Some people consider French actress Claudine Auger to have been one of the most appealing of the James Bond beauties and "Thunderball," the 1965 movie in which she starred with Sean Connery, to be one of the best of the series.
Even Connery, a man not given to idle compliments, found her "charming and unspoiled." She was, at the time, just 20.
Unfortunately, the Bond movies proved poor launching pads for most of these actresses. Many fell by the wayside, but some managed to forge successful careers afterward, Auger among them.
True, she made some clunkers. There's not a lot you can do with "Black Belly of the Tarantula." And even appearing with Clint Eastwood in "The Eiger Sanction" and with Christopher Plummer in "Triple Cross" failed to generate much interest.
So she returned to her native Paris to concentrate on theater and European movies. She found almost instant success.
"Now I work all the time," she said on a quick visit to Los Angeles this week. "Three films a year sometimes. Even here, not many actresses work that much, I think. Last year I did a film I liked in England, 'Secret Places.' And I have just finished a new film in France, 'The Exploits of a Young Don Juan,' from a story by Guillaume Apollinaire."
Recently married to British businessman Peter Brent, Auger now divides her time between Paris and London. But she would like to work here again and is considering a couple of offers.
"It isn't easy," she said. "I am French and I am 42. I can't hide that because so many people know how old I was when I made 'Thunderball.' I hope there are still roles for me here, but French actresses have never had much success in Hollywood. . . . The Swedes and the Germans do much better than we do. It's hard to explain why.
"I like coming here. I call all my friends, among them Clint Eastwood, and before I go back, I always go to the end of Santa Monica pier and throw a coin in the Pacific. Just as we do in Rome's Trevi Fountain--to make sure we will return one day. So far I've kept coming back to Los Angeles, so I guess it must work. . . . "
SAGE ADVICE: Michael Caine has just taken part in a BBC television documentary, "Acting in Film," in which he discusses the art of acting with five young hopefuls.
Among his comments:
"Always be known by your first name on the set. If you insist on being called 'mister,' you may find lamps start falling on your head. . . .
"Always carry a mouth spray and use it before a kissing scene. 'What's that?' the actress may say. 'Here, have a taste,' you say, and spray some in her mouth. That takes care of her breath. . . .
"If the special-effects people tell you the shark has no teeth and the snake has no venom, always say: 'You do it first.' "
MOUNTING UP: Although Raquel Welch won a $10.8-million court victory this year over MGM because of her firing from the 1981 movie "Cannery Row," she has not, as yet, seen any money.
"And we won't until all the legal maneuvers and appeals have been exhausted," says her husband, French producer Andre Weinfeld. "It could take another two years."
A long wait.
"There are compensations," said Weinfeld. "The money is now earning 10% interest annually. In two years' time the award could be worth another $2 million."