6 Jan 2018

The Nambutu Embassy in Casino Royale - Nassau, the Bahamas

In the beginning of Casino Royale Bond is sent out to track down the bomb maker and terrorist Mollaka, who is hiding in Madagascar. After chasing Mollaka though a construction site, Mollaka escapes into the embassy of the fictive African country Nambutu.

The two large trees seen in the film still exist and make the location fix fairly obvious.

The action at the Nambutu embassy was filmed in the Bahamas, like all other action that was supposed to take place in Madagascar. The embassy building, being a former hotel, does no exist in its original form, since it was renovated after Casino Royale. Not much of the original building seen in the film can be recognised but the features of the building is still recongisable and the trees, entrance gate and the street outside the property are still the same.

Nambutu is supposedly some form of former French colony with an embassy in Madagascar and which coat of arms bears a strong resemblance to the coat of arms of Kenya. The road that leads from the house towards the main entrance gate has been moved so it is not possible to drive up to the house anymore and a roundabout has been put in.

Many scenes in the film were filmed in the Bahamas which was also the home of Dimitrios, the villain who works in collaboration with Le Chiffre to blow up the Skyfleet prototype at Miami airport.

The house today is belongs to the Bahamian rum maker named John Watling's and houses their rum distillery, showroom and shop. Shortly after the scenes were filmed in 2006, the estate was sold to the National Insurance Board and in 2013, after sitting derelict for many years and undergoing a major restoration, the Buena Vista Estate opened as the home to John Watling’s Distillery.

The scene where Bond jumps over the fence into the garden was also filmed on location.

A small sign in the garden makes visitors aware of the estate's significance in the Bond history.

In reality, the wall Bond jumps over is not very high, only about 1.5 m.
Besides being part of the Bond history, the distillery is located on an historic estate which history goes back to 1789. The estate is called the Buena Vista Estate and has served as both the residence of the British colonial secretary in the 19th century and numerous other dignitaries as well as a famous hotel from the 1920's, called the Buena Vista Hotel.

The history of the estate is most interesting and can be found on the homepage for John Watling's.

26 Dec 2017

Bond and Tracy in Lisbon - Palácio Fronteira

As it is Christmas, I'd thought it appropriate to share one of the locations from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the only Bond film where Christmas is celebrated and features rather prominently, even with Blofeld wishing 007 a merry Christmas. The film also features a Christmas song, especially written for the film by the composer John Barry.

In the film, Bond falls in love with Teresa di Vicenzo, the daughter of an Italian gangster. They share a few romantic moments together in Lisbon early in the film. A few scenes were filmed in what appears to be a park, first with Bond wearing a black tie, and later, with him in a double breasted blazer. Both these scenes were filmed in the same location, namely in the 5.5 hectare large garden of Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira, just outside central Lisbon.

During these scenes Tracy falls in love with Bond and ultimately marries him, which would prove to be fatal. The scene with Bond and Tracy petting the cat by the fountain was filmed in the smaller garden which is located on the back of the palace (south of the building) and the next scene with Bond and Tracy walking by another fountain, this time in different clothes, was filmed in the lower main garden. These scenes will be covered next year.

Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira and the main garden

The palace is still the private residence of the Marquesses of Fronteira but is sometimes open to the public. Check dates and time before going there.

The main garden - located east of the palace building
The Palace of the Marquesses of Fronteira was built between 1671 and 1672 as a hunting pavilion to Dom João de Mascarenhas, 1st Marquis of Fronteira, who had received his title from King Afonso VI of Portugal.

This is the smaller garden where the first scenes were filmed. Bond and Tracy are coming towards the fountain (from the house) and are heading east (to the right) before Tracy sits down by the fountain.

Some steps lead down to the large lower main garden from this smaller garden where the scene with Bond and Tracy were filmed.

The palace garden is magnificent and a location that must be visited. It has not changed notably since 1969 and the spots are very recognizable. In addition to the the two scenes with Bond and Tracy, a few publicity stills were also shot at this location, primarily the picture below, featuring George Lazenby standing on a stone staircase surrounding a pond. 

As the year is coming to an end, we note that it has indeed been a sad year for the Bond series as we lost Sir Roger Moore on 23 May and we also note the passing of Karin Dor, who played the Spectre villain Helga Brandt in You only live twice on 6 November.

One can only wish that Draco's words from On Her Majesty's Secret Service will be true for 2018.
"The best years are still to come, let's hope"  

I wish you all a very 
Merry Christmas, 
and a happy new 2018!

Ta ta,

17 Dec 2017

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar - Gate 1

In From Russia With Love, when Bond arrives in Istanbul he is driven to the office of Ali Kerim, the head of the British Secret Service's "Station T" Turkey. Kerim's office is located inside the famous Grand Bazaar, a location that Bond would visit again in Skyfall. Bond's Rolls Royce arriving at at the Grand Bazaar in front of the Nuruosmanyie Mosque has been covered here earlier. Bond and the chauffeur is seen entering the Grand Bazaar through the main entrance gate.

In a very brief sequence, one of the streets just outside of Gate 1 is seen. This street is called Ç. Nuruosmaniye Cadessi. In the background you can also spot the crowd watching the filming. Crowd control was a huge problem during the filming of From Russia With Love, which is apparent in several scenes.

Bond and the chauffeur enter the Bazaar through the main entrance, Gate 1.

Later, after the meeting with Kerim Bey, Bond leaves in the Rolls Royce again and the stalking Bulgar watches as Donald Grant drives off in the Citroën. The main entrance gate, Gate 1 where Bond and the chauffeur have entered earlier, is seen again through the wall behind the Bulgar, in the picture above.

6 Dec 2017

Noble House: Man Mo temple - Hong Kong

In the second episode of Noble House, the renowned Bond actor Burt Kwok (appearing in both Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice) plays Philip Chen, compradore to the Tai Pan. After the kidnapping of his son, Philip is delivering the ransom money to the kidnappers for the return of his son. They have instructed him that the handover shall take place at the Man Mo temple at nine o'clock.

The mentioning of the Man Mo temple is accurate, since this is the location where Philip Chen actually is dropped off by the taxi in the episode. Philip walks across the street and down the steps as instructed by the kidnappers. The Man Mo temple can be found in the middle of Hong Kong, namely at 124-126 Hollywood Road in Tai Ping Shan, west of Soho.

Why the Man Mo temple would be chosen by the kidnappers for the handing over of the ransom money is a bit unclear since this is a very central location with the police headquarters close by. Even though there are a lot of people for the kidnappers to blend in with, one would think that a more remote location would have been more appropriate.

2 Dec 2017

Coral Harbour Hotel - Nassau, Bahamas

In Thunderball, Bond is staying at a the Coral Harbour Hotel in Nassau. After escaping Largo's men and swimming ashore Bond is picked up on the road back to Nassau by Fiona Volpe in her light blue Ford Mustang, not knowing that she is a Spectre agent working for Largo. After a high speed drive on the Nassau roads, Bond and Fiona Volpe end up at his hotel, where she, coincidentally, also is staying. The Coral Harbour was a real hotel that was located on the southern part of Nassau in 1965.

The Coral Harbour Hotel has been out of business for decades. However, the original building still exist on location. It is now the only rest of this, probably once quite famous, hotel. The southern part of Nassau was probably a regularly visited tourist location in the 1950's and 60's but has since the 1970's fallen out of favour with tourists as Paradise Island on the northern part were more and more developed. Both the Ocean Club and the Atlantis complex are located on Paradise Island.

The lobby of the hotel was probably re-created in the studio at Pinewood, but a brief glimpse can be seen in the film through the entrance door behind Bond and Fiona Volpe. The stone wall seen behind Bond can sill be found inside the house.

The lonely hotel building is today part of the Royal Bahamian Defence Force Base and is used as a training facility and class room. The entire area have undergone vast renovations and the old pool area in the back of the hotel, where Bond and Domino are having lunch in the film, is gone forever. Hopefully, the original hotel building will be left untouched during the future renovations. Sadly, the entrance is the only recognisable part from the film today.

The entrance to the hotel is seen again later in the film when Bond is dropped off by Pinder after escaping the sharks in Largo's pool.

"- You look pale Mr Bond, I hope I didn't frighten you? 
                - You see I've always been a nervous passenger. 
  - Some men just doesn't like to be driven. 
                - No, some men don't like to be taken for a ride..."
                               - Fiona Volpe and Bond - 

As the building is located inside the military base it is not accessible for tourists and special admittance is necessary. The most interesting fact about this location is that the unfinished hotel structure used for the parkour chase in Casino Royale also is located on this military base!