Q Planes and The Nelson Touch

When we at Spy Movie Navigator watch spy movies, we try to find where a movie may influence or was influenced by a real-world event or another spy movie. Happily, two things from this 11-second clip give us one of each type of influence. Specifically, Q Planes delivers with a phrase right at the end of this clip (“The Nelson Touch”) that has real-world historical significance.  Additionally, we get one phrase that may have influenced the Mission: Impossible series of movies and TV.

  • “You’re acting against instructions” – Major Hammond’s boss tells him “Unofficially, of course, you understand. I’ll give you every facility, but if he finds you out, you’re acting against instructions.”
    • This instantly brings a 20th and 21st Century spy movie fan to the Mission: Impossible TV and movie series.  “As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”
    • Does this line get it’s birth from the movie Q Planes?  Remember, this movie came out in 1939.  The “Mission: Impossible” TV show didn’t happen for another 27 years.
  • Q Planes and “The Nelson Touch” –  Major Hammond says “The Nelson Touch” in response to the above directive.  This phrase brings a real-world reference into the movie.  It refers to Lord Horatio Nelson and what he initially described as one of his battle strategies.  It’s great to see a historical reference in this type of movie.  Q Planes use of the phrase The Nelson Touch brings us to two different eras of history and two different wars.  We discuss this in more detail in our Q Planes podcast.

So, check out this clip and see if you agree with us.


C2E2 Show Chicago: What Do Real Spy Movie Fans Think?

Podcast Episode

C2E2 Show Chicago: What Do Real Spy Movie Fans Think?

In our new segment, Opinions of Real Spy Movie Fans, we talk to a bunch of real people who attended C2E2 about what spy movies they like!

Tom and Dan head down to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo in Chicago to try to find some real spy movie fans!

In our new segment, Opinions of Real Spy Movie Fans, we talk to a bunch of real people who talk about what spy movies they like!

NOTE: No Time To Die release has been postponed until November 2020.  At the time of this recording, it was scheduled for April 2020.

Related Content

More Episodes

OPERATION BODYGUARD – Behind the Spies in Movies and Novels

Author and historian Rick Beyer joins Dan and Tom to discuss deception operations: Operation Bodyguard, Fortitude, and Ghost Army from WW II.

Second Anniversary Show!

We’re celebrating our 2nd anniversary!  Let's review the fun year, with some messages from listeners and guests. Thanks for your support.

Spy Movie Navigator First Anniversary Show

Watch the Video Version of this podcast Join Dan and Tom as they celebrate their First Anniversary of SpyMovieNavigator.com and their podcast and video shows, Cracking the Code of Spy Movies!

Keep current! Join Our Email List

Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

James Bond is Like Coca-Cola Which is Why for Bond, This is NO TIME TO DIE!

Podcast Episode

James Bond is Like Coca-Cola Which is Why for Bond, This is NO TIME TO DIE!

Join Dan and Tom as we explore No Time To Die and see why James Bond will survive his next mission, looking back at how changing the Coca-Cola formula in 1985 is similar to the formula change that is being attempted with the Bond franchise!

Join Dan and Tom as we explore No Time To Die and see why James Bond will survive his next mission, looking back at how changing the Coca-Cola formula in 1985 is similar to the formula change that is being attempted with the Bond franchise!  This is a unique look at Bond and No Time To Die!

Be part of Cracking the Code of Spy Movies and send us a voice message by clicking the red button to the right of the screen.

Related Content

In this podcast show we talk about:

  • How the changes that Coca-Cola made to their formula in the 1980’s parallels the potential changes we will see in the Bond formula going forward!
  • We draw some conclusions based on what happened to Coca-Cola when they changed the formula and what we think will happen wit the James Bond franchise.
  • Fun stuff!

On this show, we reference the following links:

Commercials (these links will take you to YouTube):

  •  I’d like to buy the world a Coke – (link)
  • Archaeology – (link)

Article:  Creative Father of the ‘Pepsi Generation’ Turned Lifestyle Into a Selling Point, By  Betsy McKay. Updated Aug. 4, 2007 12:01 am ET in The Wall Street Journal (link)

More Episodes

All That Glitters – the Gold in Goldfinger – Part 2

Join Tom and Dan for part 2 as they go gold mining for the unique elements and special highlights of Goldfinger, and how other spy movies and real-world events affected Goldfinger, in the James Bond podcast, All That Glitters –…

GOLDFINGER – Oddjob Character Spotlight, played by Harold Sakata

In our GOLDFINGER - Oddjob Character Spotlight, we dig deeply into - superbly and memorably played by Harold Sakata.

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

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

Keep current! Join Our Email List

Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

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




More Episodes

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)…

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE On-Location – Formal Gardens (Love Montage)

Dan and Tom visited the Palacio des Marqueses Fronteira in Lisbon, Portugal. The gardens, appear in the love montage of Tracy and Bond in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.

The Hildebrand Rarity and Licence to Kill – Milton Krest

Ian Fleming’s "The Hildebrand Rarity" brought us Milton Krest. Dan and Tom discuss how Krest was transferred to the movie LICENCE TO KILL.

Keep current! Join Our Email List

Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

Pre-title Sequence

In one of the most intriguing pre-title sequences, the mood is dark, the setting is dark, and we see Bond pursued by an agent (SPECTRE).  Pre-Title Sequence in a setting we are not familiar with and with a very perplexed and worried look upon James Bond’s face.

He really does not look confident, which makes us viewers nervous. He has a gun in hand, as he walks cautiously around these dark grounds with statuary and foliage – lots of hiding places.

Until, from behind, Bond is strangled to death. For 1 minute and 52 seconds, he was pursued and killed. Bond, dead. But wait…ala Mission: Impossible’s use of masks, the mask is lifted off of Bond to reveal that it was really someone else.

Masks in Use

Note that the Mission: Impossible television series does not start until 3 years after the filming of From Russia With Love, so here, the film could have possibly influenced one of the major components of Mission: Impossible television series, and later the films!

Of course, The List of Adrian Messenger was released in June 1963 and was the first we know of to heavily use make-up and facial masks as disguises, which are peeled off at the end of the film. So perhaps, From Russia With Love was influenced by  The List of Adrian Messenger (not a spy movie per se) and then later influences the spy television series, Mission: Impossible and the subsequent films.

There is a great article written about some of this by Jeremy Dunns, April 14, 2015. Read it!

“From Russia With Love” was Ian Fleming’s 5th James Bond 007 book, published in 1957, and the second EON Productions film about our master spy hero. Timely released in 1963 during the ramp-up of the space race between the US and Soviet Union –  the two giant and powerful countries were at each other’s throats.

Fleming Gets a Boost from the U.S. President

John F. Kennedy was President of the US then, and Ian Fleming actually met President Kennedy. Kennedy was quoted as saying that “From Russia With Love” was one of his 10 favorite books. The Fleming novels took off in sales after that in the US.  Of course, later in 1963-1964, the film was released, but President Kennedy had been assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

The subject matter of the film, obtaining a Soviet Lektor (which is an encoding device to protect communications – much like the Enigma machine in WW-II).   It was stolen by SPECTRE,.  But if obtained by Bond it would give the West an advantage over the Soviets.  This topic was very much in vogue at the time. In the film, Russia is very much aware of James Bond already, and the pre-title sequence demonstrates how they are training to be able to kill Bond. So the tension of the film is established immediately.

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!

Related Content

Why <em>Dr. No</em> is Dr. YES for Spy Movie Fans

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.…

Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 1

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…

Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

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

MI3 Pre-Title Sequence

Mission: Impossible III was directed by J.J. Abrams. He was also the creator of the television show “Alias”.   That TV show used long pre-title sequences, so it is no surprise that Mission: Impossible III has a pre-title sequence, although it is short by “Alias” standards.

The movie’s pre-title sequence has a unique twist among spy movies. Namely, the pre-title is taken from a climactic scene from later in the movie.   We are led to believe that Julia is shot to death just as the fuse is lit starting the title sequence.  At this point, we don’t know who Julia is. When you see the scene again in the latter part of the movie, a twist is revealed: the woman who was shot was not Julia, but rather she was Davian’s translator and head of security wearing a mask to look like Julia.

Early in the Mission: Impossible films, the series takes the audience in one direction and later swings a completely different direction, often with the use of masks.   In Mission: Impossible (I) the audience is led to believe that Jim Phelps “dies” when the mission goes wrong. In reality, he wasn’t dead, but he staged it to look like he had died which we don’t find out about until flashbacks later in the film.   In Mission: Impossible II, the plane taking Dr. Nekhorvich is commandeered by Sean Ambrose who used a mask to make the audience believe that it was Ethan Hunt doing the bad deed.

Opening Title Sequence

This mask scene spills into the title sequence. The title appears to be designed to further hook the TV show fans. First, there is Lalo Schifrin’s wonderful Mission: Impossible Theme song and the lit fuse which instantly brings the viewer back to the TV series. Lalo’s awesome theme: It’s back.

The next part of the title sequence keeps the nostalgia going. As the music plays and the opening title credits are shown, snippets from the rest of the movie are shown. This lets us in on who some of the characters we will see are, as well as giving us a glimpse of some of the upcoming action. Not too much, just a tease. The TV series did this as well in its opening titles. It’s a nice touch they carried over for this film but unfortunately didn’t carry it over to Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III. We wonder why they didn’t, but they brought it back starting with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.

One thing about the snippets that hits home for me is how it feels like an overture to the movie, much like a Broadway musical usually has an overture to get you familiar with the music and make you want to hear more. This title sequence gives the audience a taste and makes us want more.

The last 13 minutes

Elsa thinks Marvin was so kind, and she sees him on the train and tells him she is alone. She looks worried and goes to a berth (1A) with Marvin, who says to her: “I don’t trust you – you’re in the spy racket too. The lovely neglected wife and I fell for it.” He pulls a gun on her and asks if the other two are on the train. If so, he says, they are dead. Elsa is trying to play her role. Marvin was going to have the train searched when she tells Marvin she knows who he is and loves him. Chaos outside as the air force is shooting at the train. He kisses her. We see Ashenden (Brodie) and The General go into the same car with Elsa and Marvin. Marvin quips, “I congratulate you all – especially Madam. When does the shooting begin?” Ashenden tells Elsa to wait outside, as The General says, “It is my job.”

In a surprise move, Elsa pulls a gun on Ashenden (Brodie) and The General, as a flashback to what she told Brodie earlier – “I’d rather see you dead than go through with this.”

Elsa is with Marvin when the planes start bombing the train – he whispers in her ear: “Chivalrous German spy saves British lady from British bombs. “

Just then, bombs wreck the tracks just ahead of the train, and it derails, before The General can take care of Marvin. In the ensuing wreckage, Marvin shoots The General, then both die. Elsa and Brodie survive. The General at the beginning of the movie who got Elsa and Brodie to agree gets a note (a lot of notes in this movie): “ Home safely but never again. Mr. and Mrs. Ashenden”
The scene shifts to newspaper headlines with the successes of the Allies!

Again, following Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps the year before (where we saw the first train scene in a spy movie), we see additional train scenes in this movie, and of course in many spy movies to follow like From Russia With Love (Bond and Red Grant, and Tee Hee), Mission Impossible– 1996 (Hunt vs. Phelps, and the helicopter chase), Bourne Ultimatum (Waterloo station and Russian railway station), The Spy Who Loved Me (Bond and Jaws), SPECTRE (Bond and Mr. Hinx), Skyfall, Octopussy and many more.

Atrium Dive Scene

This has a similar feel to MI1 vault heist the way he is tethered down to just before hitting the floor. As in that scene, there is no score during the drop and for 2 minutes and 44 seconds until Sean Ambrose starts talking. This is something we will see in future “Mission: Impossible” films as well.

Other films to use this silence during a drop include The Spy Who Loved Me (Union Jack Parachute), Goldeneye (bungee jump off a 750-foot dam), Rififi and Topkapi which both used an aerial descent with no score during the heist. It is an effective technique for focusing attention on the action and making you feel like you are there.

Getting the Walther PPK

Getting the Walther PPK

Bond fans know that often Bond uses a Walther PPK pistol as his main weapon.   In Dr. No, we learn he was using a Beretta.  But, in this scene, M informs him that he will no longer use the beretta, but a Walther PPK, which the CIA swears by.   The person giving Bond the PPK in this scene is Major Boothroyd.

In real life, Ian Fleming got a letter from a person named Geoffrey Boothroyd, a British gun collector firearms expert, who was a fan of his work.  He suggested to Fleming that a Beretta is not the right gun for Bond, and ultimately recommended the Walther PPK!   Fleming, as he so often did, named Boothroyd in the movie after this real person.   A Beretta (a .25 caliber) has far less stopping power than a Walther PPK (a .32 caliber).  Bond used a Beretta 418, which was really a problem for Bond in the book, “From Russia With Love,” which was published the year before “Dr. No” was published – 1957 for “From Russia With Love”, and 1958 for “Dr. No.”   In the movie Dr. No, it was a Beretta m1934 more than likely.

Walther PPK Stopping Power

There is some controversy about which has more stopping power.   An argument has been advanced that the Beretta M1934 9mm Short round is better than the Walther PPK which chambered a 7.65 mm round.    But if you own the Ultimate Edition of James Bond 007 DVD sets, Volume 4 has Dr. No.  On the special features extras disc, there is a piece featuring Geoffrey Boothroyd setting the record straight on this!  He prefers a .44 Ruger Magnum, but it is large – too large to carry in a shoulder holster.  So he settles for the Walther!

But the producers and writers, sticking to the “Dr. No” book, decided to take the Beretta away in the first movie, Dr. No.  Here they are referring to an incident (the silencer of the Beretta catching in the in Bond’s clothing which almost got him killed) in the novel “From Russia With Love.”  “From Russia With Love”  was published before “Dr. No,”  but which movie will come out AFTER Dr. No.   EON Productions and their staff took liberty with sequential incidents from the books as they moved them to the movies.  Not always in order!

Destructor Bag Foreshadows Mission: Impossible Self-Destructing Messages

We have also noted at the beginning of this clip, M tells Bond he is going to Jamaica, and that he will send the documents he needs to the airport in a “destructor bag.”  This is the first we have seen in any spy movies the use of a destructor bag – sound familiar?   The Mission: Impossible TV series started in 1966, and as we all know if you remember the series or the Mission: Impossible movies now, the mission begins with a recorded message, that says “this tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”  Here is the origin!

Again, since this is the first Bond film, we are learning a lot about Bond.  Note here Bond says he’s used the Beretta for 10 years – so there is a history we do not know about.  And now, Bond has the weapon that we are all familiar with – the Walther PPK – and this is where and when he gets it!


All About Spy Movies

Here’s what we do at SpyMovieNavigator
and our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show –
in 35 Seconds – take a listen!

The Ipcress File 6-Part TV Series is hot!
Here is our interview with Steven Saltzman, the Executive Producer of the series, talking about the production details! Lots of great insights!

NEW!  Subscribe to our email program!   You will get updates on new podcast and video releases ahead of time, spy movie info and more!  We may email you back about being on our show! 

Click here to Join our Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans email list! 

SpyMovieNavigator.com Media Company is looking for Corporate Sponsors!
Interested?  Email Dan@SpyMovieNavigator.com

Subscribe to our Podcast Show:
Cracking the Code of Spy Movies!

Play our Spy Movie Trivia Game!

Just like you, we love movies – and some of the best are Spy Movies!  Our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show is the best place to hear great discussions on movies about spies!  And as enthusiasts, we noticed something interesting . . . Spy Movies are all connected.

Greatest Spy Movies / Spy Films / Spy Movie News / Spy Movies for Kids
Spy Movie Reviews / Spy Movie Analysis / All about Spy Movies!

Spy Movie Navigator is where those connections come alive. If you love movies, then we invite you to navigate through some of the best, which are movies about spies – listen to James Bond podcasts, Jason Bourne podcasts, Ethan Hunt and  Mission Impossible podcasts, even the “Best of the Rest, ”  including spy films from 1935 – new releases!  See how each has influenced the others, as well as how they’ve impacted and been impacted by the world around us and other movies as well.

Join us in

Cracking the Code of Spy Movies!
Decoding the scenes & hidden connections!

 Spy Movie News & Interviews too!

You can navigate by movie franchise or listen to one of our fun info-packed Podcasts. There are also spy movie-related articles, a trivia quiz, and so much more including tours we take to the very places we all know and love from our favorite movies. If you love Spy Movies, you’ve come to the right place!  James Bond movie information and insights, as well as Mission: Impossible info, Jason Bourne information and more!

Immerse yourself in epsionage!

Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions, reviews and more!  The best spy films and spy movie info is here for you!  Secret agents rule!  Espionage movies dominate!  Here are the best spy movies, the top spy films!  Click on your favorite spy movie category, then find the movie you want to learn more about!  Next, watch the video clips as we discover unique elements in each spy movie.  How does it interrelate with other spy movies?  Has it influenced or been influenced by other spy movies?  Are James Bond movie’s cars the best?

James Bond 007, Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, and the Best of the Rest!

And we visit spy filming locations around the world and produce videos of those locations!  So take a trip from home, or take a spy movie tour!  Check our YouTube Channel!

There are more espionage movies outside the top three genres, so we created the Best of the Rest.  So, this covers movies from The 39 Steps in 1935, through current spy movie thrillers like Atomic Blonde.    And, for each curated movie, we have a podcast that you can download.  As a community, we are looking for you to contribute as well – with articles, photos, and videos.  Let’s build this Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans together!  Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions, and more! Unique spy movie information all in one place!

So, click on your favorite and get going!  Leave us a Voicemail (red button on right) with questions and ideas!  You are part of the community!


Subscribe on your favorite podcast app