25 Jan 2012

Universal Exports Ltd. / The Malaysia house, London

-Famous Russian General defects!
After that the Russian General Koskov has been taken back by Necros from the British safehouse, Bond is back in London trying to track Koskov down through the woman cellist in Bratislava. We find him at his office. In The Living Daylights 1987, not the usual Whitehall exterior was used for the establishing shot of Bond's office. Instead we see a brief glimpse of Charing Cross tube station before the camera turns to the entrance with the name Universal Exports. The sign hangs above the door to the Malaysia house in Trafalgar square. Universal exports was used already in the books by Ian Fleming, as the cover name for Mi6. The name has been used since Dr No and was last seen on Bond's fake business card in Quantum of solace.
In the two previous films, Octopussy and A view to a kill, the old war office building in Whitehall had been used and it would also feature in Dalton's last film, Licence to Kill. Why the Malaysia tourist office was used is unknown. The building seen in the background is the Canada house, which is part of the High Commission of Canada in London. It hosts the consular and cultural sections of the High Commission.
The building is situated right next to Charing Cross tube station, on Cockspur street in Trafalgar square. In the film there is a man selling newspapers in the corner. He is shouting out the top story, something that is rarely heard today.

20 Jan 2012

Villefranche-sur-mer, côte d'azur - part 1

In Never say never again Bond follows Largo's yacht to the south of France. After being picked up at the airport in Nice, Nicole (agent 326), takes him and Leiter to a villa with a magnificent view over the Mediterranean. This villa is situated just above the bay in Villefranche-sur-mer, on the French Riviera.

Villefranche-sur-mer is a beautiful village conveniently located approx. 15-25 min. from Monaco and Nice in either direction. The bay over which Bond is looking is one of the deepest natural harbours of any ports in the Mediterranean sea. That is why some of the largest cruise ships that can be found in the Mediterranean choose to stop here.

"I found the villa for us, just where you wanted, it's perfect. The Flying saucer has anchored in the bay below..."  -Nicole-

During the film Largo's yacht is anchored in the bay in Villefranche and a lot of scenes were filmed in the village. These scenes will be covered later and it includes Domino arriving at the old harbour, the end of the motorbike chase and some of the scenes at Palmyra.

In one of the first scenes in Villefranche, Bond follows domino to "la centre de la Santé" where he later gives her a massage. This scene was filmed at avenue Sadi Carnot in the touristic center of the village, just above the old harbor. You can see the red harbor house in the background. Very close by is Promenade des Marinières. On this street along the quay you can find a great number of restaurants.

Villefranche-sur-mer is a wonderful village and well worth a visit when on the Riviera. Within walking distance from the center of the village is a beach overlooking the bay. The best time for a visit to the Riviera is definitely early summer (May) or late summer (September-October) since there are less tourists and the climate is as good as in the summer. Perhaps even better, since it is slightly cooler you can wear a blazer without sweating.

The exterior of Largo's house Palmyra was filmed at two different castles, one being the famous Citadelle just behind the old port in Villefranche. The interior scenes was filmed at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild across the bay. Both these locations will be covered later.

The village has also featured in both The Persuaders (The gold Napoleon) with Sir Roger and Tony Curtis, and the action film Ronin with Robert de Niro and Jean Reno.

13 Jan 2012

Lufthansa to L.A.

Lufthansa Boeing 707
Today it is time for another post in the travel section, this time covering Lufthansa, the German airline founded in 1926. Bond, posing as diamond smuggler Peter Franks, travels to L.A. along with Tiffany Case in Diamonds are forever. Bond and Tiffany chose Lufthansa Business class for their trip from Amsterdam across the pond. Mr Wint and Mr Kidd are also on the same plane, but unlike Bond and Tiffany they fly economy class. The flight number called out onboard by the stewardess is LH450 to Los Angeles. Thanks to one of the readers on this blog we know that the airplane seen in the film is a Lufthansa Boeing 707-330B with the tail number D-ABUL, named "Duisburg". All Lufthansa jets are named after large German towns.

Bond is arriving at LAX and the famous theme building, the landmark of Los Angeles international airport is visible in the background. The plane featured in the film is a Boeing 707-320 or 420, an airplane that was normally used for long-haul flights at the time.

"-You wanna sit in the front Mr Franks?
         -It's a lot smoother ride in the front Mr Franks!
-Yes I believe I'll sit in front..."

Despite the fact that Bond meets with Leiter in the US customs building the Lufthansa Cargo logo is visible on several places both in- and outside when Bond picks up the coffin with the real Peter Franks. Lufthansa does not receive any recognition in the end credits but imdb.com lists Lufthansa as one of the product placements or movie tie-ins for the film, even though I have never seen any commercials or ads connecting Bond with the airline.

Why Lufthansa was Bond's choice of airline is unknown. It would have been more appropriate for Bond to fly with the Dutch airline, KLM, or Pan Am which had already been used two times before. However, apparently neither KLM nor Pan Am flew to Los Angeles from Amsterdam in 1971, but Lufthansa did. That flight originated in Frankfurt and made a stop in Amsterdam before continuing across the pond. It is not possible, even today, to fly with Lufthansa from Amsterdam to L.A. The only non-stop Lufthansa flight from Europe to L.A. departs from Frankfurt.

A Lufthansa catering truck at Amsterdam (Frankfurt?) airport
The scenes were Franks' coffin is put in the airplane was shot at Frankfurt Airport since this airport is listed at imdb.com as a filming location. A Lufthansa catering truck is visible in the background.

The airline has never been seen or mentioned again in the series.

Nu tar vi helg och firar en avslutad femte termin!
Hear hear!

8 Jan 2012

Bangkok car chase

Probably two of the least important locations in the world, from a Bond perspective, can be found in Bangkok. They featured only for a few seconds in the background during the car chase in The man with the golden gun and is interesting only from a documentary point of viewI am talking about the "Democracy monument" and the "Gigant Swing", both located in the heart of Bangkok.

Bond is chasing Scaramanga in a red AMC Hornet, previously stolen from a car show room, with the Louisiana state sheriff J.W. Pepper in the other seat. Scaramanga is driving a golden AMC with agent Mary Goodnight locked in the boot. A few different Bangkok sights can probably be recognized in the film but a lot of things have changed since 1974 so it is hard to find locations still untouched. 

"Who are you after this time boy, commis?! Let's go get 'em, I'm with you all the way!"

The democracy monument was commissioned in 1939 to honor the "Siamese Revolution of 1932" which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in the Kingdom of Siam. In June 1939 the name Siam was changed to Thailand. (Bond's only other connection with Siam was that he unintentionally drank Siamese vodka in You only live twice 1967.)

Another monument briefly seen during the car chase is the "Gigant Swing" in front of Wat Suthat temple. The swing can only be recognized by the lowest part and is never seen in its full heigth in the movie. The Wat Suthat temple in the background is more obvious and they probably chose to film the sequence here because it was a distinct Thai location. 

The Gigant Swing was originally constructed in 1784 and is a religious structure used in various ceremonies. It was renovated and moved to its current location in 1920 and a major reconstruction took place between 2005 and 2007. I visited both of these locations in 2005 unaware of their significance to the Bond history, something that I discovered years later. 

The car chase is one of the least interesting chases in the entire Bond series and is probably remembered only for the finale when Bond jumps with the car over a river and flips it 360 degrees. A stunt that became world famous after the Bond film. 

The film itself qualifies in the bottom five list despite Christofer Lee and the fact that there are two Swedish ladies in the lead. The plot is poorly written and Scaramanga is no actual threat to Bond or anyone else. The film has little action and takes almost no advantage of the exotic locations in Hong Kong and Macao. That said, it is one of Sir Roger's better efforts as Bond, before he became to tired of doing his own fight sequences. It is also the film where Bond has the most number of suits in the series.

Ha en fortsatt trevlig söndag!

4 Jan 2012

Circus Circus - Las Vegas

"When was the last time you visited a circus?"
In Diamonds are forever Bond sends Tiffany Case to pick up the diamonds at Circus Circus, the hotel and casino on Las Vegas Boulevard. Tiffany is being watched by the CIA when she arrives. She gets a signal from an agent at the black jack table to go and play the water balloons (where she is suppose to find the diamonds).
This scene was filmed inside the casino and the water balloons can still be found on location, on the second floor at the famous midway in the casino. Some of the clowns have been replaced and today all the clowns look like the one Tiffany is shooting at. It is still very recognizable and the price per game is only $1.
The fact that you still can play the game and recognize the clowns from the film makes this one of the best Bond locations in Las Vegas since most of the other locations that were used in the movie have been altered or demolished since 1971. Sadly the jolly old balloon man has been replaced by an older woman without a funny costume. A few performances at the circus stage inside the casino was also featured in the film and here you can still see high class circus acts and shows today. The exterior of the hotel, with a big circus tent in front, is not visible in the film.
The Circus Circus started in 1968 as a circus, complete with midway games and rides. A hotel was added in 1972, therefore it was not possible to stay at the Circus Circus at the time of the film. Bond is staying at the Hotel Tropicana, even though the interior hotel scenes were filmed at the Riviera. Circus Circus was the first hotel on the strip to actively seek families. Not really the kind of hotel that Bond would choose today.