They started gathering at the dome of San Francisco’s famed Palace of Fine Arts early in the afternoon on May 22, 1985. By six o’clock–the planned beginning to the end of then Mayor Diane Feinstein’s officially proclaimed “James Bond Day”–hundreds were pressed against police barricades, many even spilling onto the access ramp of the Golden Gate Bridge. While they came in every size and shape, all had come to witness an event major even by California standards: The opening of A View to a Kill, the first 007 film in history to break with tradition by premiering outside London.
Scheduled to start at seven, the film was preceded by a ninety-minute champagne reception benefitting the Mayor’s Youth Fund. Champagne–offered from sterling trays by white-jacketed waiters– was not alone on the menu, naturally; no less than four open bars were equally spaced about the reception hall while mylar “hills” crowned by silver, helium-filled stars erupted from the floor, each covered in exotic cheeses, sliced fruit, imported crackers, or shrimp cocktail. The largest and center-most of these hills bore an ‘80s City favorite: Gourmet popcorn. Guests preferring something more substantial could take their pick from the buffets adjacent to each bar or from the hibachi staffed by kimono-clad chefs just off room-center. Grouped throughout the room were café tables draped in red (matching the hall itself), surrounded by white, slat-seat folding chairs.
Sharply contrasting the decor were free-standing posters and stills randomly distributed around the room as well as scatterings of Sharper Image catalogs and Whopper and Skittles candy dispensers, these three featuring …View…-based tie-ins or contests. Also on display–near the massive (and all too warm for May, even in San Francisco) stonework fireplace: A mountain of Bollinger, ranging from simple splits at the base to a massive Nebuchadnezzar at the top.
Dispersed throughout, of course, were the guests themselves. Clad primarily in classic black-tie or nostalgic prom gowns (neither worn exclusively by either sex; this was, after all, San Francisco), the crowd was surprisingly young, spurred, no doubt, by the presence of Duran Duran members John Taylor and–no relation–Andy Taylor
While the Fab Five performers were the evening’s biggest hit–their slightest action eliciting near-hysterical screams–they were not the only celebrities present, of course. Because he was easily recognized, newspapers the following day would report that former Avengers star Patrick MacNee was the first to arrive. Bond aficionados knew, however, that producer Albert R. Broccoli, step-son Michael G. Wilson, and screenwriter Richard Maibaum had been in attendance for some time. They were followed in quick succession by mammoth Walter Gotel–minus General Gogol’s Russian accent–director John Glen–looking extremely anxious–and an agitated Tanya Roberts.
With the exception of Ms. Roberts, all moved through the nearly one-thousand celebrants largely unhindered, though responded graciously to autograph seekers, MacNee being the most casually conversational of the lot. Former Charlie’s Angel star Roberts would later explain her brusque behavior as a reaction to the overwhelming crush of media and fan attention for which she was bewilderingly unprepared.
At one corner of the hall, a seriously overgrown ghetto-blaster continuously issued 007 title tracks until finally blaring the James Bond theme itself, thus heralding a belated start to the actual screening. With room lights strobing to the staccato beat, film-goers made for the adjoining theatre.
With the wide, shallow auditorium almost full, Mayor Feinstein appeared on stage to demonstrate her lack of either fashion sense (Feinstein’s dowdy, Queen Elizabeth-like wardrobe make the entire affair seem all that more authentic) or crowd control. Several minutes after the Taylors, Gotell, Roberts, and Glen as well as MacNee, diva-turned-actress Grace Jones, and the ever-eerie Christopher Walken had joined her en masse, Feinstein finally established some degree of order. Even then, however, the Mayor’s introduction of the players and their roles was repeatedly interrupted by squealing, prepubescent Double D fans. (Jones only abetted them by silently mocking Senator Feinstein’s schoolmarm admonishment of the audience.) Following the amenities, Roger Moore–absent thus far–appeared just long enough to say “Let’s roll the film” and made for his place alongside Broccoli, et al, who earlier took bows from their seats.
The movie itself was met by raucous applause and laughter, particularly those sequences highlighted by the afore-mentioned bridge and City Hall.
Audience members who slipped-out as the credits rolled stripped the reception hall of souvenirs: balloons, stand-up cutouts, and stacks of free posters. Those less fortunate were immediately set-upon by droves of television reporters–present from the start–asking that inevitable question, “So, is this the best James Bond movie ever?”
By now it was nearly eleven o’clock and time for the festivities to begin in earnest. While film stars and City luminaries alike headed for a cast party at Hard Rock Café*, others opted for the less exclusive–though still by invitation–birthday observation for Grace Jones (age undisclosed) at the members-only disco, Trocadero, long home to Jones the singer/performance artist.
Both parties were well-attended–some nine-hundred danced away the night at Trocadero–though neither drew the crowds of onlookers present for the premier. Jones appeared at both functions, making her Trocadero entrance around two a.m. on the arm of then boy-toy Dolph Lundgren, with whom she shared screen-time in …View… and “much more” on the pages of Playboy’s July ‘85 issue.
At dawn, time had come to crawl home, hang the Berns-Martin holster alongside the tuxedo, and resume the routine–the end of a day-long 007 celebration but, as we all know, James Bond would return …
*Curiously, neither of the day’s two major cast parties–Her Honor hosted a lunch at the prestigious Maxwell’s Plum on Fisherman’s Wharf–took place at locales original to San Francisco.