Given its exotic locations and beautiful women, the James Bond series features an unsurprising number of belly dancers. With their jingling costumes, voluptuous figures, and alluring artistry, they titillate audiences while keeping the sexual content within the PG-13 range.
Belly dancers figure prominently in From Russia with Love. Not only does a dancer credited as Leila perform for Bond (Sean Connery) at the gypsy camp, but she is featured prominently in the title credits designed by Robert Brownjohn and Trevor Bond. According to the late cinematographer Frank Tidy (Dracula starring Frank Langella; Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone), who broke into the film business as an assistant to Brownjohn and Bond, the idea for the From Russia with Love titles came when Brownjohn’s wife walked in front of a slide show he was projecting. From that idea came the concept of projecting the titles on the undulating form of a belly dancer. Among cinematographers, it was an in-joke that cinematographer Ted Moore’s credit was projected on Leila’s posterior.
In The Man with the Golden Gun, on the trail of Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), Bond (Roger Moore) ends up in Beirut tracking down the bullet that killed British agent Bill Fairbanks. A golden “dumdum bullet” that flattens on impact for maximum wounding effect, it’s the lucky charm of belly dancer Saida (Carmen Sautoy), and she will not dance without it. Bond swallows the bullet during a fight with enemy agents.
Belly dancers also appear as ornaments in the tent of Sheik Hosein (Edward de Souza), Bond’s contact in Egypt in The Spy Who Loved Me.