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AP PHOTOS: Bond girls show women's progress

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 4:32 a.m. MDT

This undated publicity photo provided by United Artists and Danjaq, LLC shows jane Seymour, left, and Roger Moore, in the James Bond 1973 film, This undated publicity photo provided by United Artists and Danjaq, LLC shows jane Seymour, left, and Roger Moore, in the James Bond 1973 film, "Live and Let Die." Initially, Bond girls were part of the aesthetic of the series. They had more transient roles. The film is included in the MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Blu-Ray "Bond 50" anniversary set. (United Artists and Danjaq, LLC, Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES — When Ursula Andress emerged from the sea, curves glistening, with a dagger strapped to her bikini in 1962's "Dr. No," she made the Bond girl an instant icon.

Always glamorous and sophisticated, yet uniquely susceptible to James Bond's flirtations, the Bond girl over the years has become as compelling as Agent 007 himself — and not just for the way she fills out a swimsuit.

"Initially, Bond girls were part of the aesthetic of the series. They had more transient roles," said Karen Tongson, a professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. "Especially in the last 15 to 20 years, there's been a marked shift in their greater involvement in the action of the story line and also the motivation for Bond, especially Daniel Craig's Bond."

FILE - In this publicity file photo provided by Sony Pictures, Daniel Craig, right, appears with  Eva Green in the 2006 James Bond film, FILE - In this publicity file photo provided by Sony Pictures, Daniel Craig, right, appears with Eva Green in the 2006 James Bond film, "Casino Royale." Whatever their role, Bond girls still must be inarguably beautiful. (Jay Maidment, File, AP Photo/Sony Pictures)

The greatest change in women's position in the Bond saga, Tongson notes, is that the agent's boss, M, is a woman.

"The sense that the higher power that Bond responds to is this dignified woman played by Dame Judi Dench suggests that the relationships he has with these other (female) figures are not just fleeting casual sexual trysts, but far more complex," she said.

Who qualifies as a Bond girl has also changed over the years, as the blue-eyed, buxom blonde has given way to more diverse leading ladies, including Michelle Yeoh ("Tomorrow Never Dies") and Halle Berry ("Die Another Day"). Modern Bond girls also present a more formidable challenge to the suave secret agent.

"They reflect some of the shifts in the post-feminist perspective: Women who use their presentation and their wiles to outsmart Bond," Tongson said.

This undated publicity photo provided by Sony Pictures shows Judi Dench playing the head of MI6, This undated publicity photo provided by Sony Pictures shows Judi Dench playing the head of MI6, "M," in the newest James Bond film "Casino Royale." The greatest change in women's position in the Bond saga, is that the agent's boss, M, is a woman. (Sony Pictures, Jay Maidment, File, Associated Press)

One thing that hasn't changed? Whatever their role, Bond girls still must be inarguably beautiful. Check out this photo gallery.

AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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