Helga Brandt is a henchman in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. She is the personal secretary to Japanese industrialist Mr. Osato and a member of the criminal organization, SPECTRE. She was portrayed by German actress Karin Dor.
This sexy young red-haired German woman lives in Japan and works for Mr. Osato as a secretary in her position as SPECTRE agent number 11, consequently she is given all the ‘dirty work’ by Osato. An expert in torture using plastic surgeons tools, Bond is spared the integration when she stupidly decides to have a bit of pleasure for herself before she gets down to work for her demanding superiors. When she is not with her bosses, she is a seductress who seems to take great care over her appearance, but she appears to be a quite malleable person with Bond, who uses her vulnerability to make her fail her assignment to kill him.
Otherwise, she seems to be a quite conscientious and devoted henchwoman in her thankless daily work for her bosses as a multi-fonctional assistant, being succesively a pilot, a personal secretary, a waitress and a hit-woman, and following all the orders given by her superiors. Plus, she almost succeeds in killing James Bond, but when she finally narrowly fails and due to her low rank in the hierarchy, Blofeld shows not an ounce of leniency toward her and she has to pay it with her life with one of the worst and painful death in a Bond movie.
Meeting Mr. Fisher
Miss Brandt is first encountered by James Bond (posing as Mr. Fisher, the new managing director of Empire Chemicals) during his scheduled meeting with Osato, wearing a bright orange blouse and white high heels. Arriving by helicopter, Osato introduces himself and his 'confidential secretary', who proceeds to offer Bond a glass of champagne. While she bends down to serve him, she reprimands Bond's smoking by telling him that Osato believe in a healthy chest, before arching her back to better display her bosom. She then takes some notes about Mr. Fisher but as soon as Bond leaves Osato strictly orders her to kill him, and she immediately endeavours to carry out this order. Making the call, she arranges for a car-load of assassins to intercept Bond, but is subsequently foiled by the actions of Aki.
Later at the Kobe docks Bond is captured while investigating and is taken aboard the ship to see Helga, who is now heavily made-up and seductively dressed. Now alone with him, the beautiful young single woman is about to torture him with a dermatome in order to discover his true identity, but suddenly, very aroused and thinking she will have enough time to kill him later, she decides to enjoy herself first and allows herself to be seduced by him, pretending to defect to his side. While she kisses him, Bond lies to the sexy redhead, saying that he is an idustrial spy. Helga then stupidly claims she already knows that, as she is too preoccupied with her own pleasure to be concentrated on what he says. Bond then pretends he can offer Helga $150,000 to help escape back to Tokyo. She first refuses, saying her boss would kill her, but after an hesistation she frees Bond, lets him unzip her dress and has sex with him. She has now failed twice in her assignment to kill Bond.
Shortly after, the pair board a Meyers 200 aeroplane supposedly bound for Tokyo. However, in mid-flight, while she is applying her makeup, Brandt decides to show Bond that she remains loyal to her bosses, and traps him with her exploding lipsick and a wooden restraint and parachutes out to safety; leaving the spy to perish in the upcoming plane crash. Unfortunately for Helga, making an emergency landing, 007 narrowly escapes the plane before it violently explodes, convincing Brandt of his death. She doesn't know it yet, but she has now failed to kill him for the third and last time, and is going to pay a very high price for those failures.
The following day, Helga is seen in a red tailored skirt working for her bosses in Blofeld's hideout, where she helps to the capture of a Soviet spacecraft. Blofeld then summons Osato and her (by calling her "number 11") to his quarters for an urgent report, and reprimands them for failing to kill Bond. Standing next to Osato, the 28 years old secretary seems to be unnerved. Blofeld deliberately refuses to acknowledge her presence and acts as if she was not there, to show how insignifiant she is in the organization. Shocked by Blofeld's revelation, Helga claims that Bond was killed a long time ago as the newspapers said, but she then understands that Mr. Fisher was in reality James Bond and that she failed to kill him. Osato is also responsible but unfairly places the full blame on his assistant, noting that he strictly ordered her to kill Bond, which is a lot easier to do. Helga vainly argues that Osato also had ample opportunity to do it himself, but Blofeld dryly reminds her that SPECTRE doesn't tolerate failure.
Blofled initially allows Helga to believe that he is going to let her live, but presses a hidden foot pedal, causing the walkway under Brandt to collapse and plunges her into a pool full of pet piranha fish. Helga is eaten alive and stripped to the bone from head to toe in a few seconds, intimidating Osato and the two Red Chinese who witness her death. Bond apparently remains unaware of her fate as she is never mentioned again in the film after her death.
Behind the scenes
- According to Karin Dor, who is a natural brunette, the producers wanted a "blonde German girl (to play Helga Brandt) but they ended up with me". As a compromise, they dyed Dor's hair red for the movie, turning Brandt into something of a Fiona Volpe clone.
- Even though there was no Helga Brandt in the novels, Brandt was the name of Emilio Largo's mechanic in the Ian Fleming novel Thunderball.
- Her first name is never mentioned in the film.