Henchwoman of the Week: Helga Brandt
Featured In: You Only Live Twice (1967)
Essential Accessory: Exploding lipstick
Fashion Faux Pas: White shoes after Labor Day
Fortune-Cookie Fortune Taped to Monitor: "You will meet a tall, dark stranger with a speech impediment."
Termination: Skeletonized in under thirty seconds
Temps, have you ever had a boss who blurs the line between administrative assistant and personal assistant? Supervisors that don't see any difference between you taking dictation and picking up dry-cleaning? Or between writing a memo and chopping firewood? Or maybe between light filing and assassinating secret agents?
Our henchwoman this week, Helga Brandt, certainly seems to have that problem. When she first appears, she is piloting her boss's helicopter onto a landing pad on top of a building, and moments later, she is serving drinks to her boss and his guest, the dashing Mr. Fisher.
Miss Brandt is henching for Mr. Osato, the owner of Osato Chemicals, a company deep into dealings with S.P.E.C.T.R.E., an organization even more evil than Microsoft (but slightly less organized). S.P.E.C.T.R.E. wishes to trick the world powers into starting a war by capturing their satellites, or something (the screenplay for this film was written by Roald Dahl, the guy who did Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, so although the plot is convoluted, just be happy there are no disturbing, chanting midgets).
And Mr. Fisher, as it turns out, is actually the insufferably smug British secret agent, James Bond.
Brandt is introduced as Osato's "confidential secretary," although, as mentioned, she is soon schlepping drinks and enduring lecherous leers from Mr. Bond. His eyes crawl all over her while she retrieves champagne from a small refrigerator. Osato and Bond make small talk, Osato stating that "cigarettes are very bad for your chest."
"Mr. Osato believes in a healthy chest," Brandt purrs, arching her back to better display her cone-like bosoms. While most certainly a looker, Brandt isn't much of a dresser. She wears a bright orange blouse, an off-white skirt, and white pumps. It's okay, though, for Bond has no doubt already undressed her in his mind.
Osato, meanwhile, is not fooled by Bond's cover as Fisher, a man looking to obtain a chemical manufacturer's license, and after the government-paid psychopath leaves, Osato barks "Kill him!" to Brandt.
So, in the space of a few minutes, Brandt has been a pilot, a waitress, and now, a hitman (woman). She picks up a phone (we assume to call her agency to get a higher rate) and moments later Bond is dodging bullets fired by some thugs in a car.
At least she knows how to delegate.
Bond escapes the attempt on his life, only to have more thugs try to kill him at a shipyard. They fail, utilizing the age-old thug practice of "If he's far away, try to kill him, but if he's right next to you, just knock him unconscious." They do, and he awakens aboard the Ning-Po (pronounced Ning-Poo), a luxury yacht. Tied to a chair in Brandt's private cabin, Bond spews sexist remarks while Brandt, dressed much more seductively now, slaps him around and threatens him with a scalpel. We get the feeling Bond normally pays for this sort of thing.
Slaps and threats give way to tepid, stiff-lipped kisses and an agreement to fly to Europe together. Brandt frees Bond and gives him the scalpel, which he uses to cut the straps of her dress. Of course, he still has to unzip her dress to get it off, making his strap-slashing seem foolish and a waste of a perfectly good gown.
On board Brandt's two-seater plane, Helga throws some exploding lipstick at Bond's feet, pins his arms under his tray-table (now you know why they must be in the upright and locked position during take-off and landing), and parachutes to safety. Bond frees himself with a lame karate chop, and lands the plane, nonplussed.
Later, Osato and Brandt are called into the office of Number One, the faceless CEO of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., to answer the question of why Bond is still alive, unharmed, and free to kill thugs, blow up helicopters, and degrade women.
Osato, knowing full well that shit rolls downhill, points the finger at Brandt. Using a footpedal (his hands are busy stroking his cat, and that's not a euphemism), Number One drops Brandt into his piranha tank, where she is quickly skeletonized.
I bet even Bond wouldn't want to jump those bones.
Performance Review: Helga certainly has a wide array of marketable skills, but sadly, like most henchpeople, she is lacking in the one she was primarily hired for. Bond was unconscious and tied to a chair, but before doing away with him, she just had to do him.
Women. All they think about is sex.
Helga Brandt was played by Karin Dor, a German actress who has starred in over fifty films and television shows.