Spy Movie Navigator visits Licence to Kill Filming Locations in Key West Florida (USA)
This is part 2 of Spy Movie Navigator’s Florida trip.
Do you remember the airports in Licence to Kill, both the airport that Sanchez lands his Cessna and the one where James Bond lands in Key West? How about the Seven-Mile Bridge where Felix Leiter, Sharkey, and Bond are in their Rolls Royce heading to Felix’s wedding (and where Sanchez executes his escape)? These scenes and many others were actually in Key West, Florida and in other Florida Key, in the USA. We visit over a dozen film Licence to Kill locations in the Florida Keys!
Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato on their journey to Key West to find out what has happened to these, and other, Florida Key filming locations from the fantastic movie, Licence to Kill.
- Episode Notes
LICENCE TO KILL
First EON Productions film where the title was not taken from a Fleming work. Was going to be called Licence Revoked, but powers that be thought not many people would understand the word “Revoked” at that time, so was changed to Licence to Kill. What EON did well is take pieces of Flemings works and characters and move them around in their screenplays for their movies. Here, Milton Krest is taken from the Fleming short story, The Hildebrand Rarity written in 1960, which was published in the For Your Eyes Only collection. The Hildebrand Rarity is a rare fish, by the way. Here, Krest is inserted into Licence to Kill as a main character. Simply brilliant.
This is a story of a South American drug lord (Franz Sanchez) who the US DEA has been after for bringing drugs into the US, is captured on US soil, here in the Florida Keys, directed by Felix Leiter and fellow DEA team, along with Bond. After a daring escape by Sanchez, he retaliates against Leiter, kills his new bride, and leaves Leiter for dead after feeding him to sharks. The rest of the story is Bond going rogue as an agent to get his revenge on Sanchez for what he has done, MI6 wanting him out of the picture, and all the details that happen to get a resolution to this situation, which of course, Bond does.
Filmed in the Florida Keys and Mexico
- Seven Mile Bridge – Rolls Royce and Helicopter landing – to let Felix, Sharkey, and Bond know Sanchez is on the mainland.
The helicopter with DEA agents aboard, stop the Rolls Royce carrying the tuxedo-clad Leiter, Sharkey, and Bond who are on the way to Felix Leiter’s wedding. By the way, in the movie, they are shown driving in the opposite direction of Key West where the wedding is taking place, but that’s artistic license.
The helicopter lands in what is now a parking lot near Marathon (a Key about halfway between Key Largo and Key West). There is the old Seven Mile Bridge running parallel to this bridge. Leiter decides to go pursue Sanchez and tells Sharkey to tell Dells, his bride to be, that he will be there. Leiter and Bond get into the helicopter right here and fly off to pursue Sanchez who is supposedly on American soil in pursuit of his girlfriend, Lupe somewhere in the Keys.
- Sugarloaf Key – airport where Sanchez lands his jet.
Sanchez’s plane lands here because he knows that his girlfriend Lupe is in some house here with a lover.
- The wooden house where Lupe is caught with boyfriend. Sanchez, Lupe, Boyfriend, and Dario (Benicio del Toro) and Braun (Guy De Saint Cyr)
At this very house, which looks a little different today than it did in the film, Sanchez’s goons kill a guy who is dozing on these stairs by strangling him from behind and leaving his body beneath the stairs. Sanchez, Dario and Braun climb these stairs throw open the door and find Lupe (Talisa Soto) in bed with another man. Here we see how evil, malicious and wicked Sanchez is (played brilliantly by Robert Davi – one of our all-time favorite Bond villains.
He is the personification of evil when they yank the lover out of bed, and Sanchez asks Lupe, “Did he promise you his heart? Give her his heart.” And his goons take the man outside, presumably to cut out his heart. At this point, they hear the helicopter coming, and start to leave the house. A jeep swings by to pick up Sanchez as he now descends these very steps.
- The field where the chase takes place
A big chase happens right in the fields near this house, where the helicopter has landed, the jeep is driving, bullets are flying everywhere, where Sanchez leaps from the jeep and eventually gets away taking off in a Cessna 172 sports plane. As he escapes, he looks down at Leiter and Bond and the DEA agents, smiles and salutes them goodbye.
- Sugarloaf airport where Sanchez takes the Cessna 172 (N54748 – was a 3) plane and escapes. (NOW PRIVATELY OWNED: SKYDIVE WEST – William Respess, manager. 5 Bat Tower Road 305-396-8806). Here is the runway at Sugar Loaf Airport, where Sanchez takes off with the Cessna. You can still see the houses in the background that were in the film.
- St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church, on Truman Ave and Windsor Lane
There are several shots of the church while Della is riding around the block with her father, as Sharkey tells her to go around again because Felix is not here yet. Her dad, p[prophetically tells Della, “I told you this was a mistake.” Eventually, after Bond’s daring fishing venture where he is lowered from the helicopter on the cable and wraps the cable around the tail of Sanchez’s plane to capture the villain, both Bond and Leiter parachute down to the wedding and land right in front of the church. They actually did this in one take, even though they landed several yards apart.
So here we see the sky above the church where they parachuted down, and the front of the church where they landed. We are standing in the very spots where Felix landed, and then Bond a moment later. Here is the beautiful church, pretty much looking exactly like it did in the film. While they did not show the inside of the church in the film, we wanted to take a look inside and to be able to show you this beautiful church, whose doors are always open. This is a must-stop for Bond fans.
- Seven Mile Bridge – where Sanchez is being transported and where truck crashes off the bridge for his escape.
We are back on Seven Mile Bridge, where the secured armored prison vehicle is transporting the captured Sanchez to Miami. This time, by the way, they are headed in the right direction.
Sanchez has paid off a DEA agent, Killifer, and an escape plan is hatched and in the works here. At a precise moment, the van is crashed off the bridge into the water, near Pigeon Key (an island in the middle of the old Severn Mile/Parallel Bridge), and just before the parking lot at Marathon.
- Felix Leiter’s House – wedding reception. 707 South Street – Stephano’s house? SOLD for $5m in 2017
Felix and Della’s wedding reception takes place at Felix’s house, in the side yard. This is a beautiful home surrender by palm trees. It is at the reception that Della and Felix give Bond a gift, a silver lighter engraved, “To James. Love Always, Della and Felix.”
This is the second wedding reception location we have been too – we were at the James Bond and Teresa di Vincenzo’s wedding reception mansion in Portugal – which was simply gorgeous. Look up our “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” videos and podcasts for that.
- Airport – outside where Bond parks and Continental counter, which is now United
- Outside where Bond parks his car and gets his bags out of the trunk, and the inside counter which was a Continental counter at the time of the filming, where Bond is getting his ticket. This is now a United Airlines counter. This is where Bond hears a lot of sirens and sees a lot of police officers and asks what’s going on; The ticket counter agent tells him some drug lord has escaped, and that’s when Bond heads back to Felix’s house to discover Della dead and Felix almost dead.
- Conch Republic Seafood Company is a restaurant now at 631 Green Street (at Elizabeth) where the warehouse was where Krest was and where Leiter was fed to the sharks. We went in to see if we could see where that took place but no remnants of that are left.
- Felix Leiter’s House again – finds Della dead, Felix almost dead
- Meeting with Pam Bouvier, Barrelhead Bar in Bimini: Actually is The Harbor Lights Raw Bar at Palm Avenue/Eisenhower Drive (In North of Key West Old Town). Lunch here? Inside was shot in Mexico. Shoot where boat pulls up, and the building, etc.]
After Bond discovers Della dead, and Felix almost dead from shark attack with a bloody note on his body, right from the Fleming book, “He disagreed with something that ate him” he later finds the laser disk that Felix had hidden behind a photo of Della and examines it and discovers that Felix was supposed to have a meeting with Pam Bouvier at the Barrelhead Bar in Bimini. So, Bond gets a boat and heads to Bimini. This location of the Barrelhead bar is really on the north end of Key West, so we are here for a visit now!
The real name of the place is The Harbor Lights Raw Bar and for the film, they built a false front wall to the building – which later a hole is blown through. This is where Bond comes in with the boat, and the dock man ties it up and keeps an eye on the boat, and actually turns it around for Bond. When he enters the bar, this is actually filmed somewhere in Mexico and not in this bar.
But we went in this bar anyway, hand lunch, and they claim to have the original neon Barrelhead Bar sign that was used in the film above the bar here. Here is the sign in the bar. You decide!
- Garrison Bite: Charter Dock: Sharkey’s Boat – where Bond meets Sharkey
We wanted to see where all the charter boats go out, as this is where Sharkey’s boat was when Bond met with him. So we think we are about where Sharkey’s boat would have been, but the area looks a lot different now as you can see. It still is a beautiful area and a very busy one indeed.
- Mallory Square Walking with DEA Agent Hawkins on way to Hemmingway House
We are walking in Mallory Square, one of the hot spots of Key West – this is where lots of people meet at sunset, there are street musicians and all kinds of things going on – this is Key West – pretty crazy here.
This is where DEA agent Hawkins meets Bond, taps him on the shoulder and says that they heard about what happened the nights before at that Krest fish warehouse, and some were killed, etc. and that Bond should basically back off and let the DEA do their job because we have laws here too. Bond is not happy, but Hawkins is taking Bond to a meeting, which will take place at Hemingway House – though they stroll a short distance walking and talking, the Hemingway House is probably about a mile or so away.
Key West, FL
M: “You were supposed to be in Istanbul last night. I’m afraid this unfortunate Leiter business has clouded your judgment. You have a job to do. I expect you on a plane this afternoon.”
When Bond says he has not finished here, M says “Leave it to the Americans. It’s their mess. Let them clear it up.” Bond objects again saying he owes it to Leiter. M says, ‘Oh spare me this sentimental rubbish. He knew the risks.” Bond: “And his wife?” M: “This personal vendetta of yours could easily compromise her majesty’s government. You have an assignment and I expect you to carry it out objectively and professionally. “
Bond: “Then you have my resignation, sir.” “We’re not a country club 007” “Effective immediately your license to kill is revoked. And I require you to hand over your weapon. Now.”
Bond: “I guess it’s A Farewell to Arms.”
Farewell to Arms, is an obvious reference to a Hemingway novel, that was written at the very house where M is telling Bond that his License to Kill is revoked. When instructed to turn over his weapon, Bond quips “A Farewell to Arms” meaning both he will have no weapons, and the Hemingway reference. The hidden message is that in A Farewell to Arms, the main character, Henry, wants out of the army, and abandons his men on the front so he can rejoin his love, Catherine. So, the reference is to a soldier gladly giving up his weapons to pursue life as he wants. The irony here is Bond is doing just the opposite. He does NOT want to give up his weapon, and he does NOT want to discontinue the fight – for him, against Sanchez for killing Della and almost killing Felix Leiter.
So, as M and 2 agents close in on Bond, to turn over his weapon, while a sniper is on the lighthouse tower watching over M and the other agents, Bond puts up a fight and leaps over the railing of the balcony of the Hemingway House and escapes. While some shots are fired at him here, M stops them from shooting any more – not because he doesn’t want Bond shot, but because he says “too many people.” But as the camera looks up at M from below as he leans over the railing, he says “God help you, Commander” This made us think that perhaps M stopped his agents from shooting Bond because he really did not want Bond killed, but said “too many people” to show his reports that he is tough and means business.
- Coast Guard Pier – is where WaveKrest was docked, where WaveKrest crashes into the dock was filmed here, and other scenes. Between Pier one and Pier 2. Can we get in there? Maybe not