Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Honeychile Rider

In the novel and the film Dr. No James Bond meets Honeychile Rider on Crab Key. It is one of the most memorable scenes in all of the Bond films and in cinematic history. The film took some serious liberties to make the character more cinematically appealing. As the very first Bond film Honey Rider sets the bar for future Bond Girls. The Wikipedia article describes her film version as this:
She is a beachcomber making a living selling seashells in Miami.[2] Resourceful and courageous, she states that she can defend herself against any hostile when she first meets Bond. Although she is at first wary of Bond, he is allowed to get closer when he comments that his intentions are honourable. 
Like Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, Honey doesn't appear until half way through the movie. She comes out of the ocean singing "Under the Mango Tree", Bond startles her when he joins in singing. She pulls her dagger out, wary of Bond's position but grows to trust him. Honey shows Quarrel and Bond a way to evade No's men when caught. After they escape, she tells Bond how her father died when on Crab Key, and that she was raped by a local landlord. Honey relates how she got her revenge by putting a black widow spider in his mosquito net and causing his lingering death.
Ursula Andress was a wonderful choice for the character and cinema will never forget the role. It has also been reported that this is the single most famous bikini in pop culture, as well. Which is kind of funny since there wasn't a bikini in this scene in the book.



I found the novel version of Honey Rider much more interesting. She is probably the most fantastical of Ian Fleming's Bond series with almost a supernatural quality about her. The most obvious difference between the cinema Honey and the literary Honey is her face. The book version of the girl is hideous. When Bond discovers her she is naked except for her knife belt. She is whistling to herself and Bond reveals himself by whistling the next verse with her. The very first thing she does is not cover her nakedness, she covers some of her face. When she finally moves her hand away it's clear why she did this strange gesture as Bond notices that her nose was once broken and had never healed right. Her story is more interesting than the film Honey.


Rider is a Jamaican shell diver, descended from an old-established colonial family. She was orphaned at the age of five when her parents' house was burned down. She then lived with her black nanny in a cellar until she was 15, when her nanny died. Rider reveals that she was also raped as a young girl by the overseer of the property on which she lives. She killed the man in revenge later.
Rider is an independent and very beautiful woman, with the minor imperfection of a broken nose, a lasting memory of the time the overseer punched her in the face to subdue her before molesting her. She became a shell diver near Crab Key in order to make enough money by selling them to American collectors, so that she can then have plastic surgery performed on her nose.
While on Crab Key, she meets James Bond and is later captured by Dr. Julius No, who attempts to kill her by tying her to some rocks and allowing crabs to eat her alive. However, she is aware that the crabs do not like human flesh and they won't attack her. She escapes, meets up with a badly injured Bond and, together, they leave the island.
It is implied in the book that she and Bond will later take a vacation to New York City, where Bond plans to help her find work in a museum and also plans to get her nose fixed.
In later novels, Bond divulges that Honey Rider moved to Philadelphia, where she married a doctor by the name of Wilder and had two children from him.

This description doesn't tell all. She explains to Bond that while she lived in the cellar and the remains of her parents estate after her nanny died, she communed with many of the native animals by spending time with them and observing what they liked to eat and what they feared. When workers were harvesting the sugar canes many animals found their way into the same cellars where she was dwelling. It was from here she got the female back widow spider that she killed her rapist with- that did carry over to the film faithfully. Honey Rider was a Tarzan sort of character and Bond even describes her as such. Bond reflected that he knew no other girl at Honey's age that could take care of themselves as effectively as she did, and she was quite intelligent. However, her isolation gave her a child-like naivety. 

Honeychile Rider is probably Ian Flemings most interesting character. I fell in love with her.


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