Rick English talks spy movie stunts!

Rick English 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, how they did the zero-gravity hallway fight in INCEPTION, and what he wants from a stunt coordinator.  Listen to find out more. We find it 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@cracking-the-code-of-spy-movies.com 

You can watch this video on this page or on our YouTube channel.

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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Rick English Talks KINGSMAN stunts

Rick English talks KINGSMAN stunts with Dan and Tom. Rick is the award-winning stunt performer who doubled Colin Firth in the series.


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Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

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Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts - take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free) to our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show and listen to the full episodes! We end the episode with a look ahead at the spy movies we are anticipating in 2020.

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts – take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free) to our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show and listen to the full episodes!  We end the episode with a look ahead at the spy movies we are anticipating in 2020.

Happy New Year and thank you to all our listeners around the world! We are humbled that our spy movie community has downloaded our podcasts in 29 countries so far!

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We look back on all of our podcasts in 2019:

  1. We selected clips from each show, highlighting what the show is all about
  2. Commentary on the clips and the year

Thanks for listening!   We appreciate it very much!

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The Spies Who Loathe Me – Why James Bond is a franchise target

Podcast Episode

The Spies Who Loathe Me – Why James Bond is a franchise target

Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success. Why? Join Tom and Dan as they investigate why James Bond still tops Mission: Impossible, Bourne and what about George Smiley?

Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success.  Why?

Because no other franchise, let alone spy movie franchise, has survived and thrived for over 50 years on the big screen, in books and novelizations.  James Bond is Big – and it may always remain big if EON Productions continues to do the right things – some things more right than others, but they have pretty much done the right things for 50 years.
But is there a challenger?
Join Tom and Dan as they investigate why James Bond still tops Mission: Impossible, Bourne and what about George Smiley?

Related Content

The Spies Who Loathe Me!

Why other spy franchises despise Bond!

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 5-star 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 from our Facebook page – and we may include it on our show!

Why Bond still tops Mission: Impossible, Bourne and the Atomic Blonde movement!

Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success. Why? Because no other franchise, let alone spy movie franchise, has survived and thrived for over 50 years on the big screen, in books and novelizations. Bond is Big – and it may always remain big if EON Productions continues to do the right things – some things more right than others, but they have pretty much done the right things for 50 years.

In 1962, the movie franchise took its first big steps with Dr. No.   Dr. No costs about $1million to produce and grossed worldwide over $59,000,000 which gave EON Productions a pretty good start in the James Bond 007 franchise business. Just as a reference point, this is at a time when the average household income in the United States was about $5,700 or so, and in the UK, for a male, it was about 815 British Pounds a year. So, $1 million was a lot of money!

Follow Dr. No up with a smash, From Russia With Love (1963) (production costs of $2 million and a worldwide gross of almost $79 Million) and EON was rolling in the dough.   Rolling in the dough for a motion pictures producer is a very good thing. Then comes, Goldfinger (1964) – a huge success financially (production costs of $3 Million and a worldwide gross of almost $125 Million), and the money kept rolling in. You can fund a lot of projects with the revenue produced by these three movies alone. And this is from worldwide box office receipts.   Nothing to do with licensing of images, toys, etc.

And look around. There is no other spy movie franchise to be seen.   Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hitched their wagon to a star in the Ian Fleming James Bond 007 franchise.   Fleming was happy, now the Fleming estate is happy, and 24 James Bond 007 movies later (long out of Fleming material) the franchise may have suffered some stomach issues at times, but always relieved its indigestion with new, fresh content and writing, music, directorship and more.

You can look at the numbers yourself – in general, this franchise has made a lot of money. But why?

Here are the stats of what EON Productions has done since 1963:

This is from https://www.The-Numbers.com

Title Production
Box Office
Box Office
Nov 6, 2015 Spectre $300,000,000 $70,403,148 $200,074,175 $879,620,923
Nov 8, 2012 Skyfall $200,000,000 $88,364,714 $304,360,277 $1,110,526,981
Nov 14, 2008 Quantum of Solace $230,000,000 $67,528,882 $169,368,427 $591,692,078
Nov 17, 2006 Casino Royale $102,000,000 $40,833,156 $167,365,000 $594,420,283
Nov 22, 2002 Die Another Day $142,000,000 $47,072,040 $160,942,139 $431,942,139
Nov 19, 1999 The World is Not Enough $135,000,000 $35,519,007 $126,930,660 $361,730,660
Dec 19, 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies $110,000,000 $25,143,007 $125,304,276 $339,504,276
Nov 17, 1995 Goldeneye $60,000,000 $26,205,007 $106,429,941 $356,429,941
Jul 14, 1989 Licence to Kill $42,000,000 $8,774,776 $34,667,015 $156,167,015
Jul 31, 1987 The Living Daylights $40,000,000 $11,051,284 $51,185,000 $191,200,000
May 24, 1985 A View to a Kill $30,000,000 $13,294,435 $50,327,960 $152,627,960
Oct 7, 1983 Never Say Never Again $36,000,000 $10,958,157 $55,500,000 $160,000,000
Jun 10, 1983 Octopussy $27,500,000 $8,902,564 $67,900,000 $187,500,000
Jun 26, 1981 For Your Eyes Only $28,000,000 $6,834,967 $54,800,000 $195,300,000
Jun 29, 1979 Moonraker $31,000,000 $7,108,344 $70,300,000 $210,300,000
Jul 13, 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me $14,000,000 $1,347,927 $46,800,000 $185,400,000
Dec 20, 1974 The Man with the Golden Gun $7,000,000 $21,000,000 $97,600,000
Jun 27, 1973 Live and Let Die $7,000,000 $35,400,000 $161,800,000
Dec 17, 1971 Diamonds Are Forever $7,200,000 $43,800,000 $116,000,000
Dec 18, 1969 On Her Majesty’s Secret Ser… $8,000,000 $22,800,000 $82,000,000
Jun 13, 1967 You Only Live Twice $9,500,000 $43,100,000 $111,600,000
Dec 29, 1965 Thunderball $9,000,000 $63,600,000 $141,200,000
Dec 22, 1964 Goldfinger $3,000,000 $51,100,000 $124,900,000
Apr 8, 1964 From Russia With Love $2,000,000 $24,800,000 $78,900,000
May 8, 1963 Dr. No $1,000,000 $16,067,035 $59,567,035
Averages $63,248,000 $29,333,838 $84,556,876 $283,117,172
Totals 26 $1,581,200,000 $2,113,921,905 $7,077,929,291

James Bond had a worldwide appeal.   Ian Fleming wrote the Bond series based partially on some real stuff that he knew from his Naval Intelligence experience during World War II, and part on fantasy – his own fantasies. He imbued Bond with a lot of things that Fleming himself loved in life – fine cottons and linens for clothing, great drink, food, and women.

Every guy in the world in the early 1960s could look at Bond longingly, and try to emulate him. But it was hard to be Bond in real-life.   And expensive.   But the entire montage of what Bond was, was very appealing. Men wanted to be like him, and women wanted to be with him.

Nonetheless, the women portrayed in the films were very strong women.   We have a whole podcast of Bond women, and how strong they were.   Start with THE Bond woman – Honey Rider from Dr. No, played by Ursula Andres. Does any spy movie fan not have emblazoned in their brain Honey Rider walking out of the water?   These are the kinds of things the EON folks did so well.   And who was Honey Rider? A strong character. She meets Bond on the beach, and she had been collecting shells.   She sees Bond, and she goes for her knife at her left side.   He says “I promise you I won[t steal your shells,” to which she quips, “I promise you, you won’t either.” She later tells Bond how she once killed a man who raped her by putting a poison spider in his bed at night. OK – she is tough.

And what’s happening in other spy move franchises so far at that time. Nothing.   Nothing was challenging Bond.

TV shows came out in the 1960s as a result of Bond’s success: “Mission: Impossible,” “The Avengers,” and more – all capitalizing on the tremendous interest in spies, particularly Bond.

There were plenty of spy movies before Bond – going back to The 39 Steps in 1935, to dozens in between and since. But no real franchises to challenge Bond.   Basically, EON Productions had a monopoly of sorts on the spy genre, and audiences loved just about everything they put out. As you heard, some films did better than others in the worldwide box office – but they made money – 24 times. And Craig’s movies have done very well, with Skyfall topping the billion dollar mark, and all of Craig’s movies together (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and SPECTRE grossed over $3 Billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Billion with a B!

And the franchise competition is….. where?

So, as Enrico Fermi once commented on the possibility of the universe teaming with life, “Then where is everybody?” Same here! Where is everybody?

Think about it – Bond has been dominant throughout the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s without a serious threat of another franchise decoding their success!

Remember – Pierce Brosnan first played Bond in 1995 in Goldeneye but there had been about a 6 year wait between Timothy Dalton’s Licence to Kill and Goldeneye – that’s a long time. Bond fans were hungry. Goldeneye was very successful, grossing over $356m worldwide. But the delay between films had other film makers thinking. But Bond seemed to survive the long gap between films – audiences were loving Bond again. But will more delays in Bond film productions be coming, or are they back on schedule?   Well, the Brosnan Bond movies came out in pretty quick succession: Goldeneye in 1995; Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997; The World is Not Enough in 1999, and Die Another Day in 2002. Seems like EON Productions was back on track producing the Bond films.

So – that is good and bad for other producers. Good in that the interest level of the audiences around the world was high.   Bad, in that the only franchise in spy movies was back on track and audiences were accepting the new Bond after waiting so long.


The First Assault on Bond

There were other spy movies in the 1990s, including three Jack Ryan movies based on the books of Tom Clancy that came out in the 1990s, The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994), with additional ones to come (The Sum of All Fears 2002, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 2014).   This was the biggest assault on Bond to date. Three Jack Ryan films produced and released during the Bond hiatus. Why? Because Jack Ryan was the first “spy” to loathe Bond. Why should Bond be raking in all the dough for over 3 decades?   Let’s take some of his money and cash in on the absence of Bond from 1989 until 1995! Come on, Jack Ryan was just as cool.

And there were many other spy movies in the 1990s like The Russia House (1990), Ronin in 1998 and other spoofs and comedies like Spy Hard in 1996 and Austin Powers International Man of Mystery in 1997. But none of these amounted to any kind of assault on Bond.

But the Jack Ryan “franchise” had a variety of actors playing Jack Ryan, who was really an analyst for the CIA and not officially a spy. EON Productions made an attempt for some consistency in who Bond was: Sean Connery for 6 movies, Roger Moore for 7, Brosnan for 4, Craig for 5.   There were some exceptions like George Lazenby for one (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Timothy Dalton for only two.

But Jack Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), Harrison Ford played him twice – the most consistency – in Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994), then Ben Affleck in the 2002 The Sum of All Fears, and then Chris Pine (of Star Trek fame) in 2014 in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. And when The Sum of All Fears came out in 2002, so did Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The Sum of All Fears had a much bigger success in the US and had less worldwide cache than Bond, grossing a total of about $194M worldwide (over 62% US revenue) versus Tomorrow Never Dies, grossing over $339M worldwide, with just about 37% of that being US. So, yeah, Jack Ryan loathes Bond!

Mission: Impossible Assault . . . and here comes Jason Bourne on the western front!

When Mission: Impossible (1) came out in 1996, it was a single movie – so not yet a threat, but it came out between Goldeneye – 1995 (which was a hit) and Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997.   So, pretty good timing to launch the Mission: Impossible test balloon.   Will it do well? Will people take to it who liked the television show from the 1960s? Would the 2 year stint of The Impossible Mission Force (IMF) television redo from October of 1988 – September of 1990 carry over interest? Would it do well enough to want to do another?

Hey, it was a casino play: It was a risk, but a risk worth taking.   First, they were building on a foundation that was a solid foundation in the 1960s television show – audiences loved that show.   So they had a somewhat known commodity. This was good thinking.   Much like Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had a pretty-well known commodity in Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 novels – yet they were books, not television or movie productions yet – not counting the made for TV Casino Royale starting American Nelson Barry as Jimmy Bond in 1954.

Mission: Impossible featured a hot Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, as the main character, Ethan Hunt.   They were going after Bond. But one step at a time.   But let it be known: Mission: Impossible (1) began a serious assault on Bond. Why? Because Ethan Hunt and the IMF team loathes Bond!   Bond was unchallenged all these decades. Success and success, billions after billions of dollars.   Why was Bond untouched all these years?   Mission:: Impossible (1) was throwing down the gauntlet, and cracking the spy movie success code, and pushing Bond around for the first time.   That was the plan. But did the assault begin?

Here are some Mission: Impossible numbers from the same source, The-Numbers.com:

Title Production
Box Office
Box Office
Jul 27, 2018 Mission: Impossible—Fallout $178,000,000 $61,236,534 $220,159,104 $787,456,552
Jul 31, 2015 Mission: Impossible—Rogue N… $150,000,000 $55,520,089 $195,042,377 $688,858,992
Dec 16, 2011 Mission: Impossible—Ghost P… $145,000,000 $12,785,204 $209,397,903 $694,713,230
May 5, 2006 Mission: Impossible III $150,000,000 $47,743,273 $133,501,348 $397,501,348
May 24, 2000 Mission: Impossible 2 $120,000,000 $57,845,297 $215,409,889 $549,588,516
May 21, 1996 Mission: Impossible $80,000,000 $45,436,830 $180,981,886 $457,697,994
Averages $137,166,667 $46,761,205 $192,415,418 $595,969,439
Totals 6 $823,000,000 $1,154,492,507 $3,575,816,632

In 1996, Mission: Impossible (1) launches dramatically with a worldwide gross of over $457M – a little more that the Bond’s franchise gross of their 20th movie.   In other words, Mission: Impossible was starting off big – when that fuse lit, the rocket it launched was loud, fiery and smooth! Bond was looking over his shoulder at a contender, and the assault was on. With this great success, the IMF team continued to put the pressure on Bond, with their second installment 4 years later, with Mission: Impossible 2, grossing over $457M worldwide -and guess what? M:I has a worldwide appeal! With only 39% of its box office receipts coming from domestic US for the first, and only a little over 37% for M:I 2! OK, the IMF team is kicking some ass!

So between Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and waiting for Bond to do something since 2002 – here comes Jason Bourne – with The Bourne Identity launch in 2002. If this new spy takes off, the assault on Bond could be on multiple fronts, and harder to defend.   The Bourne Identity is filling in gaps between Bond films and now Mission: Impossible films. But the first Bourne grossing only $214 M worldwide, with over 56% coming from domestic box office sales. But before another Bond film comes out or another M:I films comes out, The Bourne Supremacy is launched in 2004, grossing a respectable $311M worldwide, maintaining a high domestic box office of 56%.   Not as much worldwide appeal so far, with domestic gross lower than either of the first two M: I films.

Mission: Impossible III (2006) grossed only $397M, with only 33% coming from domestic. It came out after a 6 year gap between M:I 2 to this film.   Long time to wait. Will they have gaps like Bond did right when they were on a roll? And after the wait, it was the weakest revenue-wise of the new assault on Bond – and still, $397 M was not bad – so this assault is formidable!

But now, in 2006, Bond is back and with a vengeance: Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig as Bond for the first time, blows the doors off worldwide box office numbers with $594 M , with only 28% domestic US box office sales – maintaining his dominance as a worldwide spy! The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) comes out between Casino Royale and the next Craig Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008) and during another 5 year wait for the next M: I film! Even without the other spy franchises breathing down Jason’s neck, the film grossing $444M worldwide, with still a huge domestic percentage of the gross of 51%. The lack of competition helped the gross for sure, but still not as big a worldwide appeal, but not bad on this outing. And Bond comes in with the one-two punch with Quantum of Solace in 2008, grossing $591M worldwide, with only 28% domestic US box office receipts. Still dominating the world of spies.

Now, M: I Ghost Protocol is launched in 2011 – another long wait of 5 years – but is big in the worldwide box office grossing over $694m, with only 30% domestic box office – so its worldwide appeal continues.   This is an important point: to assault Bond, you need worldwide appeal. Domestic is not going to cut it. And M: I proved 4 times so far they have worldwide appeal.   But now we have another 4 year wait for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation hits the screens – time for Bond to lick his wounds and get stronger.

But in 2012 when Bond explodes on the screen with Skyfall, Bourne is right behind him with The Bourne Legacy. But wait – no more Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Craig has had two strong performances as Bond. So Skyfall launches, and smokes everything in site! It is hot. It grosses a whopping $1.1 Billion dollars. Billion! With only 27% of the gross domestic US. Boom! Bam! The Bourne Legacy flops, partly due to Matt Damon being out of the story, and part because of the dominance of Skyfall.   The Bourne Legacy grosses $280M worldwide, with 40% domestic box office receipts.

But it’s not over. The assault on Bond continues, as the spies who loathe him continue the advance.

While waiting another 4 years for a new Bond film (Spectre) will be in 2015). Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is on the same timing for the release of Spectre– so no resting for Bond during the 4 year wait – the IMF team is back and ready to kick ass again. They loathe Bond.

M: I Rogue Nation (2015) grosses the most of any M:I film to date: $688M worldwide, with only about 28% domestic.   This is huge. But Bond has his Kevlar on. Spectre grosses over $879M, with less than 23% domestic.   But now . . . Mission: Impossible and Bond are close! The closest ever in gross receipts, and the closest ever in worldwide versus domestic box office receipts. Wow!

But as Spectre wraps up in 2015, and in 2019, Bond 25 has still not been released – so another 5 year wait, both Mission: Impossible and Bourne reload.

Jason Bourne hits the screen in 2016, with Matt Damon back – and grosses $416M worldwide, the best since The Born Ultimatum in 2007, with a still high 38% domestic gate. But Jason Bourne is filling in the gap again for the Bond fans – and here comes Mission: Impossible Fallout in 2018 – while we still wait for Bond!

Fallout grosses $787 M and only 28% domestic.    Jason Bourne, we think is finished.

And, again, we wait for Bond. In the meantime, Mission: Impossible announces Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 will come out in 2021 and 2022 respectively. They are putting severe pressure on the Bond folks. The next Bond, No Time To Die, launches spring of 2020. Then, the Bond franchise will go through a paradigm shift – maybe. Is Bond retired? Does Lashana Lynch really become 007? What will the franchise do? What will it look like in 2020+? All of this, while two more Mission: Impossibles will be out, sucking in huge revenues. While Bond waits.

So as EON Productions figures out their next Bond strategies, one of the franchises who loathes this spy is challenging the Bond dynasty internationally for a spot at the top.

Sometimes loathing pays off!

Title Production
Box Office
Box Office
Jul 29, 2016 Jason Bourne $120,000,000 $59,215,365 $162,192,920 $416,168,316
Aug 10, 2012 The Bourne Legacy $125,000,000 $38,142,825 $113,203,870 $280,355,920
Aug 3, 2007 The Bourne Ultimatum $130,000,000 $69,283,690 $227,471,070 $444,043,396
Jul 23, 2004 The Bourne Supremacy $85,000,000 $52,521,865 $176,087,450 $311,001,124
Jun 14, 2002 The Bourne Identity $60,000,000 $27,118,640 $121,468,960 $214,357,371
Averages $104,000,000 $49,256,477 $160,084,854 $333,185,225
Totals 5 $520,000,000 $800,424,270 $1,665,926,127




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All About Spy Movies – SpyMovieNavigator

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All About Spy Movies – SpyMovieNavigator

Find out what we are doing at SpyMovieNavigator.com and how we are building a Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans! Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato explain the roots of SpyMovieNavigator and how this whole thing got started, and how we are looking to you, our users and listeners, to contribute your ideas, discussions, photos, videos and more to this new community!

All About spy movies!  Find out what we are doing at SpyMovieNavigator.com & how we are building a Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans.

Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato explain the roots of SpyMovieNavigator and how this whole thing got started, and how we are looking to you, our users and listeners, to contribute your ideas, discussions, photos, videos and more to this new community!

We think there are at least 4 main genres of spy movies, and we want to create a place to discuss all of them and how they are interrelated. We will start with these four: James Bond, Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, Best of the Rest.  We are all about spy movies!

Keep checking back on our Podcasts page or Subscribe on iTunes for Apple devices, or on Google Play.

Come hear how we see these genres and how you can help build the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans.  Give us your input after listening, do we have the genres right?  Do you have a genre of spy movies you’d like to see included?  What works and how can we make it better?


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This transcript is a subset of what is in the podcast.  We recommend you listen to the podcast.

Did you ever wonder how you can navigate your way through the genre of spy movies like Bond, Bourne, Mission: Impossible and the best of all the rest? Well, we did too! So, join us now and we’ll all become spy movie navigators!

This is Dan Silvestri (and Tom Pizzato) at SpyMovieNavigator.com, the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans! Spy movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more!
Dan: We’re big spy movie fans. When we look online, we see a bunch of sites dedicated to James Bond and not much else.

This is frustrating as there are hundreds of spy movies that have been made. But how are they interrelated? What are their origins? Can scenes and themes be found in other spy movies? And how have these spy movies influenced each other?

We think there are at least 4 main genres of spy movies and we want to create a place to discuss all of them and how they are interrelated. We will start with these 4.
Tom: Obviously one genre is James Bond. The others are the Mission: Impossible and Jason Bourne series and one we’re calling The Best of the Rest. This Best of the Rest is a category of other spy movies other than the Big 3. In this genre, we think of things like Hitchcock’s 1935 film The 39 Steps which is generally regarded as the first spy movie, 1962’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to more modern films like the 2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and even Atomic Blonde, American Assassin and Red Sparrow which made spy movies a lot more bloody and gore.

Yeah, Tom – you mentioned The 39 Steps – in that film, you see for the first time a helicopter pursuing the target – of course, we are going to see this in many spy films to come including, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, SPECTRE, Mission: Impossible 1 (1996), Mission: Impossible Fallout, and others.

There are dozens of great spy movies that fall into this category. We’ll pick out what we think are the best and what we think have impacted other spy movies in both subtle and big ways.
And we want your participation! Part of what we are doing is building a worldwide community of spy movie fans. Maybe you’re a Bourne fan and don’t like Bond, or you like Bond and Mission: Impossible but not Bourne, or maybe you like some spy movies from the main three genres and others outside the main three. Starting with the first 4 genres, we will cover over 50 films. We will have something for all spy movie fans, and we will continue to grow the site by adding more movies or genres that we find are great, or relevant ones you suggest. A category for spy comedies (like Our Man in Havana, Austin Powers, Kingsmen, Burn After Reading, Spies Like Us, etc.)? Films based on John Le Carre and or Tom Clancy novels? Together with you, our spy movie fas community, we will see what missions are ahead for us all!

We will look for interconnections, relationships, unique concepts, and key scenes in all these genres so that we can all learn something new. As an example, if you’ve seen Thunderball have you also seen the 1958 film The Silent Enemy? The Silent Enemy brought the underwater ‘henchman sled’ called underwater chariots to the big screen 7 years before Thunderball. And they are launched from a ship, as later in Thunderball they are being launched from the villain, Largo’s boat, the Disco Volante. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s a fabulous movie based on a true World War II espionage story.

We are looking for you, as part of our spy movie fan community, to contribute your ideas, insights, and photos to this effort and to the overall distribution of this info through our SpyMovieNavigator digital properties. Think of it as a two-way street, with info constantly going out and new info coming in – SpyMovieNavigator is partnering with our community of spy movie fans to gain new insights, see new connections, and have some fun together talking about spy movies!

You know, Goldfinger was released in December 1964 in the USA, in New York, then Hollywood. Its general-release was January 9th. This was the third EON Production James Bond 007 film released. Well, I’m back in high school, but a few buddies and I wanted to see Goldfinger. I literally lived about 6 or 7 blocks from my high school, an old Italian neighborhood, that was maybe a few miles from downtown Chicago. So, one day, we executed our own spy missions – we cut class – we thought we were very clever – took the bus to downtown Chicago and saw Goldfinger! Loved it – loved everything about it, hooked on Bond early! Well, the only flaw in our plan, was the guy who was supposed to cover for us and doctor-up the attendance sheets, chickened out. We got caught by the school, who informed our parents and we got punished by both – oh my – but was it ever worth it!
Hooked on spies, of course, I had to watch all the television shows that followed like, “The Saint” (which began in 1962 and went through 1969), “The Man from UNCLE” (1964-1968), “Mission: Impossible” (1966- 1973), “The Avengers” (1961 – 1969) – these were the ones I watched diligently.

Of course, “The Saint”, which starred Roger Moore, and “The Avengers,” which starred Diana Rigg have obvious connections to later Bond films – Roger Moore of course becoming Bond for 7 movies, and Diana Rigg as Tracy di Vincenzo who marries Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

I also like some of the TV shows around that time frame. [Tom tells his first Bond story]
Bond in the 60s was dominant. People were reading the Fleming books and waiting for the next movies. In the US – President Kennedy at the time, put the Bond novel, “From Russia With Love,” on his Top 10 favorite book list – which made the Fleming novels explode in the US. We read all the Ian Fleming novels on Bond too, and just recently visited The Lilly Library at Indiana University where they own 11 of the original Ian Fleming Bond manuscripts and we were able to spend 1 and a half days examine hundreds of type-written pages by Fleming, along with his ink corrections, changes, name changes, title changes and more. On one page, “Miss Pettavel” was scratched out. The name Pettavel was based on a real person Ian Fleming knew, named Pettigrew. But when he scratched it out . . . he penned in, “Moneypenny!” Oh my God – here the name we all know and love was first introduced into the Bond novels! That was a genuinely remarkable experience touching the pages of Bond as Fleming wrote it. We would highly recommend a visit there for any spy movie fan, but especially for Bond fans. Remarkable! A guy had been there a few months before us going through all the manuscripts looking for what watches Bond wore and wrote an article on timepieces that was an international hit.

The seed of SpyMovieNavigator was planted . . . . not that long ago – Tom and I went on a trip a while back to Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium and then to Normandy in France, to the beaches of D-Day. As an aside, everyone should set foot on the beaches in Normandy to realize what the allies sacrificed for the freedom of the world. It is moving, touching, heart-wrenching.

While in Switzerland, Tom and I spent a week traveling all over by train and cable car – Zurich, Geneva, Interlaken, and then we went up to Murren, (about a 5,300-foot elevation), up into the Swiss Alps. Long, beautiful cable-car ride up, then a small train to the town with gorgeous scenery all around. It was like being in a National Geographic magazine. Just spectacular beauty!

Tom loved the cable car – not really. All around the area were beautiful little towns, like Lauterbrunnen, Grindewald, Trummelbach Falls, and Schilthorn. Well, we were now close to some of the action from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – the 6th EON Productions James Bond 007 movie! The car chase where Tracy drives her red, 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7, with Bond as a passenger through the stock car race on ice and snow, trying to escape the henchmen of Blofeld, took place right in the parking lot area of Lauterbrunnen (in the Bern region)! That was a small cable car ride, so we went! And immediately we thought, this was very, very cool to be on the location of a Bond film scene, from one of our favorite Bond movies.

ANECDOTE: And we took another small down from Wengen to Grindelwald. And the wind was swaying us around a lot as we descended, In fact, when we got to the station, we got out and they closed the lift because of the wind! But we got to the spot where the ice rink was that where Tracy, who was skating, meets up with Bond, who was sitting on a bench, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Very Bond-like – we just made it!

We were only going to be in Murren for two days. We stayed at the Eiger Hotel, which was terrific. Beautiful views, great restaurant, nice little bar. We found out some of the actors and crew hung around here during filming and had a few cocktails and gambled a bit playing cards with each other. So, we, of course, had to dine and sit at the bar and have a few cocktails. The lift was closed that went up to Schilthorn due to bad weather. Piz Gloria is up there – the Blofeld headquarters where he has his “allergy research institute” but where he is brainwashing women who will deliver a deadly virus to the world.

Disappointed it was inaccessible, we watched around the clock when it might open again – they had monitors in the hotel lobby that tracked the status of all the cable lifts. In the morning it did open, and we went up to Piz Gloria at Schilthorn – another 4000 -5,000 feet up! Now we were where a lot of action took place in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – the Blofeld headquarters, the outdoor section where the women were curling, and where Bond tried it and slipped, and where he later slides as he is shooting Blofeld’s henchmen during the assault on Piz Gloria by Bond and Draco, inside where Bond walks up the steps with the gold, ornate metalwork making a barrier to the stairway he ascends – we were here! OK, now we are hooked. From this moment, we thought tons of people around the world who are spy movie fans would love to be here – and here we were! One of the Top 10 Bond film locations in the world! So, as the wheels turned on the cable car ride back down, they also started turning for SpyMovieNavigator.

Hook, line, and sinker. We were going to do something with spy movies!

One summer, I went to Prague, to visit my daughter who was on a study-abroad program and had to head to Charles Bridge. Plenty was filmed here for Mission: Impossible 1 and The Bourne Identity (2002), and some Bond stuff too. I got a picture of the Charles Bridge standing in the exact location the cameraman was in for a Mission: Impossible shot! So exciting. Was on the bridge where Phelps in Mission: Impossible 1 fell over the edge! FUN!!

In the Caribbean, Tom with his family had visited Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, which features in Dr. No –  and I had visited with my family and climbed the falls. Very cool again to be in such an iconic spot from Dr. No! Where Honey Rider and James Bond were standing!

So, after our Switzerland trip, we thought we’d do an exploratory trip to a few other spy movie locations. So recently, Tom and I headed to Portugal, Sardinia Italy, Amsterdam and London to visit a few more film locations! On that trip alone, we got to over 50 Bond and spy movie locations. We met with Caroline Munro, who played Naomi, the assistant of Stromberg, in The Spy Who Loved Me; the person who comes to collect Bond who was posing as an oceanographer – Mr. Sterling, to bring him to Stromberg; and the pilot of the helicopter who tries to shoot Bond as he escapes in the Lotus Esprit – becoming the first woman Bond kills in the movies!

This trip was spy movie heaven. In Portugal, we wanted to visit the rest of the major scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and so we set out to find all the key locations. So, in Lisbon:

• We wanted to find in the pre-title sequence where Bond was driving – before you knew he was Bond – him driving his Aston, just see his head, hat, him lighting a cigarette. We found the exact spot where he is driving in the beginning, in a town called Cascais. We on the spot where the camera was shooting the scene! Very nice!

• We next wanted to find where Tracy’s car passes Bond up and the chase begins. And we found it on a road near Cabo du Roca, Portugal.

• Praia Do Guincho: the beach where Bond saves Tracy from killing herself, gets in a fight, where Tracy escapes in her car, and where Bond looks at the camera and says: “This never happened to the other fellow.”

• We found the jewelry shop where Tracy saw a beautiful ring, and where Bond later went back to purchase the ring which became her wedding ring. We wandered a bit and found Palacio dos Marqueses de Fronteira.  The place with the beautiful gardens and statuary that Bond and Tracy were strolling in the montage.  This is where they fall in love (Bond and Tracy – gardens, fountains, cat, star fountain). This was very cool.

• Next, we found the 25th of April Bridge – the bridge that Draco’s guys drive over when they kidnap Bond to bring him to Draco.

• We even got to where the mansion where the wedding reception took place in the front courtyard, and the bullpen where Draco’s birthday party was held – sooooo cool!

• And we found the exact road and spot where Tracy was killed as Bond pulled over to remove the flowers from the car after the wedding.

• And lots more – we have a podcast just on this trip – it was so fun.

OK – we are in as deep as we can get and there is no getting out!

So, we started SpyMovieNavigator.com and our social media digital properties to reach out to the worldwide community of spy movie fans to create a place to congregate, discuss, gain and contribute insights, share photos, videos and more. We are the place to come to if you are a spy movie fan because 1000s like us will come as well. SpyMovieNavigator is THE place for fans from all over the world to come – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans!!

How we are Doing It
Did you ever take a look at YouTube for a particular spy movie of interest? Well, check out Dr. No on YouTube. There are literally dozens, maybe even hundreds, of clips on this movie alone.  The same is true of dozens and dozens of other spy movies. So, you can spend a very long time finding meaningful clips about the movie, and when you do, they are scattered all over the place in random order.

So, here is what we are doing with some of the best spy movies, on our website, SpyMovieNavigator.com. On our website, we are “curating” spy movies, from the main spy movie genres – Bond, Bourne, Mission: Impossible, and The Best of the Rest.

What we are doing, is scouring through those YouTube clips, finding the best ones that represent key scenes in the movies (not the whole movies of course), assembling them in chronological order as they would appear in the film, then include our editorial comments, insights about why this scene is important to the film, how this film or scene impacts other spy movie films or scenes to follow, and how other spy movies or real-life incidents that preceded these movies may have influenced the film we are looking at.

So, you can go to any genre category, like 007, Bourne, Mission: Impossible, of the Best of the Rest category and see the clips, and read the editorial commentaries and insights for each clip. If you’re a spy movie fan, we know you will love this approach. Of course, we always look for your insights as well and will promote the exchange of ideas via forums and our Facebook chats. We may even use your insights on the site!

In short, we will all learn something new from the “curated” films, which is a unique approach to looking at spy movies in general. We are building a Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans and you’re invited!

One of our main vehicles for delivering this content is podcasting.  We will create podcasts on many spy movie topics and try to dig deep into the subject matter as best we can. Throughout our treatment of spy movies, we will integrate our podcasts that cover the curated movie or mention that movie.

For example, the Dr. No podcast is an expansion of the written curated section on the website for the film. We will have podcasts on all of the curated films, if you want to listen to them on the go, as well as podcasts on many spy movie topics that will cover multiple films at the same time, like chase scenes in spy movies, train scenes, how real-life events find their way into spy movies, how one has influenced others, why Mission: Impossible might challenge Bond for dominance, podcasts of our trips to spy movie locations, we’ll have interviews with authors and movie personnel, and dozens and dozens more topics. We will interrelate within each podcast how other spy movies may have influenced a scene, or where an idea that we see here may have come from in another spy movie, or how this movie will influence future spy movies. We will weave a unique story, and try to offer some new insights into specific scenes or movies as we examine each.

One Benefit of the podcast format is that you download them giving you a mobile listening capability, listen on the go!

We have about a hundred ideas, some completed already and others in the works! We are constantly developing relationships with key people in the industry to bring you the best. ! As we mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, and we can’t stress this enough we will look for your suggestions, guidance and, most importantly, contributions and insights on an ongoing basis! After all, we are a community!

Filming Locations
One big area of interest for Dan and for me are filming locations.

Going to a place where they filmed scenes from movies and trying to figure out exactly where the camera and the actors were standing is magical to us. We have a lot of fun trying to determine the exact spot of the shot. I used to think just getting to the site (or within a couple of square meters) was fine. As we’ve done this more, there is a thrill in finding the exact spot. For instance, when I arrived at the Eilean Donan castle in Scotland, I thought that was really cool. However, I soon realized I wasn’t looking at the castle from the way it was shot in The World is Not Enough. I had to find out where the camera was sitting. We had to drive up a hill to a parking location to see the castle as it was pictured in the film. My wife thought I was nuts. However, it made all the difference to me.

Ah, yeah, Tom – remember in Sardinia, Italy?  We spent about two hours locating the scene in the Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, where the motorcycle starts to chase Bond and the Russian agent XXX, as Bond is driving his Lotus Esprit.  We found it and verified it by having the movie with us on our Microsoft Surface. And remember, we saw the street where the Lotus comes into the square then exits the square? In the movie, the building that was a visual anchor had a balcony on it, but the building now did not. We walked to the building and saw where the beams had been removed that were holding up the balcony! We were there!

If you haven’t done that yet, we strongly encourage you to give it a try. To help you with this, we will have a section on the website with videos and photos we (and hopefully you) have taken at these sites.

So, let’s delve deeper into the video/photo section of the site. We will link to actual film location scenes we have visited that are associated with particular spy films, and you can see what these locations look like now, versus what they looked like when the movie was filmed.

There is something absolutely fun about being on the actual film locations for these spy movies, and we have visited about 100 spy film locations so far throughout the world.
Tom and I take specific trips to go to the spy movie film locations, and you can as well, or you can add-on a side trip when you are on vacation or a business trip somewhere in the world to visit some spy movie locations that may be right where you are visiting!
SpyMovieNavigator will present videos on our YouTube channel and on our website dealing with spy movie locations, what they look like now and what scenes were filmed there, some podcast videos, and a variety of other videos as well.

We will continue to present interesting information in unique ways, and unique information in new ways!

Since we love heading out on trips to spy movie filming locations, we also have a section on filming location tours.

We will help you get to these locations around the world! To aid you, we will be partnering with tour organizations in different parts of the world. So, when you, our community of listeners and readers, want to also go on some spy movie location tours, you can!

We are even planning to organize a super tour of our own – so let us know what we should include! Visiting spy movie filming locations has been a tremendous joy for us, and we never tire of getting to a new location for the first time and seeing exactly where they filmed a key scene from Bourne, Bond, Mission: Impossible or from the Best of the Rest spy movies. It is just fun to stand where Bond was standing for instance in Thunderball at Shrublands, or where Phelps falls of the Charles Bridge in Prague in Mission: Impossible. We’ll help find you great tour options as you vacation around the world.

Adding another exciting measure to our mission, SpyMovieNavigator has partnered with Steven Jay Rubin to bring you the largest online James Bond movie database, based on his book, “The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia!” He will have a new revision coming out sometime after Bond 25 is released too! Exciting stuff! We will also add additional spy movie information to the database as well, and you can search for all kinds of things spy movie-related online at our main website. This alone is pretty cool and will be a ton of fun for spy movie fans!  You can find this database here.

SpyMovieNavigator.com will be a fun gathering place, and our social media properties like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram will provide additional information, links to new podcast and videos, and provide, most importantly, a forum for us to discuss with each other what’s important in spy movies, gather insights you may have and can contribute, a place where you can upload your own photos and videos of you on spy movie locations, and where we can all have fun! SpyMovieNavigator.com is The Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – spy movie podcasts, videos, and discussion!

Thanks for listening – we appreciate it very much. Please continue to come back, download our podcasts, watch the videos, read our genre content and give us your feedback, insights, and info that you can contribute.  This will grow the knowledge base and fun for all of us spy movie fans!

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We decode the Hitchcock movie THE LADY VANISHES. What movies has this influenced? Did you know Hitchcock used this much humor? and more...

Diamonds Are Forever Amsterdam Filming Locations & Amsterdam Intelligence

Dan and Tom went to Amsterdam to see the filming locations from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. They talk about those and some other locations there.


Join Tom and Dan & special guest host Vicki Hodges (from the UK) as we discuss the gadgets in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and LIVE AND LET DIE - and some Bond movie locations that have been visited and…

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The Bourne Legacy

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a member of Operation Outcome, a United States Department of Defense black ops program which enhances the physical and mental abilities of field operatives through pills referred to as “chems”. Cross, deployed to Alaska for a training assignment, traverses rugged terrain to reach a cabin operated by an exiled Outcome operative.

Meanwhile, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has exposed the Blackbriar and Treadstone programs in public, leading the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate those involved. Retired Air Force Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton), who is responsible for overseeing the Beta program from which the CIA’s Treadstone and Blackbriar were developed, decides to end Outcome and kill its agents.

Cross manages to survive several attempts on his life and seeks a way to get more chems, as his have run out. Cross eventually comes upon Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), his last link to gain more chems. He discovers she has no pills but that his physical enhancements can be “viraled-out” and can become genetically permanent, so he would no longer need physical chems. He, in turn, reveals to her that without the help of the mental chem enhancements, he possesses a well-below average IQ. To avoid this mental regression, and the operatives hunting them, the two travel to a factory in Manila and with Shearing’s help, Cross initiates and survives the potentially fatal process of viraling-out of his dependency on the remaining mental-enhancing pills. They evade the Manila police and an operative from the new LARX program, and successfully escape from the Philippines on a junk ship. – source Wikipedia

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum, editorial content, spy movies, spy movie podcasts, espionage, Matt DamonJason continues his journey and finds out more of his past. He is targeted by the newly named Operation Blackbriar. This operation is just an upgrade to Operation Treadstone. The CIA renews its hunt for Bourne, who obtains documents proving that Operarton Blackbriar has been targeting US citizens. At the end, he confronts Dr. Hirsch, who oversaw Jason’s transition into a Treadstone operative.

At the end, Jason goes underground again.

The Bourne Supremacy

In the second installment of the Jason Bourne series of films, we find Jason still dealing with his amnesia. He tries to remember more of his past. Jason is continuing to be involved with the CIA and Operation Treadstone, which he tries to understand.

It is also in this film that Jason is told his real name, David Webb.

How Events in the Real World Affect What Goes Into Spy Movies!

Related: Why Dr. No is Dr. YES for Spy Movie Fans

Related: Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 1

Related: Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Contributed by: Daniel Silvestri and SpyMovieNavigator.com

Posted on

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 NavigatorDownload our podcast for more details.

At Spy Movie Navigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans –we are going to look at this now!

Real-world and spy movies

Let’s start by looking at some of the Bond films –  the most successful franchise in all of the spy films and a few others.

The first real fact is, of course, Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from one of his favorite books, Birds of the West Indies, by…. James Bond.

Dr. No was written in 1957 by Ian Fleming, published in 1958, and was his 6th James Bond novel.   The movie Dr. No, EON Production’s first Bond movie, came out in 1962.   So, here is the first instance of the real world affecting this spy movie:

  1. By 1962, both the Soviet Union and the USA were launching astronauts into space, so far ahead of the theme in the novel where the USA was launching test missiles.  In the novel, Dr. No says he is working with the Russians to disrupt American test missiles, in the movie, he is disrupting American space flights.  Also, in the movie, both the East and the West have rejected his services, and so he is a member of SPECTRE ( Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), and not working with the Russians.  The cold war between Russia (the Soviet Union) and the US in real life was heating up by the time the movie came out, so here, the movie was influenced by real-world happenings.
  2. And, in a subtle nod to life happening,  the painting of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco de Goya was stolen August 21st, 1961 from the National Gallery in London.   It was still missing when EON Productions was filming No.  So,  In Dr. No, when Bond is in Dr. No’s

    Duke of W@ellington
    National Gallery, London

    lair, he walks through the lair about to step up a couple of steps, stops and looks at a painting on an easel – it is the Duke of Wellington!  So, if you are watching Dr. No and don’t realize the painting he stops to look at is this real-life stolen Duke of Wellington, you just think, ah Bond finds that painting interesting.   Once you know the real-life incident, then this adds a brilliant glow to this scene, where the writers for EON Productions were indeed very clever and inventive.   By the way, the painting was eventually recovered in real-life and now hangs in Gallery A at the National Gallery in London once again – we saw it there while visiting Gallery # 24 wherein SPECTRE, Bond meets the new Q.

From Russia With Love1963 – released in 1963 by EON Productions as their second James Bond film, and Ian Fleming’s 5th James Bond novel published in 1957 (the year the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite), was heavily influenced by the times – and the Cold War.   The tensions between the US and the Soviets were at an all-time high.  Remember, the Cuban Missile Crisis (the showdown between Russia and the US) was in October 1962, the year EON was filming From Russia With Love.  So, once again, EON Productions was brilliant in their release of From Russia With Love!

  • In addition, check out the book, “For Your Eyes Only – Ian Fleming + James Bond” by Ben Macintyre.  Here he tells of the attempt to murder Bond on the Orient Express by SMERSH was based on a US Naval attaché in Romania, Eugene Karp, who was more than likely trying to escape from Russian agents.  He boarded the Orient Express in Bucharest in February 1950, and his body was found in a railway tunnel near Salzburg.  It was never proven the Soviet assassins did it, but it is highly probable.
  • Even SMERSH is from the Russian Smyert Shpionam = “death to spies” – and we will see this is The Living Daylights.


Goldfinger – 1964 released in 1964 by EON Productions as their third James Bond film, based on Ian Fleming’s 7th novel of the same name, published in 1959.  In the pre-title sequence in the movie (not written in the novel) is James Bond in a wet/dry suit emerging from the water, setting explosives, and then removing his wet suit to reveal a perfectly neat and crisp white dinner jacket, bow tie, etc.    Ah, you are thinking like we were thinking – what is the chance of that really happening or being able to happen?!

Well, let’s talk to MI6 about a similar WW-II operation!  In an article by David Harrison in April 2010 for The Telegraph, he reveals that a Jeremy Duns,  a British writer, was researching a new book.  He found out that a Dutch spy used a very similar technique to infiltrate a German-occupied mansion in the Netherlands during WW-II.   From the water, he emerged in a wetsuit.  Underneath this specially designed wetsuit, he wore the evening wear.  His eveningwear would make him look like he belonged, and he could slip past the guards into the party.   He was supposed to extract two comrades and escape.   Well, Jeremy Duns thinks that a Brit screenwriter, Paul Dehn, who was called in to polish up the Goldfinger script, knew about this WW-II incident because he was a former intelligence officer in WW-II.  Hmm!   The original script did not have this scene, and, as said, it was not in the novel.     He feels it is too much of a coincidence that this scene was written into the screenplay by Paul Dehn, who most certainly was aware of this WW-II operation!  True real-life incident put into the movie!

Skipping ahead, at the point in the film where Bond is captured by Goldfinger’s henchmen after another great car chase scene, Bond finds himself strapped to a metal table, as Goldfinger is about to demonstrate his new toy – a laser beam.  Here in the film, the laser beam is directed at the base of the table and is guided to rise-up between Bond’s legs, into his crotch and eventually kill him.   In the book by Fleming, published March 23 1959, there were no lasers yet – and so this device was a table saw.

The laser was not invented until 1960.   And the first working laser was built on May 16, 1960, by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories based on the theoretical work of Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow. The term laser came to be an  acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”   Again, EON Productions was brilliant at integrating a real-life happening, the invention of the laser, into this film which was being shot in 1963 for release in 1964.  And at the time, this was a very high-tech scene in Goldfinger!  We cannot think of another film of any kind using a laser before Goldfinger, so here is another first for EON Productions!

This scene is famous the world over for the laser, and for the dialogue: Bond: “ You expect me to talk?”  Goldfinger” “No, Mr. Bond I expect you to die!”

Thunderball – 1965 Thunderball was Ian Fleming’s 9th James Bond novel, published in 1961, and EON Production’s 4th James Bond 007 movie, which opened in 1965.   Thunderball probably would have been the first movie produced but there were some copyright issues that were delayed in the settlement.  Kevin McClory and Fleming had worked on a script that never made it to production.

Fleming used part of it for Thunderball, and eventually, a settlement was reached.  Thunderball is the only early EON production movie where the producers are not listed as Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  Here they are listed as Executive Producers (which is a lesser status) and McClory is listed as the producer.   Also, McClory got the right to produce his own James Bond film based on his Thunderball contributions and eventually did Never Say Never Again which is basically the same story.

But we digress!   In Thunderball SPECTRE is at it again.  So, we get away from the US versus the Soviet Union and have this other entity as the enemy again.   Remember in Dr. No we were introduced to SPECTRE.

Of course, by 1961 when the novel was published, we had lots of atomic bombs in the world, and there was an arms race between the Soviet Union and the US.  So, atomic weapons were on everyone’s minds.

  1. The basis of this story is based on real-life – people were worried about nuclear war and atomic weapons. Here, two atomic weapons are hijacked by SPECTRE who threatens to destroy a major city either in the US or in the United Kingdom.  So even though EON Productions did not make this their first Bond film, in 1965 the world was very aware of the threat from major powers building up supplies of nuclear weapons.    So, the topic was hot.
  2. The skyhook, which recovers Bond and Domino at the end, is an actual real-life device developed by Robert Fulton for the CIA in the 1950s. By letting up a line from the ground with a self-inflating balloon, a specially equipped plane can fly by and scoop up the line and the one or two personnel it was designed to retrieve.  Cool!  A real-life gadget at the time.
  3. In 1956, a Soviet cruiser came to Britain, with Nikita Khrushchev on a state visit to Britain. He was the former Premier of the Soviet Union.  It was also in 1956 where, Khrushchev said: “We will bury you” while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956.  So Soviet/Western relations were not good.   So on this visit to Britain, Britain wanted to get a look at this new Soviet ship – some reports say to examine for mine-laying hatches or sonar equipment, and other reports, like from Peter Wright’s book, “Spycatcher,”  Britain’s Naval Intelligence wanted information on the potential new propeller system this ship had.  So MI6 sent a scuba diver down (actually, two were reported as being sent) and one was a great diver, Lionel Crabb.  Crabb never returned from this mission, and a headless, handless body was found 14 months later dressed in the scuba gear he had worn on that date (April 15, 1956).  MI6 covered up the mission, saying Crabb was lost in some underwater exercise.   Many theories floated about, one being that Soviet sentries were stationed underwater to guard the ship, caught Crabb, cut his air hose and brought him aboard and he later died.  Other theories say he was shot underwater by a Soviet sniper.

Now, you will remember in Thunderball, Bond is sent to inspect the hull of the Disco Volante, Largo the villain’s boat.  Bond is discovered too by Largos frogmen, as Bond was taking photos of the hull to determine if there was an underwater hatch.   Bond, more luck than Crabb, escapes.  The photos showed an underwater hatch which leads Bond to think Largo’s entire operation (the theft of the plane carrying to nuclear missiles) might be underwater – including the plane that was hijacked.  Is there a connection between the Crabb event and these scenes in Thunderball?  The MI6 officer in charge of the Lionel Crabb underwater deployment and mission was Nicholas Elliott – a friend of Fleming’s!

  1. In the 1958 movie, Silent Enemy, (based on a true story) – 2 British battleships are sunk in Alexandria by explosives set under their hulls. The explosives, in real life, were being set by Italian scuba-divers, who were launched from a submarine using what they called, “underwater chariots” – which in Thunderball and other spy movies to come – were the underwater sleds used to transport the bombs, get divers to certain locations underwater, etc.!  In real life, they were using these underwater chariots to bring frogmen to the British ships where they would attach torpedoes and mines.  The British had to figure this out and stop it – and here, Lionel Crabb (who we mentioned earlier) was in charge of the operation to infiltrate the enemy ship, destroy their capabilities of continuing to blow up British ships!   So, in this movie we see real-life events.  Of course, we see in The Spy Who Loved Me, Stromberg’s (the villain) ship, the “Liparus,” has underwater bow hatches that capture the Soviet and US submarines (with nuclear weapons aboard).

In the same movie, Silent Enemy, ALSO, there is a great underwater battle of frogmen, cutting breathing hoses and more – just like in Thunderball and additional spy movies to come.   The Thunderball underwater scenes, filmed in the Bahamas, were set the standard for future underwater battles, and the potential connections to real-life events from World War 2 make Thunderball underwater hull investigations, and underwater battles with frogmen and underwater sleds even more grounded in reality.

Also, in Thunderball, the jet pack was real and flown by Bill Suiter, who demanded using a helmet which is why Sean Connery as Bond puts on a helmet when he takes off.

  1. Though the movie came out in 1965, Fleming’s 9th novel was published in 1961. And it foreshadowed the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the US Florida cities (like Miami, Cape Canaveral, etc).


You Only Live Twice1967 Ian Fleming’s 12th novel published in 1964 (counting the For Your Eyes Only collection of short stories, and it’s the last novel published before his death), and EON Production’s 5th James Bond 007 film which opened in 1967.  The movie has little to do with the actual novel.   Here, the beginning of the movie depicts the death of James Bond, complete with an obituary in the newspapers.   There is a burial at sea for Commander Bond, and when the body sinks to the bottom of the ocean, scuba divers retrieve the body and bring it to the awaiting submarine where it is taken aboard, the wrappings open, only to reveal a live James Bond who quips, “Request permission to come aboard, Sir.”

Thank God Bond is alive – we were worried, right?   His death was faked to throw off the enemy .  Of course, that means they knew who James Bond was, which is often the case, but that’s another podcast!

  1. The faked death of spies is definitely grounded in reality. Google Arkady Babchenko, faked his own death because being very critical of Vladimir Putin, he was certain that he would be killed by the KGB.  In a huge real-life situation in World War-II, Operation Mincemeat (Google it!) the Allies floated the body of a dead man with fake papers identifying him as a Captain who the Germans had been tracking. With papers indicating an invasion of Sardinia Italy and Greece instead of Sicily, to mislead the Germans.  Some stories say the fictitious name of the dead man was Captain William Martin, while other reports say the Germans were aware of the supposed dead man and felt he really knew something.  Regardless, the deception worked.  And the source of the plan came from Rear Admiral John Godfrey and his assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming.    Yep!
  2. We all remember Henderson, the contact Bond meets in Japan and who has key information, was based on Richard Hughes, a reporter and double agent who worked for Ian Fleming at one point during WW-II. Hughes did a lot of Bond-like things.  Hughes spent a great deal of time in Japan.   Hence, a great place to film this movie.  Google The extraordinary untold Japan story of ‘You Only Live Twice’ by Damian Flanigan, special to the Japan Times.   Great story!
  3. “Little Nellie,” the one-man autogiro that Bond flies to do surveillance in Japan was a real-life invention, developed by Ken Wallis, a Royal Air Force guy, in the early part of the 1960s. The one used in the movie was modified, of course.
  4. Of course, the Space Race played a part here too – the US and Soviet Union at the time were racing each other for outer space advantages and achievements. So, SPECTRE capturing Soviet and US space capsules is natural, given the times in 1967, two years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin will land on the moon on the US Apollo 11.


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service1969 Ian Fleming’s 11th novel, published in 1963; and EON Production’s 6th James Bond 007 movie, showing in 1969.  The first Bond movies without Sean Connery, George Lazenby steps in to be Bond and to be bonded – married – to Teresa Di Vincenzo (Tracy) – played by Diana Rigg.

In his mountain-top laboratory, posing as an allergy clinic, at Piz Gloria (Schilthorn, Switzerland  Blofeld is brainwashing young women to deliver a chemical agent that will stop plants and animals from reproducing- creating a tremendous food crisis.  The setting is spectacular – we have been to Piz Gloria about 10,000 feet up!

  1. In 1968, there was an experiment done by the US Army at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. Through a malfunction of a spraying nozzle, a toxic chemical was released and almost 30 miles away, over 6,000 sheep were found dead.   There was no definitive connection to the agent released and the sheep deaths, but traces of the toxic chemical were supposedly found on the carcasses.   So, draw your own conclusion!   So, when OHMSS comes out in 1969, chemical warfare and potential devastation to life through chemicals were very much real.
  2. The Soviet Union was ramping up chemical warfare research, while the US began to downgrade ours. Again, what Blofeld was thinking was not out of the realm of possibility!

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, Smert 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 Reagan of 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 flares 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 the wounded and the supplies up and down the mountain.   This is the 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.

Another Real World War II Example

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 submachine 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!

Thanks for spending time with us at SpyMovieNavigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more!

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And Their Connections to Other Spy Movies & Real-Life Events and Things


Promotional trailer for the 1988 miniseries

The first time the public can see an actor playing Jason Bourne is in the 1988 ABC Miniseries The Bourne Identity, starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith.
In the 2002 film version, those roles are played by Matt Damon and Franke Potente.

The Bourne Identity

Robert Ludlum created the Jason Bourne character in his 1980 book “The Bourne Identity. Bourne is a CIA agent who has amnesia he suffered from a failed mission.

The Bourne Identity, editorial content, spy movies, spy movie podcasts, espionage, Matt DamonSo he is set up to be a fascinating character, as he has the skills he was trained for in terms of fighting and deduction.  But who is he?  How did he get these skills?  He can’t remember.   Jason Bourne struggles to figure out his past, and this is what drives him in this movie.  And we see this theme again in the next books and in the movie series.

The Bourne Identity is a movie with not too many scenes that seem to be inspired by other movies.   So, original concepts abound.  The amnesia of an agent, the chases, the 4-story freefall, all appears to be unique ideas for a film at the time.

But, we will look at the key scenes, draw some connections to other movies, and see if we can gain any insights: 

  • Amnesia is not new to the Bourne series. Is it portrayed accurately?
  • Other movies mentioned: Two in the Dark(1936); Random Harvest (1942; Street of Chance (1942);  Stage Fright (1950), Female Fiends (1952; The Groundstar Conspiracy; Memento  (2000), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996); Total Recall (1990); The Long Kiss Goodnight (1979); Finding Nemo (2003); The Fugitive; US Marshalls; For Your Eyes Only; The Master Touch; From Russia With Love
  • The car chase introduces a chase a la For Your Eyes Only with the Citroen, only here it is a beat-up Mini.

The water and the boat

The movie starts with crew on a boat in rough seas that sees a body floating in the water. They pull the body out of the water. It is Jason Bourne and he has lost consciousness. There are bullets in the body and one of the crew members (Giancarlo) removes the bullets and finds a metal object which can project information about a bank account in Jason’s hip.

When Jason comes to, he asks where he is and what they are trying to do to him. Giancarlo tries to settle him down and asks: “Who are you. What is your Name”. Jason answers, “I don’t know”, and starts getting hostile, asking where he is. Not in the clip, but later in the scene, Giancarlo sees a knotted rope. “What’s this, you tie these knots? So, it starts to come back?” Jason replies: “No, it doesn’t start to come back. The knot is like everything else. I just found the rope and I did it. The same way I can read. I can write. I can add, subtract. I can make coffee …”. Then he says that it is not coming back. “When we get in there tomorrow, I don’t even have a name”. This scene really strikes me as you can see Jason’s frustration, and those lines can make you empathize with what he is going through.

Amnesia in movies is not new with the Bourne series. However, usually, the amnesia isn’t portrayed with much scientific accuracy. This article explains this misuse of amnesia and how some films portray it: https://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2009/03/02/amnesia-in-the-movies. One part of the article of note is the following: “in many cases of cinematic amnesia, head injuries lead to loss of memory of earlier events (retrograde amnesia), but the character usually goes on to lead an otherwise normal life. Real patients who incur brain damage usually suffer from anterograde amnesia – they lose the ability to form new memories, but their memories of events that occurred before the amnesia often remain intact”. The amnesia in Memento is a more accurate display of how amnesia usually works. Jason Bourne suffers from retrograde amnesia by not remembering his past.

Some of the films that use amnesia as a plot point include: Two in the Dark (1936), Random Harvest (1942), Street of Chance (1942) – Note, this is the film with Burgess Meredith, not the 1930 film with the same name starring William Powell –  Stage Fright (1950), Female Fiends (1952), The Groundstar Conspiracy.  Some of these include Memento (2000), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996),  Total Recall (1990), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1979), and Finding Nemo (2003).  This list is not by any means exhaustive but shows that amnesia is a fairly common plot point. We found a more complete list of these films at this webpage

No Papers

After getting off the boat, Jason is sleeping in a park. Two police officers approach him and ask him for his papers. The conversation starts out in English but changes into German. Jason has no problem with the language. Jason doesn’t have any papers and resists their attempts to detain him. He disarms the officers, dispatching them quite easily and ends up holding one of their guns. He looks at the gun as if saying “How in the world did I do that?”, disassembles it, throws it on the ground and runs off. He also speaks German to them. Again, he knows how to do things, but doesn’t consciously do them. He just reacts but doesn’t know how.

CIA briefing

This scene is a CIA briefing of Nykwana Wombosi, former leader of a country who is now in exile. He wants to be put back into power. He says he was a target of an assassination attempt. This is followed by a conversation between Ward Abbott and Conklin discussing whether the CIA was involved. They talk around the topic and then Ward mentions a project Treadstone which is the key project of the Bourne series. Bourne was supposed to assassinate Wombosi but failed. This scene sets up why the CIA wants Bourne dead. Conklin says later in the film “I want Bourne in a body bag by sundown.”

The Swiss Bank and safe Deposit box

Jason Bourne goes to a bank in Switzerland and gets a safe deposit box. This was in the information in the metal object Giancarlo finds in Jason’s hip at the beginning of the film. In the safe deposit box, he finds his US passport which says his name is Jason Bourne. It also has other documentation that says he lives in Paris. As he continues looking at a sub-compartment of the safe deposit box, he finds numerous passports with different names, a large amount of cash in different denominations, and some guns. He dumps all the contents into a bag and starts to leave the bank. The music in this scene is great as it heightens the tension as Jason looks at the money, passports, and guns and his facial expression is one of “who the heck am I?”

At the Embassy

Bourne walks into the embassy just as the Swiss police show up to arrest him for the incident with the police officers in the park. The embassy lets him in telling the police that they have no jurisdiction there. After they let him in, someone tries to detain him. Jason takes this guy out and then tries to figure out how to get out of the embassy. Dozens of guards with guns start looking for him as he tries to figure out how to escape. He obviously is successful and gets out.

It is amazing the number of movies where someone appears to be trapped in a building with lots of guards, yet they get out: The Fugitive and US Marshals are two movies that use this technique.

On the way to Paris

On the way to Paris, they stop for gas and food in a restaurant. Jason shows Marie the contents of the bag. He talks about the things he’s observed of the surroundings. “Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?” This is a short clip but continues to show that he has the instincts of an agent but is struggling to figure out why.

In the apartment

Once they get into Jason’s apartment in Paris, he calls the last number dialed and gets a hotel. The hotel tells him that they don’t have any record of him there. He then asks for a different name (John Michael Kane) which was a name in the safe deposit box.  He is told that the person was killed in a car accident two weeks before. The hotel tells him that the man’s brother came to pick up his things. This really sets Jason on edge and he grabs a knife from the kitchen which he drops when Marie walks into the room.

Jason nervously looks around when an assassin breaks through his window and tries to shoot him. There is a good fight that ensues with Jason knocking the guy out while using a pen. While the guy is on the ground and Jason is asking for who the guy is, Marie looks through his bag and sees pictures from the embassy of both of them. Marie is very upset and Jason has to physically move her away from the assassin. While he is doing this, the guy he had been fighting stands up, jumps out the window and gets hit by a car.

Again, this fight seems to introduce new items in film fights: Jason’s use of the pen as a weapon and the assassin jumping out the window to his death.

The Car Chase

After they leave, the police spot him again and there is a car chase.

Marie’s car is an old beat-up Mini. In the Mission: Impossible and James Bond films, they are usually driving high-end sports cars (boats or motorcycles) in their chases. Even in The Italian Job, a new shiny Mini is used for the chase.

Seeing the old Mini being chased around Paris really is a nice change of pace for this type of chase. It is a throwback to Bond driving the Citroen in For Your Eyes Only (1981).  As part of the Bourne chase, they drive down a steep stairway which is a great effect. They leave her car in a parking garage and Jason tells Marie that she can never come back to the car.

“The Master Touch” (1974)

Not many movies have stairways as part of a car chase. One movie which does is “The Master Touch” (1974). In this film, there is a car chase where one car pushed another car backward down a steep stairway. This happens about 5 minutes into this clip.

Jason and The Professor

The next morning Jason senses a problem. The family dog is not around. Jason tells the family to get down to the basement. The phone line has been cut. Jason knows and that an assassin is waiting for them outside. This scene picks up where Jason goes out to kill the assassin. He hunts The Professor down and shoots him. He has a conversation with The Professor before he dies. “I work alone like you. … Who are you, Rome? Paris? Treadstone, both of us” . . . “Do you get the headaches”. Jason asks him “What is Treadstone?” So now Jason knows the project name Treadstone but doesn’t know what it means.

Eamon takes the kids and Marie off. Jason leaves Marie with Eamon and says he is going to “end it”. He looks through The Professor’s bag and finds his cell phone. Jason calls the last number from this which gets him routed to Conklin. Bourne asks “Who is this. Who the hell are you? The man you sent is dead”. Conklin tries to coax Jason into coming in with Marie. Bourne tells Conklin that Marie is dead. He sets up a meeting with Conklin in Paris. He tells Conklin to come alone, which of course Conklin disobeys. Jason calls him and tells him he’s leaving. He then places a locator on one of the trucks he identifies as a CIA vehicle and follows it to the CIA safe house when Conklin is.

The Safe House

Jason confronts Conklin in the safehouse at gunpoint. They have a conversation. Jason asks Conklin if Conklin is Treadstone. They have an argument. Jason asks, “Who am I”. Conklin’s response “You’re US government property. You’re a malfunctioning $30 million weapon. You’re a total goddamned catastrophe”. Jason then says, “You sent me to kill Wombosi”. Conklin replies “I don’t send you to kill. I send you to be invisible.”

They then talk about Wombosi’s boat. During this conversation, Jason has a flashback with him standing above Wombosi with his gun drawn and one of Wombosi’s children is there looking at Jason. Jason panics because of the kids, doesn’t shoot Wombosi and as he tries to leave, he gets shot and go. He ends up in the water which is where the movie started. After the flashback, he tells Conklin “I don’t want to do this anymore”. He tells Conklin he’s leaving and that as far as Conklin is concerned, he’s dead. During this conversation, he hears a noise and confronts agents coming to kill him. This clip shows the fight that ensues including an incredible 4-story freefall during which Jason shoots an assassin. We then see Conklin leave the building and another assassin. This time, the assassin shoots Conklin. Ward Abbot is shown testifying that the Treadstone project had been decommissioned and lied about what Treadstone was.

The final scene

The movie ends with Bourne finding Marie in a shop/restaurant selling on a Greek island. The shop rents scooters and has a restaurant. This scene ends with Jason and Marie hugging and pulls out to show the island. It rolls right into the ending credits and song.

Remember, this is one of the few spy movies without a pre-title sequence since From Russia With Love introduced the concept of a pre-title sequence in spy movies.

As a nice touch, the red bag that Bourne got at the bank and had carried the money is hanging behind the cash register and is being used as a planter with some flowers.


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