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The Top 12 most inappropriate Bond film sweary moments

Surely nothing unpleasant could come out of THIS woman's mouth - could it?Watching Live and Let Die the other day, we were somewhat taken aback to hear the phrase “holy shit!” tumble from the mouth of one of the supporting characters.

And not just any supporting character: an old woman with oversized goggles, no less.

No doubt the censors deemed her advanced age and agreeable facial furniture persuasive enough to render such wild (by early-70s Bond standards) profanity sweetly comical rather than grossly offensive.

But these circumstances don’t, as far as we’re concerned, make it any less inappropriate.

For like public houses, actual sex and Daniel Craig, swearing doesn’t have a place in James Bond films. And that includes the occasional (and even more jarring) cuss word to slip from the mouth of 007.

Innuendos however – double, single or otherwise – do very much have a place in the canon and their absence (we’re looking at you, Craig) certainly make for a stiff disappointment.

As such, not being the types to pass up an opportunity to rummage through a body of work to see if anything big comes up, we’ve sifted the scripts of every Bond film to date in order to isolate, filter and decontaminate a dozen of the franchise’s most ill-advised expletives.

If you find occasional obscenity as disagreeable as listening to The Beatles without ear muffs, please DO read on.

12) “Let me out of this BLOODY machine!”

He's wearing a helmet - what a wuss(Thunderball, 1965)
This ribald squeal of complaint comes from one Count Lippe, who Bond has just contrived to trap inside a sitting steam bath. Yes, we’re only four films into the series and already we’re dealing with cartoonish deaths and comical swearing.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Lippe cries. “Now don’t you worry,” replies our hero, “I’ll tell the chef!”

11) “Yes you BLOODY well would!”

Bond attempts to stomach the contours of a particularly intimate problem(The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)
Another ill-advised “bloody”, but even more out-of-place by virtue of coming from, to paraphrase Roger, A WOMAN.

Bond’s dalliances with the fairer sex are irking his female colleague, ditzy Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland playing herself. When 007 tries to explain away his assignation as “official business”, Britt snaps: “I saw the ‘official business’.” “Goodnight, would I do that to you?” sighs The Man With The Golden Pun. “Yes, you bloody well would!” comes the unnecessarily tart response.

10) “You’re BLOODY late!”

*Yawn*(The Living Daylights, 1987)
Just as disagreeable in a Bond film as a woman swearing is when a posh person follows suit.

Here, 007 is being given a dressing down by Saunders, head of Section ‘V’, Vienna. We know this, because his first line is: “Saunders. Head of Section ‘V’, Vienna. You’re BLOODY late. This is a mission, not a fancy dress ball.”

“We have time,” Timothy Dalton replies, boringly.

9) “BITCH!”

"One of us smells like a tart's handkerchief"(Diamonds are Forever, 1971)
There is no earthly reason why, having refrained from profanity throughout his entire tenure as Bond, Sean Connery decides to call Jill St John a “bitch” while inserting a cassette tape down the back of her pants. Which is probably precisely why he does it. Plus it gives him the chance to continue with the superb line: “Your problems are all behind you now!”

Thankfully Connery returns to more plausible insults a few moments later, when he brands St John a “stupid little twit!”

8)  “There’s a useful four-letter word, and you’re full of it.”

Bond talks shit(The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)
Were Roger Moore to actually call Scaramanga a shit, some sort of micro-atomic implosion, akin to that generated within the Large Hadron Collider, would probably occur bringing an end to life as we know it.

Instead he just alludes to the word, thereby revealing a passing interest in vulgarity that is really somewhat beneath him. This didn’t stop Timothy Dalton boringly reviving the very same line 13 years later in The Living Daylights, telling a bored Russian general: “We have an old saying too, Georgi. And you’re full of it.”

7) “PISS off!”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz(Licence to Kill, 1989)
One of the things deployed by the Bond producers to leaven the boringness of Dalton on his second mission was to make him the Sweary Bond. Sadly this just made him even less convincing, as there’s only one thing worse than someone being boring, and that’s someone being obscenely boring.

Hence when 007 is captured by some Hong Kong narcotics agents who query his ownership of a gun that is clearly the property of Her Majesty’s Government, Dalton yawns at them to “piss off”.

Elsewhere in this profanity-percolated flop we are treated to Dalton, while dangling over a crushing machine, tediously instructing a woman to “switch the BLOODY machine off”; and morosely ordering those self-same narcotics agents to release him from their chains and “get me out of these BLOODY things!” More from this Sweary Bond later.

6) “There’s that SONOFABITCH! I got him!”

Last seen being discomfited in Superman II(Live and Let Die, 1973)
Utterly unlikable comedy redneck Sheriff JW Pepper spends this film spewing dozens of debatable profanities (“my ass” “your ass” “his ass” etc.) and an extremely suggestive cuss (“What the fuuuuuuu…?”) but there’s one that grates above all else.

The word “bitch” simply doesn’t belong in a Bond film. Heavens, Sean Connery tried it two years earlier and even he didn’t pull it off. The swearing, that is.

5) “Would you please kill those BASTARDS!”

Rupert Murdoch, yesterday(Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
We’re now heading into the stronger stuff. This instruction, delivered by chief baddie Elliot “Not Rupert Murdoch” Carver to his henchman Mr Stamper, is drained of all menace by the insertion of a completely out-of-keeping expletive.

Whatever happened to the likes of a diabolical mastermind telling his accomplice merely to take care of Bond and “see that some harm comes to him”?

4) “Watch the birdy, you BASTARD!”

Piss off, Dalton(Licence to Kill, 1989)
Oh dear, it’s Sweary Bond again, this time spluttering nauseum in the direction of number one bad guy Mr Sanchez as he levels a gun at the man’s office window.

We think this is the most profane (and boring, lest we forget) 007 has ever been on screen.

Though it’s safe to say he’s far more liberal with his tongue in the original books.

3) “Holy SHIT!”

darling, there's some profanity ahead, but we've just got to make a run for it!"(Live and Let Die, 1973)
Here it is: the phrase that alerted us to the sheer incongruity of obscenity in a Bond film, slipping as it does from the gums of comedy pensioner Mrs Bell as the light aircraft in which she is sitting, with Roger Moore at the controls, heads towards an ever-narrowing pair of hangar doors.

It’s only slightly more abrasive than the bit where a Generic Black Man declares: “What does he think this is? I’ll blow his friggin’ head off!”

2) “I don’t give a SHIT about the set-up!”

He doesn't give a SHIT about the set-up(Licence to Kill, 1989)
Bond isn’t the only one to deploy a battery of profanity in this almost-the-worst-ever 007 film. His rival, the aforementioned “bastard”, is also responsible for a cluster of cusses, including this ill-inserted unconvincing tirade.

Along the way he’s joined in the sweary corner by those Hong Kong narcotics agents, who joyously declare Bond to be a “BASTARD!” and which prompts a small cheer from the viewer, one that would be more full-throated were they to brand him a “boring BASTARD!”

1) “I don’t give a SHIT about the CIA!”

Wash your mouth out, lady(Quantum of Solace, 2008)
The most inappropriate swearing in a Bond film comes not from a villain, or from Bond himself, but from none other than Old Mrs Clutterbritches, the one and only M.

In easily the worst moment in any Bond film ever, in Quantum of Solace Judi Dench is heard to snap “I don’t give a SHIT about the CIA!” To make matters worse, elsewhere she unleashes both a “bloody” and a “bastard”. It’s horrible and out-of-place and just wrong.

What were the producers thinking? Chances are they weren’t. Judi Dench swearing is as unacceptable as Geoffrey Palmer drinking from a beer can. And that’s a fucking fact!

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Rob Stradling

    April 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Not sure I’m entirely on board with the thesis here; judicious profanity can spice things up nicely. I’d defend 11 on the grounds of verisimilitude, and 8 and 5 for being actually funny.

    That said, I hadn’t realised just how many duff examples there are. “Bitch”, of course, is a glorious exception, being used in arguably THE definitive statement to come from James Bond’s lips. You knew that and were joking about #6… right? 😉

  2. Scott

    April 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    ITV used to edit out Mrs Bell’s swearing by simply blanking the noise. Having her go “Holy…” is much more appropriate and palatable.

  3. Chris Diamond

    April 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    ‘Holy shit’ is NOT funny. ‘Gee whillickers!” WOULD have been funny. Swearing, you may go.

    • Mat

      December 3, 2018 at 2:13 am

      Funny? Do you actually think that the James Bond books and films are supposed to be comedies? They’re action/adventure, you twit! They’re not supposed to be funny. Yes, they contain humour, but they aren’t children’s cartoons. Most people swear in extreme situations – that’s called REALISTIC. Attempting to impose your moral values on other people is bad enough, but trying it on fictional characters? You’re mad. Have you ever heard anyone say “Gee Whillikers” at a massive explosion? I haven’t.

  4. Rob Stradling

    April 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I suppose the thinking back then was that an old lady saying “Holy Shit!” WAS funny. It misfires because she’s too small a character for us to have developed an expectation of propriety from her.

    Goodnight’s line is funny because it’s against her pre-established character; “Useful 4-letter word” is funny because it’s such a convoluted, tortuous way of NOT swearing and mocks Moore’s stilted Britishness; and Carver gets a laugh from the universal sense of a supervillain’s frustration, and Pearce’s excellent delivery.

  5. John Wilson

    April 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Great article although a bit harsh on Dalton. Easily the most neglected of the Bonds (even more than the great Lazenby), he only did what Craig is doing now (though a lot, lot better). If you want to see a dry run for his profane spell as Bond, watch the “bloody bastards” scene in Flash Gordon. It seems in hindsight like his audition for the role of Bond…

  6. Great Bustard

    April 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Is it true that whenever Dame Judi is heard swearing on TV, in a film or a programme, the station broadcasting it gets a large amount of complaints? A shitload of complaints, you could say?

  7. Glenn A

    April 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    A Licence to Kill was the worst Bond film ever, as it was so humourless and dull and looked like a Schwarzenegger film done badly. It was no surprises when the franchise was almost cancelled after this attempt to cash in on the American action market.

  8. Dan Pearce

    April 19, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I know it’s slightly off the point, but Licence to Kill is the worst Bond film? Au contraire, that’s A View to a Kill, Duran Duran video aside.

  9. David Smith

    April 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Don’t forget “Bloody tourist!”, from a child (!) in TMWTGG – the unfortunate young “carved wooden elephant salesman” who Sir Rog cruelly double-crosses; promising him 20,000 bahts for getting his motorboat to start up, only to toss him overboard when he complies… 🙂

  10. Tomos

    April 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I think saying only women shouldn’t swear is a bit out of order.

  11. David Pascoe

    April 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I think it’s hilarious in Live and Let Die that you have the elderly white pensioner saying “Holy shit”, but 10 seconds later we hear a grizzled sounding black gangster imploring his younger couterpart: “Leroy, slow down! For Pete’s sake, slow down!”
    LALD also features Mr Big saying “Is this the stupid mother who followed you uptown?”

    You forgot to mention that one of the earliest lines in Licence to Kill is a DEA officer saying, “If they hurry thay may just catch the bastard”.

    Jonathan Pryce’s swearing is the only time I’ve laughed at a character swearing in a Bond film and as the correspondent said, it’s all in the delivery.

  12. Steve G

    April 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    There’s a quite needless “Bullshit!” from Pam Bouvier (some relation to Marge Simpson, no doubt) in Licence To Kill too. And she says it to Q! That’s like calling your grandad a c***.

  13. Jim A

    August 16, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Why does everybody dislike “License To Kill” and ‘A View To A Kill” so much? I actually thought these were two of the better Bond Films. People generally don’t care too much for “Quantum Of Solace” either. I’m definitely in the minority here also as it is my second favorite Bond film next to “Casino Royale”. The other good ones are “Thunderball”, “Goldfinger” and all the ones with Pierce Brosnan excluding “Tomorrow Never Dies”. I’ll give an Honorable mention to “The Living Daylights” and The Man With The Golden Gun”. The worst Bond movie ever, which also had the worst Bond ever, was “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. After reading this, a lot of people will be calling me those unmentionable swear words we never want to hear in a Bond film.

  14. Grimlock

    November 6, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I think Bond himself deserves some say on the matter:

    “No self-respecting man could get through the day without his battery of four-letter words to cope with the roughage of life and let off steam. If you’re late for a vital appointment with your superiors, and you find that you’ve left all your papers at home, surely you say, well, Freddie Uncle Charlie Katie, if I may put it so as not to offend.”

    Excerpt From: Ian Fleming. “You Only Live Twice.”

  15. Mat

    December 3, 2018 at 2:05 am

    Bond was born of the 20th century and lives on in the 21st. The ideas that saying “shit” is somehow evil, and that women shouldn’t swear belong in the middle ages, and the concept that someone who lives the life that James Bond does and NEVER encounters or uses an expletive is plain ludicrous. People have been swearing for thousands of years. If an explosion happened right next to your head, would you feel some sort of exclamation necessary? Of course. And for most human beings who have ever lived, that means a more extreme part of the vocabulary. The tiny minority of people who wouldn’t even utter an expletive if Bond shot them in the vitals are not a representative cross-section of the viewing public.

  16. Bullet Tooth Tony

    February 27, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    Surely no one gets their knickers in a twist over a few swear words, do they? For heavens sake get a grip, stop being so posh.

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