Bond villains and henchmen of the '70s part one: Diamonds Are Forever

Bond villains and henchmen of the '70s part one: Diamonds Are Forever

As the 1960s drew to a close, Telly Savalas' Blofeld had brought a cruel blow to Bond by killing his wife. This meant that a new level of villain would have to emerge, and equally a more interesting strain of minion.

 

George Lazenby had let hubris go to his head and Bond producers had to go back to Sean Connery. Sean greatly inflated his fee to appear, yet donated the entire sum to a charity close to his heart. Blofeld had to re-appear, but Telly Savalas was busy preparing for another role which would define his career.

 

 

The opportunity was offered to Charles Gray. He had previously appeared in You Only Live Twice as a contact for Bond who met an untimely end. Gray's stocky look and manner led him to become a great character actor. His breakthrough role was in the epic thriller Night of the Generals, and he had also built up a good portfolio in television. 

 

He also appeared in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and many other films. Gray acted as the vocal double for Jack Hawkins, whose voicebox had been removed due to cancer. He also ended up playing Mycroft Holmes, both in cinema and television adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. 

 

His calm, diffident, but also witty presence added a curiously camp but also effective villainous touch to Blofeld. Far from being a snarling villain, he portrayed Blofeld as a man who wanted to do what he was planning. He had no inkling that he was doing anything wrong. Bond's presence was an inconvenience and irritation. Gray's Blofeld retained a level of politeness — as if he held all the cards. 

 

He died at the age of 70.

 

Necessary to Blofeld's operations were the actions and activities of two assassins: Mr Wint and Mr Kidd. Their tone and presence reflected a new realisation and dry wit. They were the first openly gay characters in a Bond film — with a bickering and also close relationship — while never looking camp. 

 

Their murderous trail stretched from South Africa to Holland. The pair committed murders with a sense of irony and joy — as if they were merely playing pranks on their victims.

 

Mr Wint was portrayed by Bruce Glover. He had often played villains on television and went on to play some memorable parts in classic films such as Chinatown and Hard Times. He is also the father of the actor Crispin Glover.

 

Mr Kidd was played by the Jazz Musician, Patrick Verne "Putter" Smith. He looks very much the antithesis of a hitman: overweight with a decidedly unfeline grace. Glover and Smith added layers of interest to what could easily have been dismissed as minor throwaway characters.

Martin Wright

Martin's love affair with James Bond started when he went to see On Her Majesty's Secret Service upon its release in 1969. He is trained in photography, Photoshop, and video editing.

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