Bond is taken aboard the Ning-Po to be interrogated by Helga-Spectre’s No.11 (One number less than 12, which would be the designation for another Fiona Vulpeish character-Fatima Blush-in Never Say Never Again). Bond confesses he’s a spy, but simply an industrial one instead of a government one-and hence still “Mr. Fisher”. He manages to avoid getting interrogated by bribing and seducing her.
….But just like Volpe before her, she doesn’t get redeemed like Pussy Galore did, and instead tries to kill Bond in a plane by locking him in and jumping out, allowing the plane to crash and catch fire. It’s a bit over elaborate, and of course Bond lands and gets out just in time. You’d figure he would’ve learned his lesson about SPECTRE women from Fiona Vulpe….but nope.
Getting back to Tanaka, Bond learns the identity of the island the Ning-Po’s been to-and of course wants to do some aerial reconnaissance. Enter Q, who gives him “Little Nellie”-a small gyrocopter that Tanaka thinks looks like a silly toy, but she’s quite formidable, with rocket launchers, SAM missiles, flame throwers, smoke jets *and* aerial mines!
We soon get a demonstration as Bond goes on the island, which seems to have nothing but a volcano-but then SPECTRE choppers move to intercept, so there’s obviously *something* there. We then get a cool sequence with Little Nellie, with the 007 “action” theme playing in the background at first, but then just the Dr.No stock version of the Bond theme. It’s certainly more fitting here than the Bond checking into the hotel scene in FWRL, but it might’ve been interesting for a fresh tune. While there aerial shots of the helicopters are of course great, some of the close ups of Connery don’t have great blue screen, he looks kind of silly in the helmet, and the helicopter explosions are obviously models (and possibly the same shot recycled). Oh well.
Meanwhile, the Russians make their space shot, and of course the SPECTRE rocket comes and steals it, making it of course look like the USA did it-making World War III imminent, and the United States even more skeptical of the Japan claim. This time, we see the rocket land-in the volcano-in reality, a huge SPECTRE base, and probably the main thing people remember about this movie apart from Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld. At the time, it was one of the largest sets ever constructed, although it would be later topped by the LIPARUS in Spy Who Loved Me, directed by the same guy and with a somewhat similar plot.
Speaking of Blofeld, he’s got a nice underground lounge that’s somewhat reminiscent of Dr.No’s.
Although instead of a glass aquarium magnifying mostly harmless fish, he’s got an open pool of deadly piranhas. He intimidates some men-possibly Chinese who would benefit from the upcoming World War between the United States and Russia-and they call him on it, saying it’s extortion-but of course, that’s what the E in Spectre stands for, as Blofeld notes.
He then brings in Helga and Osato, and shows him the X-ray of Bond’s gun taken in Osato’s office-noting that only one man they know carries such a weapon (seriously? As noted in-universe in Dr.No, there’s a lot of CIA guys who use it, for one) James Bond.
I wonder if Valentine’s recognition of the gun in “Goldeneye” is a bit of a callback to this-it even has similar dialogue.
They both use the excuse of Bond’s “death” in order to deflect responsibility, but Blofeld isn’t buying it. Much like Kronsteen, Count Lippe, and SPECTRE No.9, he decides to make an example of a henchman-this time, Helga, by dropping her into the pool.
Although pretty much free of gore, it’s still a pretty disturbing Bond girl death, one of the more shocking in the series along with Corrine in Moonraker and Della in License to Kill. And those were good Bond girls!
Blofeld-whose voice is now a lot less deeper than his previous incarnations-barks an order: “KILL BOND! NOW!”
Next: Ninjas, Bond goes native, and Kissy is introduced.