Welcome to Mondo Bondo, a delightfully spurious world of bogus Bonds. During the 1960s, James Bond pictures spawned an astonishing array of imitations, pastiches, low-rent rip-offs and high-spirited spoofs, at a time when anything remotely connected to secret agents was making more money than any nefarious Blofeld scheme ever could. They even ripped off each other, as with the Derek Flint parody Il vostro super agente Flit (1966).
The charming thing about Bond homages is the inherent cheapness/campiness that they possess, because they rarely had the budgets of the actual Bond films (many of which haven't aged well, themselves). The results make them eminently watchable and ideal timecapsules. Most people didn't take them seriously, but the makers of the Bond films did -- notice the Matt Helm ad, at right, in comparison to the poster for the 007 film For Your Eyes Only).
So today we celebrate the least-secret agents in the world battling each other for peace in the free world and a piece of the box office free market.
Diamonds are forever, but 007s are a dime a dozen: David Niven is flanked by (from top left) Terence Cooper, Ursula Andress, Woody Allen and Joanna Pettet.
Before Daniel Craig made the Ian Fleming book an official EON entry in the James Bond canon, CASINO ROYALE (1967) was the bridge film, the one that linked the legitimate 007 series and the world of the bogus Bonds.
Matt Helm (Dean Martin) of I.C.E. meets Derek Flint (James Coburn) of Z.O.W.I.E.
It's a long, strange trip through mainstream Bond knockoffs so leeringly sexist and mind-bendingly stupid you can only wonder if Hollywood had been taken over by an evil supervillain intent on systematically lowering the standards and brainpower of the American public. (Rupert Murdoch, are you out there?)
Bulldog Drummond has changed
in Deadlier Than the Male.
Next, let us introduce you to a European enigmas, whose commodities range from the French OSS 117 series to the bizarre Swiss spy parody THE UNKNOWN MAN OF SHANDIGOR, which ends with its villain being eaten by a sea serpent.
Neil Connery works out some sibling rivalry issues in Operation Kid Brother.
Marvel with us at the strange forms taken by Italian exploitation films informed by blind determination not to let the gravy train pass without getting a spoonful, by making surreal, self-referential rip-offs like OPERATION KID BROTHER, starring Sean Connery's conspicuously untalented sib, Neil, as James Bond's lesser brother.
Shirley Eaton, Goldfinger's Golden Girl, who
became ultravillainess Su-Maru
Dance to the musically charged exploits of bizarrely perverse villains and endlessly enticing women.
Sing along to the Supremes and other pop groups as they cheerfully serenade us as we watch the brutal, deadly, deceitful game of espionage! (And thwart a bikini machine!)
Photocard promoting Return of Lady Bond (1966)
wearing a helmet complete with reservoir tip
Thrill to Hong Kong Spy Cinema filled with twists, turns, torture, bondage, murder and even more fun!
In the Sixties Hong Kong cinema was dominated by female stars, and the so-called “Jane Bond” craze featured almost every major Chinese actress in their own spy thriller.
missed it by thaaaaaaat much...
Eat in front of the TV to Network series that did everything that James Bond did, in some cases, with chimps...
Watch the K.A.O.S. until you cry U.N.C.L.E.
Finally, gasp at the exploits of Bond-inspired porn films with Agent 69! HandJob! Pussy Finger! Etc., Etc. The real question is, how do you come up with a dirtier title than Octopussy?
(Special thanks to Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas for his help in ferreting out the more obscure titles mentioned in this article, and Maitland McDonagh for the inspiration.)
"Casino Royale" (1967) || Studio Portraits || European Enigmas || Italian Jobs || Kovert Komedy || HK Humint || 00-XXX || Boob Tube
Photo credits (top to bottom): The Kobal Collection, Everett Collection, Photofest, Everett Collection, Photofest, Everett Collection
Based on an article from the 1990s by Maitland McDonagh; Additions and Updates by Jeff Hause