27 Aug 2012

Arriving in Côte d'Azur

In Never say never again, Bond travels to the south of France in pursuit of Largo and his yacht. He arrives with British Caledonian airways to the tones of Sophie Della's ''Une chanson d'amour'' and the camera pans over Monaco and port Hercule to show Bond's arrival to the Riviera (followed by the stupid and badly written 'Felix Leiter scene' at the airport). 
In the next scene we see Bond's plane land at the airport in Nice Côte d'Azur. That makes this view contradictory since Bond's plane would not fly over Monaco coming from London. But perhaps director Kershner wanted to picture a classic, beautiful view over the Riviera and Monte Carlo is a convenient site and definitively well recognizable. 
Monaco has changed a little since 1983 but almost all the buildings on the 'front row' are still recognizable. The biggest change of course being the expanded pier, a construction that took place in 2001 in order to accommodate lager cruise ships. 

Not much more needs to be said about this fabulous location. Monte Carlo is definitively one of the most beautiful Bond locations in the world and a personal favorite of mine...

Sophie Della's song of love is the perfect soundtrack for flying into Nice. It is truly a remarkable approach when you're flying alongside the coast and finally lands, with this music in your ipod.

Happy landings! 

22 Aug 2012

The Skinny Bridge - Amsterdam

In Diamonds are forever 1971, Bond travels to Holland, posing as diamond smuggler Peter Franks in order to find the smuggler's contact in Amsterdam - Tiffany Case. The establishing shot over Amsterdam pictures "The Skinny Bridge" which connects Kerkstraat with Nieuwe Kerkstraat on either side of the river Amstel. The bridge is one of the city's most iconic landmarks.  

                                 "- I always fancied a trip to South Africa...
                                  -You're going to Holland!" 

Tiffany Case has received the diamonds from Mrs Whistler and is waiting for Peter Franks to arrive. The two gentlemen assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are killing off everyone involved with the diamonds on Blofeld's orders, hence Mrs Whistler ends up in the canal after delivering the diamonds to Tiffany Case. They are standing on the Skinny bridge taking pictures of the dead Mrs Whistler who is fished out of the canal by the police at the time of Bond's arrival. Tiffany's house is located not very far from the bridge and her apartment can be found on Reguliersgracht 36.

"Mrs Whistler did want some pictures of the canals for the children."

We only see the city in the first scene when the canal boat is going under the bridge and immediately after when Bond drives Peter Franks' Triumph Stag up to Tiffany's house. But Amsterdam is a beautiful city with its 17th century canals and since Bond's visit is rather short, the town is not shown to its full potential. Amsterdam as a location is a bit wasted in the film and in my opinion, this is characteristic for all three of Guy Hamilton's films from the 70's (Diamonds, Live and let die and Golden gun). Beautiful cities like Hong Kong, Macau, Amsterdam and New York are used without a single panoramic view or a nice establishing shot. Just compare Bond's arrivals in Rio, Corfu or India with the boring airport scene later in Diamonds where simply a loud speaker is announcing Bond's arrival to Los Angeles. The Amsterdam scenes struggles with the same problems, beautiful surroundings are missed out or ignored. The film itself has bigger problems than that, for example the Blofeld character, Felix Leiter, the poor cutting and lack of serious story but that is better discussed elsewhere.
The present bridge was built in 1934 but it originates from 1691 when the first bridge at the site was constructed. It got its name from the locals, calling it Magre Brug because it was very narrow. Unfortunately after almost 200 years the bridge was demolished and replaced with a new one due to the very bad state. 50 years later the new bridge also needed repairs but it was replaced with a new, slightly bigger bridge, that looked the same. A story told to tourists about the original bridge is that it was built by two sisters who wanted to visit each other every day, but ran out of money and that is why it was called the Skinny Bridge. There seems to be very little truth to this story.
In the film the tour boat is going north through the bridge and Mrs Whistler is probably fished out of the canal at the same location as the boats to the right.

Diamonds is by many considered a classic, but the only thing that should be considered a true classic in this film is the magnificent title song, sung by Shirley Bassey and the soundtrack by John Barry. Also the production design by Ken Adam is worth mentioning.

17 Aug 2012

"Basing Bond in Britain" - Skyfall videoblog

The latest videoblog from the official Bond site 007.com gives us a look behind the scenes from the filming in London. Sam Mendes and Craig talk about the famous sites and how London will be pictured in the film. Both Mendes and Craig are exited to shoot SkyFall on location in Bond's home city.

SkyFall London videoblog

 "We tend to shoot in the more expected areas, but I hope in more unexpected ways and unexpected angles. So we are at Whitehall, we are at Wauxhall Bridge..."
-Sam Mendes on the London locations-

Craig walking into the National Gallery at Trafalgar square. Meeting Q?

"Sam and I wanted to make it British." 

10 Aug 2012

BOAC - Keeping the British end up

"James Bond, his stomach queasy from the BOAC version of an English country house breakfast. It was just 10 a.m. on a blue and golden late September morning and the BOAC Monarch Flight 505 from London had landed at Idlewild...'' -Ian Fleming- in 'James Bond in New York'

The British airline BOAC (British Overseas Airways Cooperation) has played a relatively small part in the Bond films despite the fact that it was a British state airline, and perhaps even a cultural icon that stood at its height in the 50's and 60's. It was also Fleming's airline of choice for Bond in a few of the novels, including the short story 'James Bond in New York'. Fleming also mentioned BOAC in e.g. 'Goldfinger' and Bond is flying to the United States in the novel 'Diamonds are Forever' on a BOAC Stratocruiser.

"Breakfast came, that inappropriate assortment of foods that BOAC advertise as ‘An English country house breakfast’ [...] Cheerful start to flying the Atlantic, reflected Bond, and then they were all walking across the tarmac and up into the big Boeing and, with a burst of oil and metanol smoke, the engines fired one by one. The chief steward announced over the loudspeaker that the next stop would be Shannon, where they would dine, and that the flying time would be one hour and fifty minutes, and the great double-decker Stratocruiser rolled slowly out to the East-West runway."
  -Ian Fleming- in 'Diamonds are forever'

It would also have been the natural choice for Bond traveling to British colonies like Jamaica or the Bahamas in the early films. Their luxury 'Monarch service' that Fleming wrote about in 'James Bond in New York' was introduced by BOAC in 1951 and offered sleeper accommodation across the Atlantic. This service was introduced  for example between London and NY in their Boeing Stratocruiser. However, the Stratocruiser had been retired from passenger service already in 1959 and with the arrival of the new 'jet age', the Boeing 707 was the obvious choice for Bond when flying to Jamaica in Dr No.

Dr. No
Help yourself...
But even though Pan Am was the airline of Bond's choice in Dr. NO, the BOAC logo featured in the film. Bond is offering his taxi to two stewardesses from BOAC and the name can also be seen in the terminal. Could this be a nod to some of the old Fleming novels? The man taking Bond's bags to Mr Jones' car has a BWIA (British West Indian Airways) overall, which also was a subsidiary of BOAC at the time.

From Russia With Love
Except the bridal suite...
Again, BOAC is visible in From Russia with love, but this time in Istanbul at Bond's hotel. A desk stand with the BOAC logo, holding some folders, is briefly seen at the reception desk. Under the logo you can read the advertising slogan "World leader in air travel" (only visible in Blu-ray).


BOAC was also the airline of choice for Major Derval and his "social secretary" Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. Bags with luggage tags from BOAC are visible in their hotel room when Count Lippe is taking the watch from the dead Major Derval. The picture to the left is an example of a BOAC luggage tag from the same time so there can be no doubt about the tags in film. The letters LON can be seen next to the speedbird logo and LONDON can be read above. Since Derval is a NATO officer, it is likely that he and Fiona Volpe have been flying in with BOAC to London from the United States. The luggage tags would have been from British European Airways if they would have come from a city in Europe, like Paris or Rome for instance, so it is certain that they have arrived on an intercontinental flight.

The Spy Who Loved Me
After that rather quick appearance in Thunderball it would take another 12 years until the name would be seen again. For some reason Q is carrying a cabin bag from BOAC when he meets with Bond in Sardinia in The spy who loved me, 1977. By this time BOAC hade merged with BEA (British European Airways) and formed a new airline, today's British Airways. (In the novel 'Dr No' Bond is traveling with BEA to Jamaica.)

Q, have I ever let you down?
Since the merger took place already in 1974 and BOAC had ceased operations, Q's bag is not a product placement. Does anyone know why that bag was used?

The earlier films was not as meticulously planned when it comes to accessories and props as it is today, so I suppose it is possible that the bag was something that they just got hold of during filming. Either way this is the last time, to my knowledge, that BOAC is visible in the series. But already in Moonraker, an advertising billboard with British Airways would be seen (covered in the earlier post).

BOAC was the first airline to carry the Queen, when she came back to England from East Africa, following the death of her father, King George VI in 1952. A few months earlier, in 1951, the first royal flight by BOAC took place when they transported the then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh to Montreal in a Stratocruiser. A Royal airline, fitting for Bond...

In loving memory of Marvin Hamlish who passed away on Monday 6 August 2012. 
Nobody does it better.