As James Bond continues to thrill fans around the world with exciting adventures, the one constant that truly defines the master spy is the use of amazing gadgets to cleverly work his way into or out of trouble. From invisible cars to super jet-packs, Bond always has something at his disposal (thanks to the hard work of Q and his technicians). This week, in our James Bond special, we offer two cool Bond gadgets from the MI6 secret agent series.
Melissa’s Pick: You Only Live Twice (1967)
Summary: As the world comes nearer and nearer to nuclear war due to missing American and Russian spacecrafts it’s up to James Bond (Sean Connery) who recently faked his own death, to follow a lead to the Sea of Japan where one of the spacecrafts have landed. He needs to find out who the real culprit is before these events cause the start of World War 3.
The Gadget: Cigarette Rocket Dart
The Gadget Moment: Once in Japan, Bond meets up with allies Tiger Tanaka (Tetsurô Tanba) and Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) who are part of the Japanese secret service. As they show Bond around their facilities, Tanaka demonstrates the power of the gadget he created, the Cigarette Rocket Dart, “mini rocket launchers that are accurate up to thirty yards.” Bond watches the demonstration, intrigued, saying that the Cigarette Rocket Darts are, “Very neat.” Tanaka confidently replies, “It can save your life, this cigarette!” Later in the film, Bond gets captured by Ernst Stavro Blofield (Donald Pleasence), the supervillain behind the terrorist syndicate known as SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) in the control room as he is trying to infiltrate Bird One. Bird One is a spacecraft sent to attack an American space capsule with the intention of it looking like Bird One is coming from the Russians, leading to the start of World War 3. Now having to watch the launch of Bird One and being told by Blofield that he is about to die, he requests one last cigarette to which Blofield agrees. The cigarette is lit, which starts the four second fuse, and Bond aims it at one of the control men. When the rocket fires and kills the man, chaos breaks out in the control room which causes enough of a distraction for Bond to be able to open the door for Tanka’s ninjas to come in and help Bond stop Blofield.
Why it Matters: The movie really played on the tensions between Russia and America during the Cold War era but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. With talks of this being Sean Connery’s last Bond appearance at the time, this film, written by Roald Dahl and Harold Jack Bloom, is a true testament to excess. There a beautiful exotic destinations, incredible stunts, awesome special effects, a very noteworthy villain, and the crime syndicate SPECTRE, which is at the centre of the newest Bond film, coming out soon. The Cigarette Rocket Dart is just another addition to the extravagance of this film; it plays on the idea of cigarettes being bad for your health and relishes in it’s ridiculousness. This is the epitome of a Bond gadget, it’s completely unnecessary and seems ridiculous but somehow the opportunity always presents itself to be useful. After all this cigarette really does save James Bond’s life, just like Tanaka said.
David’s Pick: Octopussy (1983)
Summary: In East Berlin, when an MI6 agent is found dead dressed as a clown carrying a fake Fabergé egg, James Bond (Roger Moore) is called in to investigate, learning that a disgraced former Afghan prince named Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) is selling black market museum pieces to a power hungry Soviet General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) to help fund a military expansion in Eastern Europe. They are doing this by selling imitations at auction and smuggling the real ones into the West via the traveling Octopussy Circus, headed by the eponymously named, wealthy woman (Maud Adams), with whom Bond becomes entangled.
The Gadget: Crocodile Submarine
The Gadget Moment: At an auction, where Bond is able to secretly swap the real Fabergé with a duplicate, he encounters Khan, who is desperate to buy the egg. After he wins a contrived bidding war with Bond for the treasure, though not realizing it is a fake, Khan heads next to India, where Bond follows. At Khan’s lavish palace, Bond faces off again with his new nemesis, this time in a backgammon game, which leads to Khan eventually ordering his bodyguard to kill Bond later that night. Naturally, Bond escapes and meets up with the alluring Magda, a statuesque blonde woman working for Khan who seduces Bond and steals the real egg, though that is exactly what the secret agent intended, as it has a Q installed listening device mounted inside. Madga, who sports a blue octopus tattoo, returns the antique to Khan and Bond listens as Khan talks with Orlov about their secret plans for expanding the Soviet border. Bond learns of the traveling Octopussy Circus and discovers that the mysterious Octopussy herself lives on a floating palace nearby, which is heavily guarded and surrounded by crocodiles. Using a fiberglass, life-sized replica of the animal with real crocodile skin and a mouth that operates via an electronic switch, he uses in the dark of night to infiltrate the island in glorious James Bond fashion.
Why it Matters: In Goldfinger (1962), Bond (Sean Connery) uses a scuba suit with a seagull decoy mounted on his head. Not to be outdone, twenty-one years later, Bond hits the water again, now ensconced within a man-sized reptile submarine. Though it’s on screen for only a minute, the moment is so absurd and yet highly inventive, it sticks out as one of the most memorable gadgets in the Bond arsenal. Fiendishly clever, it allows him to sneak right past the other crocodiles and slip ashore utterly unnoticed. While we can laugh ay how ridiculous it seems, in a film that features Bond dressed as a clown and a yo-yo buzzsaw, this almost seems tame. As the Bond series continued to find new ways to introduce exotic gadgets that made our favorite secret agent so popular, it was always the subterfuge tricks that were most satisfying. While the crocodile submarine would never be seen again, the joy of watching it glide along the surface, open its gaping jaw, and reveal a hidden James Bond inside will forever make it one of the best gadgets in the franchise.