Who doesn’t love a good minion? They are fiercely loyal, almost invulnerable, and some even bite through solid steel. So if they chop the head off the odd statue or two… well, that counts toward reasonable wear and tear.
With distinctive traits often spelled out in fancy nicknames (like Nick Nack, Tee Hee, May Day, and Xenia Onatopp) they get the best lines and the best deaths… but are they really dead? In “Live and Let Die”, Bond number two (Roger Moore) never does see the end of voodoo priest Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder of 7up commercial fame) — even after slamming him in a coffin filled with poisonous snakes — never got him… never will.
There is no doubt that these colorful characters are far more memorable than any of Bond’s do-gooder friends – seriously, does anyone remember the many faces of Felix Leiter?
But who takes the trophy for “Best Henchman” in a Bond movie? For my money, the earlier Bonds have the most memorable “supporting” villains.
The Three Blind Mice – Dr. No
See how they kill! (with silenced pistols rather than carving knives). Dr. No’s three deadly Mice, murdering people to the cheery strains of an upbeat calypso arrangement of the classic nursery rhyme, are our introduction to the world of cinematic Bond villainy. Though they pretend to shamble through the streets begging like dogs, this ungrateful trio of sneaky, cold-hearted killers bump off 007’s fellow agent, John Strangways, right after he spares them some change. Bond finally gets the better of the rodents by driving them off a cliff. Talk about the blind leading the blind (leading the blind). Click here to stream "Dr. No" now!
Colonel Rosa Klebb – From Russia With Love
Look out! That hatchet-faced hotel maid is actually former Soviet intelligence, and current SPECTRE “Number Three”… in disguise. Colonel Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), bachelorette in comfortable shoes and riding crop enthusiast, can be found sucker punching trainees with brass knuckles and sending unsuspecting employees dressed up like James Bond to their death, all in the name of “training exercises.” In the end, Klebb’s extensive training with a deadly, poison-filled knife-boot can’t compensate for her stubby legs (and Bond’s lion tamer-like skill with a chair). Click here to stream "From Russia with Love" now!
Blond Adonis (Fake Red Grant) – From Russia With Love
The nameless killer (Robert Shaw), AKA “Red Grant” (after garroting the real Mr. Grant with his trick watch) is SPECTER’s test-tube baby/trained assassin. Aryan ideal Grant is incredibly strong and incredibly blonde, murdering without mercy. But more importantly he is a real foil to Bond, a demonstration of the dark, heartless side of the “license to kill” coin. Undone by greed, the old “tear gas in the briefcase” trick, and a well-placed knife, Grant is a superlative henchman to the end, even if he is confused about what wine to order with fish. Click here to stream "From Russia with Love" now!
Oddjob – Goldfinger
Wanted: strong, silent type to help rule the world. Must be willing to work long hours, carry golf clubs, and fling a bowler with deadly accuracy. Familiarity with body painting a plus. Menacing, unflappable, strong as an ox, quiet and deadly as a gas leak, Oddjob appears to be invulnerable – gold bricks bounce off him like nickels. And don't try to hit him, he’ll just give you his distinctive creepy little grin. Indeed, it’s only through a stroke of luck (and an electro-conductive hat) that Bond is able to defeat Goldfinger’s imperturbable bodyguard. Click here to stream "Goldfinger" now!
Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd – Diamonds Are Forever
When one cutthroat henchman simply won’t do, call in the dynamic (deadly) duo of Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith, respectively). The oddball gay killers from 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever” adorably finish each other’s sentences, and these confirmed bachelors of the hired killer world even walk away from brutal murders holding hands. Though they look like characters from a Christopher Guest movie, don’t let that fool you: they are trained assassins. Although Bond gets the better of them – turning poor Mr. Kidd into a flambé dessert, and Mr. Wint into a bad one-liner – at least they die doing what they love, and doing what they love together.
Nick Nack – The Man with the Golden Gun
This diminutive henchman, Nick Nack (Herve Villechaise) is a deadly dwarf assassin, part-time killer, part-time color commentator in a fun house of death, and full-time butler to Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). Nick Nack’s responsibilities include hiring the best assassins to try to kill Scaramanga – a training exercise that keeps his boss’s executioner skills honed (it’s like practicing a fire drill by setting the building on fire). When 007 defeats Scaramanga, Nick Nack is left to sneak on board Bond’s love boat, knife in his tiny teeth, bent on revenge. Bond ultimately manages to lock Nick Nack in a suitcase and dangle him over the boat’s yardarm. No one knows what happens to the pint-sized pugilist, but I like to imagine he’s found a new life as a valet on some kind of fantastic island… perhaps one where dreams come true.
Jaws – The Spy Who Loved Me & Moonraker
“His name’s Jaws,” says the Roger Moore 007, describing the deadly henchman. “He kills people.” Ungentle giant, Jaws (Richard Kiel), is so destructive that a single movie couldn’t contain him. With teeth that can snap steel cables and enough power to tear a car apart with his bare hands, Jaws is perhaps the deadliest henchman Bond ever faces. He survives multiple “death blows” from 007, including being buried underneath a collapsing Egyptian temple, electrocuted, falling out of the sky with no parachute, being thrown from a speeding train, and driving off a cliff in an exploding car. Each time, this seemingly invulnerable henchman picks himself up, dusts himself off, and starts all over again. In the end, ‘tis beauty that tames the beast; stuck on a crumbling space station with his true love, Dolly (Blanche Ravalec), Jaws chooses to help 007 escape, biting through one last steel beam to allow his enemy to flee in an escape pod. In the end he speaks his only line while raising a glass to his pigtailed, bespectacled lady friend: “Well, here's to us.” Here’s to you, Jaws!
Previously: The Best Bond Girls of the '60s and '70s
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