19 Jun 2017

Venice - Bond's hotel suite

Establishing shot over Venice from 1963

The last scenes in From Russia With Love takes place in Venice where Bond and Tania end up after escaping the Spectre agents on the Adriatic Sea. The establishing shot over Venice pictures the famous palazzo Ducale, the Doge's palace (the large pink/white palazzo in the middle) and the Campanile on St Mark's Square.

San Giorgio Maggiore is painted on the background
The island of San Giorgio Maggiore seen from St Mark's square - similar as "Bond's view"
Bond and Tania are staying in a hotel right by St Mark's square, with a nice view over the lagoon and the small island San Giorgio Maggiore. Given the view from their balcony, they are probably staying at the Hotel Danieli or another hotel close by the Danieli. San Giorgio Maggiore is seen from both Danieli and St Mark's square which are located on the "main island" of Venice.

Since neither of the principal cast ever were in Venice for the filming of From Russia With Love, all the hotel scenes and including the view through the window in Bond's suite were shot in studio in England. 

The view over Venice as you are about to land - always sit on the right side in the plane

11 Jun 2017

Bond and Tania meet in Hagia Sophia - Istanbul

In From Russia With Love, Bond arranges a meeting with Tatiana Romanova in the Hagia Sophia (saint Sophia) where Tania is delivering a plan of the Russian consulate to Bond. Bond is blending in with a tourist group and watches Tania leave a powder compact by a pillar, for Bond to pick up. She is unaware that she has been followed by one of the Bulgars.

Tania is coming in between the pillars from the south gallery as Bond and a group of tourists pass the alabaster urn in the north west corner. However, Bond spots a Bulgar who has been following Tania to the Hagia Sophia and he hides behind a wall. The Bulgar is standing close to the north gallery, where Tania is heading.

As Bond signals to Tania where she shall leave her powder compact with Bond's information, a few of the large windows on the north wall are visible.  

It was constructed in 537 AD. Until 1453, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It had remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years. When the Ottomans took over the cathedral was converted to a mosque. It was finally opened as a museum the the 1930's.

Because of the history of Hagia Sophia, or the Aya Sofya in Turkish, it is even more interesting to visit the church than it is as a Bond location. Needless to say, a cathedral constructed over 1500 years ago and the largest cathedral for almost a thousand years is a must see when in Istanbul. There is old Christian mosaic art preserved inside that is over one thousand years old.

As a Bond location, the Aya Sofya is perhaps a little less interesting than the Basilica cistern but the fact that it is a museum keeps the Bond locations inside almost untouched and well recognisable.

23 May 2017

In loving memory of Sir Roger Moore, KBE.

14 October 1927 - 23 May 2017 
Today we received the tragic news about the passing of the last gentleman. Sir Roger has died, leaving all of us with a heavy heart.

As the first Bond actor to pass away, leaving the other five behind, Sir Roger Moore has done a lot for the Bond series and the world and it is indeed with a heavy heart I note a few of his more notable achievements. He remained active with appearances well into his 90th year and took part in his last show in November 2016.

Sir Roger became a star in the early 60's in the TV-series The Saint which run between 1962-1969. During the early years of the 70's he starred alongside Tony Curtis in The Persuaders! playing the suave playboy Lord Brett Sinclair. Apparently the filming did not went very smoothly with Curtis frequently smoking marijuana and behaving badly throughout but it nonetheless seems like they were having a good time and Sir Roger proved that he was made for the role, delivering countless classics throughout the series.
"Brett to my friends, but you may call me darling..."

Sir Roger turned down a second season of The Persuaders! in anticipation of becoming Bond.  
"When I go, I go tidy..." - Lord Sinclair in the episode Five Miles to Midnight -
In 1973 he became James Bond, taking over the mantle from Sean Connery after his return to the role following George's one time outing in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Thanks to Sir Roger's lighter touch, the Bond series survived the 70's and brought Bond back to his roots in the early 80's. Despite considering himself as a highly overpaid actor, Sir Roger, undeniably gave us a few of the best Bond films in the series with For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved me.

Sir Roger became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1991 after being urged by his friend Audrey Hepburn who also had worked for the organisation. He considered his passionate work for UNICEF to be his greatest achievement, for which he received a knighthood in 1999, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, becoming a Knight in 2003.

Thank you Sir Roger. 

Saint, Persuader and the suavest James Bond is no moore. 

As a tribute I post Judi Dench's version of Send in the Clowns.

22 May 2017

Draco and M

During the wedding reception of Bond and Tracy, which takes place at Draco's estate in Portugal in one of the last scenes in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Draco and M find time to chat together and exchange a few business secrets in the garden. Despite being enemies in business, with Draco heading one of the biggest crime syndicates in Europe and M being responsible for the killing of three of Draco's best operatives, the competitors have put aside their rivalry on Bond's wedding day.

The steps where M and Draco were filmed drinking champagne and talking are located in the garden of the estate Herdado do Zambujal which was Draco's home in Portugal, in the film, covered in the earlier post here. The steps can be found immediately to the right of the main house coming from the entrance gate.

M talks to Draco about an operation known as "the bullion job" from November 1964 and is fascinated to know how much money Draco got away with at the time. The fact that it is called the bullion job and went down in 1964 can very well be a subtle reference to Goldfinger (produced in 1964) and maybe a hint that Draco was somehow involved with Goldfinger.

"-Yes, November 64, the bullion job! You got away with quite a chunk in the haul. Tell me, I've always wondered..."
                                 - M to Draco - 

16 May 2017

Draco's estate - Herdado do Zambujal

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed mainly in Portugal and Switzerland with a few of the very key sequences filmed in and around an estate called Herdado do Zambujal, a two hour drive outside of Lisbon. It is here that Bond and Tracy fall in love and ultimately celebrate their wedding at the end of the film.

The house is only seen briefly in the beginning of the film as Tracy arrives to Draco's birthday party. However, the exterior features more prominently during the wedding scenes. The wedding reception and the following party take place in front of Draco's house on the courtyard.

As Bond and Tracy drive away, Miss Moneypenny cries by the fountain in front of the house. She is however soon interrupted by M and Q.

"Ah, 007 never had any respect for government property!"

Several scenes, including Draco's birthday at the bull ring was filmed on and around this magnificent estate and much more will be covered from this classic and stunning location, given time. 

7 May 2017

Slumber Inc.

The exterior of the Slumber Inc. funeral parlor in Las Vegas, seen in Diamonds are Forever, was filmed at the Palm Henderson Mortuary and Cemetery in Henderson just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Palm Henderson is located only a short drive outside of the city and while on location, even the interior of the chapel is well worth a visit since it is very similar to the interior of the chapel seen in the film.

The chapel from Palm Henderson in 2016

It is hard to tell whether the interior shots of the chapel were filmed on a studio set since the chapel from the film looks very much like the real chapel found on location today. It is obvious that Ken Adam, the production designer, was inspired by the real chapel from his visit on location.

In the film, the body of Peter Franks is cremated in the chapel and Bond delivers the diamonds to a private niche in the garden of remembrance (actually filmed at another cemetery). Ultimately, Bond himself ends up in a coffin after being struck down by Wint and Kidd, ready to be cremated. In the last second he is pulled out by Mr Slumber and Shady Tree when they have discovered that the diamonds are phonies.

Palm Henderson Mortuary & Cemetery is located on 800 South Boulder Highway in Henderson.

"Now don't tell me. You're St Peter?"