When character genders change

Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson with Cary Grant as editor Walter Burns in His Girl Friday

Every so often, the idea is raised about having James Bond be played by a woman. It came up again just last week, raised by none other than British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Her comment was prompted, in part, by how Jodie Whittaker is the new Doctor Who.

“I think it’s a great move forward for girl power that there is going to be a female Doctor Who,” May told reporters on board her RAF plane Voyager, according to The Guardian. “And one day there should be a female James Bond.”

Other British newspapers ran similar accounts. And when it’s coming from the PM, it’s naturally going to be reported widely. Just as certain, many James Bond fans complained, in effect saying, “Here we go again….”

The thing is, male characters do get transformed into female ones on occasion.

His Girl Friday (1940) was the second film adaptation of the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. In the Howard Hawks-directed movie, newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) became a woman and the ex-wife of editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant).

There was a similar setup in 1988’s Switching Channels, also based on the Hecht-MacArthur play, but transporting the story to television and changing the character names.

Meanwhile, Whittaker has come aboard as Doctor Who. The BBC even posted the end of a Doctor Who Christmas special on YouTube:

 

For now, changing 007’s gender isn’t on the table, with actor Daniel Craig announcing in August he’s coming back for a fifth Bond film. But chances are the idea will get raised again at some point.

2 Responses

  1. with the doctor who character gender changes it’s going to be an issue with many British Loyal Fans of the Legendary show, I must admit I grew-up in London England. and I was a Loyal Doctor who Fan. during the Era when Jon pertwee played the Doctor and then after a couple of seasons the Character regenerated into another person actor tom Baker. it’s a neat trick especially when actors decide to leave the series. and why it works the doctor is an alien. However, changing the Gender of James Bond is a No No . The Late ian Fleming would turn in his Grave.

  2. There have been several female secret agents already. The Girl from UNCLE for one. The fans don’t support any such idea. That’s why they all flopped.

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