Robert Davi Interview! Licence to Kill’s Franz Sanchez!
Join us for our Robert Davi Interview. Davi played Franz Sanchez, who is one of our favorite James Bond villains, in LICENCE TO KILL.
Robert Davi Interview: Join Dan and Tom as they talk with Robert Davi! James Bond fans know him as Franz Sanchez in the movie Licence to Kill. Die Hard fans know him as Big Johnson. The Goonies fans remember him as the opera-singing Jake. Maybe you know him as the man behind Davi sings Sinatra. Or maybe you know him from one of his other over 170 credits. We all know who Robert Davi is, and now we get to know him better!
Hear Robert Davi discuss being Franz Sanchez, about getting the role, nailing Sanchez’s accent, working with the team, and other on set and off set aspects of being Sanchez. He’s a prankster and lets us in on a couple of his pranks!
Robert Davi talks about his non-James Bond life, including his music video with Bob Dylan, his other roles and he even discusses his family history. Did you know that there were Daví family members who helped discover America? Listen to our Robert Davi interview to find out more! Fascinating talk with one of the best!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming created some of the best known literary characters this world has ever known. Both Sherlock Holmes and James Bond made the leap from the pages of novels and short stories to the big…
Eon Productions film, Goldfinger was filmed, in part, in Miami Florida in the USA. Spy Movie Navigator took a trip to Miami to see what the locations from the movie look like today. Join Dan and Tom as they navigate…
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The Lost and Overlooked Bonds
Contributed by: Daniel Silvestri and Tom Pizzato of SpyMovieNavigator.com
James Bond has been big for decades! Spies still rule movies, and James Bond still rules spies! There have been six actors who have played James Bond so far in the EON Production James Bond 007 movies. Hundreds of articles and polls rank these actors as to who is the best, with rankings from one to six. There is some consensus that people like Sean Connery the best. Daniel Craig is ranked highly as well. And, there are those who love Pierce Brosnan, and others who adore Roger Moore. Many times, what influences a person’s rankings or favorite Bond is the era in which they grew up. If you grew up with Pierce, then a lot of people like Pierce and so on. As a result, that means that there are two who are the lost and overlooked Bonds.
We would like to concentrate on these “forgotten” Bonds. Namely, George Lazenby from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Timothy Dalton from The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill.
Is George Lazenby – A lost and Overlooked Bond?
OnHer Majesty’s Secret Service is just one of the best Bond stories Fleming ever wrote. And while bringing it to film, EON Productions stuck very closely to the Fleming text. George’s only acting experience had been in television commercials. Still, he landed the role after Sean Connery decided to leave the franchise.
There is a lot of criticism swirling about that George Lazenby was a poor Bond, that his acting was terrible, that his characterization of Bond was weak. However, we think that this is misguided. In our opinion, George is one of the lost and overlooked Bonds who deserves more credit than he gets. We think George did a wonderful job as Bond. He was surrounded by an outstanding cast spearheaded by Diana Rigg (Tracy di Vincenzo) and Gabriele Ferzetti (Draco, Tracy’s father). The movie was well done. It has great cinematography and wonderful locations selected in Portugal and Switzerland.
George Lazenby’s Talent
George Lazenby was a believable, emotional, real-person Bond: much like Fleming wrote Bond. For example, look at the scene at Draco’s birthday party at the bull ring. Bond follows Tracy down the stairs and speaks with her just outside the bull ring. Lazenby’s acting is just spot-on, he’s a believable guy. He’s a guy, not just a spy guy.
And when Bond and Tracy are hiding in the barn, and Bond asks Tracy to marry him. We think this is just a perfect scene – well played. Diana Rigg certainly elevates the emotions and acting here.
In the last scene, he is cradling his dead wife in his arms in the car after she is killed. George is just outstanding. We believe is a very real Bond. He’s a very believable spy who is also a human being. Lazenby gives a very consistent portrayal of Bond throughout this production.
Our Thoughts On George Lazenby
Lazenby should have continued to do more Bond films, but he received advice from agents or friends that he should move on. And he did. That is too bad because we think he would have been better and better as Bond, and a very solid contribution to the history of the franchise. George Lazenby, at the time of this writing, is still active. He participated in the 50th Anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service celebration held in Portugal and Switzerland in 2019, and is active on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lazenbyofficial
We truly believe that George Lazenby is one of the lost and overlooked Bonds. That is unfortunate because we really liked his performance in the role.
Is Timothy Dalton – a lost and overlooked Bond?
After Roger Moore left the Bond franchise having done seven James Bond films, Timothy Dalton stepped in as the next James Bond, for the 1987 film, The Living Daylights. His take on the role was to bring back the Fleming-esque elements of Bond – the blunt instrument of the government – the tough, rough assassin who is dedicated to Queen and Country. The transition from a very light Bond portrayed by Roger Moore, with a more tongue-in-cheek approach, lots of funny quips, more humor than we have seen ion any other Bond – to Timothy Dalton’s Bond was like Evel Knievel leaping across Grand Canyon on a motorcycle – a huge challenge.
In short, after seven Bond films with Moore, the viewing public might not have been ready for this take on Bond.Dalton played a very serious James Bond – with few quips, few smiles, and a very hard-nosed focus on getting the job done, and in a way that was a very believable approach to how a spy in the real-world night work. The missions were more down-to-earth too: transporting a defecting spy from the Russians to the British in The Living Daylights, and capturing a South American drug lord in Licence to Kill. This is stuff that really happens in the real world – not dealing with some demented, super-megalomaniacal enemy who wants to rule the world. Although in real life we have some instances of that.
We like that “normal” approach to the spy world – which is more realistic. However, we have enjoyed the world domination theme as well in the other films.
With Dalton, you can see several things which stand out in his acting:
For instance, his facial expressions are exactly that – they express a lot to the viewer in just a few short seconds. This is very difficult to do. Some great examples of this are:
In The Living Daylights:
• Saunders gets killed and Bond runs to his side. A balloon blows in with “Smiert Spionom” written on it. Dalton’s angry face says it all – he will retaliate.
• Similarly, during the entire scene with Pushkin in the hotel room where Bond is threatening him with his gun. Dalton has perfect facial expressions and body movement.
In Licence to Kill:
When Bond finds Della’s body
And then finds Felix in the body bag – his face just says it all – terrific acting.
• His facial expression when M is talking to Bond at the Hemingway House, revoking his license to kill is top-notch.
• When Bond tells Sanchez about potential traitors and Sanchez says he was right and got the guy, and Bond says, “Only one?” Again, lots of potential dialogue delivered in a couple of words and great facial communications which substitutes for more line. Perfect.
• In the scene where Sanchez dies. Bond is wounded and bleeding. Sanchez, after saying “You could have had it all” goes up in flames. Examine Bond’s face – you feel the pain, you feel the tension.
Similarly, Timothy Dalton’s body movements are spot on. In other words, he walks, he fights, and he runs just like what we think a normal human being would be like.
In Licence to Kill:
When Bond is walking with Hawkins through Mallory Square in Key West on the way to the Hemingway House to meet M. Bond which Bond did not know that’s where they were going at the time. However, he moves like a normal person. Natural, walking, and walking.
And, when he’s on the boat with Sharkey going to Wavecrest’s warehouse and research center – again, great facial expressions, and great, natural body movement.
And, when he gets off the boat at the Barrelhead Bar in Bimini – again, perfect movement, perfect facial expressions, and inside the bar, his face says it all. So powerful.
In The Living Daylights, as above, with the Pushkin scene Dalton’s body movement is just what you think it should be. And, as you’re watching, you do not think about it. This is the point. This entire scene is Dalton at his best. Love it!
Our Thoughts On Timothy Dalton
These are just a few examples. Dalton did a great job as Bond and we wish he would have done more Bond movies. For a variety of reasons it was not to be. This was partially due to delays in the next release (6 years). Some licensing issues and rumors that lower box office numbers had something to do with it. But, Dalton himself says, they approached him to do GoldenEye. However, they wanted a 5 movie deal. As a result, Dalton thought that would be the rest of his life and turned them down. See this article in Esquire where he talks about this very point.
In our opinion, Timothy is the other lost and overlooked Bonds who deserves more credit than he gets.
In short, these overlooked and mostly forgotten Bonds deserve an honored place in Bond movie folklore, performance, and durability. They have survived the years, and more people now think that their work should be appreciated as part of the James Bond 007 movie franchise.
Therefore, we salute both George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton as rightful Bonds!
What do you think?
James Bond Spy Movie Collectibles
Join Dan (Tom was on vacation during recording!) as he looks at some of the collectibles that SpyMovieNavigator owns from some of the James Bond movies! It’s a quick 14 minute look – take a listen! See video podcast on YouTube on our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies channel!
Join Dan (Tom was on vacation during recording!) as he looks at some of the James Bond collectibles that Spy Movie Navigator owns from some of the James Bond movies! And the collectible concept from screen-used props, props made for films but maybe not used on-screen, and reproductions! It’s a quick 14-minute look – take a listen!
James Bond collectibles are hot and it’s fun to have a few! Here are a few of the favorites we have!
Hi, this is Dan Silvestri – while Tom Pizzato is traveling at the time of this recording – so I’m here solo, doing a podcast on some James Bond collectibles that are in our vault! Think about owning a cool James Bond movie replica, or a prop manufactured for the movie that may have made it into the film or not, or an actual screen-used prop! These are all fun to collect, so let’s take a look!
If you have listened to other podcasts of our, you know I am into collectibles, especially autographs. But I have things from ancient Rome, NASA (US space program) collectibles and more.
So, naturally, I have some spy movie collectibles, especially Bond!
Let’s start with a few autographs.
Sean Connery, one of my top favorite Bonds, is certainly an area of interest, and so I have a signed publicity still of Sean Connery as James Bond in From Russia With Love,in the train car. This is very cool, and so I actually framed it myself and found a small, inexpensive digital recorder and speaker kit – I don’t even know if they make them anymore . . . and attached the kit to the rear of the frame (takes 4 double A batteries) and the “play” button to the side of the frame. When you press the button on my Sean Connery signed and framed photograph, it is Sean Connery, as Bond, saying, “A martini, shaken, not stirred” with the James Bond theme music playing. Very fun!
I also have a Pierce Brosnan signed photograph, and just recently bought a George Lazenby signed photograph from Anders Frejdh (FRAID). This last one was from the 50th-anniversary tour for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, one of my all-time favorite Bond films. I’m going to try to get all of the Bonds – Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig, and Roger Moore.
My favorite Felix Leiter before Jeffrey Wright is David Hedison. I say before Wright, but I probably like them both equally. So I have purchased a David Hedison signed check! This is very cool. This item was purchased at auction and had a PSA/DNA Pre-Certified Status – meaning it was reviewed by experts at PSA/DNA and is guaranteed to pass final testing and marking. And bank check are great – because they tell a story in themselves: this one is made out to the Beverly Hills Postmaster for $15, on October 25, 1968 – for stamps!
One of my favorite autographs is Caroline Munro’s! Of course, she plays Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me – Stromberg’s assistant who comes to collect Bond and Triple X (posing as Mr. and Mrs. Sterling) in Sardinia Italy and is later the helicopter pilot chasing bond driving the Lotus into the water, and the first woman Bond kills on-screen! Tom and I met with her in London once for a few hours – she is a delight! She signed a bunch of autographs for us, and we took pictures with her. Wonderful woman! Inscription on card: “Dear Dan – it’s so lovely to meet with you – your knowledge of Bond is amazing – Thank you so much for the lovely afternoon – All my Best Wishes, Caroline Munro as Naomi 007” How lovely indeed!
Other things and props
I would love to own some screen-used props from the Bond movies – these are hard to come by and very expensive. I know a guy who has one of the spearguns from Thunderball! So, I have some stuff which is cool – made for the films and might be buried in some shots.
I have a $100 bill from Licence to Kill – you remember the shot where Bond highjacks Sanchez’s drug delivery plane, and Bond cuts open the packets of money and the bills are flying all over the place – I have one of those bills! This one looks pretty good from a distance and does say on the upper left: “THIS IS NOT VALID. IT IS FOR USE IN MOTION PICTURES ONLY AND IS NON-NEGOTiABLE. ITS USE FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE WILL BE IN VIOLATION OF LAW.” Its provenance is that the bill was originally obtained at the shooting location in Key West Florida (Sugar Loaf Key) at the airport office from the airport manager who was keeping a bunch as a collectible from the film.
I also own a $100 bill from the Pierce Brosnan Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. When Bond breaks into the safe, there are a few piles of bills stacked on the left side of the safe. This one I have looks like a real $100 bill – except . . . it has printed in the upper right-hand corner: “For Motion Picture Use Only” – and if you notice in this scene in the film, the bills are stacked in piles strategically to cover the upper right corner of the bills! This one is cool! So maybe it as somewhere in one of those stacks! It was originally obtained from Pinewood Studios.
In Licence to Kill, again, one of my favorite Bond movies, the title sequence shows a casino table, a roulette table to be specific, and there are chips all over the table. I have two clay chips: a green $25 chip and a purplish $100 chip. Again, there are piles of chips, and others made for the movie but these are marked Casino de Isthmus and have the top-hat and cane indented patterns along the edges, which were the ones used for the movie. My contact says that these chips can be seen in the opening title sequence of the film.
From Octopussy, I have a $100 Rupee paper money prop, issued from the fictitious Reserve Bank of Indapur. The seller claims it was used in the film scene where Bond and Kamal Khan are playing backgammon, and Bond wins $200,000 Rupees. Khan starts writing a check and Bond says, “I prefer cash.”
From Casino Royale, I have 4 playing cards that were made for the movie (probably nowhere on-screen) that have Casino Royale logo on the backside twice and the crown logo. AND a $500 chip, with Casino Royale around the center, and the crown pattern along the edges. Cool! These were probably overruns, and never used in the film, or who knows – they could be in the background somewhere, or in the card shoe! But fun to have!
I have one weird book that is apparently a collectible. A friend found it in a used book shop, and it is a hard-cover only about 5.5 inches by 7.25 inches, it is entitled: “The Book of Bond – Or Every Man His Own 007” and is written as though it was by Lt. Col. William (Bill) Tanner *M’s assistant) who authored the book. It is “written” by him – a fictional character! It is a Viking Press book from 1965, and on the inside cover flap is priced at $2.50 US. The book is broken up into chapters entitled things like, Drink. Looks. Smokes. Etc. and in the margins, to validate what is written, are the initials of the title of the relevant Bond story, like FRWL (From Russia With Love), along with a number indicating the relevant chapter. And he does something similar for the short story collections. And it really is about YOU becoming like 007 in all these chapter aspects, and more amusing than serious for sure. This is really written by Kingsley Amis, who wrote three books including “The James Bond Dossier” and the first Bond continuation novel, “Colonel Sun”, under the pen name, Robert Markham. Thanks to my friends on Facebook, Nick, Oliver and Daryl for this insight! Very odd indeed!
If anyone knows more about this book, email me at Dan@SpyMovieNavigator.com – I have found some info on it but not a ton. I know there were two different versions of the book. On one version the cover reversed and the opposite side said the Bible – in case you wanted to read clandestinely! My version, the cover does not have anything printed on its reverse side. Even in this used book store, it was priced at $40!
If you remember in Casino Royale (2006) when Alex Dimitrios is playing poker and Bond joins in at the Ocean Club, Dimitrios wants to up the stakes and throws in a keyring with an Aston Martin DB5, and car key, as part of the pot. Well, I purchased the same kind of DB5 keyring along with the Lotus Esprit keyring – you remember the Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me that turns into a submersible. These are VERY cool and are available with a lot of other reproductions and collectible at 007.com, and their US counterpart https://usa.007store.com/. Tell them SpyMovieNavigator.com sent you! They have a lot of 007 collectibles and are awesome to work with.
There are also other prop shops and online stores to purchase real movie props and additional replicas. We will get you more info on these places, on our website. Tons of fun stuff on the 007.com site!
Well, this concludes our quick look at some of the James Bond memorabilia that we have – remember, there are lots of places online to purchase movie memorabilia. We have a place near us in Chicago which we are going to visit, and the guy has tons of movie memorabilia, including spy movie stuff! So look for that podcast soon, and maybe even a video!
This has been Dan Silvestri – and Tom Pizzato is still on vacation even after recording this – hah! If you were listening to this podcast. Check out our YouTube channel. We plan on shooting a video of the items for your viewing pleasure!
Have fun collecting, always ask about the provenance (history of ownership of the item,) and have a great time! Please tell your friends about our podcasts, and give us a 5-star rating! Thanks!
Join us for our Robert Davi Interview. Davi played Franz Sanchez, who is one of our favorite James Bond villains, in LICENCE TO KILL.
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Spy Movie Navigator visits Licence to Kill Filming Locations in Key West Florida (USA)
Eon Productions film, Licence to Kill was filmed, in part, in Key West, Florida in the USA. Spy Movie Navigator took a trip to Key West to see what the locations from the movie look like today.
Join Dan and Tom as they navigate the Key West streets and harbors and get an updated look at these sites.
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.
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 Raritywritten 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 inthe 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. Hemingway House 907 Whitehead 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
Watch the Video Version of this podcast Join Dan and Tom as they spend a couple of hours with Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC - Director of Photography for Quantum of Solace! Roberto has been the Director of Photography on some…
Contributed by: Daniel Silvestri and SpyMovieNavigator.com
Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator. Download 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:
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.
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
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 Love – 1963 – 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 Twice – 1967 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!
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!
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!
“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.
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 Service – 1969 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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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
The TV show, for basic concepts, self-destructing mission messages, music, etc. and
The timing, in between Bond films.
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 Identity – 2002. 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 AView 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.
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!
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Dr. No, EON Productions first James Bond movie based on Ian Fleming’s sixth James Bond 007 novel gets a big YES from movie-goers at the time of release in 1962, and has been a staple of Bond movies ever since.…
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…
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…