My love of James Bond films knows no end. It has been a torrid affair since sixth grade. My excitement for Skyfall‘s release in November actually overshadowed my anxiety over the presidential election. Part of my adoration for Bond films is the mix of the absurd with the awesome.
One of the most pristine examples of this absurd awesomeness is found in Goldfinger. In the pre-titles sequence, Bond accomplishes a mission in a wet suit, only to remove the suit to reveal a crisp white tuxedo underneath (while I suggest watching the whole thing, this specific scene is at 2:13):
Silly? Unrealistic? You’d think. Except that it really happened in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II:
Peter Tazelaar was under orders from the exiled Dutch queen, Wilhelmina, to slip into the country to extract two fellow countrymen to join the government-in-exile in Britain.
He and his fellow secret agents – Eric Hazelhoff Roelfzema and Bob Van der Stok – had often spent time at the seaside resort of Scheveningen, near The Hague, and knew that the Palace hotel there had been taken over by the Germans as a headquarters, and that every Friday night they held large and boisterous parties there.
Their plan was simple but audacious – approach Scheveningen in darkness by boat, and take Mr Tazelaar into the surf by dinghy, from where he could scramble ashore. Once there, he would strip off his wetsuit, to reveal his evening clothes underneath, to enable him to pose as a partygoer and slip past the sentries.
…[J]ust after 4.30am on November 23 1941, after several false starts, Mr Tazelaar, Mr Hazelhoff Roelfzema, and another Dutchman, Chris Krediet, and Lieutenant Bob Goodfellow, disembarked from a British Motor Gun Boat into a small dinghy.
Once they neared the surf, Mr Hazelhoff Roelfzema and Mr Tazelaar slipped off the boat and waded onto the beach. Mr Hazelhoff Roelfzema then helped his comrade unzip his specially designed wetsuit to reveal his immaculate evening clothes.
Mr Hazelhoff Roelfzema then poured a generous measure of Hennessy XO – Mr Tazelaar’s favourite – from a hip flask over his friend, and returned to the dinghy. Reeking of brandy, Mr Tazelaar managed to stagger convincingly past the sentries stationed around the hotel.
Think twice the next time you scoff at a Bond movie. It just might be true to life.