James Bond’s Unlikely Ally: Smuggler, Milos Columbo
Milos Columbo, a character from the world of James Bond, is a Greek smuggler with a complex history and a rivalry with the enigmatic Aris Kristatos. His persona was inspired by Enrico Colombo, a character from Ian Fleming’s short story “Risico,” which is part of the James Bond canon.
Milos Columbo made his cinematic debut in the 1981 film, For Your Eyes Only, brought to life by the Israeli actor, singer, and artist, Chaim Topol. This influential character has since transcended the silver screen, making his mark in the comic book world with an appearance in the Marvel Comics adaptation of the film.
Milos Columbo first comes up in conversation when Aristotle Kristatos meets James Bond at an Italian ski resort in Cortina. Kristatos refers to Columbo as “the dove.” Bond then connects Emile Locque‘s dove-shaped badges left at crime scenes, such as the murder of Luigi Ferrara, who was murdered in Bond’s car.
As Bond and Kristatos dine at a casino/restaurant, Kristatos misleads Bond about Columbo’s involvement in various shady businesses, when he is actually describing himself. He points out Columbo, who is sitting a few meters away with Countess Lisl von Schlaf.
Lisl storms out of the restaurant, and despite potential danger, Bond follows and woos Lisl. After spending the night with her, she is murdered the next morning by Locque. Unbeknownst to Bond, Columbo’s men save his life, knock him unconscious, and take him to meet Columbo on his yacht.
Columbo explains that he is Bond’s ally and proves his intentions by joining Bond in a nighttime raid on one of Kristatos’ opium-processing facility in Albania. As Columbo’s men open fire, Bond cautiously chases the fleeing Locque into the warehouse, and they seize control of the facility, narrowly escaping when Locque sets off explosives inside.
Columbo provides crucial information about Kristatos’ mountain hideout where he intends to hand over the ATAC to General Gogol. They go up there with a team of men and Melina Havelock, and fight Kristatos’ men.
Kristatos is badly injured and Melina wants to shoot him with her crossbow, but Bond tells her not to. As his back is turned, Kristatos goes to stab Bond, but Columbo throws his knife into Kristatos’ back killing him.
Chaim Topol, born in Tel Aviv in 1935, was a multi-talented actor, singer, and illustrator who overcame a modest upbringing to excel in the entertainment industry. He discovered his passion for performing arts while in the Israeli army and went on to co-found the Haifa Theatre.
Gaining international acclaim with his role in the 1964 film Sallah Shabati, Topol appeared in over 30 films, including his iconic portrayal of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, and Milos Columbo in the cast of For Your Eyes Only.
Dedicated to philanthropy, he co-founded Variety Israel and chaired the board for Jordan River Village. Topol remained married to his wife Galia for over six decades until his death in 2023 at age 87.