the Bank of England says that Goldfinger was born in Riga. Junius Du Pont speculates that he was Jewish, judging by his name. Escaping before the Baltic states were taken over by the Soviet Union under the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939, Goldfinger arrived in England in 1937. He came from a family of goldsmiths and jewellers – his grandfather had refined gold for Fabergé. Smithers suspected that he arrived with a belt full of gold coins that he probably stole from his father. After he was naturalized, he began buying up pawnbrokers throughout Britain, putting his name – Goldfinger – over the door. He sold cheap jewellery and bought old gold, and did very well. By the end of the war, Goldfinger was rich enough to buy a large house at the mouth of the Thames, an old Brixham trawler and an armour-plated Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost built for a Latin-American dictator who had been killed before he could take delivery.
In the grounds of the house, he set up a factory for his company Thanet Alloy Research, employing German ex-prisoners-of-war who did not want to go home and Koreans who did not speak any European language, so they would not be a security risk. He made one trip a year to India in the trawler and several trips to Switzerland. In 1954, his trawler went aground on the Goodwin Sands. He sold the wreck to a salvage company, which discovered gold dust in the timbers. It seems that Goldfinger had been melting down the old gold that he had been taking in at shops, chemically disguising it as fertilizer and sending it to India where it could be sold on the unregulated market at a huge mark-up, making Goldfinger one of the richest men in the world. When Bond first meets him, he is resident in the Bahamas, though visiting Miami at the time.
He has pale, china-blue eyes that Bond felt stared right through him. The lids droop. He has thin, chiselled lips and a big, bland face, usually devoid of expression unless he is talking about gold. He is obsessed with the metal. Jill Masterton reveals that Goldfinger always carries a million dollars in gold with him, except when he is going through Customs. He wears a belt with gold coins in it and his suitcases are made of gold and covered in leather. Bond even speculates that Goldfinger is married to the metal. Jill tells him that Goldfinger gets Oddjob to paint the bodies of young women with gold while he looks on, gloating. Normally, he left their spines uncovered so that the pore of the skin could breathe. But with Jill he did not do that and killed her.
The first time we meet Goldfinger, he is naked except for a yellow satin bikini slip, topping up his, presumably, golden tan. In the movie, he is played by German actor Gert Fröbe. However, in 1965 Fröbe revealed that he had been a member of the Nazi Party in Germany. As a result the film was banned in Israel. But the ban was lifted when Mario Blumenau, a Jew, informed the Israeli Embassy in Vienna that Fröbe had sheltered him and his mother during the war, saving their lives.
Goldfinger’s chauffeur, factotum and occasional assassin, Oddjob, is a huge man. He has to be, to carry his employer’s solid-gold luggage. He has a chunky, flat face and Bond guesses he is Korean, though stuffed into a black suit he looks like a sumo wrestler on his day off. He has a snout-like upper lip and a cleft palate. But this hardly matters as Oddjob never smiles and rarely speaks. He wears black patent-leather shoes that look like dancing pumps and, of course, his famous metal-brimmed bowler hat.
But that is not his only weapon. When he takes off his shiny black gloves, his hands are fat and muscly. All the fingers are the same length, with no fingernails and blunt at the tips, which look hard as if made of yellow bone. A hard ridge of bony substance also runs down the edge of the hands, which means that a blow from Oddjob could snap a man’s neck like a daffodil. A blow from his foot could smash a heavy wood mantelpiece. And, of course, he eats cats.
In the movie, he is played by Harold Sakata, a native of Hawaii who won a silver medal for weight-lifting at the 1948 Olympics and wrestled under the name Tosh Togo. He doubles as Goldfinger’s caddy, crushing a golf ball in his hand when Bond wins. He scarcely flinches when hit in the chest with a gold bar and demonstrates his lethal derby by decapitating a statue. In the film he is killed when his hat gets stuck between the bars in the vaults of Fort Knox and Bond adds an electric current. In the book, he dies when he is sucked out of the window of Goldfinger’s private jet – a fate reserved for Goldfinger in the film. Bond strangles his boss in the book.