Most Bond fans are aware of James Bond Jr., 007’s kid-friendly nephew who featured in a 1960s children’s book and an unrelated ‘90s cartoon TV series. And lots are probably aware of the son author Raymond Benson gave Bond in the short story "Blast From the Past." (Sadly, James Suzuki—son of You Only Live Twice's Kissy—didn’t survive the story, thanks to EON Productions owning the rights to any offspring of 007.) But how many know about an obscure 1968 movie that features 007’s daughter, Jill, as its plucky protagonist?
Surprisingly, the film in question, Naked You Die (which sounds like a rejected Fleming title), isn’t a spy movie at all. It’s a giallo, a particular brand of Italian thriller popular in the late Sixties and Seventies. While the term (Italian for “yellow”) refers broadly to pulpy mystery novels, when applied to film it generally refers to a specific horror subgenre in which a killer (often wearing black gloves) methodically eliminates a series of victims as an amateur hero or heroine tries to stay alive and uncover the villain’s identity while the incompetent police bumble their way through an investigation. The genre was effectively invented by director Mario Bava with his wildly entertaining 1963 Hitchcockian thriller The Girl Who Knew Too Much, but in 1970 Dario Argento solidified it with his seminal The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. In the Seventies, the genre became as much associated with gore and sleaze as with auteur style and dazzling camera work. But Naked You Die is a typically glamorous Sixties giallo, full of groovy music, pretty colors, high fashion and lush scenery.
Naked You Die began its life as a Bava project, and the director worked closely with his later Diabolik scribes Tudor Gates and Brian Degas to develop the script, in which a killer prowls a girls’ boarding school on the French Riviera. As the girls become knocked off, one by one, the plucky Jill emerges as the film’s heroine, or, to use Quentin Tarantino’s slasher vernacular, “the final girl.” Her father is described as a businessman who’s always traveling, but he sends her gadgets like walkie-talkies that encourage her natural curiosity and instincts for snooping. British actress Sally Smith (who also appeared in the lost first season Avengers episode "Toy Trap") makes Jill a likable protagonist, in the same vein as Nora, the titular heroine of The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Not until the film’s conclusion do we learn of her illustrious parentage. According to Bava expert Tim Lucas’ synopsis of the Bava/Gates/Degas script in his book, Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, “In a humorous coda scene, [Inspector] Durand stops by Jill’s room to thank her, just as her father arrives at the school to collect her. He drives a distinctive Aston Martin that identifies him as... James Bond!”
Lucas reveals, “While the full-length Italian version retained the last-minute cameo by 007, it was not included in English-language export versions–which were trimmed in some territories by as much as 20 minutes.” Fortunately, Dark Sky Films put out a superb, uncut DVD of the long-lost film last year, restored to its full running time (in a stunning widescreen transfer, no less), but in Italian only with English subtitles. However, despite Lucas’ claims, this version changes “007” to “009.” Jill’s father arrives at the film's finale (in a nice car, but sadly not an Aston Martin), scoops up his adoring daughter, and heads inside. We never see his face. Inspector Durand (Michael Rennie) then hears a telephone ringing inside the car, and answers it. A voice asks for 009, and he informs the bemused caller that he’s unavailable, currently on “Mission Jill.” Of course, not speaking Italian, all I have to go by is the disc’s English subtitles. It’s possible that Dark Sky changed the call number, eager not to offend EON’s notoriously excitable army of lawyers. However, even in the spoken dialogue, it sounds more like a nine than a seven.