24 Dec 2013

Merry Christmas - Frohe Weihnachten

Christmas celebrations featured prominently in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, when Bond visited Piz Gloria over Christmas eve. Even Blofeld himself is dressing up the Christmas tree in the film. Blofeld's angels of death are served eggnog by Fräulein Bunt and they all receive a nicely wrapped purple present.
Bond also celebrates Christmas in The World is Not Enough together with Dr Jones. He remarks: "I always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey..." when drinking champagne in Istanbul.

''I thought Christmas only comes once a year...''

With this post I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I will take a little Christmas vacation but James Bond Locations will return in 2014. I hope I'll see you again next year.

19 Dec 2013

Desmond Llewelyn 1914-1999

14 years ago, 19 December 1999, Desmond Llewelyn died in a car crash, at the age of 85.
-Morning Q, sorry about the leg, skiing?
Desmond starred in 17 Bond films alongside all five Bond actors before Craig. He took over the role as Q, the Quartermaster of the Mi6 lab, from Peter Burton who had played the role in Dr No. During his Bond career which started with From Russia With Love and ended with The World is Not Enough, Desmond was absent only from Live and Let Die which makes him the actor who has appeared in the most Bond films. A record that surely never will be broken. When the Bond series was relaunched with Pierce Brosnan in 1995, Desmond was the only character that was kept from the original cast.
"Thank you Q, but this time I've got the gadgets, and I know how to use them..."
 Desmond was a welsh actor who got the role of Q through his earlier connection with Director Terence Young. When Peter Burton stepped down from the role of Major Boothroyd, equipment officer at Q branch, after only one film, Desmond took over and would soon become the most popular recurring character in the series.
Desmond served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers as a second lieutenant in the British Army during WWII and was captured by the Germans in 1940. He was held as a prisoner of war in the Colditz Castle for five years.
"Let's see how she responses to my touch eyh, Q?"

 He was immensely popular and will forever be remembered.

"Very novel Q, you must get them in the stores for Christmas..."
In The World is Not Enough, Q introduces John Cleese as the young fellow who is supposed to follow him, implying that he will retire. Bond expresses his hope that it will not be anytime soon, to which Q responses:
                         "-Now pay attention 007, I've always tried to teach you two things. First, never let                                             them see you bleed. 
                                                        -And the second?
                         -Always have an escape plan."

Desmond's last appearance as Q. 
Only a few weeks after the premiere of The World is not enough, Desmond's car crashed with another car on the A27 in East Sussex, when he was returning home from a book signing event of his book Q: The Biography of Desmond Llewelyn. He died on the evening of 19 December 1999. 

14 Dec 2013

Czechoslovakian border control - Steinspornsbrücke, Vienna

In The Living Daylights Bond and Saunders help the Russian General Koskov to escape from Czechoslovakia to Austria. After attending a concert in Bratislava, Koskov escapes the conservatoire and Bond sends him across the border to Austria in the Trans-Siberian pipeline. Bond has told Saunders to meet him at the border at 2300 hours. 
This particular scene was filmed on a bridge in Vienna, namely Steinspornsbrücke that runs across Danube River. On this bridge the Czechoslovakian border control was constructed. The bridge connects a small piece of land in the middle of Danube River with the mainland. It is not very busy and it is easy to understand why the filmmakers chose this particular bridge. It has a convenient size and part of the pipeline could be constructed on the walkway on left side of the bridge.
Saunders, head of section V Vienna, had planned an escape route for the general but Bond has prepared an alternative one and drives away with the general, leaving Saunders behind.

                 "-Where are you taking him, how will you get him out?
  -Sorry old man, section 26, paragraph 5, need to know. Sure you understand..."
              -Bond driving off with the general- 

Saunders is waiting for Bond at the border control when the general passes him in pipeline. In Austria, Koskov arrives at the Gasometer buildings where Q is waiting to send the general off to England. If Saunders had planned to hide the general in the boot of the car and drive across the border is a bit unclear, but they would probably have been arrested on sight if he would have tried it. 
After having been checked and cleared by the border guards, Bond and Saunders drive into Austria knowing that the general is safely on his way to England.
The bridge is located quite far from the city center of Vienna. You should take the train to Loubau station and from there you have a nice walk down the river. Even though it is quite a long walk down the river, at least 20 minutes, it is well worth your trouble. The bridge itself is not the most interesting Bond location but the fact that it is still there and rather unknown makes it a most satisfying visit. The traffic lights on the nearby main road, visible in the background on the top picture, makes it possible to establish that it really was this bridge that was used in the film.

"Cheer up Saunders, the mission's a success. And officially still yours."

Standing on the "Austrian side" looking across the river to the "Czechoslovakian side"
Despite the fact that the filming took place 25 years ago the railing on the bridge is still the same and can be recognized from the film.

8 Dec 2013

The Thomas Crown Residence

The one character that Brosnan played that comes closest to James Bond is undoubtedly the suave gentleman thief in The Thomas Crown Affair. The film was produced in 1999, the same year as The World is not Enough, when Brosnan probably stood at the height of his Bond career. Therefore I thought it appropriate to include this film on the blog.
Thomas Crown is a self made billionaire who lives in a townhouse in Manhattan. The exterior is pictured on several occasions, for instance when Detective McCann arrives with his warrant to try to make a search and later in the film when Catherine Banning and her crew breaks in to the house.
The Thomas Crown townhouse is located on the upper east side. The address is never mentioned in the film but when Crown leaves the Metropolitan museum after stealing the Monet he tells the cab driver to go to 68th and Lexington. This is quite far from the real address though so Crown would have to walk about three blocks before reaching home.
The townhouse is actually located on 18 East 68th street, a part of the street that runs between Madison Avenue and 5th. It is still very recognizable and needless to say, his house on the upper east side is located in the most exclusive part of Manhattan.

1 Dec 2013

Bratislava tram depot

In The Living Daylights when Bond travels to Bratislava he ends up on the tram when tailing Kara from the conservatoire. He watches her during a rehearsal and gets on the same tram to try and make contact. 
Before he makes contact Kara is abducted by the KGB on the tram. Bond takes her Cello case and continues to the end station, the tram depot supposedly outside of town. At the tram depot he gets off with the cello. 
Like all the action in Bratislava, these scenes too were filmed in Vienna, Austria. The eastern bloc were not very accessible for filming and even though the wall came down only two years after The Living Daylights, the cold war was still going on at the time of filming. The film was shot a few kilometers outside the city center, a part of Vienna that had a more eastern European look.

The tram depot where Bond arrives is located in the 18th district of Vienna and can be found at Kreutzgasse 72-76 alongside the tram line 9 and 42. The tram line 9 is the one that Kara takes from the conservatoire and can be seen in the film. However, the line that runs to Kara's apartment is number 42. The depot, also known as Remise in German, has been closed down since 1993 and is a cultural heritage site. 

The building, originally meant for horses, was constructed in 1883. Originally the trams were driven by horses but when electricity was introduced in 1902 the buildings were expanded to accommodate larger cars.

After getting off the tram, Bond is looking for a place where he can examine Kara's cello case. He finds a public toilet just to the right of the depot building where he walks in. Most likely the toilet interior was shot in studio but the building seen in the film can actually be found on location. It is in here that Bond finds Kara's rifle. 

The building is located at the corner of Lacknergasse, just to the right of the original depot. Originally built as administrative offices it is plausible that this actually was a public toilet, probably used by the tram drivers. Today the Musikschule Schmid-Zettelmann, a muisc school, is housed in part of the building. The side of the building is fenced so you can't actually enter the "toilet". But given the state of the building, it is possible that you wouldn't be able to open the door anyway.

The old tram depot now houses a Spar Supermarket and in front of the it has another apartment building risen on pillars. The tram tracks in front of the building have also been removed. The former glory of this magnificent tram building is gone and the building has almost disappeared in the city during development. Nonetheless, the depot is an interesting location mainly due to the fact that the public toilet can be found on location along with the main building. Kara's apartment is located just one block away, but that will be covered at a later date.

24 Nov 2013

Hotel Im Palais Schwarzenberg

After a trip through Vienna Bond and Kara arrive at Hotel im Palais Schwarzenberg in their horse carriage. Bond is a regular at the hotel and is greeted by Hans, the hotel manager, in the reception. Bond's hotel is located in a high-end residential part of town, surrounded by embassies and more notably, the famous Belvedere complex.

The Schwarzenberg Palace is located right next to the Belvedere garden and the Belvedere Palace, which is probably one of the most famous palaces in Vienna. Schwarzenberg however is not as publicly known, probably due to the fact that it is still privately owned and closed for the public. All the same, this is what makes it even more interesting as a Bond location. You are not bothered by tourists and very few people have visited the palace.  

The interior of the hotel was filmed on location at the real palace with the reception housed in the main hall, called the marble gallery. Whether this actually was a hotel in 1987 is a little unclear, information about the hotel and when it existed have been hard to find. But given the state of the interior, it is not likely that any activity will commence anytime soon. The interior is still very recognizable however with the chandelier, briefly seen in the film, still in place. If anyone has information about when the hotel existed, feel free to contact me.

The marble gallery.

Bond is greeted by Hans in the reception who immediately wants to prepare Bond's usual suite. Bond, a gentleman however wants a second bedroom for Kara. Something that he could have managed without considering the development during that same evening. It is also here, in a shop opposite the hotel reception, that Kara finds the dress she wears to the opera later. Bond wants to buy it and send the bill to Georgi. How he managed that is a bit unclear...

"-Good afternoon Mr Bond, you will need your usual suite? 
-Not tonight Hans, something with a second bedroom!"
                               -Hans and Bond-

The fireplace can briefly be seen behind Hans in the reception and can still be found in the marble gallery in the palace.

                         "-Shall I have vodka martini sent up? 
                                                   -Shaken, not stirred! 
                           -Of cooourse..."
                                       -Hans to Bond-

The baroque palace was constructedby architects Lukas von Hildebrandt and Bernhard Fischer von Erlach between 1697 and 1728. It is still owned by the Schwarzenberg family, which is a princely family that dates all the way back to the 12th century. Today, Palais Schwarzenberg is one of the last family owned palais left in Vienna. With a private enclosed park and 44 rooms this is a truly unique palace still in private hands.

Unfortunately the park is closed and not accessible for the public. According to the information we received during our visit, the owner is trying to open a hotel and the building have been "under renovation" for at least 10 years. One can only hope that they will receive the necessary permits and funding and finally convert this beautiful and classic Bond location to a real hotel! In the meantime, the surroundings with the parking lot really ruins this otherwise magnificent location.

See the film scenes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9xelKHbDyE

18 Nov 2013

Ocean Sky - The Private Jet Company

With this 101st post I will reach 100 000 pageviews since my blog inauguration! Hopefully it will take less than 2 years to reach another 100 000.
Ocean Sky Bombardier Challenger 604
In Quantum of Solace, the CIA is meeting with Dominic Greene in Haiti to make a deal with the Quantum organisation. The section chief, Gregory Beam together with Felix Leiter are discussing the deal during a flight from the Aerogare in Haiti to Bregenz in Austria. The CIA have chartered a plane from the private jet company Ocean Sky. Greene is assured that the CIA will do nothing to stop General Medrano's coup in Bolivia and in exchange they get the lease to any oil found in the country.

On board the jet is a small fridge visible, containing Heineken beer and Bollinger Grande Année champagne. A Sony TV is also visible, all brands are part of the sponsorship deals for the film. The tail number is G-OCSC and the plane in full Ocean Sky livery is a Bombardier Challenger 604.

Ocean Sky was formed in 2003, originally as an aviation broker, but the company changed their business model to a private jet company in 2005. At this time they bought a fleet of new aircraft but also managed privately owned jets on behalf of other owners. In 2012 Ocean Sky were the subject of insolvency proceedings and on 3 September that year, their operating licence was suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority. Today Ocean Sky is a group that consists of a number of UK and international limited companies with offices in London, Geneva, Moscow and New York involved in e.g. agriculture, aviation and real estate. Weather they still have a private jet service is unclear, but it is not likely that they have their own fleet of aircraft anymore

Beam and Leiter leave Bregenz.
The product placement by Ocean Sky was one of the bigger sponsorship deals in the film. The company lent five of its business jets to the film production. The planes, valued at £100 million each and with the standard rate of £5000 per hour, were used to fly the cast and crew to Panama. How much the product placement did amount to is unknown however.

For some reason an Ocean Sky jet with Black livery is pictured at the Bregenz Airport
instead of the one that Greene, Beam and Leiter arrive on. Not a clue why...
                   "Ocean Sky, guten abend!"

Greene leaves on a Gulfstream after the shootout at the opera.
After attending Puccini's Tosca at the Bregenz opera, Greene leaves on another private plane, this time a Gulfstream. Since Ocean Sky did not have a Gulfstream in its fleet, this is evidently another jet company or Greene's own jet. Bond is trying to follow Greene by chartering a jet from Ocean Sky, but M has cancelled his card so it is denied at the Ocean Sky desk. Instead Bond goes to see Mathis in Italy. How Bond could travel to Italy, buy a Tom Ford cardigan for a few thousand dollars and charter a boat to Talamone without a single credit card is beyond me. But then again, the plot in Quantum of Solace has more holes than the Titanic so it is probably better not to go down that road...

                              "Could you do me a favour, you're gonna get a phone call in a minute, would you                                    mind telling them I'm headed for Cairo?" 

In return for providing the planes, the Ocean Sky jets featured prominently in the film, including an Ocean Sky service desk at Bregenz airport. The logotype has several minutes of screen time.