Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Nemesis of James Bond 007
|Donald Pleasance was the most deliciously eccentric Blofeld|
Blofeld, though, has a much bigger part in the Eon Productions series of James Bond films. In "From Russia with Love" and "Thunderball," Blofeld is seen only from the neck down. He issues orders to his flunkies and has underperformers, who are killed while he strokes his trademark white cat.
After that, though, the character caught on fire with public. He was the main antagonist in "You Only Live Twice," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," and "Diamonds are Forever." Blofeld usually was seen stroking his white cat, which played a prominent role in both the credits and plot of "Diamonds are Forever."
After "Diamonds are Forever," Blofeld disappeared for an entire decade. In "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), Blofeld tries to kill Bond in a remote-controlled helicopter. Bond, however, escapes and manages to pick Blofeld up by his wheelchair. Flying him above the city, Bond finds the tallest smokestack in sight and drops Blofeld down it to his death.
Blofeld made one more appearance, in the non-canon film "Never Say Never Again" (1983). Blofeld once again directs operations for SPECTRE while stroking his trademark white cat. The reason for the sporadic appearances is that a former collaborator of Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory, owned the rights to the "Thunderball" screenplay until his death in 2006. Since Blofeld and SPECTRE make their first appearance in "Thunderball" as written (but not as filmed), McClory claimed that he owned the rights to Blofeld and could collect damages if that character ever were used without his permission. Accordingly, Eon Productions has ceased all use of the Blofeld character so that it need not pay McClory (now McClory's estate) any monies, or, at best, have to go through a protracted court case that could go either way. Blofeld might still return, but it would only be if McClory's estate authorized or produced the film.
Below are portrayals of Blofeld in every James Bond film in which he appears.
From Russia With Love
Anthony Dawson, who appeared on camera in Dr. No as Professor Dent ("You've had your six"). The voice Blofeld, however, was dubbed by Eric Pohlmann, a native of Vienna who escaped to England just before WWII.
You Only Live Twice
When Blofeld was revealed in You Only Live Twice (played by Donald Pleasance), it was a terrible disappointment, both in terms of casting and makeup.This is the version that was parodied in the later "Austin Powers" line of films. Check out Donald Pleasence's eyes, they are what make the character.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Telly Savalas played Blofeld in vigorous style opposite George Lazenby in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," engaging in witty repartee with him. It is all for naught, though, as Bond crushes Blofeld's evil. Blofeld gets even at the end. With Telly Savalas, it isn't about the eyes so much as it is the way he carries himself - look how he sits in that chair, it is magnificent posturing of a master of evil.
Diamonds are Forever
Charles Gray, who had a small role at the beginning of "You Only Live Twice" as a British agent, took over the role of Blofeld in "Diamonds are Forever." A furious struggle takes place between James Bond and Blofeld in the secret laboratory where Blofeld changes his identity, but Blofeld survives. They meet again at Blofeld's Vegas penthouse, and then again on an oil rig. Charles Gray affects the fey mannerisms of a an effete crime lord who is used to having his dirty work handled by flunkies, but who doesn't fool around when the time comes for action.
For Your Eyes Only
In "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), Blofeld is played by John Hollis, person, and Robert Rietty, voice. His face is never seen, nor is his name mentioned. He wears the same clothes as before, and speaks very familiarly with James Bond, as if they have a long, adversarial relationship. It is left to the viewer to conclude that this, indeed, is the head of SPECTRE, Blofeld.
Never Say Never Again
In "Never Say Never Again," Blofeld was played by Swedish actor Max von Sydow. Though the role is small and Blofeld was on camera for only a few minutes, Blofeld had a lot of dialogue, going on at length about his plan to a camera that pops out of a polished silver skull. This is probably the least effective appearance by Blofeld, because Blofeld's mystique comes from knowing less, not more, about him. If you do see him frequently, as in his later Eon Films appearances, it is better to have him demonstrate his deadly evil directly, himself. Seeing his kindly face, with him just sitting there passively, robs Blofeld of his power of anonymity. It would have been more effective to keep him in the shadows, as in "From Russia with Love" and "Thunderball," so that you have to guess at his true identity.