The X Rated James Bond Scenes

With anticipation now high on the upcoming new James Bond film Skyfall starring Daniel Craig, will the completed film survive without any cuts?

There is a long history with the Bond films and the British Board of Film Classification, and listed below are just some of the scenes that the censors didn’t want you to see.

Producers of the 007 movies had to cut scenes, redub dialogue and rewrite scripts because the British Board of Film Classification objected to some of the spy’s more risque exploits.

Censors insisted on 13 separate cuts from Sean Connery’s 2nd Bond film, 1963’s From Russia With Love, before they would grant it a coveted A rating – allowing children to see the film if accompanied by an adult. Demands included the removal of a nude shot of Russian heroine Tatiana Romanova, played by Italian starlet Daniela Bianchi, walking towards a bed.


Terence Young directs Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi in the controversial From Russia with Love scene


Seven of the cuts involved what the censors described as ‘double entendre dialogue’. A line where Romanova asks Bond, ‘Was I as exciting as all those Western girls?’ was toned down by replacing the word ‘was’ with ‘am’.

And a shot in a compartment on the Orient Express when Bond lowers a blind and tells Romanova ‘two hours should straighten this out’ was removed altogether.

During the making of Thunderball in 1965, starring Connery, the BBFC wrote to co-producer Harry Saltzman warning that unless changes were made to the script, it could end up with an X certificate.

The letter outlined 32 scenes which could be problematic because of ‘sex and sadism’, including love scenes between Bond and physiotherapist Patricia Fearing, played by British actress Molly Peters.

The BBFC warned that Fearing’s costumes amounted to ‘semi-nudity’ and raised concerns about a scene in which Bond massaged her back with a mink glove. The scene was dropped from the British version.

The censor also said there could be ‘a lot of trouble’ about a ‘gratuitous’ sex scene where Bond makes love to enemy agent Fiona Volpe, played by Luciana Paluzzi, and then tells her he did it for ‘King and country’. The scene appears to have survived, however, after being toned down.


The scene in Thunderball which was originally cut from it’s UK release


In 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring George Lazenby, the BBFC objected when a flirtatious dinner-party guest (played by British actress Angela Scoular) wrote her room number on 007′s bare inner thigh under the dinner table. Bond was originally supposed to say ‘I have a slight stiffness’ but the line was redubbed with the extra words ‘in my shoulder’ so that the erotically charged scene could remain. The edit persisted into all home video releases.


Lazenby’s `stiffness coming on’


In 1971, Sean Connery returned in Diamonds Are Forever, following Lazenby bowing out after only outing, and this film would suffer several cuts, including a scene of a man on fire, that was cut back on the grounds that it was too harrowing. Footage of the ablaze Mr Kidd running across the deck screaming and climbing up onto the railing, as he throws himself overboard was removed, leaving just the shot of him hitting the water. When shown on TV, this scene is usually cut similarly.


The cut scene from Diamonds Are Forever (1971)


In 1985′s A View To A Kill, Roger Moore’s last film as Bond suffered the most cuts during his tenure. The BBFC requested that a heavy crotch kick and a double neck chop, both given by Bond, be removed from the film to get a PG rating. These cuts occur during the fight in the hidden room under Zoran’s stable. If you watch the scene closely, or even frame by frame, the scene is somewhat sloppy in a couple of places. When the film was edited, the pre-cut version was submitted for a formal rating.

During this stage of classification, the Board asked for an alteration to the opening titles on a shot of an almost nude woman. Its hard to speculate which woman this refers to, but viewing the titles it seems likely that it could be the woman seen through a scope near the beginning, who becomes defocused and blurry whenever she turns the front of body towards the camera, or the mirrored image of the dancing women at the end as Michael Wilson’s name appears. She too, goes out of focus on a profile shot where her nipples almost become clearly visible.


One unnamed female censor took offence at a scene in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, when the villain uses a knife to undo a costume worn by French actress Carole Bouquet.


But undoubtedly the film which suffered the most at the hands of the censors was Timothy Dalton’s 2nd outing as Bond in Licence to Kill.

The 23rd of February 1989 saw Licence to Kill come before the BBFC for an advice viewing. The print was a rough cut, with an incomplete sound mix and no credits sequence. The running time was 2 hours, 8 minutes, 42 seconds and 9 frames. The BBFC examiners finished viewing the film, and were split between three options – an uncut 15, a 15 with cuts and, amazingly, an uncut 18. A decision was eventually made between the examiners that an uncut 15 was not possible, and a potential cuts list was drawn up for a cut 15 version.

These initial cuts were small, but also somewhat vague, and were outlined by the BBFC in their original notes:

  • Reel 1: the whipping of the woman [Lupe]
  • Reel 2: the man [Felix] lowered into the shark tank
  • Reel 10: the man [Krest] in the pressure chamber
  • Reel 11: the man [Dario] crushed in the grinder

Licence to Kill was then re-edited and almost a full month passed before the film was back at Soho Square. During this second screening more cuts were required for a 15 certificate.

Licence to Kill was then submitted for viewing by a new, different team of examiners. After the screening of the film, the BBFC concluded that more cuts were required for a 15 rating, and that extensive cuts for a 12 rating were not a viable option. The 12 rating was not yet available to distributors but was soon going to be introduced later in the same year.


As a result of this second screening, the BBFC stated further cuts still had to be made to pass the film as 15, which included the trimming of Sanchez being set alight by Bond at the end of the film by removing two shots of his body in flames (above).

Staggeringly, it would be nearly two decades before British Bond fans could finally see Licence to Kill uncut. Seventeen years after its heavily edited cinema release in 1989, the Ultimate Edition DVD released in 2006 finally restored all the BBFC- and MPAA edits to the picture.



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