We discussed Bond villains the other day, but as we know, in the James Bond movie universe, a villain is nothing without a good henchman (or henchwoman) at his side to do his dirty work. For today’s poll, let’s vote on the best of these nefarious nogoodniks.
As it happens, the very first characters to appear on screen in a James Bond film were villainous henchmen – the so-called “Three Blind Mice” who assassinate a British agent at the start of ‘Dr. No‘. However, the first henchman to play a critical role throughout the entire plot of a Bond film came with the next entry, in the form of Robert Shaw as the steely assassin Red Grant in ‘From Russia with Love‘. Of course, the most famous henchman in the franchise would be Auric Goldfinger’s right-hand man Oddjob, from ‘Goldfinger‘. The popularity of this character started a tradition of colorful henchmen with quirky names who often stole the spotlight from their evil masters.
Later characters in this mold have included the claw-handed Tee Hee in ‘Live and Let Die‘, the diminutive Nick Nack in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun‘ and the fearsome Jaws in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (who returned in ‘Moonraker‘, where he was sadly downgraded to comic relief).
‘The World Is Not Enough‘ brought us a twist on the formula, wherin the presumed villain of the piece (Robert Carlyle’s Renard) turned out to be just a henchman for the real mastermind behind the plot.
Perhaps the most underrated of all the series’ henchman may be the brutally efficient Mr. Stamper in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’.
All of the Bond films feature henchmen in some capacity (often multiple per movie), but unfortunately not all of them are as memorable as these. I’ve tried to restrict the below poll to the ones who, in my mind, stand out above the rest or are critical to the plot of their movies. An underling who appears on screen for just a few seconds to be dispatched by Bond may not have merited inclusion. The series has also featured a few characters whose roles have straddled the line between good and evil, such as Pussy Galore, who starts out as Goldfinger’s henchwoman but later switches sides to assist Bond. I elected not to include her in this poll, because I think that she’s ultimately considered a heroine, not a henchperson.
If I’ve missed someone that you consider a favorite, be sure to mention it in the Comments.
Don’t forget to get your preorder in for the ‘Bond 50’ collection on Amazon, if you haven’t already.
The voodoo priest in Live and Let Die was Baron Samedi. Tee Hee was the guy with the steel claw for a hand.
Oh, that’s right! I got them mixed up. Thanks!
Hopefully this isn’t too much of a spoiler…
Did the Talia/Bane dynamic in TDKR remind anyone else of the Elektra/Renard dynamic in TWINE?
Yes, but not completely. The main difference is Talia continued her father’s evil plans, while Elektra turned on her father.
M. Enois Duarte
Oddjob is arguably the most memorable and a classic henchman, but seriously, no one beats Richard Kiel as Jaws!! He downright awesome!!
Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack and Grace Jones as May Day definitely follow Mr. Sakata’s performance as the most memorable James Bond henchmen — or is it “henchperson”?
Zao was the dude with diamonds embedded in his face, right? I had to give him a vote because every time I see that movie he makes me laugh.
Jaws is definitely close but Oddjob wins hands down.
Odd that neither of the Craig movies are on there. Hopefully we get a quality henchman in Skyfall.
I can’t believe you left out Bambi and Thumper, from Diamonds Are Forever.
I know you included Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again in your Bond Girl poll, so I’m also going to mention Pat Roach as Lippe in Never Say Never Again. Besides being the same actor that kicked Indiana Jones’ ass a number of times in multiple movies, the NSNA fight makes some inventive use of the location they are in, and his eventual death was pretty memorable too.
And no Irma Bunt? She killed James Bond’s wife! How is that not a dangerous/effective henchperson?