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""My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for King and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?"
"But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, who only has to make love to a women and she stars to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, then immediately returns to the side of right and virtue... but not this one!".
"
― Fiona Volpe belittles James Bond[src]

Fiona Volpe was a fictional professional assassin employed by the secretive criminal organisation, SPECTRE, who was involved in the society's plan to steal a Vulcan bomber and its precious cargo of two atomic bombs. A secondary antagonist portrayed by Italian actress, Luciana Paluzzi, the character appeared in the 1965 James Bond film, Thunderball. She is sometimes regarded as one of the best femme fatales in the films series, probably alongside May Day and Xenia Onatopp.

Biography

Background

Fiona Volpe is a deadly agent from the execution division of the international criminal organisation SPECTRE. As part of the organization's NATO mission to hijack a Vulcan bomber armed with two nuclear warheads, she is deployed to the south of England where an enforcer named Angelo Palazzi, has been hired to have his face surgically operated on at a private clinic to resemble NATO pilot Major François Derval. Volpe, meanwhile, makes contact with Derval, seduces him and becomes his mistress in order to keep a close eye on him.

Killing Derval

Volpe sleeping with Derval.

The evening of Derval's scheduled departure on a NATO training exercise, Volpe is seen making out with Major Derval, until he excuses himself to report for duty. Derval is then shocked to see Palazzi, who looks exactly like him, and is promptly killed by Palazzi with a gas gun. However, after receiving his payment from Volpe, Angelo demands more - a quarter of a million dollars. Count Lippe, the second of the three conspirators, threatens Angelo with a silenced pistol, but is instructed by the more pragmatic Volpe to put it away. She agrees to his demands to avoid further complications, saying time is of the essence and the plan must go through as scheduled, and feigns agreement that Palazzi deserves double for the time and effort he invested in becoming Derval.

Upon successful completion of the operation, SPECTRE leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld orders the execution of Lippe as punishment for his poor judgement in hiring the greedy Palazzi. The following morning, Volpe is instructed to eliminate Lippe, as his recruitment of Palazzi has proved to be a momentous mistake. When Lippe leaves the clinic Shrublands, Volpe therefore pursues him on her BSA Lightning A65L motorcycle, from which she fires missiles at his car and kills him. Volpe is later seen pushing the motorcycle into a pond, presumably to hide evidence.

Bahamas

Volpe at Largo's estate

The assassin later travels to Nassau, Bahamas, where British spy James Bond falls into her clutches in the middle of the night after a failed attempt to spy on Largo's yacht. 007 poses as a hitchhiker and Volpe startles him with her fast driving. It is here that 007 first notices her distinctive SPECTRE insignia ring. They then arrive at their hotel in Nassau. The next day, Volpe seeks out Emilio Largo, informs him and at the same time warns him against trying to kill Bond; 007's death in Nassau would be confirmation to the British that the nuclear warheads are hidden there. While shortly afterwards she takes up an invitation from Largo and visits his estate, Volpe stays at the hotel to examine his room. There, however, she is surprised to find Bond's colleague Paula Caplan, who has her overpowered by Largo's henchmen, Vargas and Janni. Caplan is taken to estate and interrogated. Before revealing any information, however, Caplan commits suicide by taking cyanide before revealing anything.

Returning to his suite after falling to save her, Bond retreats to his hotel room and discovers Volpe is his closest neighbor. 007 sneaks into the woman's apartment, where he finds her in bathtub. Since Volpe has not yet revealed herself as an enemy agent, Bond takes the opportunity to seduce her and sleep with the assassin. Later that night, they leave the hotel together to attend the Junkanoo carvenal. However, Bond opens the door to come face-to-face with Vargas and Janni. Slamming the door shut, he turns to find Volpe holding a gun on him. She lets them in and after belittling Bond about his ego they take him captive.

Junkanoo and Death

Volpe is shot in the back by her own men.

As they sit in traffic Bond improvises a distraction by knocking an intoxicated reveler's liquor over the car's interior and igniting it with Volpe's cigarette lighter. He then flees the burning vehicle into the Junkanoo crowds, pursued by Volpe, Vargas, Janni and several SPECTRE enforcers. Shot in the ankle, Bond inadvertently leaves a blood trail which leads them to the Kiss Kiss Club, where 007 attempts to mix in with the dancers.

Volpe approaches Bond as he is dancing with another woman. Assuming Volpe is his wife, the woman abruptly leaves, and the pair begin slow-dancing. As they dance another henchmen takes aim at Bond from behind a nearby curtain. Bond notices in time and spins Volpe into the path of the bullet, piercing her spine and killing her instantly. Her henchman flee and 007 drops Volpe's corpse into a nearby chair, quipping to the couple sitting at the table "mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead."

Personality

Fiona Volpe was one of SPECTRE's most dangerous assassins, as she had many assets that she used to carry out the executions ordered of her or to help her partners conspire against her enemies. In addition to being seductive, she was charismatic, assertive and authoritative towards her SPECTRE colleagues, especially those of lower rank, and was also an expert in manipulation, duplicity and plotting, so unlike many other Bond girls, she proved to be totally immune to 007's charm, and was therefore totally loyal to SPECTRE and its commitments. Volpe also seemed to be more thoughtful and conscientious than some of her colleagues, as she preferred to wait for an appropriate opportunity to take down a recalcitrant target like Bond rather than act headlong. This is demonstrated when she alerted Largo that killing Bond might have allowed his government to know that the stolen bombs were in Nassau. Volpe made decisions with aplomb, but her arrogance proved to be her weakness that led to her downfall as she underestimated 007, an enemy she thought she dominated, and was therefore killed by the bullet intended for the British spy.

Behind the scenes

Luciana Paluzzi was one of the actresses that tried for the role of Domino Derval. Though Paluzzi didn't get the part, she was later offered and accepted the role as the redheaded femme fatale assassin "Fiona Kelly" who originally was intended by writer Richard Maibaum to be Irish. The surname "Kelly" was later changed to Volpe (incidentally, Italian for fox) in coordination with Paluzzi's nationality.[1] Initially crestfallen for not being accepted to play Domino Derval, Paluzzi rejoiced when told her consolatory prize was the part of Volpe, which she said was "more fun" to play.[2] The actress later claimed being a Bond girl was a double-edged sword. In the documentary Bond Girls Are Forever, Paluzzi indeed expressed amazement at the level of fame, publicity, and recognition she received from Thunderball; but as a result of being in such an outlandish film, she felt she was taken less seriously as an actress when returning to the Italian film industry.

During the driving sequence, Fiona Volpe was dubbed by stuntman Bill Ivy.

Gallery

Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi)/Gallery

Trivia

  • "Volpe" is the Italian word for "fox",[3] the name no doubt referring to the cunning and devious nature of the character.
  • In the remake Never Say Never Again, also starring Sean Connery, the character of Fiona Volpe is slightly modified and re-presented as Fatima Blush who is played by Barbara Carrera. She also served as the template for Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice.[4]
  • The character did not appear in the novel of the same name, and was made up exclusively for the film.
  • Volpe makes a brief appearance during the opening credits of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, alongside several other characters from the franchise including Honey Ryder, Auric Goldfinger or Emilio Largo.
  • The death of Volpe has been a source of debate by Bond film fans for years, due to the ambiguous nature in which her killing is filmed. To some, Bond intentionally uses Volpe as a human shield to protect himself against a bullet, which would make Volpe the first woman in the Bond film series to be killed by 007. Her death is otherwise similar to that of Felicca from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, the latter was also shot in the back by seducing 007. The difference that Fiona is used by Bond as human shield whereas Felicca spun herself into the bullet of Sandor.

References

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