The Bey Hive
Kerim Bey is the Bond of Istanbul. Bond says Bey "started life breaking chains and bending bars in a circus." It's tough to say if this is actually the true story behind the man or if it's just a myth. Bey later says he had a "fascinating life," so we think this might be a true fact.
Bey's savvy and connected. He's an oasis of calm in a pretty chaotic spy vs. spy scene in Istanbul, and he's quick to clue in Bond when he gets there.
BEY: You are in the Balkans now, Mr. Bond. The game with the Russians is played a little differently here. In the day-to-day routine matters we don't make it too difficult to keep a tab on each other.
Bey's a crack shot, too. Even though his arm is injured, he takes out a rival assassin with one well-placed shot from a sniper rifle.
Also like Bond, Bey always has a woman hanging off him. He employs beautiful secretaries who do more than take dictation. He also has Bond's M.O. with women:
MISTRESS: You're not glad to see me this morning, sirree?
MISTRESS: I... I no longer please you?
KERIM: Be still.
Just like Bond, Kerim Bey sighs and ambles slowly over to the bed.
All in the Family
Bey's entire staff – his driver, his security men, his coffee guy – all seem to be his sons.
BEY: All of my key employees are my sons. Blood is the best security in this business.
Considering what a womanizer Bey is, we wonder if they all have different mothers.
Bey's been in the spy game for a long time. In the free-for-all that passes for spycraft in Istanbul, he manages to slip in unnoticed and figure out all the important players. He's found a way to spy on his enemies with a periscope from a network of underground cisterns. Even 007 is impressed.
BEY: Our friends were turned out while the Public Works Ministry conducted a survey. The story was that the heavy traffic was shaking the foundations. By the time the place was declared safe, I had this installed.
BOND: I can see everything M said about you is right.
BEY: Or, why I stay in this mad business?
BOND: Well, it could be that you find selling rugs a bore.
BEY: My friend, you should be a mind reader.
Like Bond, Bey has no problem using his friends to get ahead. Bond uses Tania to get to the Lektor machine, and Bey manipulates the local Romani tribe for his own personal security system against the Russians.
BEY: You'll like my Gypsy friends. I use them like the Russians use the Bulgars. I'm afraid it's created a blood feud between them.
A blood feud. A fight to the death. How fun. Bey tosses this off casually, writing off the loss of their lives like they're ants under his boots. His callousness makes it difficult to feel bad when he gets bumped off himself, like most, if not all, of Bond's non-white helpers. If Bey sees others as pawns in a game, we're not going to mourn him as if he were a hero.
Although we do mourn Pedro Armendáriz, who was terminally ill and in horrendous pain during the shooting of the film and didn't live to see its release. His performance—well, that's heroic.