How SPECTRE references all 23 previous James Bond films…

First and foremost, this article spoils Spectre in its entirety. Crucially, one of the main draws to the new film is the amount of references to the previous films in the James Bond series. As an enormous fan, I got a little worn out by the scene-by-scene nods and connections that it became a little distracting. I have a funny feeling that many viewers found this one of the more entertaining elements. So, without judgement, here is my evidence sheet for the relentless links to every film so far, showing that even the smallest element in Spectre often owes a debt to a previous adventure by the super suave spy.


Dr No – Christoph Waltz has clearly turned to the same tailor as the first villain, Dr No. An Asian attire (called a ‘Nehru’ jacket), even his sandals don’t look out of place with the unique suit worn.

UPDATE: On arrival to Oberhauser’s base, both Bond and Bond Girl are shown to their respective quarters in the same manner as Connery and Andress were directed in Dr No


From Russia With Love – As soon as we set foot on the humid train from Tangier in Spectre, we feel the aura of From Russia With Love. As expected, the Mr Hinx/007 fight escalates dramatically as every carriage is decimated before our eyes, unlike Red Grant and Bond who simply ruin a single cabin. There’s also Klebb-like red-lipsticked woman at SPECTRE Conference 2015.


Goldfinger – When Bond and Madeline spot (in true Lawrence of Arabia style) a Rolls Royce appear over the horizon, 007 knows exactly what it is. Perhaps because it’s so similar to Mr Auric Goldfinger’s Rolls-Royce Phantom III. Secondly, an ejector seat is used in the Rome car-chase and, to top it off, Bond is strapped up as drills (rather than lasers) inch close to killing him. “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die!” would’ve been too on the nose, but it wasn’t far off.


Thunderball – The entire button-press and chair-death cliché appeared in Thunderball. Spectre reinvents this entire scene with an enormous crowded room, a short whisper and silent murder. It’s the same effect as the evil organisation comfortably accept the inevitable death at their annual meetings.


You Only Live Twice – The first reveal of Blofeld (played memorably by Donald Pleasence) became the iconic character. The grey suit may not be Christoph Waltz’s choice (though again, his minimalist style is purposefully similar) but a scar down the face dates right back to You Only Live Twice. Growing bigger and bolder since Dr No, the active volcano base of You Only Live Twice is the clear link made in Spectre as Blofeld manages operations from inside a crater.


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – The first publicity shot of Spectre hinted at a skiing action sequence. Instead, we have the modern “health” building (Optional skiing club on the side) that has a comparative design to Blofeld’s base in OHMSS. Telly Savalas’ active interpretation of Blofeld, I’d argue, holds the same smug tone that Waltz is expert in delivering.


Diamonds Are Forever – Christoph Waltz could’ve been bald, but instead he kept a close cut in the manner Charles Grey chose for the face-changing Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. Additionally, Mr Wint and Mr Kidd’s faux-civilised names link directly to Spectre’s henchman, Mr Hinx.


Live and Let Die – The entire opening of Spectre is a visual feast of Day of the Dead and Mexican tradition. Live and Let Die, set primarily in New Orleans and the Caribbean is steeped in voodoo thematic imagery. Baron Samedi even wears a skull face too. For all we know, he may have been present at the Day of the Dead celebrations in Spectre (because he didn’t die in Live and Let Die…)


The Man with the Golden Gun – Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai provided inspiration for the fun house finale in TMWTGG, as Roger Moore shoots glass mirrors before taking out Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga. Spectre playfully turns the destroyed MI6 building into a funhouse as signals and flipping target-practices disorientate James Bond on his search for Madeline.

UPDATE: Spectre‘s helicopter loop-the-loop in Mexico is shot in a similar manner to the loop-the-loop conducted by Bond (with Sheriff J.W. Pepper as passenger) in The Man with the Golden Gun


The Spy Who Loved Me – Madeline’s expert handling of weaponry and her personal loss (partly due to Bond) is similar to Barbara Bach’s Agent X. Agent X has lost her partner, seeks to kill the man responsible and falls for James. The Spy Who Loved Me also introduced Jaws, the enormous, silent henchman that Spectre’s Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) must’ve modelled himself upon.


Moonraker ­– Granted, no Star Wars money-grabbing in Spectre, but deeper into Oberhauser’s base, his black suited sat-at-computer-desks army seem to have more than a whiff of Moonraker about them. I’m sure a NASA spacecraft is lurking somewhere in that bunker.

UPDATE: A tense cable-car scene, as Q contends with Oberhauser’s goons, could be noting the memorable Moonraker fight between Jaws and 007.


For Your Eyes Only – The attempt at seriousness for Roger Moore was rooted in a personal story about fathers and daughters – and how family is the key to “seriousness”. Spectre (unnecessarily) employs a family subplot to heighten the tension as Bond and Blofeld are apparently brothers. For Your Eyes Only is also the strange opening with bald-headed, grey-suited “villain” who, for legal reasons, is not Blofeld.


Octopussy – At this stage it starts to get tricky. But, other than the Octopus logo, the mention of 009 in Spectre (Remember, it was 009’s car 007 nabs from Q branch) is the same 009 agent (dressed as a clown) killed at the opening sequence of Octopussy. There is also a neat link to the Fleming book as ‘Oberhauser’, the birth name of Spectre’s Blofeld, originally appeared in the novel.


A View To A Kill – I’ll admit that I’m grasping at straws here, but the climax of A View to a Kill is Max Zorin, flying his blimp over San Francisco Bay Bridge. There’s also an explosive finale above, and on, a bridge in Spectre


The Living Daylights – Famously, The Living Daylights set up a deeply serious Bond figure decades before Daniel Craig arrived. Apart from the similar deserts that feature in both The Living Daylights and Spectre (Tangier is a location appearing in both films – remember that “magic” carpet?), I’m sure Daniel Craig would’ve revisited Timothy Dalton’s duo to build his character throughout his tenure.


Licence to KillSpectre, again, see’s M tell James Bond he’s “grounded”. This idea of MI6 stopping the agent conducting any missions (but he shoots and kills anyway) only harks back to the ‘Bond goes rogue’ trope of Licence to Kill (in turn, inspired by Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, etc).


Goldeneye – In the Mexico-based, loopy helicopter beginning, the stunt peaks as the ‘copter heads south and Bond pulls on the throttle as best he can, managing to pull it up in the nick of time. Brosnan managed the same feat, in a plane, after falling off the edge of a cliff.


Tomorrow Never Dies – The idea of an ex-girlfriend of James Bond, turning up in an adventure was recently toyed with in Tomorrow Never Dies as villain Elliot Carver’s wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), has had a relationship with Brosnan’s Bond. More interesting is how Monica Bellucci was tested for the role of Paris, only for the “fools” to say no, according to Brosnan.


The World is Not Enough – As soon as a boat smashes out of that iconic London building and onto the Thames, no one forgets the outstanding opening sequence to The World is Not Enough – I’m sure Mendes didn’t forget it when he had the same stunt in the final action sequence.


Die Another Day – This was the 20th film and, like Skyfall and Spectre, it was filled with references to previous exploits, including a bunker that houses items such as the poisonous shoe in From Russia With Love and a crocodile-boat from Live and Let Die. Spectre wasn’t the first film to be filled with wall-to-wall references in the series.

UPDATE: After escaping SPECTRE’s Rome get-together, akin to Zao and Brosnan’s Bond zooming around on the ice in Die Another Day, both Mr Hinx and Craig’s Bond conduct an exquisite chase in their own smart, customised cars.


Casino Royale – Obviously, from this point on, all the films are interconnected. But there is a neat call back to the snarky bullet-removal bluff Bond uses for his second kill in Casino Royale as Ralph Fiennes’ M repeats it in Spectre when facing C (Andrew Scott).


Quantum of Solace – As I understand, Quantum is an offshoot of the SPECTRE organisation but the reoccurring role of Mr White is a welcome return to a character truly fleshed out in Quantum of Solace.


Skyfall – Let us be perfectly clear here, Skyfall and Spectre are a duo – and virtually every ‘death’ theme introduced in Skyfall is resolved in Spectre. Not to mention how the history and upbringing of James is the emotional core of the film before it is built upon in Spectre.

This was originally written for Flickering Myth in November 2015



  1. This was a fantastic read! I actually really liked Spectre. It seemed like it got a lot of hate just for being sub-par in relation to Skyfall and Casino Royale. A bit unfair. These references are awesome. View to a Kill was definitely a stretch haha. But that movie was borderline parody anyways.

    I’ll be following to read more, I love your blog a lot. If you get a chance, check out mine too! Keep up the great work! 🙂

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