|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)|
|Universe||James Bond series|
|Founded||Circa mid 1950s|
|Location||Paris, 136 Boulevard Haussmann
|Key people||Ernst Stavro Blofeld (leader)
Emilio Largo (second-in-command)
Rosa Klebb (highest-ranking female agent)
Jay Autem Holy
Nena Bisquamer (nee Blofeld)
|Purpose||Counter-intelligence, terrorism, revenge, extortion, world domination|
SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is a fictional global criminal syndicate and terrorist organization featured in the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, the films based on those novels, and James Bond video games. Led by evil genius and supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the international organization first formally appeared in the novel Thunderball (1961) and in the film Dr. No (1962). SPECTRE is not aligned to any nation or political ideology, enabling the later Bond books and Bond films to be regarded as somewhat apolitical though the former Gestapo members are a clear sign of Fleming's warning of the Nazi fascists surviving after WWII first detailed in the novel Moonraker (1954). SPECTRE began in the novels as a small group of criminals but became a vast international organization with its own SPECTRE Island training base in the films, to replace the Soviet SMERSH.
- 1 Philosophy and goals
- 2 Leadership
- 3 Appearances
- 4 Copyright issues
- 5 SPECTRE henchmen
- 6 Acronym in the rest of world
- 7 Parodies and clones
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Philosophy and goals
In Ian Fleming's novels, SPECTRE is a commercial enterprise led by Blofeld. The top level of the organisation is made up of twenty-one individuals, eighteen of whom handle day-to-day affairs and are drawn in groups of three from six of the world's most notorious criminal organisations—the Gestapo, the Soviet SMERSH, Marshal Josip Broz Tito's secret police, the Italian Mafia, the Unione Corse, and a massive heroin-smuggling operation based in Turkey. Their début is in Thunderball. At the time of writing the novel—1959—Fleming believed that the Cold War might end during the two years it would take to produce the film, and came to the conclusion that the inclusion of a contemporary political villain would leave the film looking dated; he therefore thought it better to create a politically neutral enemy for Bond. Fleming's SPECTRE has elements inspired by mafia syndicates and organised crime rings that were actively hunted by law enforcement in the 1950s. The strict codes of loyalty and silence, and the hard retributions that followed violations, were hallmarks of American gangster rings, Mafia, the Unione Corse, the Chinese Tongs and Triads and the Japanese Yakuza and Black Dragon Society. During the events of Thunderball, SPECTRE successfully hijack two nuclear warheads and plan to hold the world to ransom.
The organisation is next mentioned in The Spy Who Loved Me, when Bond describes investigating their activities in Toronto before the story begins, though they play no part in the story itself. The organisation's third appearance is in On Her Majesty's Secret Service where Blofeld, hired by an unnamed country or party—though the Soviet Union is implied—is executing a plan to ruin British agriculture with germ warfare. Blofeld, with a weakened SPECTRE would appear for the final time in You Only Live Twice. By this point, the organisation has largely been shut down, and what remains is focused on maintaining Blofeld's alias as Dr. Guntram von Shatterhand and his compound in Japan.
In the films, the organisation often acts as a third party in the ongoing Cold War. Their objectives have variously ranged from supporting Dr. Julius No in sabotaging American rocket launches, holding the world to ransom, and demanding clemency from governments for their previous crimes. The goal of world domination was only ever stated in You Only Live Twice, and SPECTRE was working not for itself but on behalf of an unnamed Asian government whose two representatives Blofeld speaks to during the film; this is strongly implied to be Red China, who earlier backed Auric Goldfinger in the film of the same name.
Its long-term strategy, however, is illustrated by the analogy of the three Siamese fighting fish Blofeld keeps in an aquarium in the film version of From Russia with Love. Blofeld notes that one fish is refraining from fighting two others until their fight is concluded. Then, that cunning fish attacks the weakened victor and kills it easily. Thus SPECTRE's main strategy is to instigate conflict between two powerful enemies, namely the superpowers, hoping that they will exhaust themselves and be vulnerable when it seizes power. SPECTRE thus works with, and against, both sides of the Cold War. For example, in the film Thunderball it simultaneously distributes Red Chinese narcotics in the United States, kills a defector to the USSR on behalf of the French Foreign Ministry, and blackmails NATO with stolen nuclear weapons, while continuing ordinary criminal operations such as advising on the Great Train Robbery.
In both the film and the novel Thunderball, the physical headquarters of the organisation are laid in Paris, operating behind the terrorist front organisation aiding refugees ("named "Firco" in the novels and "International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons'" in the films). Organisational discipline is notoriously draconian with the penalty for disobedience or failure being death. Furthermore, to heighten the impact of the executions, Blofeld often chooses to focus attention on an innocent member, making it appear his death is imminent, only to suddenly strike down the actual target when that person is off guard.
SPECTRE is headed by the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld who usually appears accompanied by a white Persian cat in the films, but not in the books. In both the films and the novels, Emilio Largo is the second in command. It is stated in the novel that if something were to happen to Blofeld, Largo would assume command. Largo appears in the novel Thunderball, the film version and its remake, Never Say Never Again where he is renamed Maximilian Largo and is said to be Hungarian rather than Italian.
Members are typically referred to by number rather than by name. In the novels, the numbers of members were initially assigned at random and then rotated on a regular basis to prevent detection. However, in the films the number indicates rank within the organisation: Blofeld is always referred to as "Number 1" and Emilio Largo, in Thunderball, is "Number 2".
The SPECTRE cabinet had a total of twenty-one members. Blofeld was the chairman and leader because he founded the organisation, and Largo was elected by the cabinet to be second in command. A physicist named Kotze (who later defected) and an electronics expert named Maslov were also included in the group for their expertise on scientific and technical matters.
This particular example of numbering is perhaps deliberately borrowed from revolutionary organisations, wherein members exist in cells, and are numerically defined to prevent identification and cross-betrayal of aims. By deliberately drawing attention away from the true leader of the organisation, he is protected by masquerading as a target of lower importance, and the structure of the organisation is also obscured from intelligence services.
In the original Bond novel series, SPECTRE's first and last appearance as a worldwide power is in the novel Thunderball, published in 1961. In the novel, SPECTRE, headed by Blofeld, attempts to conduct nuclear blackmail against NATO. Apparently disbanded afterwards, SPECTRE is said to be active again in the next book, The Spy Who Loved Me, although the organisation is not involved in the plot. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the second chapter of what is known as the "Blofeld Trilogy", Blofeld has revived SPECTRE where he attempts to extort clemency from the government of the United Kingdom. Blofeld's final appearance is in You Only Live Twice, where SPECTRE has largely disbanded.
Later, the John Gardner Bond novel, For Special Services introduces a revived SPECTRE led by Blofeld's daughter, Nena Bismaquer. Although Bond ultimately prevents SPECTRE from reforming, it continued, under the leadership of Tamil Rahani, to play a part in Role of Honour and Nobody Lives For Ever. The next Bond novelist, Raymond Benson, reintroduces Irma Bunt, Blofeld's assistant, in his short story "Blast From the Past", which is a sequel to You Only Live Twice.
In the Eon Productions James Bond series, which began in 1962 with Dr. No, SPECTRE plays a more prominent role. The organisation is first mentioned in Dr. No as the organisation for which Dr. Julius No works. This was changed from Fleming's novels, which had Dr. No working for the USSR. In the films, SPECTRE usually replaced SMERSH as the main villains, although there is a brief reference to SMERSH in the second Eon Bond film, From Russia with Love. The film adaptation of From Russia with Love also features the first on-screen appearance of Blofeld, although he is only identified by name in the closing credits of the film. SPECTRE also serve as the primary antagonists of the film, orchestrating a plan to humiliate and kill James Bond as revenge for the death of Dr. No.
After being absent from Goldfinger, SPECTRE returns in Thunderball, which closely mirrors the events of the novel, and subsequently is featured in the following films. During the events of You Only Live Twice, they attempt to incite a war between the nuclear powers, while in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Blofeld develops a germ warfare programme and plans to demand clemency and recognition of his titles. Their final appearance is in Diamonds Are Forever, where they attempt to forcibly disarm the Cold War powers. Following Diamonds Are Forever, SPECTRE and Blofeld were retired from the Eon Films series, except for a cameo by Blofeld in For Your Eyes Only in which he is finally killed. However, owing to the copyright dispute between the Fleming estate and Kevin McClory, the character is never referred to by name and is credited as "Wheelchair Villain".
SPECTRE will return for the Daniel Craig era of Bond films in the 2015 film Spectre. Craig's Bond had taken on an underground terrorist organisation similar to SPECTRE, known as Quantum. They first appeared unnamed in 2006's Casino Royale and reappeared in 2008's Quantum of Solace. In the Bulgarian subtitles of Quantum of Solace, the name Quantum was translated as SPECTRE, with the title changed to Spectre of Solace ("Спектър на утехата").
Non-canonical film appearances
SPECTRE is shown, but never mentioned by name, in the game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Instead, it is referred to as a "powerful criminal organisation". It is depicted as being much more powerful than it was in any of the films or books, possessing a massive undersea black market known as "The Octopus", resembling Karl Stromberg's Nautilus lair from The Spy Who Loved Me, a large lair built into an extinct volcano akin to the films which is used as the main base of operations, and also the personal structures of its members such as Auric Goldfinger's Auric Enterprises facility and casino and Dr. No's Crab Key, also returning from the films. SPECTRE also possesses extremely advanced technology, such as virtual reality and energy generators in its volcano lair.
SPECTRE and its characters have been at the centre of long-standing litigation starting in 1961 between Kevin McClory and Ian Fleming over the film rights to Thunderball and the ownership of the organisation and its characters. In 1963, Fleming settled out of court with McClory, which awarded McClory the film rights to Thunderball, although literary rights would stay with Fleming and thus allow continuation author John Gardner to use SPECTRE in a number of his novels.
In 1963, Eon Productions producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman made agreement with McClory to adapt the novel into the fourth James Bond film, stipulating also that McClory would not be allowed to make further adaptations of Thunderball for at least ten years since the release. Although SPECTRE and Blofeld are used in a number of films before and after Thunderball, the issue over the copyright of Thunderball did prevent SPECTRE and Blofeld from becoming the main villains in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. In 1983, McClory released a film based on his Bond rights entitled Never Say Never Again.
In 1998, MGM/UA took legal action against Sony and McClory in the United States to prevent Warhead 2000 AD from going into production. MGM/UA abandoned the claim after settling with Sony. McClory's Bond rights, including his rights in SPECTRE were unaffected.
Henchmen working for SPECTRE, one of its members, or directly for Ernst Stavro Blofeld:
- Emilio Largo – Second in command of SPECTRE and designated by Blofeld to oversee all field operations for Thunderball; killed by Domino Vitali
- Giuseppe Petacchi – Domino Vitali's brother; kills the crew aboard the NATO test flight carrying the bombs and flies it to rendezvous with SPECTRE, only to be killed upon delivery
- Vargas – The assassin who kills Petacchi
- Fonda – "Number 4," an Italian who recruited Petacchi for the plot
- Pierre Borraud – "Number 12," of the Unione Corse; had sex with a girl that he kidnapped for ransom. As a punishment, Blofeld electrocuted Borraud and returned half of the ransom money to the girl's father as compensation. While Blofeld considered the possibility that the sexual relationship was consensual, it was more important that SPECTRE was reputed to keep its word.
- Marius Domingue – "Number 7," another Unione Corse man; highly trustworthy, but singled out by Blofeld for a lecture in order to throw Borraud off guard
- Maslov – "Number 18," formerly known as Kandinsky; a Polish electronics expert who resigned from Philips AG
- Kotze – "Number 5," formerly known as Emil Traut; an East German physicist who defected to the West
- Strelik – "Number 10," a former SMERSH member; shot dead by Largo for questioning the loyalty of the other SPECTRE members
- "Number 11" – Another ex-SMERSH operative
- Count Lippe – "Sub-operator G"; expected to send the Thunderball ransom letter, but his fight with Bond and subsequent injuries led to a delay in the plan
- "Number 6" – Kills Lippe at the behest of Blofeld for being unreliable
- "Number 14" – A former Gestapo officer
- "Number 17" – Finds Domino scanning the Disco Volante with a Geiger counter in search of the stolen atomic bombs; reports her to Largo, who takes her prisoner and tortures her
- Irma Bunt - henchwoman in the novel and film On Her Majesty's Secret Service
- Black Dragon Society
This is only a brief description of the numbers of each member. In the first book to include SPECTRE, Thunderball, it is stated that the numbers of each member changes periodically (it "advances round a rota by two digits at midnight on the first of every month") to avoid detection and Blofeld is in fact "Number 2".
- By order of appearance and fate
- Mr. Jones (Dr. No) – takes his own life.
- Professor R. J. Dent (Dr. No) – killed by James Bond.
- Miss Taro (Dr. No) – arrested by Jamaican police.
- Dr. Julius No (Dr. No) – killed by James Bond.
- Donald "Red" Grant (From Russia with Love) – killed by James Bond.
- Morzeny (From Russia with Love) – killed by James Bond.
- Kronsteen (No. 5, From Russia with Love) – killed on Blofeld's orders by Morzeny.
- Rosa Klebb (No. 3, From Russia with Love) – killed by Tatiana Romanova.
- Colonel Jaques Bouvar (No. 6, Thunderball) – killed by James Bond.
- Emilio Largo (No. 2, Thunderball) – killed by Domino Derval.
- Fiona Volpe (Thunderball) – killed accidentally by her own henchmen as they attempted to kill James Bond.
- Pierre Borraud (No. 9, Thunderball) – killed by Blofeld for embezzling from Spectre.
- Marius Domingue (No. 11, Thunderball) – at large.
- Count Lippe (Thunderball) – killed by Volpe on Blofeld's orders.
- Angelo Palazzi (Thunderball) – killed by Largo on Blofeld's orders.
- Vargas (Thunderball) – killed by James Bond.
- Janni (Thunderball) – killed when Largo's yacht explodes.
- Professor Ladislav Kutze (Thunderball, defected) – last seen jumping into ocean with lifebuoy.
- Quist (Thunderball) – thrown by Largo into shark pool.
- Helga Brandt (No.11, You Only Live Twice) – thrown by Blofeld into piranha pool.
- Hans (You Only Live Twice) – thrown by James Bond into piranha pool.
- Mr. Osato (Head Of Osato Chemicals, You Only Live Twice) – shot and killed by Blofeld.
- Number 3 (You Only Live Twice) – killed by explosion
- Number 4 (You Only Live Twice) – fate unknown
- Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) – fate unknown.
- Grunther (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) – killed by Tracy Bond.
- Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever) – Mr. Wint is killed by James Bond by tying his "bomb surprise" to his coat tails and tossing him overboard, exploding before he hits the water. Mr. Kidd is set on fire and last seen swimming afloat on the sea after he jumps overboard to put out the flames.
- Bert Saxby (Diamonds Are Forever) – killed by CIA Agents.
- Mr. Hinx (Spectre)
|SPECTRE Command Structure|
|Ernst Stavro Blofeld||1||Leader||From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever
For Your Eyes Only
Never Say Never Again (non Eon)
|Active||Anthony Dawson/Eric Pohlmann
Anthony Dawson/Eric Pohlmann
John Hollis/Robert Rietti
Max von Sydow (non Eon) (Active)
|Emilio Largo||2||Second in command and head of extortion||Thunderball||Deceased||Adolfo Celi/Robert Rietti|
Operative in Blofeld's volcano lair.
|From Russia with Love
You Only Live Twice
|Deceased (both)||Lotte Lenya
|Unnamed||4||Operative in Blofeld's volcano lair.||You Only Live Twice||Unknown||Michael Chow|
|From Russia with Love
(uncredited in film)
|Jacques Bouvar||6||Military Advisor||Thunderball||Deceased||Bob Simmons (uncredited in film)|
|Unnamed||7||Member||Thunderball||Unknown||Cecil Cheng (uncredited in film)|
|Unnamed||8||Member||Thunderball||Unknown||Michael Smith (uncredited in film)|
|Unnamed||10||Member||Thunderball||Unknown||André Maranne (uncredited in film)|
You Only Live Twice
|Fatima Blush||12||Member||Never Say Never Again (non Eon)||Deceased||Barbara Carrera|
|Mr. Hinx.||unknown||Assassin||Spectre||unknown||Dave Bautista|
- Maximillian Largo (No.1, Never Say Never Again)
- Fatima Blush (No.12, Never Say Never Again)
- Eva Adara (From Russia with Love) (Video game)
Acronym in the rest of world
- Italy: SPeciale Esecutivo per Controspionaggio, Terrorismo, Ritorsioni e Estorsioni (in English: SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Retaliation and Extortion, because "Revenge" in Italian language is translated Vendetta).
- Spain: Sociedad Permanente Ejecutiva para el Contraespionaje, Terrorismo, Rebeldía y Aniquilamiento (in English: Society Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Rebellion and Annihilation, the abbreviation changes the last letter in Spanish language)
Parodies and clones
||This section contains embedded lists that may be poorly defined, unverified or indiscriminate. (January 2015)|
SPECTRE is often parodied in films, video games, and novels. Well known examples are THRUSH and KAOS from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart. The most obvious is the Austin Powers series of films. In this, a man named Dr. Evil (a parody of Ernst Stavro Blofeld) is the leader of a villainous organisation called Virtucon. Dr. Evil's second in command, known only as "Number Two", is a parody of Emilio Largo, Blofeld's second in command.
- The Belgian comics series Spirou et Fantasio features an international criminal organisation called the Triangle whose members also address each other by numbers.
- Prior to Dr. No, The Road to Hong Kong featured a "third force" organisation the Third Echelon.
- In the video game series No One Lives Forever a man simply called "The director" leads a similar organisation called "H.A.R.M.". A running joke during the series is that no one actually knows what H.A.R.M. stands for. H.A.R.M may jokingly refer to Human Aetiological Relations Machine, the name of a fictional intelligence agency featured in the 1960s spy film Agent for H.A.R.M..
- The TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had, as its adversary, a shadowy organisation known as THRUSH.
- The James Bond spinoff animated series, James Bond Jr., featured a clone of SPECTRE called "S.C.U.M." (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem).
- The animated series Inspector Gadget featured a clone of SPECTRE called "M.A.D." (Mean And Dirty). Dr. Claw, the head of M.A.D. is also based on the villain Blofeld.
- The Mexican films Chabelo y Pepito vs los Monstruos (Chabelo and Pepito vs the Monsters) and Chabelo y Pepito Detectives feature a criminal organisation named S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M., which carries two plans to dominate the world. In "Vs the Monsters", they extract uranium from a hill in the Mexican countryside, while in "Detectives" they sell toys that hypnotise children to make them work for them.
- The TV series Get Smart featured a SPECTRE-like organisation called KAOS.
- In 1983, a highly successful James Bond tabletop RPG was released. With the films as inspirations, the stories were adapted for players. Minor changes to plots and villains were made; for example, Wint and Kidd were freelance assassins working for SPECTRE. They in fact leased out services to other terrorist organisations and various crime syndicates. The most noted changes were to SPECTRE: Blofeld's name was changed to Karl Ferenc Skorpios, and he was given a greyhound instead of a white cat; the organisation itself was renamed TAROT (Technological Accession, Revenge, and Organized Terrorism), with the face cards representing various departments. This was due to the copyright issues referenced above. Victory Games (http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/jamesbond007/) worked with Eon productions (the film producers) for the rights to Bond, and were told they were not allowed to negotiate with McClory for the rights to SPECTRE, hence the hasty renaming.
- The Disney animated series Darkwing Duck featured a masked crimefighter who often worked with an agency called S.H.U.S.H. against the forces of F.O.W.L. (the Fiendish Organization of World Larceny).
- The THUNDER Agents comic featured an enemy called S.P.I.D.E.R. (Secret People's International Directorate for Extralegal Revenue).
- The Galaxy organisation features in Our Man Flint where "Agent 0008" tells Flint that Galaxy is "bigger than SPECTRE".
- Tom Clancy's novel Rainbow Six features a terrorist organisation that the characters compare to SPECTRE once they learn that the terrorists are using chemical warfare similar to that in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
- The video game Evil Genius places the player in command of a SPECTRE-like organisation, complete with a rocket-launching base inside a volcano. Additionally, one of the player's choices of leader (Maximilian) is almost identical in appearance to SPECTRE's leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (as he appeared in You Only Live Twice).
- In the British television series The Secret Show the evil Organization T.H.E.M. (The Horrible Evil Menace) is similar to SPECTRE.
- The CBBC series MI High features the criminal organization "SKUL", led by a man known only as "The Grandmaster" who is always seen stroking a white rabbit called Flopsy.
- The Spanish comic book Mortadelo y Filemón features a parody of SPECTRE called ABUELA (Agentes Bélicos Ultramarinos Especialistas en Líos Aberrantes – warlike agents overseas specialists in aberrant messes).
- The Matt Helm films featured the Brotherhood of International Government and Order abbreviated as "BIG O".
- Synthesizers company "Waldorf" has a model named "Blofeld". The editor for the samples used by this synth is called "Spectre", and one of his virtual synths is called "Largo".
- In the SpyDogs cartoon, the evil leader of cats, Katastrophe, always appears fondling a rubber mouse.
- An evil organisation named STENCH is featured in the film Carry On Spying.
- An organisation known as SCORPIA (Sabotage, CORruPtion, Intelligence, and Assassination) appears in the Alex Rider series of novels. Near the end of the Cold War, several secret agents and law enforcers abandoned their loyalty to their countries, and became effectively criminals for hire. Their actions range from supplying biological weapons to engineering terrorism.
- James Earl Ray, the killer of Martin Luther King, used the alias Eric Starvo Galt, almost certainly a mixture of Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand. "Ernst" and "Stavro" are peculiar sounds and spellings to American ears and eyes, and he mentally transposed them into "Eric" and "Starvo." And "who is John Galt?--who is Eric Starvo Galt?"
- In The Simpsons episode "You Only Move Twice" appears an organisation called Globex Corporation directed by supervillain Hank Scorpio who successfully takes control of the East Coast.
- The Marvel Comics universe has the organizations HYDRA and AIM, which are both opposed by Nick Fury and SHIELD, and are sometimes also opposed by Captain America and the other Marvel heroes, while DC Comics came up with the organization H.I.V.E. for its universe.
- The TV series Kim Possible has the organization WEE (Worldwide Evil Empire), which is opposed by GJ (Global Justice) and Kim Possible herself at times.
- In Spy Fox 2: "Some Assembly Required", Spy Fox battles LeRoach - a member of the Society of Meaningless Evil, Larceny, Lying and Yelling (S.M.E.L.L.Y.).
- In the TV series Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz is occasionally seen as a member of the League of Villainous Evildoers Maniacally United For Frightening Investments in Naughtiness (L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N.). Doofenshmirtz is not aware of the acronym until one of the other members points it out.
- The ABC drama series REVENGE (inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo) features a shadowy terrorist group called 'Americon Initiative', who serve as the villains for much of the show's initial two seasons. They are similar to Spectre or Quantum in that they have no loyalties to any nation and only seek to enrich themselves.
- Thunderball,Ian Fleming, Page 63, 1961, London: Johnathon Cape
- Ian Fleming, Andrew Lycett, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1995.
- Vejvoda, Jim. "MGM, Danjaq Settle James Bond Rights Dispute With McClory Estate". IGN. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- CommanderBond.net – Bond At Its Best
- "" Spectre " , la Cupola che sfida James Bond" (in Italian). corriere.it. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Blofeld from Demon.net
- spectreorganisation.com, information on Kevin McClory's fight for the rights to Thunderball and SPECTRE