It's Good to Be Bad, Villians as Icons of Style: EP. 1 (Emilio Largo - Thunderball)
In the realm of aesthetics there is no such thing as morals. Something either looks good or it doesn’t, plain and simple. Open and shut book. Despite the unambiguous nature of aesthetics, people often bring the consciences to the table when assessing style, that can’t be helped. Everyone wants to be in the moral right. However doing that leads to missing out on looks that can be fantastic sources of inspiration. With this in mind I say, “It’s good to be Bad!” In this multi-part series I will examine and discuss the flair and style of those monsters who happen to have more beauty than beast.
One such “monster” is Emilio Largo, the Bond Villain of the novel and film "Thunderball". The name Largo means, “play slowly and broadly”. Cool and calculated is his name as well as his game. His description in the novel is, “a large, muscular, olive-skinned, powerful man exuding animal charm, with the profile of a Roman emperor, hooked nose, long sideburns and hairy hands”. Read that again. Dude is long, tan, and handsome. Largo’s attractiveness isn't left up to the audience to be decided, he is constantly surrounded by beautiful women. In the film adaptation of the novel, Largo has an eyepatch that is never explained. Now most handicaps would hinder style, but rocking an eyepatch? I’m sorry but thats just added mystery. So not only is this man smooth and handsome, but he also has an air of mystique. For a good portion of the film Largo is wearing an ivory double-breasted dinner jacket. Stylistically? Largo is a threat at every level.
So this dashing figure is a villain after all, and we only witness his genius in Thunderball. Fortunately for us, the novel gives us some info on his backstory. Largo was a black marketeer and fence, who graduated to more dangerous goods after five years smuggling from Tangiers and masterminding jewel robberies in the French Riviera. He was also second in command of the criminal organization SPECTRE. I know being a criminal is supposed to be a bad thing, but if this is wrong I don’t want to be right. Can you get more elegant as a criminal than a jewel thief in the French Riviera? In the scope of Thunderball Largo’s plot is to steal two nuclear weapons from NATO at sea, and then hold them hostage for a sum of 100 million British Pounds.
Largo could have done this anywhere technically, but as a matter of preference this all occurs in the Caribbean. A good part occurs on Largo’s massive hydrofoil yacht named, the Disco Volante. That roughly translates to “flying saucer”. The Yacht has a submersible that deploys from its hull and the ability to release divers from underneath. Largo’s yacht is also fully crewed and armed. In the tradition of being extra, as Bond Villains are wanton to do, his crew is armed not only with automatic weapons but spear guns as well. Despite it being almost entirely unnecessary, half the fight scenes in this film occur underwater. Additionally, Largo has a compound that sports two pools, a Shark tank, and a full staff. Everything this man does is wrong in the “oh so right” way.
Largo puts the “bad” in “bad bitch”. I may be in the minority, but this man’s style is an inspiration to other villains and do gooders alike. Examples like him are why I will continue to argue that It’s good to be bad.