Rick English stunt performer on MI, James Bond, Kingsman, and more

Podcast Episode

Rick English stunt performer on MI, James Bond, Kingsman, and more

Award-winning stunt performer Rick English talks spy movie stunts with Dan and Tom. Rick has worked on all of the big spy movie franchises.

Rick English stunt performer talks spy movie stunts with Dan and Tom on their show Cracking the Code of Spy Movies.  If you’ve seen at least three spy or action movies in the last two decades, you’ve likely seen Rick’s work in at least one of them.  

Rick is an award-winning stunt performer who has been involved with the James Bond, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, BATMAN, and KINGSMAN franchises.   He was also in INCEPTION, The 355, FAST AND FURIOUS, and many more movies over his 20+ year career. 

In this episode we discuss some of scenes from some the movies he’s worked on (Including CASINO ROYALE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT, BOURNE ULTIMATUM, JASON BOURNE, INCEPTION, and more.)  

Among the topics we discuss, Rick tells us how the stunt performer business works, how the motorcycle crash stunt he did in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION was done, and he tells how they did the zero-gravity hallway fight in INCEPTION, what he wants from a stunt coordinator.  Listen to find out how. It is fascinating how they do these things and what can be planned and what can’t. His explanation of that motorcycle crash was quite eye-opening.  

This episode helps the moviegoer understand the role of the stunt performer and how they are used. Rick explains some of the techniques they used for some of the specific stunts.  After listening, you’ll understand why he’s won so many awards. 

Our next episode will also be with Rick English.  He will tell us all about the stunts in the KINGSMAN series, including the church fight scene and the meat grinder. 

You can check out all of our CRACKING THE CODE OF SPY MOVIES podcast episodes on your favorite podcast app or our website

Ideas/Comments? info@spymovienavigator.com

Webpage:  https://bit.ly/3MSue6n

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Part 2: A Talk with QUANTUM OF SOLACE Director of Photography, Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC

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Restoring James Bond Vehicles with the Ian Fleming Foundation Video

What would it be like to help with restoring James Bond vehicles used in the movies long before they go the public exhibits and shows, like Bond in Motion? Well, we were invited to a work weekend to do exactly that!  And, we took lots of pictures and videos to share with you!


Dan and Tom recently were privileged to attend the Ian Fleming Foundation work weekend. This is one of the times that the Foundation spends working on its inventory, restoring the vehicles, and having a great time telling James Bond stories. It was a blast!

We’ll take you backstage and let you hear about how they get these vehicles and what they have to do to restore them so we can all see them in exhibits like Bond in Motion.


One of the vehicles we discuss is Goldfinger’s plane. This is a huge and fascinating restoration job.

Steve Targosz discusses this massive project. Another one was one of the Kenworth trucks from LICENCE TO KILL. Colin Clark walks us through this one. These are two that they are still restoring so you wouldn’t have seen them in a museum yet.

But, we also saw some vehicles that have been restored that we saw. Leonard Johnson discusses getting and restoring the fire engine from A VIEW TO A KILL. Colin Clark walks us through getting the plane Sanchez escapes in from LICENCE TO KILL and what shape it is in.

Plus, we talk about, Zao’s green Jaguar from DIE ANOTHER DAY, the helicopter from FROM RUSSIA WITH
LOVE, and lots more!

If you want to donate to the foundation, you can do so on their website.

You can check out all of our podcast episodes and videos on your favorite podcast app or on our website . Our channel name is CRACKING THE CODE OF SPY MOVIES.

Ideas/Comments? Info@cracking-the-code-of-spy-movies.com

SpyMovieNavgator has no affiliation with the Ian Fleming Foundation and has received no compensation for this video.

Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale, editorial content, 007, James Bond, spy movie podcasts, EON Production movies, espionage, Daniel CraigCasino Royale, released in 2006 by Eon Productions, it’s 21st Bond film, rebooted the series with another new James Bond, Daniel Craig, now earning his 00 status here.   The script sticks closely to the Ian Fleming novel and is a masterpiece of suspense involving big-stakes Casino gambling at Casino Royale in Montenegro., Le Chifre, a terrorist money manager, who is trying to recoup money he was to invest for war lords in Uganga, Vesper Lynd – Bond’s love interest, we meet Mr. White, Rene Mathis and others along the way.  And a big ending.

Often rated one of the best James Bond movies ever, Casino Royale (2006) takes us all over the globe from Prague, Uganda, Madagascar the Bahamas and more.

James Bond’s CASINO ROYALE (2006) Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Podcast Episode

James Bond’s CASINO ROYALE (2006) Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Join us today as we take a gamble getting Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond as we look at the pre-title and title sequence of Casino Royale!

Aces!  Spades! Clubs! Hearts! Diamonds! Death! And OO status revealed all in the Pre-Title and Title sequences of Casino Royale!

Join us today as we take a gamble getting Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond as we look at the pre-title and title sequence of Casino Royale!

We will dive into both the pre-title sequence and the title sequence for Casino Royale because they are inextricably connected – with the pre-title being a flashback, and the title sequence really a clever foreshadowing of what will happen in this mission.

Feedback: info@SpyMovienavigator.com

In this podcast, we examine the following from the pre-title and title sequences of Casino Royal (2006):

  • The impact of the black & white presentation of the pre-title sequence
  • What floor does the main pre-title action occur?
  • The cool demeanor of both Bond and Dryden
  • Does Dryden’s gun have a clip in it?
  • The fight in the men’s room
  • Did Dryden know about the first kill?
  • The influence of the three real faces seen in the title sequence
  • How gambling and casino games are portrayed in the title sequence
  • The gunbarrel sequence and are there two dots?
  • Why Bond’s face gets changed from Daniel Craig’s to a black silhouette.
  • and more…


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Dan and Tom discuss their trip to Sardinia, Italy to find the filming locations from the James Bond movie, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

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James Bond – The Daniel Craig Arc from CASINO ROYALE to SPECTRE!

Podcast Episode

James Bond – The Daniel Craig Arc from CASINO ROYALE to SPECTRE!

Join Dan Tom and a special guest, our agent in Montreal "Eddie," in looking at the Daniel Craig arc - get ready for NO TIME TO DIE!


Join Dan Tom and a special guest, our agent in Montreal “Eddie,” in looking at the Daniel Craig arc – get ready for NO TIME TO DIE!

We look at what we call the “connective tissue” holding the four Craig movies together: CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, SKYFALL and SPECTRE!

Let’s go!

We are using the picture from the Apple TV show “Being James Bond”, coming September 7, 2021. (Source EPK-TV)

Feedback: Info@SpyMovieNavigator.com


In this episode we examine:

  • Bond’s age throughout the first four Daniel Craig movies
  • Callbacks to some scenes in those movies that may come back in play in No Time To Die
  • The role of the writers Purvis and Wade
  • How Ian Fleming influenced this story arc (and where he didn’t)
  • Some of the trailers for No Time To Die, with a bit of speculation
  • And More …

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Join Dan and Tom as they take a look at the gadgets in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (FYEO), OCTOPUSSY, A View to a Kill (AVTAK). Are they believable?

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Examining Ian Fleming’s Original James Bond Manuscripts – Part 1

Podcast Episode

Examining Ian Fleming’s Original James Bond Manuscripts – Part 1

Join Dan and Tom for Part One of their journey to The Lilly Library at Indiana University in the USA, as they examine, in-person, all of these wonderful James Bond masterpieces, gaining some insight into the novels and into Ian Fleming’s way of writing!

Dan and Tom of SpyMovieNavigator.com had the privilege of examining 11 of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond manuscripts – his actual typed pages, with hand-written edits in the margins, crossed-out sections, add-ins and more!  You can see where he changes a name that we all know, and then – there it is in the final published version of the novel!
Come with us to The Lilly Library at Indiana University in the USA, as we examine, in-person, all of these wonderful James Bond masterpieces, gaining some insight into the novels and into Ian Fleming’s way of writing!
This is Part one, covering Casino Royale to From Russia With Love, of a 2-part series!  Look for Part 2 as well!”

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Ian Fleming and the Lily Library 

The Ian Fleming Manuscripts!  Bond from the Page to the Screen! 

How would you like to touch and examine the actual pages that Ian Fleming typed when writing his James Bond novels?  Well, we did and here’s our story! 

Hi, this is Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato from SpyMovienavigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Move Fans – spy movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more!  If you like our podcasts, please give us a 5star rating on iTunes and in Google Play – that helps us a lot!  Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and on Instagram too.  And when you have feedback, an idea for a podcast, something you want to say – just click the red button on our website that says “Send us a Voicemail”, or send us a message and we may include it on our show! 

We like traveling, hunting down spy movie filming locations and other significant places that played a part in spy movies.   Like, when we were in London not too long ago, we stood on the steps, and at the door of Les Ambassadeurs in London.   Of course, we know that is the casino that Bond is playing baccarat in at the beginning of Dr. No – where we first meet Bond on film, and with his now-famous, “Bond. James Bond” introduction to Sylvia Trench and all of us!  It’s also when Ian Fleming met with some of the EON folks early on to solidify a deal to turn the books into films.  

Well, how about visiting a place that owns 11 of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels?  Type-written pages that he typed at Goldeneye in Jamaica!  With Ian Fleming’s hand-written notes, deletions and additions, edits in blue ink?  Well, Indiana University in the State of Indiana in the United States has a special library called, The Lilly Library – and they have the manuscripts!   

The maddening thing is that this is where I got my undergraduate degree.  I knew the library existed and that is was a rare book library.  I knew it had part of the Gutenberg Bible.  They have the letter with George Washington accepting the first presidency of the United States.  I just knew it as a rare book library and never went in there in my four years of study.  Now I find out it had 11 James Bond manuscripts typed and hand-written by Ian Fleming?   What better reason to go visit my alma mater, read the manuscripts and get a chance to see if Mother Bear’s pizza is still as good as I remember (it is). 

Only a fourhour ride for us, we drove down and spent a day and a half pouring over all 11 of the manuscripts.   We photographed every page of Casino Royale, the first novel.   We are trying to get permission to post some of these pictures.   We were able to turn the pages of each manuscript with ungloved hands – touching the very pages that Fleming typed in his typewriter in Jamaica.  And examining every edit he made in all 11 manuscripts.  

This was a thrill beyond belief!  If you are a spy movie fan, and especially as a James Bond fan, we would highly recommend this.   When we drove down there, parked the car in the nearby Student Union parking lot, and were walking to the door of the library, our hearts were racing!  We walked in, signed in, and went into the special room where they brought the manuscripts – from the vault!  SpyMovieNavigator was about to examine in person, the original manuscripts! 

One quick note:  you need to make a reservation for the reading room which you can do online at https://libraries.indiana.edu/lilly-library . You request what you want to read.   We allocated a day and a half and really could have used 3 – 4 days in order to go page-by-page with the manuscript and the published book.  

They brought each manuscript out, 2 at a time – one for Dan and one for Tom.  They set then on foam rubber stands that allowed the book to sit there, opened, on an angle so you can read, and easily turn the pages.   We were not allowed to pick up the books, and of course, not to make ANY marks on these valuable pages.    

Here are the manuscripts that they have.   Now, keep in mind, there may be other editions of these drafts – because there were some things in other drafts that made it into the books, and so on.   The only novel they don’t have is his last one, The Man With The Golden Gun. They don’t have Thunderball either, but that was based on a screenplay that was credited to Kevin McClory, Jack Wittingham, and Ian Fleming.  But that’s a different story we won’t go into this podcast, maybe a later one. 

Here are the 11 they have and we examined: 

  • Casino Royale published 1953  (21st  Movie: 2006) 
  • Live and Let Die – published 1954 (8th Movie: 1973) 
  • Moonraker – published 1955 (11th Movie: 1979) 
  • Diamonds are Forever – published 1956 ( 7th Movie:1971 ) 
  • From Russia With Love  published 1957 (Second Movie: 1963) 
  • Dr. No – published  1958 (First Movie: 1962) 
  • Goldfinger – published 1959 (3rd Movie – 1964) 
  • For Your Eyes Only – published 1960 (From A View to a Kill).  (12th Movie – 1981) 
  • Also part of this short story set: Death Leaves an Echo, Quantum of Solace, Risico 
  • The Spy Who Loved Me – published 1962 (10th Movie: 1977)  
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – published 1963 (6th Movie – 1969) 
  • You Only Live Twice – published 1964 (5th Movie: 1967) 

Fleming used a lot of inserts to make changes.  Sometimes these would be written on the back of the previous page.  Other times they were typed and either inserted or pasted on the page. 

 We’re just going to go through a few of the highlights of paging through these manuscripts, book by book.   We can talk for a couple of hours about this great outing! 

Casino Royale published 1953  (Movie – 1962) 

  • The first page of the book and the manuscript have some slight differences so this isn’t the last manuscript. Many edits in all of the books handwritten by Ian Fleming.  
  • Fleming liked to name people in his books with names similar to real-life people.  Therefore, in the manuscripts, there are some name changes.  The first change is actually a company name change.  Messrs. Lascelles de Mercado was changed to Messrs. Caffrey.  It is interesting to see these as he had to go through other references to those names and change them too.  This was before cut/paste, Word, WordPerfect, Word processors, or even Wite-Out.  
  • What do you think, Petty?  Petty is scratched out.  Hand-written by Fleming is the word: “Penny.”   A couple of sentences later, Miss Pettavel is scratched out, and hand-written in its place is Miss Moneypenny!   OMG!  This is where it happened – right on this page!  Significant name change! 
  • The person who he modeled Pettavel after was based on Kathleen Pettigrew who was the personal assistant to the real-life MI6 director. 
  • CHECK FOR A VERSION RELEASED IN 2013 where Fleming had Bond as the real name, but James Secretan as his real name.  From an article by Susanna Lazarus, April 15th, 2013.  On page 59 in the version we have examined, he says his name is Bond! This isn’t until chapter 7. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2309144/The-names-Secretan–James-Secretan-Early-Ian-Fleming-draft-reveals-nearly-chose-different-007.html  
  • Bentley details: changed it to an almost new 1933. 
  • The Bitch is dead – it’s in there! 
  • Vesper Martini – ingredients described 
  • In describing a member of SMERSH, the name “Maxim Gorki” is changed to “Trotsky” and gives an assassination date of August 22, 1940.  There was a real-life Russian Revolutionary named Leon Trotsky who was killed in Mexico.  Actually, the attack came on Aug 20th and Trotsky died on the 21st.  There was a Russian writer named Maxim Gorky who died in 1936.   


Live and Let Die – published 1954 

  • Title page IN RED INK: “The Undertaker’s Wind”, which is scratched out in blue ink, and above it printed in blue ink: “Live and Let Die”.   “Live and Let Die was also written in on the left side of the title page and scratched out.    
  • 134 manuscript pages Bond in America – because he did well with the CIA in the Casino job (Bond handling the Jamaican end for the British) 
  • All the gold coins minted before 1620.  Over 1000 have shown up in the US in the last few months 
  • Mr. Big stands for Buonaparte Ignace Gallia.  Plus he is huge height and bulk.  This was added to the story as an insert at x on page 11`.  Chapter 3 
  • There is a hand-written insert for Page 18,  “and don’t go stirring up a lot of trouble for us.  This case isn’t ripe yet.  Until it is, our policy with Mr. Big is “live and let live.”  Bond looked quizzically at Dexter.  “In my job,” he said, “when I come up against a man like this one, I have another motto.  It’s ‘live and let die.”   This is cool because this is an edit to the story and now a big part of it! 
  • Description of Solitaire page 36 
  • Solitaire: Her real name was added as a written in the edit by Fleming at the top of page 53: to Bond: “I will just tell you my real name.   It is Simone Latrelle, but you can call me what you like.” 


From Russia With Love  published 1957 

  • Puts chapter titles 
  • Donovan Grant – the result of a midnight union between a German professional (The Mighty O’Donavanweight lifter and a Southern Irish waitress (Grant).  Behind a circus test just outside of Belfast.  Page 11 in the original manuscript 
  • Lots of background details on Grant and his life.  Kills Dr. Baumbartner as a test.   Then put into training for Russians.  He was an advanced manic depressive.  He carried out many executions for the soviets 
  • Head of SMERSH was General Brubozabou – schikovknow as G. 
  • Soviets agree that an act of terrorism against the British Secret Service would be their next move – looking for a target of someone who is admired and whose destruction would cause dismay.   They decide on Bond who had twice frustrated the operations of SMERSH – at the Casino with LeChiffre and Mr. Big.  And another adds Drax (Moonraker) WHO WAS FOILED BY Bond.  The most recent info was Bond having something to do with a diamond affair, from Africa to America,  Pages 38 – 42.  Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker had already been published – so some acknowledgment of previous missions and books.   
  • Bond’s scar: “three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of his right cheek”  Page 43.  Page 44: Expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower, does not use disguises; languages French and German; smokes heavily; vices; drinks but not to excess and women.  Knows the basic holds of Judo 
  • Kronsteen and Klebb get the orders to kill Bond.   Page 52 
  • Biela Klebb changed to Rosa Page 54 and  Fleming must scratch out Biela and insert Rosa from now on! 
  • Romanov gets recruited by Klebb page 58 and the dialogue is very very close to the movie.  It is a remarkable job in the movie to capture this moment.   
  • Klebb picks Grant page 75 
  • Bond in a funk page 84 because Tiffany Case, his love of several months, had left him.  They had gotten on very well, because M asked him to explain, and there “was some idea we might get married”  Page 89.  But she then met some American on the Military Attaché staff and they both went to America.   Fleming writes in the next top margin (page 90) that M was secretly pleased and the last thing he would want is “for Bond to be permanently tied to one woman’s skirt” and that is in the final print version of the book! 
  • Bond prefers to fly on the 13th of the month because no one wants to and he has fewer passengers to deal with and gets better service.  “I always choose the thirteenth whenever I can”  Page 97 
  • During a very rough part of the flight to Istanbul, Bond gets concerned, and Fleming writes in the bottom margin with an arrow to where it should be placed: “Bond “smelled the smell of danger.   It was a real smell, something like the mixture of sweat and electricity you get in an amusement arcade.”    Fleming describes Bond as going into his hurricane room – the kind of strong room they have in the middle of their homes in the tropics to protect themselves – he only did this when things were “beyond his control and no other possible action could be taken”   Page 100. 
  • Kerim: “Common blood is the best security” talking about his sons and uncles working with him. 
  • In the manuscript, the chapter titles The Tunnel of Rats – has pages 121 – 177 lined out in pencil.  Yet a lot of it is in the book.   Then again with CHAPTER TWENTY THREE from 178-187, and again for Chapter twenty-four FROM 188-195 and CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE from 196-20-5, and CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX from 206-213 and CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN from 214-220 
  • CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT is NOT lined out from 221–  228  

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Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Podcast Episode

Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator. This is part 2 of the series.

Many movies get ideas for their scenes from either other movies or real-world events.  Think about the jet-pack in Thunderball or the dinner jacket that 007 reveals when removing the wet suit in Goldfinger.  Were these ideas made up for the movie or were they based on real events?  Spy Movie Navigator is starting an on-going series of podcasts that cover scenes like these.   We will tie the scene back to either another movie or a real-life event of which the scene may have been based.

This is Part 2 of the series.  In this episode, Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato will examine the James Bond movies, starting with Diamonds are Forever and look at the roots of some of their scenes.

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This is Part 2 of our look into how events in the real-world affect what goes into spy movies.

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator.

Hi, this is Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato at Spy Movie Navigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more

We’ll continue looking at some of the Bond films.  Part 2 will start with Diamonds are Forever.

Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 Published by Ian Fleming in 1956 as his 4th James Bond novel, EON Productions made it into their 7th James Bond 007 movie, introduced in 1971.   Here, Bond – Sean Connery comes back – infiltrates a diamond smuggling ring and prevents Blofeld and SPECTRE from developing a space-based laser weapon with the diamonds that could blow things up. Blofeld was going to sell it to the highest bidder, so Bond had to stop the plot.

  1. So, Ian Fleming writes Diamonds Are Forever only 9 years after a woman copywriter for an ad agency wrote “A Diamond is Forever” for a DeBeers ad campaign, in 1947 – and it’s been in DeBeers campaigns ever since! See a great online article on this in the New York Times by J. Courtney Sullivan, May 3, 2013.
  2. The Burton-Taylor diamond, like 69 carats, purchased in 1969 made world-wide news.   That, combined with Jacqueline Kennedy’s jewelry (diamonds and emeralds ) in the early 1960s put diamonds on the mind of everyone. Coincidence or great timing by EON, the subject of diamonds was ripe for the 1971 launch of Diamonds Are Forever.


3 Days of the Condor – 1975. Intense movie. Influenced by Watergate (no trust of people in power) and the oil shortages prevalent in the mid-1970s.


Moonraker – 1979 – Moonraker, Fleming’s 3rd novel, was published in 1955.   Rockets were just being developed after von Braun’s success with the Germans in World War II.   The novel is about a rocket being developed and that will be tested by Drax’s organization, with support of the British government.   By the time the movie was made by EON Productions in 1979, the writers had to change the story.   It was 1979 and man had already been to the moon and back, the space shuttles were under development, a story about a missile test would not cut it.   Trust me, the novel is a great read, and when you consider the times, it was very exciting.   So, the first real-life incident to affect this movie was

  1. The story is changed completely, except keeping Hugo Drax as the main villain, because of the rapid development of rockets, manned space flight, the moon landings and the development of the shuttle (which first flew in 1981).
  2. Secondly, the novel plot is a great one but dated for the EON Productions 11th James Bond movie in 1979.   EON had originally planned to film For Your Eyes Only after The Spy Who Loved Me (one of my all-time favorite Bond movies). But because of the development of the Shuttle in real life, and the popularity of two of the biggest science fiction films released in 1977, Star Wars (with a second planned for 1980) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So, EON Productions, once again being clever and watching the real world and what was successful and popular, moved Moonraker up ahead of For Your Eyes Only to take advantage of the popularity and success of science fiction movies, and actual NASA advancements in space technology.
  3. Also, the concept of a space station, used in Moonraker, was based on real-life as well – the Soviets had Salyut 1 space station in 1971, and the US had Skylab up in 1973.

Once again, real-life influences major elements of the spy film genre!


The Living Daylights – 1987 death to spies, Smyert shpionam. And the idea of a spy defecting, of course, is based on real stuff – spies defect in the real world. In fact, Nikolai Khokhlov was a Soviet spy who defected to the west in 1953 and brought with him all kinds of spy gadgets which we will talk about in a moment.


Licence to Kill – 1989

  1. The whole premise of the film is dealing with a drug lord from South America. In 1972, then President of the United States Richard Nixon said drug abuse was “public enemy number one/”   In 1986, President Regan o the United States called for a “nationwide crusade against drugs.” So drugs infiltrating and affecting thousands of lives was definitely a popular topic during the decades surrounding the release of Licence to Kill.
  2. So Franz Sanchez, being a major drug dealer, would have garnered a lot of attention if the Department of the Drug Enforcement Administration knew of his whereabouts. So the DEA response to Sanchez being tracked to the United States would have warranted the response it got in the movie – and probably a whole lot more.


Mission: Impossible – 1996

Between Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) comes the first in the series of Mission: Impossible movies based on the 1960s television show.   So, 1996 was a great time to capitalize on the spy movie fans waiting for another Bond movie, and since Bourne Identity was not born until 2002.

The Mission: Impossible TV show, which I loved, certainly had an influence on the creation of the movie.   Many fans of the TV series were looking forward to the first movie.   While Phelps was the only character kept from the TV series, the mission was to be fresh, full of action and intrigue. The concept of a rogue agent trying to make things right was not new, but this mission was done with passion.

MacGyver-like gadgets, and to some degree sophisticated gadgets, masks and deception all came from the TV show. The original show was more like an O’Henry play, with surprise endings for the bad guys, and Martin Landau (who played Rollin Hand in the original TV series) said when interviewed after the first Mission, the original was not an action-adventure, it was more of a “mind game. The ideal mission was getting in and getting out without anyone ever knowing we were there.” ( quote from, Martin Landau Discusses ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movies (blog), MTV, October 29, 2009.  The non-stop action is truly new to the movie.

So, we think the first film of the Mission: Impossible series was influenced by

  1. The TV show, for basic concepts, self-destructing mission messages, music, etc. and
  2. The timing, in between Bond films.
  3. The worldwide locations, like shooting in Prague, was definitely Bond–influenced, as were the opening scenes during the credits, giving glimpses into the action about to unfold.

Of course, the real Cold War spying – going after atomic data, and lists of spies – was a regular mission of spies.   Even in 2015, the US CIA was concerned that China had stolen info on US federal employees that might expose the real names of our spies abroad.   So, the basic concept of the mission in the first Mission: Impossible movie is very grounded in reality.


The Bourne Identity2002. 9/11 made the producers think that the script, with the CIA looking like the bad-guy, might be too sensitive for audiences in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 2001.   They actually filmed alternative opening and ending sequences, but when the original was tested with audiences, they seemed to accept it very well, so the alternative opening and closing scenes were relegated to the bonus section of the DVDs (See “Fifteen Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Franchise” by Josh Roush, July 29, 2016, online article.


Casino Royale – 2006 – certainly the popularity of Texas Hold’em worked its way into the film, instead of the as-written Chemins de fer/baccarat game in the Fleming novel.   Also, the more realistic approach of The Bourne Identity movie may have influenced Casino Royale to more grounded in basics – although, for a reboot of the Bond franchise, one would think they would stick closely to the novel which, as the first novel, was very straight-forward, with few gadgets, and basic in execution.


Bond on Skis: George Lazenby, who was an avid skier, is the first James Bond in EON Productions films to take to skis, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), with many of the scenes filmed in Murren, Switzerland – which we at SpyMovieNavigator have been too! It is about 5,000 feet below Schilthorn (Piz Gloria) where Blofeld’s “allergy research institute” was located in the film. In a night scene, Bond begins to ski down Piz Gloria, and of course is shot at, then pursued by Blofeld’s henchmen on skis. Even Blofeld joins the pursuit on skis. With flairs and machine guns, they pursue Bond – and of course they know the mountain better than Bond, so they are in hot pursuit. Great chase scene, with well-trained and skilled agents in pursuit on skis.

And in the 1977 Bond film, in the pre-title sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me, we have one of the best snow ski sequences in any spy movie film – in any film for that matter.   He gets a message from MI6 saying they need him, while he is sleeping with a woman in an Austrian winter mountain chalet. So he leaves, with a red backpack on his back, and skis. She immediately radios her counterparts to say he is leaving, and we have another ski chase scene, pursuers shooting at him, and at one point, Bond turns around and shoots one of the foreign agents with his ski pole gun. Then he continues, eventually skiing off the mountain with thousands of feet beneath him – only to pop a parachute with the Union Jack to land safely. A great pre-title sequence that has become an iconic scene around the world! Reported filmed in Canada, the stunt man who did this, Rick Sylvester, did this in one take. They had to wait for the weather to be just right, and not too windy.   Again, skiing and pursuit by trained assassins on skis.


In For Your Eyes Only,    Bond is pursued by sharpshooter skiers and enemy agents on specially equipped motorcycles, with spiked wheels and guns, down the mountain and eventually into a lift heading to a ski jump.   Of course, Bond must do the jump, as his pursuers wait at the bottom of the ski jump hill. The pursuit continues again on the special motorcycles chasing Bond on skis., which even includes skiing down a bobsled run.


In A View to a Kill,  Bond does it all on snow – from skiing to snowmobiling to riding one of the runners from the snowmobile as a snowboard!   Here pursued by a helicopter, snowmobiles, skiers – every well-trained assassin – but he finally escapes and to a British sub disguised as an iceberg. Cool.   But he had a talented mob of agents, trained for winter pursuit, behind him all the way.


Of course, even The Living Daylights has a snow pursuit, as Bond and Kara Milovy escape using her cello case as a sled, and cello to steer, they are pursued by trained agents on snow.

SPECTRE has snow scenes as well.   So what is happening here?

In real life, of course, there were and are specialty teams in various military branches throughout the world who are expert at traveling on skis, infiltrating locations on skis, and doing other espionage stuff that very much depends on how well trained they are on skiing and moving through heavy snow conditions.

For example, in WW-II, the U.S. did not have a mountain division in their military.   Inspired by the Finnish mountaineer troops, Charles Mynot Dole – who was head of a ski patrol, an Olympic skier, a climber – began the U.S. military ski troops, brought into action just before Pearl Harbor.    They trained at 13,000 feet in the Colorado mountains, at – 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34.4 degrees Celsius) with 90 pounds of gear – just the men, packs and skis – pushed to the limits. This will turn out to be a true “mission impossible” in World War II as this became the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. They were engaged against the Japanese when Japan invaded two islands off Alaska – Attu, and Kiska. Landing in fog and snow, they were able to make the Japanese retreat but confused, our troops were shooting at each other and 18 were killed.   They went back for more training, with mock battles, in sub-zero conditions.

They were called upon in 1944 in Italy, where the Allies were bogged down trying to take the Apennine mountains. The 5th Army could not advance towards Germany.   Each ridge in the mountains had additional German defenses. The 10th Mountain Division assessed what was needed, decided they had to take Mount Belvedere and to do that had to take Riva Ridge first. 2,000 feet up, steep, 3 – 4 feet of snow. They climbed the unclimbable and took Riva Ridge, and the engineers erected an ingenious tramway to move wounded and supplies up and down the mountain.   This is REAL stuff! The pursuing assaults were successful, and the path open to Germany thanks to this 10th Mountain Division – trained to battle in treacherous snow conditions.   They prevailed at great cost for the campaign – with 975 killed, 3,871 wounded and 20 prisoners of war. But they prevailed.

  • For more info, you can visit: 10thMtnDivAssoc. Org or LastRidge.com


In another World War II real-life adventure, the Germans controlled a heavy-water plant in Norway, and heavy-water was needed to make nuclear weapons. On February 16, 1943, Operation Gunnerside began. 6 Norwegian commandos were dropped by parachute to join the ‘Swallow’ team on the ground.   After a few days of cross-country skiing, they joined the Swallow team. The final assault on the heavy-water plant was set for February 27/28 1943. The Germans controlled the plant and wanted to produce the heavy-water and ship it to Germany. The heavy water plant was protected by mines, lights and more due to an earlier failed raid.   The Swallow team, with the 6 paratroopers, ford a winter river in a ravine and climbed a steep hill. They followed a railway track right to the plant – because a Norwegian agent inside the plant supplied a detailed layout of the plant as well as a schedule. This is very much like From Russia With Love, as Bond was to retrieve the consulate plans from Tania.

Except here, it is real life! The team entered the plant by a basement cable tunnel, set explosives and escaped. They left behind a Thompson sub-machine gun to make it look like British forces did it and not local resistance to avoid reprisals. It worked!

Desperate, the Germans loaded some heavy water on a ferry bound for Germany, and the Norwegian resistance sank the ferry and all the heavy water!   Google: Gunnerside.

So the bottom line is, many of the scenes we have seen in spy movies, and above the Bond movies, have a basis in reality – people are indeed specially trained for these special operations, and so the specially trained personnel in the Bond movies for all the winter pursuits are believable.   Some of the stunts are fantastic, but so were some of the real-life challenges that were overcome by the 10th Mountain Division and the Norwegian troops!


Gadgets: Lastly let’s look at gadgets. As we know, gadgets are prominent in the James Bond 007 movies by EON Production, as Q proves quite the inventor. They are also present in the Mission: Impossible series, with masks, high-tech devices like the climbing gloves, the camera glasses in Mission Impossible 1 and so on.

In the Ian Fleming books, gadgets were less prominent.   In Casino Royale, the first James Bond 00 novel, there are some gadgets, but spectacular. Le Chiffre carries razors in various places, and one of the high tech gadgets was a cane that doubled as a gun – which really was how they tried to first kill Bond at the casino table. It goes on in other Fleming novels as well, with underwater equipment, the briefcase in “From Russia With Love” – which is different than what it contains in the movie.   But they are there, but less obvious and less of a focus.   There really was a Q Branch in MI6, and they came up with gadgets. It was operational at the time Fleming was writing and run by Charles Fraser-Smith, who Fleming knew.

Again, in this really cool book, “For Your Eyes Only – Ian Fleming + James Bond” by Ben Macintyre, he suggests that Fraser-Smith made things like a hairbrush that has a map and a saw, cameras hidden in cigarette lighters, invisible ink, magnetized matches that could act as a compass, and so on. So there was real stuff, and that real stuff influenced the movies and served as a basis of many extraordinary gadgets to come in the films.

We mentioned a defector spy from the Soviet Union who defected to the West, Nikolai Khokhlov. In the same book mentioned above, Macintyre suggests that when Khokhlov came over, he brought a lot of spy gadgets with him, including a miniature revolver that could fire toxic bullets, guns housed in cigarette lighters and lots more – for real!


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