It was almost 40 years ago to the day that Ursula Andress stepped out from the water in Dr No’s “Crab Key”, at that very moment, and despite being unaware at the time, Andress was creating what has now become one of the most recognised images in cinematic history, a scene kept sacred by Bond fans the world over. She was the first of a new breed of female lead roles. The very first Bond girl.
The Swiss beauty arose from the waves wearing a white bikini, and hunting knife, which she strapped to her side. This stunning scene amazed fans worldwide including Michael Apted, who would later go on to direct the 19th Bond film; The World Is Not Enough. Apted says that he himself and his generation “never really recovered from seeing Ursula Andress coming out of the water”, costume designers throughout the years have tried to play homage to this scene in Dr No, none more that 007’s current costume designer; Lindy Hemming.
Working on GoldenEye, Lindy was required to produce a look for modern woman, Natalya (played by Izabella Scorupco), one of which was a white bikini needed for a scene that takes place on a Cuban beach. When asked in interview Lindy revealed the bikini was “from La Pearla” and was her “homage to Ursula Andress”. With the 20th film in the series now nearing completion, it is also known that Bond girl Jinx, who is played by Halle Berry, also wears one of Lindy’s homage’s to Ursula; an orange bikini in a similar style, with the added touch of a hunting knife.
Although relatively unknown at the time the movie was released, and still kept quiet by Bond bosses today… this woman – Ursula Andress who has been honoured and billed as the ultimate Bond girl (something she still likes to be called in today’s world of politically correctness) had in fact had her entire dialogue dubbed by another actress. There are a few odd pieces of sound heard from Ursula, but on the most part all of Honey Ryder’s sounds, and all of her spoken words are the work of an actress who to this day, the Bond bosses at Eon Productions have refused reveal the identity of.
Although her beauty was unsurpassed, it has to be said the acting was not the best seen in cinema at that time, ever her voice-work was not her own… so why do most of us still grant Ursula the title of the “Ultimate Bond Girl”? Well, it’s simple, in the entire 40 year history of the Bond movies, never have we seen a character who brought with them such a presence and on-screen qualities that made us feel that we no longer required to watch and see, even acknowledge the appearance of the man the movie was about… Mr James Bond.
For example, in the scene where we first meet her, both Bond and the audience almost instantly falls in love with the character, and the actress who makes her physically possible, we feel that we need to know more about her, to understand who and what she is, and become closer to her. All the time we are doing this we place this character, 007, to one side, and leave the suave agent until a few moments later. She is one of only a few people throughout the series who have been able to do this, it is indeed something very special to be able to borrow the attention from the man who is perhaps the most followed, and admired action hero in cinematic history.
Andress has become somewhat of a model to all of today’s Bond women, they dream of being able to have the effect and leave such a meaningful and lasting impression upon the world, to catch the magic that was Honey Ryder for 2 hours of film. It is an actresses fantasy, but alas it isn’t possible, many have tried and all have failed, to try and become this historic character is an impossible and one time only event. For this reason, the women in Bond have evolved, chosen to select the greatest merits of the character – her glamour, and presence, tried to embrace them, and using this knowledge create their own fun, sexy, and aptly named “Bond Girl” with which they can honour the woman who started it all… 40 years ago.