Category Archives: Movies

For Your Eyes Also: John Glen’s Autobiography

I thoroughly enjoyed John Glen’s new autobiography. Glen jumps into the action as fast any Bond thriller on the big screen. His work on eight of the EON Bond flicks takes up the bulk of this fascinating new book.

Within the first few paragraphs the reader is plunged onto the icy mountains of Baffin Island where Glen is preparing second unit duties on his second Bond, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. The incredible teaser stunt, which most Bond fans are familiar with and which is by many considered the best Bond stunt ever, is explored in depth. Bedding down in the icy cold, John Glen writes of Willy Bogner’s legitimate fear at the deadly stunt but bravery in going when needed in one thrilling take from thousands of feet above icy rocks. I learned plenty here, including Glen’s being at risk of freezing himself into a popsicle on location, more than once! You may never view the opener of TSWLM the same way again.

Things were different in the movie industry in recent years, especially in the area of safety for principal personnel, and Glen explains how he risked physical danger or death quite a number of times on his Bonds, between the late 1960’s and late ‘80s. Even Roger Moore assured his safety on one Octopussy shoot working under a moving train by insisting that Glen accompany him on the tracks beneath the moving behemoth-his way of ensuring Glen himself felt the stunt was truly a safe one!

The chapter describing second unit work for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is impressive and a treat for OHMSS fans overall, including yet one more perspective on how George Lazenby must have felt trying to fill Scotland’s largest shoes. Glen apparently was as much a hero of the film as lead director Peter Hunt, and his was much of the creative genius behind the bobsled fight and ski sequences. DVD fans may seem some of the same extra material covered again in Glen’s book, especially the information on License To Kill, but For My Eyes Only is overall a gritty triumph about a hardworking man who waited 30 years to break into lead directing with For Your Eyes Only.

A sad footnote is that Glen’s LTK tested higher than any previous Bond film with test audiences, but was demolished between Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Batman, to name just two 1989 summer blockbusters. Underscored throughout the book is the essential nature of the director to any Bond film, from Terence Young and Dr. No to Michael Apted and The World Is Not Enough, the director gets huge leeway regarding casting, script development, exotic locations and stunt choices, to name a few.

Glen’s view from the top explores in some detail how Cubby and Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson and the screenwriters thought, plotted and risked hunches and millions on the casting and scripting of the greatest film series in history. Lacking is any moving in-depth background on Glen himself, however. Two marriages are treated almost as footnotes in the book. Glen eventually brought his wife on location with him, but apparently spent nearly five decades “late at the office”.

The book and jacket design lean heavily on the James Bond image and EON 007 logo. I found it bizarre that the designer did not clean up the famous image cropped in close up of George Lazenby in front of “Big Ben,” for example, but left “overhangs” atop of the heads of both Lazenby and Dalton on the front cover. My copy also had ink dropped out on certain pages, lightening some of the photo captions almost beyond recognition. The jacket and book design are still pleasing to the eye, however. This book was certainly aimed at the interested 007 fan. Many pleasant stills are included of action, cast and crew. Some never-before seen photos are included among them. Further insights are also given into Cubby Broccoli’s generosity and a humorous foreword is included by Roger Moore, CBE.

–For My Eyes Only is published in hardback and is available now from various sources including Dave Worral’s Collectors’ Club.

TWINE and AVTAK: An Appreciation

James Bond must stop a villain who plots to destroy a strategic area of the globe, which will then allow said villain to control the supply of a needed commodity. Also involved is a lovely lady with oil in the family’s veins.

Sound familiar? These are plot points from the 1999 James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough a blockbuster heralded by fans and the general public. These plot points are also present in the 1985 James Bond film A View To A Kill, widely considered among the Bond cognoscenti as a tired and lackluster 007 flick.

Apropos of the 15th anniversary of the release of A View To A Kill, 007 Forever reevaluates Roger Moore’s last Bond film with the goal of rehabilitating its standing in the James Bond film series. Particularly interesting is to compare A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough. Now that the hype and excitement has leveled off, we can take a cold-eyed view of the 19th 007 film and in comparison to A View To A Kill, see if it comes up short.

The Caper
The similarities of the villain’s caper in The World Is Not Enough and A View To A Kill serves as a jumping off point for our comparison. In A View To A Kill, computer industrialist Max Zorin plots to destroy California’s Silicon Valley to corner the world microchip market. In The World Is Not Enough, oil industrialist Elektra King plots to destroy Istanbul in order to control the flow of oil out of the Caspian Sea.

Neither one of these plots is particularly original, In fact, the plot of A View To A Kill has been criticized as an update of Goldfinger which also involved a villain out to make an economic killing as a result of a disaster. Also present in the A View To A Kill plot is a healthy dose of the plot of Superman which involved Lex Luthor’s destruction of California via an earthquake.

The sub-plot of oil is what draws The World Is Not Enough closer to A View To A Kill than it does to Goldfinger or even Superman. Both A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough involve a leading lady whose family has been cheated out of their oil legacy. Stacey Sutton has to work as a state geologist to earn money to fight Max Zorin in the courts. Zorin had cheated Stacey out of her oil in a rigged proxy fight.

Elektra King also believes that her family has been cheated out of its oil. Elektra states that her father stole her mother’s rightful claim to the oil in the Caspian Sea. Fair enough, but it seems odd that this subplot should be used again in a Bond film.

The World Is Not Enough also adds the wrinkle of a female villain and the world’s greatest terrorist falling in love. All sorts of Freudian motivation of a father-daughter conflict are present (Elektra from Greek mythology – get it?) But the basic plot strands are the same.

For my money though, then execution of the villain’s caper is handled much better in A View To A Kill. The World Is Not Enough follows the recent tradition of murky Bond villain exposition. Elektra’s plot is explained in a few lines of dialogue when Bond realizes what the nuclear submarine is going to be used for. Then again, both plots from both films are explained as James Bond and the leading lady study a map. The “double earthquake” that will sink Silicon Valley seems more palpable than the whole business of irradiating the Bosphorous. Aren’t there any other ports in Turkey where the oil can be loaded onto the tankers? It seems a stretch that they are all located in Istanbul.

Femme Fatale
The comparison of the leading ladies in both A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough is also illuminating. I am not going to compare Tanya Roberts with Sophie Marceau because a blind person can see that Marceau is clearly the better actress. Then again, Sophie Marceau is really the villain in The World Is Not Enough.

This argument though is not so easily decided when you compare Tanya Roberts to Denise Richards. Both these American women are lovely to behold yet they both come up short in the acting world. Tanya Roberts is rightly knocked for her ditzy line readings of “James!” and for failing to see that blimp behind her.

Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones is no improvement though. The nadir of Denise’s performance comes when she’s sopping wet in the submarine and says that “we could write off the whole city”, a cringe-inducing moment if there ever was one.

The biggest mistake with Richards’ casting is her age. Its just not believable that someone in her mid-20s has a PhD in nuclear physics. Period. Stacey Sutton on the other hand, is a State of California employee, a vocation that many Californians feel does not require a lot of brains. Therefore Tanya Roberts is more believable in her role and less of a distraction to her film.

Oscar Bond
When it comes to villains, A View To A Kill trumps The World Is Not Enough any day of the week. Why? Two words – Christopher Walken. Oscar-winner Christopher Walken has made a career out of playing psychopathic villains and anti-heroes. It’s a great thing to have an actor of Walken’s stature hamming it up as a Bond villain. Walken may not be the greatest Bond villain but dammit, its fantastic to have an actor this prolific associated with the Bond series.

Christopher Walken is as active now as he was in 1985, if not more so. Gert Frobe may be the greatest Bond villain of all time, but you could count all of Frobe’s other memorable roles on one hand. Not so with Christopher Walken. This man has added edge and darkness to scores of films from Annie Hall to The Deer Hunter to True Romance to Sleepy Hollow.

The double villains of The World Is Not Enough cannot touch the wattage of Christopher Walken. Sophie Marceau is not revealed as the true villain until well into the film. Robert Carlyle as Renard is woefully underused in the film. When he is present, Renard is saddled with “drama” scenes that are passable but really have no place in a James Bond film. Point to A View To A Kill.

What can be said of the locations in A View To A Kill as opposed to The World Is Not Enough? First and foremost is the fact that most of the locations in A View To A Kill are real. Many of the locations in The World Is Not Enough are faked. Following the trend of Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough resorts to non-descript locations that double for Baku, the Caspian Sea and Istanbul. The viewer never feels that Bond is truly in these far-flung locations as they did with Japan in You Only Live Twice or Egypt in The Spy Who Loved Me to name some examples.

In A View To A Kill, Paris, Chantilly and San Francisco are all marvelously put to good use. Taking a bead from Alfred Hitchcock, famous landmarks are used in action setpieces. The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco feature prominently in memorable action sequences. The World Is Not Enough’s boring climax in a submarine under the Bosphorous seems waterlogged in comparison.

Secondary characters are also more interesting in A View To A Kill. Goldie’s Bull is an interesting sub-villain but is nowhere near as memorable as Grace Jones’ May Day. Gabor does not even rate. Robbie Coltrane’s Valentin Zukovsky is a fantastic foil for Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond. Coltrane is no Patrick Macnee though.

Patrick Macnee brings more of The Avengers cache to the James Bond series, following in the footsteps of Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg. How cool is that? The Roger Moore-Patrick Macnee scenes have a warm familiarity to them which serves A View To A Kill well. The accumulated James Bond-Simon Templar-John Steed charm of these two actors is wonderful. How wonderful that these two real-life friends were allowed to share some of their personal charisma with us in a James Bond film.

One element that puts A View To A Kill in a class above The World Is Not Enough is music. John Barry provides his penultimate score to the Bond series with A View To A Kill. The results are electric. Eschewing the murky atmospherics of Octopussy, Barry provides action music in A View To A Kill that is among his best. Barry’s electric guitar influenced ski-chase music is awesome. The music from the last third of A View To A Kill covering the execution of Zorin’s plot is also excellent. This music echoes Barry’s excellent music from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

David Arnold’s music for The World Is Not Enough is functional but cannot touch John Barry. Compare the ski-chase music John Barry composed for A View To A Kill to the ski-chase music in The World Is Not Enough. Convinced yet? Arnold’s finest moment in The World Is Not Enough is the dance oriented boat chase music, an inheritor of the rock motifs Barry used in A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights.

The theme song of The World Is Not Enough has a superior pedigree to the song from A View To A Kill. David Arnold and Don Black created a fantastic song for The World Is Not Enough which was excellently brought to life by Garbage. The problem with this song though was that it died an ignominous death. I never heard it on the radio once, and I live in that small community with a shortage of radio stations called Los Angeles.

Say what you will about Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill, but that song rocked its way to the top of the charts in America. This was the last time that that has happened for a James Bond song. That’s no mean feat. I still hear A View To A Kill on the radio today. How cool is it to have a 007 song be a part of the retro-trendy 1980`s music revival?

Another element that sets A View To A Kill apart is the adrenaline of its action scenes. Need I remind you dear reader that action is what we go to a Bond movie for? You can stuff all the “dramatic” material. The World Is Not Enough had one too many scenes of Renard and Elektra emoting. Max Zorin and May Day did not sit around contemplating the vagaries of the heart. They just got on with the business of megalomania thank you very much.

Back to the action though. You have a ski-chase both in A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough. Which one is more memorable? The snowboarding chase in Siberia from A View To A Kill still gets the juices flowing. You need to light a match under my foot to get any response to the ski chase in The World Is Not Enough. The boat chase is the only thing that rocks in The World Is Not Enough. All of the other action sequences have a bloated, self-reverential air that ultimately undoes them.

The choreographed goofiness of the Seine car chase in A View To A Kill has more panache and style than the caviar factory sequence in The World Is Not Enough. These are the kind of things that makes us love Bond movies, not bad CGI effects of helicopter blades. We can forgive all the tacked on drama in the new Bond films but don’t mess with the action.

Summing Up
Let’s face it, A View To A Kill is a superior James Bond film to The World Is Not Enough. Sure it has its faults; an aging Roger Moore, some dubious acting, a slow moving second act, but the film is more than the sum of its parts. On the debit side though, A View To A Kill sets out to be an old fashioned James Bond caper involving a supervillain out to cause havoc for gain. The film makes no pretensions to being “dramatic”, we can watch American Beauty for those kind of thrills, give us a Bond movie please.

I am glad that the Bond series is still around and can be a box-office world beater. On the other hand though, I am saddened that a new Bond film cannot deliver the same type of thrills that films of the past could. Maybe I am growing up, but I know that the next time that A View To A Kill is fired up on video, a frisson of anticipation will shoot down my spine when the John Barry music kicks in on the frozen wasteland of Siberia.

Here’s to you, A View To A Kill. Happy 15th Anniversary!

–Greg Bechtloff is the American representative of The James Bond International Fan Club and Archive.

The Name Is Cranky, Mr. Cranky

(4 bombs) This is the last of the James Bond films to feature the apoplectic Roger Moore as the famed 007. If anything good can be said about the film,it`s that at age 57, Moore`s physical limitations had finally caught up with his acting limitations. There really is a truly spooky synchronicity happening in this film in which Moore manages to both move and emote as little as possible.

The film opens with a skiing sequence in which snowboarding is accompanied by the Beach Boys song “California Girls,” obviously the decision of a music director skunked out on laced weed. After Bond escapes in a styrofoam boat, we get to witness a good hour involving horses, horse racing, and microchips that make them run faster – an entire section of the movie that easily could have been excised given that Max Zorin`s (Christopher Walken) goal is to cause an earthquake and wipe out Silicon Valley. His henchman is played by Grace Jones. One has little idea if James Bond and the rest of the world`s secret agents were scared stiff by her, but certainly the world`s fashion designers must have been running for the hills.

“A View to a Kill” has the ugliest Bond girl in Jones and also the worst actress in Tanya Roberts, who plays a geologist and whose main function is to scream “James” about every five minutes. The rest of her lines are exhaled like an asthma sufferer in the middle of an attack.

Ignoring the non-existant direction, horrible dialogue, and mind-numbing acting, this Bond entry seems most notable for its unbelievable idiotic gadgets. Q`s (Desmond Lleewelyn) favorite toy is the robot from “Short Circuit” whose only role in the film is to catch Moore and Roberts in the shower together. In addition to that, there`s a poison butterfly on a fishing pole – who knows how Grace makes it hit anybody, something that looks like an old credit card swiper that shows James what was written on a check, and an electronic credit card that somehow manages to flip the hinge on an old window. Obviously, Q must have been on vacation prior to this mission.

However, my favorite moments in “A View to a Kill” are when Roberts is running down a hill at the end and Bond yells: “Stacy, behind you!” Next thing you know, Zorin reaches out of the window of his zeppelin and whisks her away. Also, Bond makes Stacy a quiche. Frankly, this Bond is so lame I`m surprised the producers didn`t have him suffer from some sort of erectile dysfunction.

For more of Mr.Cranky`s world famous reviews, visit

The Looking Rough Guide To A View To A Kill

Ian Fleming described the hero of his best-sellers as being in his forties, but fit as a fiddle. Roger Moore possibly fit this description in 1973, but mother nature can have her wicked way with anyone in twelve years and by the time he stepped onto the Bond stage for the last time, it was obvious that the only gadget he wanted was a Ronco Stair Lift.

Things don’t look too promising from the opening seconds, as our hero looks knackered just spinning round in the gun barrel sequence-perhaps the arthritis was already getting to his knees? However, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem as he goes on to systematically take on the entire Russian polar force, armed only with a pair of skis and many years of hard won experience. There is a down side to being around this long: everybody starts to recognize you. Even the Russian soldier he pulls off a snow bike shouts: “Aaargh! Roger Moore” as he disappears over a cliff.

Having escaped that little close shave, James retreats to his lavishly appointed submarine/bachelor pad and settles in for a long ride. How the Soviet airforce manages to miss something that looks like a hearse that’s been tarred and feathered we never discover. But at least Rog looks happy to be sitting down at last. For some reason, the British Secret Service have deemed it appropriate for him to be accompanied by a blonde nymphet in a Wilma Deering jumpsuit, and she steers him away from danger. All the controls are at the front, with the exception of a single lever that does nothing other than conveniently shake the sub around a bit. Was this installed at James’ own request? It’s all very well for him to get his nuts in the Arctic Circle, but the rest of us have to sit through the title sequence and marvel at the graphics so crap that Maurice Binder might have nicked them from the bin outside the TRON production office.

By this point in the series, the film proper always starts with a briefing scene in M’s office. Having circumvented the maiden aunt that is Moneypenny-presumably by promising to meet her later on at the bingo-James dares to question the integrity of Maximillian Zorin.

“Zorin?” barks the minister. “Impossible-he’s a leading French industrialist”. Rog is far too much of a gentleman to point out that this should obviously make him the number one suspect in any case-even if he had no connection to it whatsoever-and that’s exactly what he, and half the audience, are thinking. Plainly, he’s having none of it and has already decided he’s got his man. As soon as you see Christopher Walken, you know he’s right. Bleach blond, grinning insanely, accompanied by the muscular figure of Grace Jones in a massive red hat that she only abandons when she has to stare down a rearing horse-this is clearly a man who craves the anonymity required to be a genius megalomaniac. Walken is already chewing scenery and he’s yet to say anything. Rog even manages to uncannily predict the winner. Is this ESP? Gambling skill? Or has he just read more than his own pages for a change?

As it happens, the French take a bit of a kicking in this movie, as James follows a lead to Paris and meets up with the local contact, a detective names Aubergine. Vegetable by name soon becomes vegetable by nature when James is lulled into a coma by the quite spectacularly dull butterfly act and poor Monsieur Aubergine gets a fishhook in his neck. Taking off after the assassin, Rog once again doesn’t look too happy about this running lark and when his quarry starts to ascend the Eiffel Tower, he decides to take the lift instead. Hijacking a car from an outrageously French taxi driver (he’s drinking wine and eating a baguette, for God’s sake! Why not just give him a stripy shirt, beret and string of onions and be done with it?) He proceeds to deal out the sort of punishment to it only previously employed by Edward I to deal with William Wallace. As if this wasn’t enough, jumping out of his quarter car, Bond crashes in on a wedding cake and has to give up the chase as it becomes second priority to dealing with some cleaver-wielding chefs who evidently don’t care how far past its sell-by-date their food (or indeed the joke, for that matter) is. Lucky for him, the whole affair is simply covered by virtue of a massive bribe to the Parisian authorities. I wonder if this film did well in France?

Now, I don’t wish to suggest that Bond’s tactics are predictable, but you’ve got to wonder how many times he can get away with heading straight for the villain, letting him know he’s on to him, and then shagging his bird before someone realizes that all they have to do is kill him when he first arrives. For all his advanced years, Roger still can’t seem to keep it in his trousers, and engages in a little badinage with the lovely Jenny Flex:

“I expect you spend a lot of time in the saddle?”

“Yes, I love an early morning ride.”

“Oh, I’m an early riser myself.”

Initially, it looks like he may have gotten away with his, but a little exhalation from Alison Doody lets you know that hell would freeze over before she grabs granddad.

Still, the old guy packs a lot into a day; a fight with Big Ron Tarr is followed by vigorous sex with Grace Jones, from which he gamely manages to avoid being eaten alive, which is in turn followed by a confrontation with Zorin. Max Zorin is obviously an astute businessman who invests in nothing but the best equipment, as we can see from his state of the art ZX81 which picks Bond out of the KGB files in no time at all. Despite looking more like David Bowie by the second, it soon becomes clear that Zorin’s plan involves rather more than a giant glass spider and a pale blue suit; instead he plans to destroy Silicon Valley and cash in on the world shortage of computer chips by opening sweatshops in Scottish new towns. Well, that last bit was made up, but it’d explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

Offering a deal to the world’s leading computer businessmen, Zorin conveniently outlines his own plans to the audience. Quite apart from the cash to be made, everybody knows that you never turn down a Bond villain-he’ll always throw you out of an aeroplane, or crush you in a car, or feed you to the piranhas.

Whilst all this is going on, Rog is in San Francisco and seems to have no idea whatsoever that this is the AIDS capital of the world, getting it on with dodgily -accented Russian agents that get aroused to the banging sounds of Tchaikovsky (remember that when you send your daughter to ballet classes) and meeting up with the Chinese Detective of the CIA, who in a classic case of missing a golden opportunity, isn’t called Ferix Reiter…

With all this on his plate, why he should want to team up with Stacy Sutton is a mystery that will never be solved. The woman is so wet she should be wearing a sign around her neck that says: ‘No ducking, no diving, no petting and no pushing’. A lot’s been said about Bond cooking quiche in the film, but to me it’s obvious that it’s all part of a clever plan and he’s taking the opportunity to ply her with red wine; unfortunately she keeps her knickers on and he has to keep her alive, despite her frequently achieving vocal tones that only dogs can hear. It’s notable as well that she’s never actually seen eating the thing, only commenting on how wonderful it is. Not surprising as she probably burns the lettuce on a regular basis.

As if that’s not bad enough, when David Yip becomes nothing more than Sherbet Dip, Stacey Sutton graduates to the position of main ally and we have to endure scene after scene of her screaming ineffectually at James to rescue her while he goes off to do something far more important. Every time your hopes are raised, he goes back to get her-he must have misplaced his glasses…

Give her credit, the skank seems indestructible, as she is pulled out of a collapsing, blazing building without her white dress being even slightly singed or blackened, and is immediately plunged into a high speed chase which similarly fails to kill her. Sadly it now seems that James’ mental faculties must also now be brought into question-would you hand the wheel of a speeding fire engine pursued by police cars to someone who quite plainly doesn’t have the necessary HGV license? He doesn’t even switch over the tachometer! He’s a danger to himself…

Having followed Zorin to his secret mine facility, James provides us with another insight into his accelerated decrepitude: Why walk when you can ride? And he misses a tour de force of classic villainy whilst he searches for his bus pass. Zorin cackles maniacally whilst indiscriminately gunning down his own men, before escaping in a massive airship with his name on the side in eight foot high red letters. As if this wasn’t enough, he then decides it would be a good idea to kidnap rather than kill the main witness to his antics. By this point the audience is wondering why Bond hasn’t killed Stacy: this is pushing it just too far.

You’d have thought an airship, no matter how ostentatious-would provide ample opportunity to scamper to safety, but only if you remember not to leave any convenient ropes hanging about. D’oh! Even so, surely no one could hold on over a few miles and several obstacles, unless he was a top secret agent? D’oh! Never mind you can just smash him off the Golden Gate Bridge, no one could survive that, surely? D’oh!

Personally, I’m still pondering over whether or not a slipknot would really hold an airship, but Bond wastes no time in trying to get his bird bad. To Zorin’s credit though: small airship-big balls, as he climbs out onto the bridge and goes after Bond personally with an axe. He may finally have snapped.

This really can’t be much of a surprise-just look at his father figure. Not long after his beloved Max takes the long drop cackling maniacally the older codger magics some TNT out of the fridge and starts waving it about. I am compelled to ask: was this standard behaviour about the house? Did the young Max come back from school to find his dad hiding in a trench he’d dug at the bottom of the garden, occasionally blasting away at passersby? Ten percent genetic, ninety percent environmental. That’s what they say.

As usual with Bond films, the final scenes are played out over a background of cheese factor ten: for a start, the audience had long since forgotten about the robot dog that Q bothered them with at the start of the film. But, having spent more on this that the title sequences and Christopher Walken’s wig combined, Cubby wants his money’s worth.

However, it must have been plain even then that this was to be Rog’s final scene, and no entendres are spared in seeing him off. Moore always had an effortless knack of making the crap line into an art form, transcending the material written by mere mortals to achieve a level of godlike cool that Pierce Brosnan can only dream of. Most actors flounder when they come up against a poor script-Rog simply takes what he’s been given, adds himself to it and immediately makes it entertaining. I couldn’t name too many others that share the ability, not without mentioning the Evil Dead trilogy anyway.

It’s very quiet, but turn up the volume during the final moments and the following exchange becomes audible:

“Where’s the soap?”

“There it is.”

“Oh, I’ve dropped the soap.”

“I’ll get it.”

“That is not the soap.”

This all culminates with a final little chuckle from Rog, leading into the end credits, and that’s your lot. Our hero toddles off to a green leather armchair somewhere, Tanya Roberts limps her way into The Beastmaster and Christopher Walken continues his distinguished film career apace. Life’s like that sometimes.

A VIEW TO A KILL is desperately overlong. It has too many girls, too many sacrificial lambs, too many locations and crucially too many years since its lead was born. It’s the height of Bondian excess, in desperate need of an overhaul and streamlining, and thankfully this was just around the corner. Still, the old warhorse has its moments and I do still have a small soft spot for it somewhere in my heart. Somedays, when life’s just gotten too much for me, all it takes to cheer me up is to remember perhaps the most fantastically delivered line in Bond history. Take it away Chris.

“More. More power!”

And all I can say is more, more power to your elbow Chris. You’re a star.

The Cultural and Commercial Impact of A View To A Kill

Roger Moore`s last Bond film received the usual blitzkreig of merchandise and movie tie-ins around the world. Some of the sponsorship was obvious, some of it beneath the radar. The film`s longest lasting contribution to modern society may have been its impact on the resurgence of snow boarding.

In an article entitled HOT RESURGENCE, by Tom Conroy and Rob Sheffield for the August 20th, 1998 issue of ROLLING STONE, A VIEW TO A KILL is credited with the resurgence of snowboarding. Chris Ernst, founder of California`s Lord of the Boards series, concurred:

The troubles started around 1985, when the James Bond film A View to a Kill featured a Grecian Formula-slickened Roger Moore busting down the slopes on a single plank. Ever since, snowboarding has been jammed down our collective throat and has brought with it such scourges as tongue studs, tattoos, baggy parkas and any number of bad bands. Though no one asked, they`ve begun to rap.

Even musical artists have gotten in on the action. SHADZ of Lingo released the 1994 album A VIEW TO A KILL, while the punk/new wave band “Gob” did a thorougly forgetable 1997 remake of the title song.

The summer of 1985 had Duran Duran claiming the top spot of BILLBOARD`S Top 100 Singles. The song lasted three weeks at the #1 spot, and was the first time a James Bond song had reached #1 in the United States (though other songs came close). Duran Duran fever hit an all time high and James Bond was all the better for it.

Michelin Tires had their products tied into James Bond. Carefully note the brand of tire Bond sucks air from while underwater. Shots of The Michelin Man are also strategically placed in the scene where Tibbett gets the car washed. French car company Renault was giving away a Renault 11 Turbo along with 100 soundtrack cassettes for runners up.

Matchbox Cars released miniature versions of the Roll`s Royce Silver Cloud II as well as the Renault taxi. There was also an Action Pack put together that included a San Francisco Police Car and a Russian helicopter. The Action Pack was never released.

Lone Star Toys produced a gun and holster set to go along with the new movie. The set featured a cap shooting Walther PPK, and shoulder holster and strap. This set was never sold in America.

Chevron got in the act as well. When Bond “protests” Zorin`s oil pumping station, guess which kind of hat he wears? A Chevron Company hat. And when Stacey accidentally swings the fire engine ladder, with Bond on top, into a gas station, guess which gas station got demolished? Chevron.

A View To A Kill was also turned into a videogame for Angelsoft. It originally was published in the fall of 1985, for the IBM, Mac, and Apple IIc platforms and was developed by Bond novelist Raymond Benson.

By today`s standards of Bond cross promotion, A VIEW TO A KILL`s looks anemic. But it had its moment to shine and somewhere

Reviews To A Kill

In today’s Internet era, where everyone who has an opinion about something has a forum in which to share it, opinions on James Bond are a dime a dozen. But in 1985, we the little people, the regular movie going audience, had little choice but to read and accept the opinion of ego deficient cretins (otherwise known as professional film critics). They were the only game in town, they had a stranglehold on print and television media, and boy did they ever use it to throttle the latest James Bond epic: A VIEW TO A KILL! Condemnation of this film was nearly unanimous.

The most bizarre and out-of-left-field critique of the film came from Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero , written by Tony Bennett and Janet Woolacott. Here, Ms. Woolacott’s strident feminist tendencies and anti-Bond sympathies come to light with this remark: May Day’s death, to put it bluntly, expresses the pious hope that both the women’s and black liberation movements might take themselves off somewhere into the California desert and blow themselves up.”

David Edelstein of The Village Voice took a less abrasive, but no less critical, view of the film: “After the virtuoso opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-which featured Harrison Ford in a tuxedo, and which out-Bonded Bond-how can audiences accept these artless crack-ups and flaccid fisticuffs? Long, long ago, James Bond films had an edge. They were adventure stories told in elegant shorthand-all sleek, ironic, amoral thrills. When Roger Moore lumbered aboard in 1973, they went from the snazziest thrill machines to the flabbiest; they lost their silkiness, their irony and their zip. They went for cheap yucks suddenly-not just bad puns, but slapstick chases and Smokey and the Bandit stuff with sputtering sheriffs….A VIEW TO A KILL is pure tedium.”

Janet Maslin in The New York Times called the film “entirely forgettable” and “less than dynamic”. Janet even managed to get in a few cutting remarks about Roger Moore’s age: “The effort involved in keeping Roger Moore’s 007 impervious to age, changing times or sheer deja-vu seems overwhelming.”

Jack Kroll of Newsweek, May 27 1985. p. 74, said: In his seventh film as James Bond, Roger Moore seems tired out. A VIEW TO A KILL succumbs to all the cliches and conventions associated with its forerunners but lacks the spirit to compete. Hollywood Bond productions have come to sacrifice urbanity for exotic stunts and fast action. With the exception of an ingenious plot idea and the unconventional beauty Grace Jones as the Amazonian May Day, the film comes off as an insipid foil for a couple of brilliant stunt sequences. ….There are shots in A View to a Kill that make your heart go out to Roger Moore. In his seventh movie as James Bond, Rog is looking less like a chap with a license to kill than a gent with an application to retire. Moore is an extremely engaging fellow and an admirable professional, but when he turns on that famous quizzical smile, his facial muscles look as if they’re lifting weights.”

Jet Magazine, June 24 1985. p. 56-8 chose to focus much of its attention on the interracial aspect of the film: “Grace Jones, described as “bizarre, beautiful, masculine, and feminine,” steals the show in her second film, the latest James Bond feature, A VIEW TO A KILL. A former fashion model and disco artist, Jones plays Christopher Walken`s accomplice, May Day. The two plan to destroy Silicon Valley to gain control of the hightech industry. Bond`s mission is to stop them. May Day is a woman who commits murder and makes love with the same degree of passion. The stunning Jones, who designed many of her own costumes for the film, had the chance to display her skills as a kick boxer, as well as her skills as a seductress. Despite the film industry`s traditional caution in dealing with interracial intimacy, Jones transcends race in her passionate scenes with two white men.”

Ralph Novak of People Weekly, June 17 1985. p. 16 said: “James Bond just isn`t what he used to be. Roger Moore, who portrays 007 once again in this film, is fifty-seven. His face shows a few wrinkles and some of the bounce has vanished from his step. The movie`s script appears about as tired as Moore does. A lackluster opening sequence is borrowed almost wholesale from The Spy Who Loved Me, and the film`s main action scene doesn`t measure up to those from other Bond films. Singer Grace Jones turns in a good performance as a villain, but the movie`s other actors don`t help the film any. Tanya Roberts plays Bond`s love interest with a thick New York accent and struggles with any line over three words long. Christopher Walken is a tad too laid-back in his role as the main villain. Maybe it`s time for producer Albert Broccoli to find a young 007, Jr.”

Time, June 10 1985. p. 83 said: “A VIEW TO A KILL is the fourteenth James Bond film, the seventh starring Roger Moore. Written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson and directed by John Glen, the story begins with a familiar ski chase. From there, the plot moves on to pit Bond against villain Christopher Walken who wants to blow up the San Andreas Fault, so Silicon Valley will be swallowed up and he can control the microchip market. Grace Jones plays Bond`s bizarre femme fatale in this stale film.”

Perhaps the most damaging criticism came from none other than Sean Connery himself: “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!”

But audiences had the last laugh. Box office was solid if not spectacular and the grosses were hefty enough that Roger was still a contender for the role when pre-production began on THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS in late 1985. Had he wanted the role, he probably could have held on to it for an inconceivable 8th time, but wisely he chose to resign himself from the running in a letter to Cubby Broccoli in December, 1985.

On The Set: 24 Hours On A View To A Kill

Set on the southern anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco`s Vista Point is a perennial tourist spot, but Ned Kopp is not a tourist, and he was not enjoying the view. Kopp, whose company handled the San Francisco logistics for A View to a Kill, was alarmed; the equipment hadn`t arrived at the location. “Well, we`re on a tight schedule,” a considerably calmer Kopp explained later, “a little bit because of weather, and a little bit because of the number of people involved. We had all kinds of maps, schedules, plans – all colour coded, and the people we probably paid the least attention to were the US guys – particularly the locals, San Franciscans, because everybody knows where the Golden Gate Bridge is – I can`t imagine anyone who wouldn`t. “Now the Golden Gate has a south end and a north end, which probably most people know. By the dumbest accident, the equipment ended up on the wrong end. So here`s the whole crew – all the UK guys, everybody who should not know where to be – all in exactly the right place, and more than a small group was at the other parking lot on the north side.” Fortunately, the Golden Gate can be crossed in a matter of minutes, so after a brief scramble, the trucks were directed to the proper site.

In that time, Kopp wasn`t the only one having anxiety attacks: “During that short period of time, the fog was coming in, and the UK people were getting very, very concerned that they were in the wrong place.” Learning fast, he made the incident and object lesson: “That happened to us on the first day, and after that, everybody got maps – even if they said they lived on the Golden Gate Bridge.” For Kopp and Nancy Giebink, who together form the core of Ned Kopp & Co., that was the beginning of a punishing, 21-day, $5 million dollar shooting schedule that saw them working around the clock for the entire shoot. The schedule – including five days of shooting 24 hours a day, with as many as four units filming at the same time – provided ample proof of Murphy`s Law. In addition to signing checks, Kopp and company`s responsibilities lie in the area generally referred to as “below the line” (i.e., variable with time). These assignments include below the line producing and packaging (i.e. the gathering of production personnel, including technicians, location scouts and managers, unit coordinators, etc), plus production management – all invisible to the viewer, but indispensable to the producer and director.

Although A View to a Kill was their first Bond picture, Kopp and Giebink brought formidable credits with them, having recently worked on Shoot the Moon, The Right Stuff, and just having wrapped Birdy, on which Kopp was the associate producer. Speculating on his involvement, he felt the two Alan Parker films (Shoot the Moon and Birdy) may have tipped the scales in his favour since both Parker and Eon Productions (the Bond Production Company) are based at Pinewood Studios outside London. In the fall of 1983, a full year before the San Francisco shooting, Kopp and Giebink held their first meetings with the Bond company. Heavily involved in preparing Birdy – then only two months from the start of production – their schedules didn`t permit a great deal of contact with the UK visitors, leaving much of the location scouting to associates Rory Enke, and Steph Benseman. After a week of scouting, and additional meetings, the Bond team left the Bay Area without having made a firm decision, in part because, at that time, a finished script didn`t even exist. While some general story ideas had been agreed upon, the final screenplay would be tailored to the specific locations selected; as a result, the location scouting took on far greater importance than in most other productions. Many months later, it would have a tremendous effect on Kopp`s work.

Birdy kept them busy well into August, when they moved over to A View to a Kill. Meanwhile, location scouting for the Bond movie continued at various sites around the world, the script remaining changeable. Six months later, a major accident had a huge impact on the San Franciscans` efforts. On June 27 a disastrous fire swept through the Bond sound stage at Pinewood, fed by exploding gas cylinders that had been used to fuel some campfires on a large forest set for Ridley Scott`s Legend, the blaze leveled the structure. Even though the Bond company had not actually planned to use the stage, the repercussions for A View to a Kill were enormous. Because the labor force at Pinewood is a permanent fixture that isn`t normally expanded with freelancers, the workers who otherwise would have been available to the Bond movie were withheld for the completion of Legend. Along with the shortage of labor, the designers now found themselves also confronted with a shortage of stage space of the planning and building of sets, putting a further crimp into the schedule of a picture that still did not have a locked down script.

Just over a month later, with Birdy wrapped, Kopp flew to London for a week of meetings on the Bond picture. Based on the scripts he had been sent and conversations with the principals involved, he had a general idea of the schedule that would be required. “Originally, they were going to shoot in the US and London at the same time,” he said. “They would shoot their first unit in London and they would have a second unit shooting plates, establishing shots, and things here. That second unit would then shoot dialog here with Roger Moore, Tanya Roberts and a few other people, then the principals would go back and the second unit would complete the chase. “So they`d send one foreign crew here, we would then hire another crew – or two, as necessary – and that group would then do everything. “At that time, we were planning on normal days. Normal being maybe 12-hour shoot days with an hour to get there, and an hour to get away – roughly 14 hours. That would be a week or so of first unit and a couple of weeks of second unit – chase stuff. It was about 15 days, and then probably a week or so of plates, backgrounds, pass-bys, and establishing shots – nothing with people, just all pretty pictures of the Bay Area. “That would all start around the end of September and go for three to five weeks. As it turned out, we went three weeks, because we went around the clock.”

Arriving in London in the first week of August, Kopp visited the production in progress. “They were already shooting first unit on the stage at Pinewood, so they`d been building sets for that for about a month or so. They were also shooting in Paris and they were either finishing up or still shooting in Iceland. “As I understand it, they`d started shooting in Iceland before they even had a finished script, but they had to do it, because that was the time of year when the glacier was going to do this, and the snow was going to do that… a lot of things were going to happen that they had to get going on.” Although some script changes were still being made by this time, the story was – more or less – settled, but unlike most projects, Kopp found more information in the storyboards, since they contained the action sequences that would not be changed.

Reading the script and looking at drawings, he realized that his work would play a major part in shaping the picture itself. “When I first read the script it said “a cable car chase,”” he remembered. “Well, the only time you could clear a cable car run – that is, shooting on the tracks – would be once the cable cars closed down. “You wouldn`t have a prayer of going to Muni (S.F. public transit) and saying, “Hi, we want to shoot on a Saturday afternoon, at the height of the tourist season, and we`ll just shut down your cable cars, and we`re going to control them for two or three days.” “But you do have a chance if you go to them and say, “We would like to do a cable car chase. It feels like it`s prestigious for San Francisco, and it`s going to show the cable cars in their best light. It`s going to show San Francisco in a very positive way, and we shoot it after you close down at night, from 12:30-1am to 4:30-5am, in the timespan of four or five hours, and instead of shooting it all in a day or two, we shoot it over three or four nights, do you see any problems with that?” Well, then the resistance is far less than even suggesting shooting it during the day.” Because of the logistics involved, Kopp made it clear that the stunt work – the bulk of the San Francisco shooting – would have to be filmed at night. This then had a “trickle down” effect that limited where the shooting could take place. “At one time – I wasn`t involved in it – Remy Julienne, the French stunt coordinator; Arthur Wooster, the second unit director; and Peter Lamont, the designer, came to San Francisco – on their own – and scouted, and they found places that they really loved for doing the chase. They found Broadway Hill, Divisadero, Filbert – all in Pacific Heights, where the Bullitt chase happened.” In addition to being one of the hilliest areas in San Francisco, Pacific Heights is one of the wealthiest and most established, with wide avenues and stately mansions. “When I went to Paris, and Remy showed me the photos of where they talked about a chase, I said, “well, you won`t have a prayer. We couldn`t possibly use that area. I think we could get you some pass-bys. I think you could get the fire engine coming down some of the hills and some police cars following it, but we`re not going to be able to block that off and tie up the area crashing cars.” “Then they asked when and what we could do, and I said, “we can control this at night, and do that at night…” which immediately ruled out Pacific Heights, because you can`t control it during the day, plus it`s residential, and you can`t be there after ten at night. If you got a waiver of any kind, then you could maybe be there to 10:30 or 11 o`clock – but then you`re dead. The police department stays pretty tight to that curfew – you can`t be in those neighbourhoods before seven in the morning. So as we saw what they said they wanted to do, we then tried to direct them toward the times of day and areas we felt we could clear.”

As scripted, the fire engine-led car chase began near city hall, further supporting the argument for night shooting. “You can never close Market Street (the main thoroughfare through downtown San Francisco),” Kopp explained. “City policy is you can never block streets. But if you go there at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 o`clock in the morning, the buses are no longer running like they were – there`s one every half-hour or 45 minutes; the taxi-cabs are not busy. There`s much less traffic. “Downtown San Francisco is not a residential area, so if you stay away from the hotels then you can pretty well smash and crash and bang cars all night long and never interfere with the police or the fire department or whatever,” Kopp says. By the middle of September, matters had become so impacted that 24-hour shooting was the only solution. Still feeling the consequences of the fire, the production was forced into shuttling between the stages in London and various international locations just to keep shooting. “They went from Paris to Chantilly,” Kopp explained. “They then went back to London for two weeks, and then they came to the us. While they were in London, they had to shoot those particular sets – and finish with them, so that they could take them down. Then, during the San Francisco shooting, they`d build more sets.”

What made the marathon approach acceptable was that it had little impact on the budget. “These were always separate units,” Kopp said. “Now whether the separate units were in a line, or whether they all happened to be at the same time, 24 hours, didn`t really affect the numbers an awful lot. The day crews shooting the plates were going to cost so much, and the fact that we had a day crew shooting dialog at the same time we had a day crew shooting plates, at the same time we had a night crew shooting chase… all of those were budgeted by themselves, so it really didn`t change the cost.” What it did change, though, was the entire preparation for the movie. “What we did that first week is in effect, three different movies. It would be like you were prepping for three separate, complete, totally different operations. Three different crews, three different packages of equipment, three different cameras – each unit had two or three cameras in their unit, so we had nine to twelve cameras with VistaVision and separate odd pieces of equipment.” But while the budget may not have been affected, the production office, which had been set up in whirlwind fashion in early August, was. (In fact, the Bond office went up in less than two days. Kopp returned from London on a Saturday, joined Giebink and their staff in closing Birdy`s San Jose office on Sunday, and Monday morning they were already answering the Bond phone calls in San Francisco.)

Shooting around the clock meant the production office had to follow suit, as Giebink explained: “To keep the office open 24 hours a day, there were three production coordinators, and one of them would come in at 6 am, and work say, 6-6; the next one would come in around noon – it varied, 10 to noon, and then work `til 10 PM or midnight; and then the night shift would come in around 6 PM and go `til 6 am so that provided office coverage with the most people there during the late day, which is when most of the activity was going on.” Having begun compiling the shooting schedule from the multi-colored screenplay and the storyboards, an even more complete picture began to emerge after they received an early schedule from Waye. This too presented new challenges, for not only was it in a format neither Kopp or Giebink had ever worked with before it also covered the whole movie. “We spent quite a bit of time going through their schedule just trying to pull out of it what pieces were going to be shot over here, because it was for the entire picture,” Giebink related. “So that was a little confused, but eventually we took all the information and started stripping it out, and the way we boarded it was to take the three basic units and keep them on separate schedules.”

Although the Bond movies are noted for their gadgetry, the making of the San Francisco schedule was accomplished in the same manner that has been the backbone of production scheduling for decades: carefully transferring the information – by hand – to thin, colored strips of cardboard and then arranging them on large production boards. But even with the London schedule and the script in hand, Giebink found the storyboards far more useful. “Although we all read the script diligently,” she said, “in the end, all the shooting was based on the `boards. The first unit stuff was based on the script, because very little of that was `boarded out. But the second unit, the aerial unit, and the Golden Gate Bridge unit were all based on the storyboards, and so instead of numbering to the script, like we`d normally do, we numbered everything to the `boards. “Most heads of departments had sets of storyboards, and in a lot of ways it`s really very easy, because you make copies of them and do one frame per page, and you cross them off as you do them, instead of marking the script and keeping track of it that way. It`s almost like shooting a commercial. “Now for the second unit – and the third, aerial and plates – the directors of both of those had very specific shot lists as well. So first the “boards, and that`s how we did all the breakdown and the scheduling, and then the shot lists, which were even more detailed than the storyboards.” No matter how careful the preparation, though, reality has a way of ruining even the very best planning, and given the first unit`s dramatically shortened availability, complications increased. Having a rough idea of the shooting schedule since spring, Kopp now began the laborious task of finalizing dates and locations. “So it`s now the first week or two in September,” he related, “and you go to City Hall, and you start trying to make your arrangements. They are as accommodating as possible, but as careful as possible. And they say, “Okay, you can use City Hall,” then they go and look at their calender, and you find out that the ninth, which is Tuesday, they have a reception in the rotunda for six or eight hundred people, and you`ve got it scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. “”You cannot use City Hall on Tuesday, the ninth.” “”But Mr Moore is only going to be in California for eight days…” “Not only that, the crew is only going to be here for a certain amount of time, and you`ve got that schedule pretty absolute on that Monday and Tuesday, and they say you can`t shoot there on Tuesday. So now you have to move things around. We ended up shooting there on Monday and Wednesday. “Now it also got involved because another location said that we could only shoot there on Sunday – that was the mine over in Marin. Another location said we could only shoot there on Saturday – that was the interior of City Hall. So that took care of those days. Then the only day we could shoot at Japantown was on a Friday, so we really didn`t have a lot of choices as to how we could flop things around on the schedule.”

Even while Kopp stood waiting for the equipment at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge things were still changing. “The jetty in Richmond was supposed to be later,” Giebink remembered, “but a ship was due to come in, so we had to flop the whole schedule. I think we flopped it the night before we were going to shoot it. That was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we couldn`t have it Wednesday, so we brought it up to Monday, and then moved everything else. It just sort of dominoed back from there.” Shooting with a firm schedule – without room for contingencies – is the cinematic equivalent of working without a net, and it was the cause for more than a small amount of stress. “We could only be at certain places on certain days,” Kopp said. “Had we missed on some of those, had we had a camera malfunction, or an actor`s problem, or something, some of those locations we could not go back to until maybe a week later – which Roger Moore and the first unit couldn`t do. For instance, if we hadn`t finished at the mine on that Sunday, we couldn`t have been back on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; we`d have had to wait another whole week. “Now that would mean we`d have had to keep all those people here with nothing for them to do for a week, so we had to hire enough crew to make sure we finished. This caused tremendous pressure on John Glen, the director.”

A reflection of how frantic the pace became after shooting began was reflected in the UK crew`s timetable. Arriving from London on a Saturday, their second unit was shooting on Sunday. After a day`s rest, the first unit also began shooting, and Kopp and Giebink now found themselves not only dividing their time between the production office and the locations, but among the crews as well. In general, Kopp stayed with the first unit, while Giebink remained with the third unit (aerials), which was shooting at the same time. With the start of night stuntwork on the third day, the schedule became a full, twenty-four hour circus. After monitoring all the daylight filming, Kopp and Giebink would then make their way out to the second unit, shooting the chase that night. Giebink described their work schedule: “There would sometimes be a period of time from 2 to 4 in the morning when neither Ned nor I were in the office, because maybe one of us was taking a nap, and the other was on the set. Ideally, both of us would be around, because different problems come up, and one set of problems needs him and another set of problems needs me. So there was a period when we were only getting two or three hours of sleep in twenty-four.” Keeping to the frantic schedule, the first unit and cast left San Francisco on a Tuesday afternoon and began shooting on the Pinewood stages the following Monday. Meanwhile, the second unit, which was shooting all the chase footage, was still in the US, facing 12 more nights of San Francisco filming. Still to be shot were the remainder of the City Hall fire, Bond (now a stunt double) hanging from a fire engine ladder and swinging through traffic, the engine being chased among the cable cars, and Bond`s escape by jumping the engine across a drawbridge. “We couldn`t go onto California Street with the cable cars until 1 am,” Giebink explained. “So on those nights, we had to shoot other things, and then do the move. We tried hard to get onto California lots earlier than 1 am but in the end, the schedules couldn`t be changed.

“We had a scheme,” she laughed, “where we were going to hire motorized cable cars and have them run Sacramento Street for the general public, and we could have California street, but the authorities didn`t think that was such a good idea. “That was probably the biggest scheduling restriction: how to get to and from California Street, because you didn`t want to be on the far side of two the night you had to make that move. So we shot around China Basin (about a mile and a half away), and then moved to the cable cars. We did that four nights. It`s a tough move, because you lose – you really lose – a couple of hours.” In other situations, those few hours might not have mattered, but once again; the production was racing the clock. “We could only shoot the cable cars from one in the morning to five in the morning – four hours,” Kopp said. “So that meant we had to find something to shoot at the beginning of the night, for four hours, make our move, somewhere in between there eat, shoot for four hours, and then get off the street before morning traffic started. So we shot other places in town the first part of the night. For instance, we shot up on Potero Hill a little bit – just some pass-bys, and some vistas of the bridge in the background and the fire truck going by, but those are residentials, and you can only be in those areas until ten o`clock at night. So we`d shoot those the first part of the night, then we`d shoot the cable cars. “The choice ended up being: did I want one crew to work an awful lot of overtime, or did I want a couple of crews to work pretty much straight time, and we ended up somewhere in the middle of that split. I had a crew coming in early and going home early, and a crew coming in later and going home late. We had to do that for four nights. The crew saved us; they were fantastic. “Now, not only does that involve personnel, but we had to find additional equipment: lighting, cranes, and cherry pickers. All the same cameras worked and some of the same lights; the same generators worked, because you just unplug them, drag them to the next place and plug them in again. But the lights are way up there on cranes and on roofs. People let us leave lights out on balconies, on fire escapes, and on rooftops, without much concern.”

While all the shooting was being done at night, Kopp and Giebink`s work hours were not significantly reduced. “Even when it was just down to the second unit, shooting nights, we wound up doing the same thing in hours, because a lot of the problems will happen at night, but all their solutions happen in the daytime, during business hours.” Giebink said. “It`s tough to do all your business at 2 o`clock in the morning, so you`ve got to be up during the daytime. “But I don`t think physically you could do that schedule for more than the time we did it. Three or four weeks… it`s pretty tough on you physically.” Kopp agreed, and said that the keys to surviving the ordeal were keeping the wrap date in sight, and having the right people. “I think it`s fairly easy if you can see the end, if it`s going to stop in a week,” he said. “I think it`d be tougher if you think you might have to do that for three or four months, then I`m sure there would be a stress point, or give-up point, or a point where you couldn`t muddle through a plan. “When you have a group of people, you have to be able to yell at those people and have them yell back. And if they – or you – get too nervous because someone`s yelling, you`ve got the wrong group of people. Your success or failure is with each other.” After shooting 21 days and spending $5 million dollars, the production wrapped. While openly admitting that luck played a factor in his company`s success, Kopp was justifiably proud of the job his group had done, and he summed everything up in seven magic words: “We finished on time, and on budget.” Russell Ito is a free lance writer based in San Mateo, California. His other skills include production stills photography.

24Hours On A View To A Kill was reproduced with the expressed written permission of American Cinematographer Magazine. Any further reproduction, transmission or duplication without the consent of American Cinematographer is strictly prohibited. For more information on American Cinematographer, visit their website at:

In Defense of A View To A Kill (Part 3 of 3)

There`s too much extraneous dialogue in the film`s second half telling us what we don`t need to know, already know, or can see with our own eyes. Does Bond need to tell Pola Ivanova, “Let`s get out of here”? Did Zorin and May Day have to say “out” and “back” to their helpers after stranding Bond and Sutton in the elevator? What would have been lost had it been omitted? The Golden Gate set-piece though brilliant, is probably the worst example, and gets a paragraph to itself later on.

The elevator sequence is hazy and Sutton`s screams are annoying. (I half expected Bond to tell her to shut up.) Yet, Bond climbing down the ladder is a crowd-pleasing moment and possibly the film`s first hint of any real tension precisely because it`s deliberate and drawn-out. John Barry`s music bears just the right mixture of tension and pride. The onlookers clapping are an unusually American touch.

Outside City Hall, the cop asks, “We found this gun. This yours?” “Yes, thanks.” Bond reaches for it, but the Captain pulls it away. Bond is surprised – he looks up – and the Captain says, “Turn around.” Moore is sincere; he doesn`t play it for laughs and actually appears concerned, especially after learning that Chuck Lee is dead. The timing of Bond reaching for the gun and being turned around is perfect, which is why it`s funny; I laughed watching it again to just write this article. The “Wait a minute. This is James Stock of the London Financial Times” “Well actually, Captain, I`m with the British Secret Service. The name is Bond, James Bond.” “Is he?” “Are you?” “Yes,” with just the right pause on Moore`s part is perfect, “And I`m Dick Tracy and you`re still under arrest.” “Is it true what he said back there, about the British Secret Service?” “Yes. I`m afraid it is.” A satirical jab at the British Secret Service. Mocking humour and easy to miss.

The fire truck chase is brilliant, operatic – one of the great Bond set-pieces – all those swirling, intoxicating reds, blues and whites, the light bouncing off everything and that beautiful shot of the smashed Chevron sign and all those loving close-ups. Though I`ve criticized some of John Barry`s cues in the film, the moment the music is introduced at the right moment and it`s exhilarating watching and hearing everything come together – quite literally. The swirling action theme perfectly matches the sequence, which wouldn`t have been as good without it. (The filmmakers were right not to use any at first – it gives the sequence room to develop.)

Like all the great Bond set pieces it keeps developing; the two-cop cars slam into each other, their fenders now locked, and when separated, one of them slams into the fire truck, knocking Bond and the ladder free. Knocking the top off the trailer, revealing the two lovebirds adds to our giddiness, since sex and the action sequences have the same exhilarating, tingling sense of discovery. The sequence gives us the giddy high we expect from Bond films. Bond climbing about on the ladder is fluid, though it`s a world apart from Sean Connery`s Bond, and I can partially see why some have qualms about the sequence without really understanding why they don`t like it. (Bond moaning as the ladder swings around is Bond by way of Woody Allen.)

Comic relief is an important part of any Bond film, and the release of tension as the cars comes skidding down the bridge is clever; notice how the bridge watchman closes his eyes as though the cop car is about to come down on top of him.

The last half-hour of the film is a problem. The film has already gone on too long and feels bloated. The underground mine scenes are haggard, although they play well enough on their own (they`re no worse than the crummy The World Is Not Enough, though that film does have Pierce Brosnan). I`m not sure why, but Moore is especially creaky in the mine scenes – perhaps because it`s a dark, tight enclosure? He doesn`t move particularly well or comfortably – we need a languid Bond, which Moore isn`t. He looks awkward in the mine clothes and Stacey`s footwear is awful (couldn`t she have found sneakers?); so are the designer clothes May Day`s assistants wear DOWN IN THE MINES. Sloppiness of this sort encouraged people to hate the film. Camp has its limits. May Day sees Jenny`s floating dead body and cries out to her; it doesn`t ring true. It`s also sometimes best to trust your actors and not write lines like “Get on, damn it!” It`s over emotive. Simply having her scream “Get on!” is good enough. May Day`s “Booby-trapped” line is badly delivered, and plays like a parody of blacks in old movies.

There are virtues. There`s a beautiful shot of the bomb, like an egg against the sacks, after the clock has ticked down to 1194 (though of course Glen clips it). When May Day lowers Bond into the pit to get the ticking bomb, there`s a beautiful raging, muted fire in the background, like something out of Dante`s Inferno, so enticing. It`s easy to overlook, but positioned just right. When Conley protests, “But May Day and my men!” Zorin replies, “Yeah, a convenient coincidence” – Walken`s line reading and his mannerisms are perfect. Notice also how Scarpine lowers his head as he walks into the shot and hovers around them, ready to knock Conley out, his head down, pretending not to notice. After Zorin turns the bomb switch, his head shakes, anticipating the blast. Zorin machine-guns his own men, impassive at first, then in close-up he`s laughing, and it`s cross-cut with the mine office collapsing, his men being shot in close-up, their jackets bearing red bullet holes, and it`s effective. Scarpine firing the last bullets is like the gag in movies that has the henchman echoing his master`s threats for greater emphasis. In a marvel of timing, Zorin pauses, walks about, looks at his watch, nods his head and says “Good, right on schedule,” and doesn`t give the mass carnage another thought. The way Zorin says “exactly” and embraces Mortner in the dirigible is another small moment that gets lost in the film.

A shot of water rushing through the mines towards the viewer then cut to Bond and May Day, no longer fighting. The shaking tumbles them down into the water. Freeze-frame the shot, if you can, on Bond and May Day`s astonished faces, her mouth open. The shot should have been great but Glen (and his editors) clip it too fast and it`s badly framed. When Bond yells at Stacey in the mines, “Keep going!” May Day`s hateful look would have been better had Glen done a tight close up on her face. Too often Glen`s framing is haggard and imprecise; he primarily used short focal-length lenses and they lack the crispness and immediacy that telephoto lenses offer. (At City Hall, Bond says, “Why don`t you enlighten me… Zorin.” If you look closely Moore`s eye open wide, he`s being sarcastic, but it`s clipped, and it should have been a tight close-up.)

Criticisms that May Day shouldn`t have joined Bond`s side don`t stand up either. Whatever the acting or writing in this scene (“I thought that creep loved me” thuds badly), the decision is logical and inevitable. Oddjob had no reason to switch sides and so therefore didn`t – I`m not even sure he would have even been capable of thinking about it. This is what good writing is about. (Though I`m wary about using that trendy catch phrase.) How would people act under such circumstances? She`s been betrayed, so it`s inevitable that she`d change sides. (I`m not so sure about blowing herself up.) Having gone to bed with Bond lays the groundwork, no pun intended. She`s slept with him – been “intimate” with him, though I`m not sure that`s the right word. These points would register better in a tighter, less overloaded film. Seeing her mourn Jenny explains her motive. Audiences aren`t stupid, well, maybe James Bond audiences are, but for general purposes, most intelligent people will get the point, understand her sudden change without sledge hammering it home. (In a similar vein, compare Bond`s monotonous one-note retaliation in Licence To Kill with Connery`s subdued, matter-of-fact approach in the Diamonds Are Forever pre-credit sequence, which is more believable and artistically superior.) Her final moments are tense, John Barry`s music is appropriate, and her energetic wave, “Get Zorin for is just right.

Her impassive enigmatic expression when she looks up at Zorin in his dirigible just before she blows up is another shot worth freeze-framing. What is her character thinking?

Much has been said against the film and Stacey Sutton that she couldn`t hear or realize that there was a dirigible behind her when she ran across the field to Bond. Apart from how beautifully poetic the scene is – let`s not mince words – fools often use this to prove how bad A View To A Kill is. Given the earth-shattering explosion that just occurred, she`d be hard-pressed to hear her own voice. Any explosion strong enough to knock her off her feet is loud enough to impair her hearing. An ear doctor I spoke to confirmed that under those circumstances her ears would be ringing the Bells of St Mary`s -, which is one up for me. Even if she could hear the dirigible, she`s doing what you`d expect: she`s running away from it. Moreover Stacey DID SEE THE BLIMP. Back your tape up; it occurs in between crosscutting to May Day pulling Bond up from the mineshaft with the ticking bomb.

Play the entire sequence with the volume off and soak in the glorious detail and editing, the horrified facial expressions, the care and sensitivity to detail, which is what cinema should be and what the Bond films are at their best. The entire sequence is great cinema and has the same power and ingenuity as the early 1920`s German expressionist silent films and should be taught in film schools as an example of great mise en scene and editing. Even Walken`s laughs, which are unnecessary and sledgehammer the point home, play well with the volume off (further proving that the sequence was conceived like silent cinema).

The tight shot of her raptured face, cut to her running to Bond, and Barry`s bittersweet music, is a moving human moment. Walken quickly unstrapping himself, staring at Stacey, his mind on one thing only – his eyes don`t blink and notice the hatred in them. Bond`s eyes open wide in panic, he`s running harder, faster, and he`s more tense and life-like than Connery`s Bond. It develops a painful urgency like an unfolding tragedy involving real people. Bond chasing after the blimp, John Barry`s music pushing forward to something momentous, possibly even tragic. It`s intensely operatic, and it`s in these moments that the film develops great weight and power. It`s a treat to watch Moore`s facial expressions in slow motion or even on freeze-frame. In fact, Moore is excellent at showing compassion, fear and anger; Connery would and could look bored, and had little in way of facial expressions.

Part of this sequence`s brilliance is the surfeit of clever directorial touches. Bond grabs onto the mooring rope, but it`s not until the shot of the dirigible coming over the trees like an ominous figure (will it make it over?) that we see Bond hanging on.

The beautiful, establishing shot of Golden Gate bridge is fairly quiet except for background city sounds. It`s a fine example of when not to use music and it`s great preparation for what follows. Zorin laughing, Scarpine concerned, the traffic below, the cap falling off, the cop`s head down, all of this is excellent. The filmmakers are clearly in charge of their material.

The shot of the police officer`s car getting rear-ended, his cap falling off, while Bond flies through the skies is a great human touch. It`s like a symphony in which an earlier, humorous flourish is brought back in support of the finale while contrasting it. It`s the film`s way of saying these are real people: they have lives, they`ll still exist even after the movie has finished, and you never know who you`ll run into – the Bond films should do this more often, though there`s a danger of overdoing unless it`s done subtly.

Much of this sequence should be studied in freeze-frame or slow motion. Study Walken`s excellent facial expressions looking down at Bond dangling onto the mooring rope, as they approach the bridge. “This will hurt him more than me” is great, though his laugh is unnecessary. The lighthearted comment is sufficient. Zorin`s hand flourish just before Bond bangs into the bridge is a great touch; Walken “plays it against the grain”.

The sequence builds inexorably to its powerful climax and has the same intensity that slow motion sequences do in Brian de Palma`s films. The filmmakers are completely in charge of their material, sitting back and toying with us (unlike what`s gone before). They`ve settled down and realize they`re onto something solemn and momentous.

The quiet after the dirigible gets entangled in the bridge is an effective calm before the storm. And like the fight in Stacey`s house, the intro to John Barry`s action theme is exhilarating – the tight close-up on Mortner trying to get out of his seatthen struggling with his seatbelt is excellent – but the main theme is inappropriate and overdone. Imagine how much more powerful the scene would have been without music (it also added a tick-tock regularity to the cargo bay fight, in the next Bond film The Living Daylights, making that sequence tedious). However, the sight of Bond carried through the skies on the mooring rope is one of the moments when John Barry`s score has great feeling and becomes suitably momentous.

There are flaws. Roberts` “James, Jameses” are bad. When she sees Bond across the plain, understandably her character is glad to see him, and it`s realistic enough – but they should have been cut. Zorin doesn`t need to say, “Only seconds away” in the dirigible. WE KNOW! Zorin doesn`t have to say “May Day” when she comes out on the cart with the bomb. We can see it with our own eyes. Bond`s instructions toStacey are also the only real fault in the Golden Gate Bridge set piece: e.g. “Get a foothold”, “Don`t move”, “Are you alright?”. She`s not going anywhere, doesn`t need to be told anything, and her final “James!” with Mortner on the warpath, is dreadful. I assume these lines actually appeared in the script, and were meant to flesh out the scene, but they only mar what could have been perfection. Little things like this do make a difference. Bond`s first line should have been “Stacey! Jump!” and his second, the quip about not finding a cab when you really need one.

However, I sat there on opening night, my back pressed tight in my seat horrified by the height. (Those who talk about the lousy rear-projection conveniently gloss over the even worse rear-projection in the OHMSS ski chase.) There`s much beautiful editing: Stacey leaps, cut to a shot of Bond and Stacey tumbling, cut to her going over the ledge, cut to Bond holding her hand. This resembles editing experiments in early silent and Russian films; it`s what film editing is supposed to be; Eisenstein would have been proud. There are also wonderful human touches. When Walken begins slipping on the pole, trying to get a better grip, barely hanging on, you feel yourself in his position, your own hands slipping against the metal. He smiles, like it`s alright and everything will be okay if he can just get a better grip, but then the sudden realization that it`s not okay and won`t be. Roberts` nervous laughter after Bond`s quip rings true. It`s the surprise people show after something traumatic – they have to laugh because they`re wired.

So why isn`t the film appreciated? (To which I can hear the less bright say, “Because it`s no good?”)

It`s too much of a good thing. The film has enough ideas and action for at least two films. There`s too much ingenuity and it`s exhausting – less can sometimes be more. It`s enthusiastic to a fault. The film has many brilliant sequences – broken up into twenty minute sequences it`s wonderful. It`s more a film to admire than actually enjoy, and it`s easier to take in short twenty-minute segments.

The night I typedthis, TBS ran Octopussy and the differences are instructive. Octopussy is calmer, more relaxed and orderly which explains why it was more popular. AVTAK is strident and overpowering. It has the feel of a film where the people who worked on it enjoyed themselves so much that it communicated itself onto the film.

Time will tell whether AVTAK gets the respect it deserves.

It`s an uphill battle. One obnoxious person said, “It seems to me I have every right to say to whomever, (and I would say it to their face), that if someone prefers “A View to A Kill” as a James Bond movie over “From Russia With Love”, then they know NOTHING of the world of James Bond.” (I`d argue that anybody who thinks Tom Mankiewicz directed Bond films knows nothing about the world of James Bond.)

I remember somebody who smoked ersatz American cigars telling me that when he finally got to smoke the real thing – Cuban cigars – he was disappointed. He had gotten so used to the imitation that the real thing did nothing for him. Something similar is at work here. The brand of seriousness Timothy Dalton`s Bond represents is the ham-fisted variety that the one-dimensional can digest. True seriousness, a Saul Bellow or a Patrick White novel (which in fact are quite light and not at all “serious”) are beyond them. They misguidedly believe that serious means quality, and that lightness or flippancy means a lack thereof. This is a middlebrow conceit. Perhaps because Bond is fluff, they overcompensate in the opposite direction and try to be overly-serious (one pretentious 007 website has cornered the market on people quoting Shakespeare – pretending that we don`t realize that of course they had to look it up – or invoking his name to sound more intelligent.) This must be avoided. Notice the smugness about those who prefer Timothy Dalton as Bond – and yes, they are smug – because he`s serious, which somehow means they`re more serious. Well, no. It doesn`t work that way. Then consider those who pat themselves on the back for preferring Timothy Dalton, would have us believe that Raymond Benson writes well or that Robert Ludlum is a serious writer. Water rises to its own level.

Whether people enjoy a film, or a book, depends on the work being cohesive, on all the pieces fitting together. If the pieces don`t fit together because viewers can`t see or appreciate them, or the pieces are too subtle, or even because the film is flawed or too rich, then it won`t work for them. This isn`t a problem with simple flat films like Dr No, From Russia With Love or The Living Daylights, which admittedly do have the hard edge that AVTAK lacks. I think something similar is a factor with the dreadful TWINE, which is sloppy and crude, and partly explains the acquaintance who turned back to ersatz American cigars.

As for AVTAK, only time will tell.

In Defense of A View To A Kill (Part 2 of 3)

The French estate scenes, especially the chateau-garden reception, are wonderful and the film suddenly becomes an intelligently satirical French comedy, which admittedly amplifies the film`s light-hearted, non-suspenseful feel. Much of the film`s first half has a delightful, light, sparkling, bubbly quality – which was bound to annoy Bond groupies and did. I can see why this wouldn`t necessarily be popular, since Bond types aren`t exactly known for attending Francois Truffaut film festivals. Bond meets Enchanted April. I criticize the film`s pell-mell pacing and editing, but here it`s perfect and measured.

The chateau-gardens reception is a delightful set-piece – among the series` best non-action sequences – it flows beautifully and is near perfect, marred only by a You Only Live Twice gadget pulled out of nowhere that increasingly reminds me of Leslie Nielsen`s film spoofs. Though seemingly light, the upper class lifestyle`s decadence is readily apparent. Moore often delivered stiff line-readings, but here he`s fluid and you sense he enjoyed himself; the dialogue is casual and life-like. Bond talks about his dotty old aunt, and it could very well have been improvised. The beautiful shot of Bond and Stacey on the bridge, with rowboats in the distance, is beautifully framed and it could have inspired any number of 19th century French painters; I suspect such points go unnoticed when “fans”, a term I use reluctantly, dismiss the even greater Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies as wall-to-wall action for the MTV set with no character scenes or depth – an absolute lie – or praise the crummy, graceless The World Is Not Enough which was badly photographed though I seem to have been the only person who noticed.

The exposition between Bond and Conley is perfectly handled and written. Plot details, such as the cheque and “Main Strike all set?” are nicely set up. There are other nice details: Walken`s seemingly jokey persona as he accompanies Stacey, while Bond and Tibbett watch from their balcony (John Barry`s music cue is nice, but it`s never heard again and doesn`t appear on the soundtrack). Moore`s hesitant, ingratiating smile after Mortner catches him coming out of the building. Bond snapping pictures has an edge to it and is subtle. Conley yelling, “Hi ya doc!” and Mortner`s cautious, formal reaction tells us exactly what the two think about each other without it being spelled out. And Mortner tripping over Bond`s cover name is just right for it to ring true.

When Mortner explains, “My principles apply equally to human beings” this isn`t a performance, it`s a real person, quietly proud. Walken deadpans about the “16th century duke who thought he`d be reincarnated as a horse” and it rolls off his tongue like he`s delivered that same speech before. The camera pans with Stacey, which is skilful direction, though when it cuts back to Moore, he`s looking too far over. Only his eyes should have flicked back. We`d have gotten the point. (You half-wonder why Zorin doesn`t look over his own shoulder to see what distracted Bond).

However Christopher Walken`s performance is uneven, and he`s too subdued. He`s not right for the film, which needed a boisterous actor. (Imagine if Jeroen Krabbe from The Living Daylights had played Zorin.) It`s been said that Walken`s performance would have worked better had Timothy Dalton played Bond in this film – a fair and valid argument: Dalton overacting, Walken underacting. Those who`ve seen Walken in the great film The Dogs Of War from Frederick Forsyth`s novel realize Walken`s talent is very much introspective, which isn`t completely at home in a Bond film. He has some great moments but they get lost in the melee – he needed a quieter film for his performance to completely work. When they can`t find Bond in his bedroom, he tells May Day “We must find him,” and he sounds like Peter Lorre. In a marvel of timing, after he machine-guns his men, he pauses, walks about, looks at his watch, and says “Good, right on schedule.”

He also has a wonderfully sleazy quality. He eyes Bond and runs his tongue around his lower teeth, while Bond goes on about “his dotty old aunt.” Zorin is like the kid from the Bronx made good who still eats with his mouth open. He tells Bond, “I`m neglecting my other guests, enjoy yourself, you`ll find the young ladies stimulating company”, and it`s a wonderful brush-off.

Walken is at his worst when he tries getting into the comic-book spirit of things. After the fixed horse race, he smugly brays, “You amuse me, Mr. Bond,” and it`s ungainly. His scene with General Gogol is awkward and almost embarrassing as though he doesn`t want to be in the film. His performance becomes unsteady, and he plays the scene broadly. His tendency to laugh is a mistake – when all he has to do is smile. During the Golden Gate Bridge lead-up he says, “This will hurt him more than me.” A nice touch, but the laugh is unnecessary. We get the point. His wonderfully wide insincere grin, when he says, “I`m happiest in the saddle” is great, but it`s marred by the laugh.

I discuss Tanya Roberts` performance in detail elsewhere, but occasionally when she seems weak, the fault lay elsewhere. The chateau-bridge scene is especially awkward, not because of Moore or Roberts, but because they seem to be performing in step with the Vivaldi music (Sutton`s archness works when you filter it through that prancing Vivaldi tune). John Barry`s music is incongruous and sledgehammers the point home – except for the cutaway to Walken and Jones, where the music has real feeling. Walken turns wonderfully sleazy, and it`s possibly his strongest moment. Zorin sees Bond chatting Stacey up on the chateau bridge; he takes May Day aside, by the arm, out of earshot, with Scarpine looking on: “Get her away from him.” The venom drips from each word – it`s from the heart. The rejection is real, which is probably why it`s such a strong moment and has always affected me. It`s a human moment. (At its best, despite it`s outre trappings, AVTAK has many human touches.)

AVTAK is often compared unfavourably to The Living Daylights. Vivaldi`s Four Seasons – which I don`t really care for – is sparkling and crisp. That deadweight The Living Daylights features the first movement from Mozart`s 40th Symphony (g minor), one of the great symphonic movements, and it dies on the screen. (It`s the orchestra scene immediately after the credits, before Koskov`s defection. Somehow I suspect most people won`t know this unless I mention it.)

Sharp satirical gags appear throughout: Bond, pointing to what he thinks are the stables, says to Scarpine: “Is that it?” “No, those are the servant`s quarters.” Moore`s rapid-fire delivery is excellent acting: “Oh there you are Tibbett, I wish you wouldn`t keep wandering off, there`s a good chap.” “I`m sorry, sir.” Scarpine: “Your driver may stay the night in the servant`s quarters.” “I`m sure that will be more than adequate for him. (turning) What do you say Tibbett?” Look closely at Moore`s throwaway gesture with his hand, his backwards glance at Scarpine, and his raised eyebrows. Moore`s handling of this material dispels a) that he was a bad actor, and b) that Timothy Dalton was better. Dalton would have killed the scene, unable to mimic Moore`s perfect rapid-fire delivery. (Imagine the scene being rehearsed and pretend you`re Moore given the scene to read and deciding how to play it.) Moore, in fact, gives one of his best performances; notice his sidelong grin when he says, “When you`re ready, Tibbett.” His eyes are perfect. Zorin`s computer says Bond is “EXTREMELY DANGEROUS”, an interesting perspective of Bond from the villain`s point of view, especially given Bond`s peculiar grin in the computer photo. (Earlier during M`s briefing scene, Q complains “If you ever bothered to read any memos” shaking his head as though answering for Bond. M`s straight-faced remark “You have exactly 35 minutes to get properly dressed,” and Bond`s reaction, like many other comic moments throughout the film, is played straight.)

The film`s comic timing is also frequently brilliant. Zorin asks Bond how he slept, and Bond quips, “A little restless, but I got off eventually”, Walken`s lack of a response is perfect (he simply nods, not caring about an answer, and motions for Bond to sit). After their laboratory sojourn, Bond tells Tibbett, “We better get back. The tape ran out five minutes ago. Good night.” (These kinds of lines Timothy Dalton killed dead. Moore, unlike Dalton, has the ability to deliver a funny line with the utmost seriousness and sincerity, which makes it funnier.) Or, when Tibbett brings Bond`s baggage into his room, Bond says, “Here, let me help you.” Bond takes the umbrella and Tibbett replies, “Oh thank you sir.” The point is later recapitulated when Bond asks Stacey to give him a hand with the Zorin truck driver he`s just knocked out and she takes the man`s hardhat.

Moore is vibrant and bubbly (perhaps too much so – his smile is occasionally bizarre), and in fine spirits. He`s extremely comfortable and his performance at times is surprisingly fluid (especially compared to Timothy Dalton`s). Except for some weak lines, he gives one of his best performances as Bond and fits the role like a glove. He seems to be having fun (though he hated the film). Compare how tired and haggard he was in For Your Eyes Only. Yet he becomes suitably serious after the film moves to San Francisco – appropriate given that Tibbett has been killed and what should have been an easy mission nearly cost him his life. His constant overworked smile is gone (until the journalist scene). If Moore`s performance can be faulted in one respect, it`s that at times he appears to be playing a well-paid actor enjoying himself on a film set. Occasionally he shows his age, and unfortunately, it`s these moments we remember.

The film is also overloaded and presumably the filmmakers didn`t want it running past 130 minutes. Bond`s fight with Zorin`s guards in the storehouse is unnecessary; it`s not even good and should have been cut so that we aren`t hit over the head with one action sequence after another. The horse race is good enough, despite weak rear-projection, but it feels soggy, less than it should be because of how it`s situated in the film. The dialogue between Bond and Zorin immediately afterwards is forced. There are still great touches: after Bond learns the horse`s name, he practically pivots his eyes on Zorin and he doesn`t even blink. And Bond smooching the tire is ingenious.

There are also moments that aren`t quite what they could have been: During the karate lesson, May Day`s hand comes into shot, then her face. She tells him to keep his guard up higher, and he gets up and bows, and it`s clipped. It`s a character-driven moment, but it barely registers. During their brief tussle May Day struggles like a wild animal; in a different film, where things developed calmly this could have been a fascinating sub-plot, but little is done with it. May Day becomes anxious while Zorin debates whether or not to answer the ringing telephone. He pulls away, her animal longings evident (hence the ease with which Bond gets her into bed). It`s symptomatic of the film`s problem: it`s too rushed. Glen seems to be his own worst enemy and clips shots and scenes too fast. He doesn`t know how to wait. In a nice shot, we see her reflection in mirror and then she walks in front of the camera, Zorin`s eyes tagging along with her, but the film is too impacted for such joys to be appreciated. (It`s like the gag about seeing an art gallery on roller-skates.)

May Day`s reaction when she finds Bond in her bed is a kind of a “Let me think about it” gliding glance and it`s nice; she`ll do it despite her better judgement. (How does Bond know where her room is? He saw May Day go in into it when Jenny Flex showed him to his suite.) At the Chateau reception, Bond follows Stacey and Zorin and almost walks into May Day. She glares at him, then points for him to turn around. She can`t take her eyes off him even while turning away slowly – she`s on the verge of remembering where she saw him before. Zorin kisses her hand, but she doesn`t respond, instead, she just stares at the sunken Rolls Royce with Bond trapped inside. It`s a nice touch, but like too much in the film it`s clipped too fast. (Her last shot is enigmatic and I discuss it in further detail in the mine/Golden Gate section.) During the chateau reception, May Day intervenes just as Bond is about to snap Stacey`s picture. Like much of what`s right in the film, it`s subtle.

As much as I admire John Barry`s music – his soundtracks are among the closet things we have to classical music being written today, and the soundtrack works quite well as a symphonic suite – it doesn`t always work in the film. Too often he lays it on thick. The score is bombastic and certain cues sledgehammer points home the scenes themselves have already made. The briefing scene in M`s office, Bond and Stacey on the bridge at the chateau reception, the fight in Stacey`s house, and possibly the ticking clock in the mine finale; all would have been better without Barry`s music, and I suspect it makes the film feel even more bloated than it already is. Tibbett`s death is suspenseful, but would have been better without music – especially on repeat viewings. The score screams out at us, This is a climatic moment, you`re supposed to feel tension. (It`s like a child who can`t eat anything without ketchup on it.) It only fits when it cuts to Bond and Zorin on the track, and that`s because Moore plays it light (“A little spirited, what`s his name?”). Imagine how bizarre it would have been without music, only background traffic noise, a la Hitchcock anticipating Tibbett`s death amidst tranquillity. Silence is golden.

AVTAK is oftencompared to Goldfinger, though I don`t understand how anybody can claim it`s a remake. (There are more similarities to Octopussy.) The boardroom scene on the dirigible is the closet link and it`s a good scene, but once again John Barry`s music is unnecessary since it sledgehammers the point home until Zorin and May Day look out at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Taiwanese businessman who “drops out” is one of several spirited performers: “I want no part of it, thank you,” he says calmly. His head jerks up when Zorin says “confidential” and his eyes dart to and fro when Zorin asks him if he would wait outside. The look of good-faith in his eyes, and the business-like “Thank you,” brushing past the man clearing his throat are small pleasures that would have been more noticeable in a calmer, less jam-packed film. Zorin tells the dissenting businessman, “If you wish. Hmmm,” turning his head like he can`t understand why anybody would pass up the chance of a lifetime. May Day puts on glasses and it`s like the sun is about to appear. The descending staircase is imaginative, and in another small pleasure, Walken winks when May Day reenters the boardroom. “So does anybody else want to drop out?”

The transition from France to San Francisco is awkward; it doesn`t flow, nor is it causal. The horse-racing subplot doesn`t relate to the rest of the film, and the Russian subplot is poorly integrated, as though it was included at the last minute only because it worked so well in Octopussy. (Likewise, the film`s ending, where General Gogol, inexplicably, awards Bond a Russian medal, is indefensible.) Walken`s scene with General Gogol is weak. He`s diffident, where quiet tension would have worked. He can`t find the centre of his performance. It`s a bad scene. Scarpine, grinning, holding the gun, is the only nice detail. It`s the only time we see the character genuinely happy.

The film`s third quarter is awkwardly plotted and reminds me of Moonraker`s third quarter, but without that film`s connect-the-dots plotting. The oil rig set piece could have just as easily occurred after Bond follows Stacey home (in fact, I couldn`t for the life of me remember exactly which sequence it followed and had to double-check). It feels shoehorned, and the story progression is compressed. It introduces new characters, reminds us of the unnecessary Russian sub-plot, and the oilrig never reappears – the entire sequence could have been dropped (if I remember correctly, Judy Alexander`s children`s storybook based on the film omitted it.) Apparently, in a scene that was cut, Bond interviewed a fisherman on a boat. I suspect had it been kept, this part of the film would have played better and eased away the set-piece feel. Because the film is so compacted, viewers might not even realize until after multiple viewings that Gogol`s car follows Bond and Pola from the oil rig. There`s a nice visual touch: the Russian is sacrificed and the pump pressure falters as the valve chops him up.

Yet Stacey and the cheque plot-point is well set-up and developed. Her motives for not cashing it – which prevents Bond from finding her – ring true and are ingenious. The plot information overheard at the chateau reception is a marvel of exposition. And the chateau scenes themselves flow nicely.

Stacey Sutton is often criticized, despite being one of the best-written women in the series. Her background and current plight is excellent writing.

The fight scene in Stacey`s house is excellent, unfortunately John Barry`s bombastic music during the actual fighting section doesn`t fit. The intro is exciting and exhilarating and the portions in 3/4 time which work well should have been a clue how rhythmical the scene was to begin with. Watch it with the volume off. There are great touches, some easily overlooked: Bond`s buoyant somersault along the upper hall, accompanied by John Barry`s exciting music, and seconds later he jumps over the railing. Elsewhere, Stacey opens her upper window, and Bond hesitates, watching from offside, and it`s an effective throwaway moment. The tension increases after she`s threatens to call the police: Bond threatens to tell them about the five million-dollar payoff.

Except for the bad “stooge” line, Tanya Roberts does well in these scenes. Her performance received much bad press, and though her acting is uneven, she has some good moments. Her performance is a bit stiff, but Bond films don`t feature great female performances. She moves well, her facial expressions are good, she`s attractive to look at, and her calmer line readings are accomplished so she does well enough, though she and Roger Moore make an awkward couple, given Moore`s age and her little-girl voice, which is also a bit scratchy and hampers her line-readings. We don`t really believe that she`s a geologist and unfortunately the script saddles her with too much exposition. The part needed an actress who could communicate a kind of manic delight telling people about palaeotological rocks or for whom delivering dry information was a turn-on. Her “James, Jameses” are cringeworthy – especially in the elevator shaft and during the finale, though Diana Rigg`s in OHMSS were just as bad (Rigg`s strident English accent didn`t help). They could and should have been cut in post-production; little things do sometimes make a difference and this is probably her biggest flaw in the film.

Nonetheless, during the mine finale, she deciphers the San Andreas Fault map for Bond; her eyes don`t blink once and she`s intense. On the chateau-bridge, her defensive smile and the downcast eyes indicate that Bond should take the glass back from her. She turns the fire truck`s siren on, and her relaxed, off-kilter shrug is congenial; evens her “Jameses” during the chase are tolerable and work.

John Glen makes interesting directorial choices Occasionally he`s trying to be American. Benzali yells at Roberts from behind closed doors; she runs out, the door opens, Bond says, “What happened?” having been reading a newspaper – another subtle touch. The black secretary looking out at them closes the door. This could have been done in close-ups but Glen was clever. A nice human touch: she drops her papers, and Bond helps her pick them up, telling her to calm down. He doesn`t believe the sincerity in his own voice, but it`s all he can do, like a parent reassuring a child. “Maybe, just maybe, he`ll come up with a few answers.” The elevator door opens, he says “Here” and ushers her in, just as apprehensive. It`s life-like. I`m sure most of us have been in similar crises situations where a person did exactly what Moore does here. We feel worse for Bond because he shoulders the brunt of it.

Daniel Benzali plays Commissioner Howe and his performance is a small pleasure (he also appeared in the television series <i>Murder One</i>). His first scene is well written (both his scenes are) – it`s excellent exposition, and rings true: Benzali`s buffoonish grin and Moore`s wide-eyed smile perfectly capture how artificial journalism is. They both know they`re going through the motions, but go along anyway. (I suspect it`s too rich and satirical for Bond groupies.) Benzali`s scene with Tanya Roberts is worth studying for his impatience, Stacey being a drain on his time, his left hand extended, his “what is it now?” demeanor. After Bond tells him that he`s being used, his brown eyes flit back and forth unsure what`s really going on. His final line to Zorin: “But that means… I would have to be…”, then he`s shot – his close-eyed smile after he`s shot is typical of the details the film offers. Zorin`s line, “Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius”, is great writing. Think the line through! This kind of line deserves to be quoted and remembered, and would be, in a calmer, sturdier film. I`m surprised self-help business seminars haven`t swiped it yet. Bond`s comment “Herr Doctor Mortner would be proud of his creation,” catches Zorin off guard. He nods, mulls it over and it`s a nice touch and fine acting. The line, “Don`t bother, Stacey, he`s a psychopath,” is childish. Moore does his best with it. His voice dies out at the end of the word, like it`s not even worth completing. Stacey`s line about “You can take your offer-” is bad. Was Zorin supposed to feel ashamed?

To be continued….

PREVIEW: In this series third installment, Nick Kincaid has harsh words for pseudo-intellectual Bond “fans” who would so easily dismiss A View To A Kill as pulp film-making.

In Defense of A View To A Kill (Part 1 of 3)

A View To A Kill is underrated. There`s no other way to put it. The time is right for a reappraisal. So why has it taken this long?

Reappraisals aren`t unheard of inthe Bond series. On Her Majesty`s Secret Service is probably the most famous instance, and it`s now regarded as one of the best Bond films. So why not A View To A Kill?

I admit it`s flawed. It`s overloaded and at times careless. The filmmakers seem to have been in a rush to pack as much into the film as possible, and then some. It`s an incredibly busy film, which is both a virtue and a flaw. It`s ambitious and unusually complicated in more ways than just the story. The filmmakers were trying something new so anything less than a sequence-by-sequence analysis does the film less than full justice.

The film opens on the Russian helicopter zig-zagging like a bumblebee. A great human touch follows – probably overlooked – backed up by John Barry`s sensitive, pain-ridden flute music: Bond opens a heart-shaped pendant and sees a photo of the dead man`s wife – girlfriend? – and baby. A throwaway moment, but crucial in Bond films. Bond flips the picture over and you can still see the woman and child`s image from behind, a subtle reminder that though 003 is dead, they live on, their grief is real. (Such touches prove that the Bond filmmakers are incredibly intelligent.) The microchip holds them down, a clever reminder of what took 003 from them. (It`s nice that the filmmakers had Bond bring the pendant back on board the submersible, but its dramatic weight is lost on Bond.) This is what people should look for in Bond films. Not whether he has his back to a window in Tomorrow Never Dies, an asinine, pointless observation.

The opening ski chase is great – perhaps the best in the series? New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael complained that the stunts were too crowded and didn`t give us the time to get that giddy tingle Bond stunts normally give us, and I felt that way about the ski-chase, but perhaps this is a clue to its superiority. Being so compressed, it stands the test of time like any great, complex work. It throws so much up at us that repeat viewings are required.

The great action theme by John Barry is very reminiscent of his OHMSS title song. If not as innovative, this version is more stylish, as befitting an older composer. The beautiful photography, those enticing colours, the intoxicating reds, blues, and whites are gorgeous and special. The Beach Boys music is just right – Bond is meant to be humorous; I`ve never understood why the 60`s Bond cultists get so uptight about broad humour in the series. There are other great touches: Bond`s unintentional somersault after he skis down a steep cliff; he hops on the skidoo, kicking off his one remaining ski; he steps off the makeshift surfboard and has to keep running; and after the fun and games, there`s that beautiful, menacing shot of the helicopter, this time gliding steadily through the air after Bond, with its single-minded purpose – cat and mouse – supported by John Barry`s driving music. The helicopter swirls through the air, spewing pinkish smoke, and, after it`s crashed, the shot of the raging black-tinged fire against the seemingly dirty snow and alps is intoxicating.

Maurice Binder`s credits feature wonderful neon images, and it`s one of his best. Alan Hume and Binder get beautiful accompanying images during their credits: that beautiful shot of people skiing down the mountain, the man flipping head over heals, the woman turning delicately, and the couple doing a slow motion synchronized twirl (unfortunately the return to regular motion is jerky). It`s beautiful, especially since it occurs during a heartfelt part of the song. I`m surprised that at least two books (Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang and The Bond Files) hated it. They`re wrong, of course. 🙂

Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson`s script is both deft and annoying. Parts don`t connect. Bond is supposed to find out how Zorin`s anti-pulse computer chip wound up in Siberia, yet he investigates Zorin`s horses. (A link suggesting the two were somehow related would have helped. “003 had been investigating Zorin`s horses and the trail took him to Siberia.”) The plot twist – a double catalyst, quite common in the Maibaum/Wilson collaborations – is shoe-horned and doesn`t flow. The horse sub-plot doesn`t add up, but it`s an appropriate homage to Fleming`s novels (by way of John Gardner`s Licence Renewed). Like Fleming`s villains, Zorin cheats without any real motive, except his love of winning (how much money could a multi-millionaire make winning races?). When Zorin races Bond, there`s no real advantage; he intends to capture and kill Bond anyway. He cheats just for the sake of cheating.

The Ascot horse scene is visually delightful and the timing is razor-sharp, though perhaps it`s too precise and wears the audience down (Pauline Kael said something similar about the single-shot opening in Brian de Palma`s film The Bonfire Of The Vanities – another underrated film). The film is visually inventive: Moneypenny shouts at the horses: “Move your a–” then turning, asking about one of the horses, the camera pans to Bond and M who are faced the wrong way. Fast on the heels is another ingenious detail that most people probably overlook. Look behind M when he tells Bond that Zorin “speaks at least five languages”. The woman behind them looks around, wondering what they`re going on about, concerned she`s missing something, then deciding it`s nothing, turns back – the timing is perfect, the placement delicate, as though the director John Glen is saying, “Look, if you catch this, good for you, but if you don`t, no big loss.” The dialogue here, and in the following chateau scene, is perfect and casual enough to have an air of being improvised: “Who`s there with him under the hat, in the red dress?”

Elsewhere I discuss the insect motif tying the various strands together in the visually inventive Eiffel Tower sequence, but there are other gems. Aubergine: “I`m pleased you approve since you`re paying the bill.” He looks up and around as the waiter walks around him. Flighty as ever, Aubergine nods his head at the dancing butterflies, his head back, emphasizing his double-chin, struggling to focus on anything that close. “Perhaps we should add this butterfly to our collection, non?” Bond`s reaction, his polite smile, is skilled acting. Bond and Moore`s intelligence shine. May Day knocks the other black-sheathed person out. The butterfly girl, in the middle of her routine, looks over – her posture the epitome of professional confusion – half her mind is still on her routine (you`ll have to freeze-frame on her to fully appreciate this) – while Aubergine blathers on oblivious to his impending doom. (I can`t imagine anything that complicated or busy in The Living Daylights.) The photography inside the restaurant, and the chateau scenes are sumptuous and the last touch of real Bondian elegance until Pierce Brosnan and Tomorrow Never Dies. Peter Lamont isn`t my favourite Bond production designer – what is it with all those sculpted heads? – but his work here is perfect and it`s one of the best designed Bond films. (Trivia note: the music heard during the Eiffel Tower establishing shot comes from John Barry`s score for his 1984 film Until September.)

Pauline Kael complained that the stunts were too crowded, but that`s partially why the brilliant car chase works so well. Each shot has a new piece of information; compare it to the slightly limp pre-credit chase in The Living Daylights, which consists of the same shot over and over, back and forth. The gliding, graceful, practically slow-motion shot of the car driving onto the ramp, flying onto the bus, then off onto the ground, contrasts perfectly with that brutal smash cut as the pole shears the car`s top off. Though easily overlooked, that shot of Moore, grimacing and ducking in his seat tops it off. It`s obvious when the stuntman doubles for Moore – it verges on parody – especially immediately before and after the car is shorn in half (Moore`s eyes open in shock anticipating it, then he closes them and braces himself – this is excellent and without which, the stunt would have been impersonal) but the film is photographed in sharp clear colours. After Octopussy, shot in oily, washed-out colours, AVTAK is one of the best looking in the series. The gorgeous ski-chase, the Paris cafe and estate scenes, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge fight are especially appealing; the film has some of the best location sense of the entire series. Only towards the end, down in the mine, does the film look hazy. I criticize John Barry`s action cues elsewhere, but here the Bond theme and the dixieland version of the theme song have just the right playful touch.

A View To . . . A View To A Kill’s Premiere

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.

06/15/85 Review in “Magill`s Survey of Cinema” – a view to little irony

One of the least ironic in the James Bond series, A VIEW TO A KILL takes 007 (Roger Moore) from Ascot, Paris, and Chantilly to San Francisco as he pursues Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), a villainous international microchip industrialist, and his fierce bodyguard, May Day (Grace Jones). Having survived several near-fatal encounters with Zorin`s henchmen, Bond succeeds in obstructing the industrialist`s plan to dynamite the San Andreas fault and flood Silicon Valley so that he can gain control over the world`s microchip production. In a suspenseful finale which takes place at the Golden Gate Bridge, Bond blasts Zorin in his zeppelin.

Summary: The pleasure which viewers take in familiar forms is the very basis of a genre film`s survival, yet the most interesting among them– Westerns and musicals, for example–are also characterized by their capacity to reflect cultural shifts and social changes. In comparison, the James Bond films are defined by a carefully synthesized and carefully protected formula; nothing about them changes. Deciding who best embodies the mythic essence of Fleming`s hero, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, or Roger Moore, has been only one of two major sources of variation that the Bond films have offered since the series began with DR. NO (1962). The other variation has been a shift in tone: from straight and serious to parodic and absurd. The tone in A VIEW TO A KILL, however, is serious. In keeping with this mode, the prologue finds 007 (Roger Moore), in a display of bravado, skiing on an Alaskan snowfield, a squadron of Soviet soldiers to snatch an innocent-looking locket from the neck of an unknown corpse. Reminiscent of the opening sequence of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977), the last-second rescue comes from an ice floe that pops open to reveal a Union Jack flying submarine, navigated by a captain in white mink overalls. No matter how predictable, even this opening sequence rewards the audience immediately with its impeccable editing (the film`s director, John Glen, has edited several earlier Bonds) and with its striking use of color against a white background (a common visual heritage from the pop-graphic style of the 1960`s).

Following the prologue, viewers find themselves in the London headquarters of Secret Service, where M (Robert Brown) and his staff fill one another in on a new superchip that was found in the locket of that corpse, which as it turns out was the body of a Russian. Everything indicates that this new technological miracle comes from the hands of a mysterious industrialist of international origins, one Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Much to the regret of Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), only James Bond can find Zorin`s chips.

The search begins at the Ascot horse races, where the abnormally blond Zorin is sighted along with his right-hand woman, the stunning and ferocious May Day (Grace Jones), a black martial arts and logistics expert who sports leather-hooded outfits and six-inch heels. Then in Paris, while Bond is having dinner with the unpleasant Inspector Aubergine (Jean Rougerie), in an elegant restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, May Day attacks. Dressed in wasp-patterned yellow and black leotards, she uses a fishing rod of sorts, impaling on its fly Bond` s dinner partner, who is lecherously watching a woman perform a butterfly dance onstage. Like a spider, May Day then vanishes down the tower and escapes with the help of a parachute glider, which crashes onto a wedding party aboard a bateau-mouche in the middle of the Seine. It is in sequences such as these that the Bond films are at their most engaging: The insect motif (the fly casting, wasp, butterfly, and so on), insignificant as it may be for the film`s overall structure, tightens up the little episode; the gags are exotic in an inventive way, built more on wit than violence (pace Inspector Aubergine), and the stunts, carried out in the middle of Paris, make one admire not only their performers but also the film`s producer, Albert Broccoli, who managed to arrange all of this. Later on, the San Francisco City Hall and the Golden Gate Bridge, notoriously off-limits for commercial filming, are similarly granted this “location-as-star” treatment, lending almost the old-fashioned authenticity of a travelogue to this high-tech fairy tale.

The search for Zorin`s chips leads from Paris to an exquisite Chantilly chateau, where the villain is auctioning off some of his supernormal race horses. Here, Bond, succeeds in penetrating Zorin`s secret stable- laboratory and discovers that the superchip, with its ability to enhance the performances of living organisms to the capacity of a robot, is part of a worldwide biotechnological conspiracy. In the process of his search, Bond arouses Zorin`s suspicion, and even Bond`s strategically motivated seduction of May Day does not prevent a subsequent manhunt on horseback, at the end of which he is almost killed. As is customary for the Bond megavillain, Zorin`s monstrously perfect features make it clear that he is essentially nonhuman, a creature representing not simply an opposing political system but a threat to mankind. A child produced by Nazi genetic engineering experiments during World War II and bred to perfection in the U.S.S.R., Zorin has broken loose from his ideological commitments to his KGB supervisors and is now preparing to attack and monopolize the world`s microchip industry. Traveling in a zeppelin, Zorin, May Day, and their evil crew move on to San Francisco. Bond catches up with them, first competing with, and later helped by, the beautiful geologist and heiress Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts).

Surviving a suction pipe accident under a Zorin oil rig in the San Francisco Bay and then a spectacular city hall fire, Bond and Stacy uncover, just in time, Zorin`s demonic plan to reactivate the San Andreas fault through a series of enormous explosions. This, in turn, would devastate and flood the Silicon Valley industries and guarantee Zorin, Inc., complete control of the world`s microchip output. The mandatory large-scale showdown follows, taking place in a labyrinthine old silver mine located below the San Andreas lake, which is also Stacy`s beloved ancestral home. The sequence carries allusions to Fritz Lang`s subterranean masterpiece METROPOLIS (1927) and to the wild mine rides in Steven Spielberg`s INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984). When May Day finally realizes the magnitude of Zorin`s diabolical plot, as well as his completely cynical attitude toward her, she shifts allegiance and throws her considerable body power behind Bond and Stacy`s efforts to prevent the catastrophe, sacrificing her life in the process. Zorin and his skeleton crew flee again in the blimp, taking Stacy as hostage, but Bond hangs on to one of the mooring ropes (metaphorically keeping taut the suspenseful plot line). The aircraft becomes trapped in the structure of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Bond not only saves Stacy but also rids the world of yet another megalomaniac when, cleverly relying on some basic laws of physics, he brings about the explosion of the high-tech wizard and his zeppelin.

Per the film`s formula, Bond proceeds to shun delightfully his civic responsibilities by hiding out in Stacy`s shower, avoiding not only M`s phone congratulations but also the KGB`s (which is grateful to Bond for having preserved Silicon Valley intact for yet another generation of Soviet industrial espionage). The main attraction of A VIEW TO A KILL is undoubtedly the irresistible Grace Jones. Graceful, fast, resourceful, and a little perverse, May Day finally seems to be the female alter ego Bond has been looking for since the death of his wife in ON HER MAJESTY`S SECRET SERVICE (1969); like her, she, too, must die so as to allow 007 to proceed unhindered to further adventures. It is typical that Bond`s love interest here has a degree in a hard science, but she remains as incompetent and witless as she is cute. A VIEW TO A KILL signals where the next major hurdle for 007 will emerge. The technology in which villains such as Zorin deal to achieve world control is so utterly impersonal that Bond`s old-fashioned craftiness and general education (even when amplified by Q`s special gadgets) may soon become obsolete. As long as he can count on encountering his enemies in falling elevators or burning ships, Bond is all right. In a world of data banks, video screens, and artificial intelligence, Bond will either have to “upgrade” to a full-time science-fiction hero or else withdraw to the sidelines, watching it all, amused, over a dry martini.

Review in 06/10/85 “Macleans”: A view to a kill!

MACLEANS June 10th, 1985
Directed by John Glen

Of all the modern formulas in the movie industry, the James Bond series is among the most pleasurable and durable. Lavish with their budgets, the producers also bring a great deal of craft, wit and a sense of fun to the films. Agent 007 is like an old friend whom an audience meets for drinks every two years or so; he regales them with tall tales, winking all the time. The 15th and newest Bond epic, A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter.

As Bond, Roger Moore takes on a brilliant but psychotic Russian named Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his lethal assistant, May Day, played by the astonishingly muscular and sleek Grace Jones. The villain`s plan, as in most Bond films, is nothing less ambitious than the takeover of the world, which he plans to do by controlling the international microchip market. Because 80 percent of the world`s microchip production comes from California`s silicon valley, Zorin simply has to close up the San Andreas fault with an explosion and bury the valley under a massive flood. Opening with a breathtaking ski chase in Siberia.

A View to a Kill is the fastest Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin`s dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco`s Golden Gate Bridge. For all its similarities to earlier episode – deadly villains and gorgeous women – A View to a Kill is a little different.

It is less gadget-ridden, and Bond relies more on old-fashioned know-how: trapped underwater in a car, he escapes and breathes through the tire valve while waiting for his would-be assassins to leave. The world`s technological advances have caught up with Bond, but they never render him obsolete. The Bond movies operate on a level much deeper than their dazzling surfaces: they represent assurance in a world laden with global anxiety. And not only does goodness win out, it does so with style and humour. The movies are fantasies of idealism in which even the hero`s sins are turned into delicious double entendres. “Did you sleep well?” asks Zorin. “A little restlessly,” replies Bond after a night in May Day`s arms. “But I finally got off.”

Their comic-book characters, the good ones that is, are especially alluring – dashing, talented and impervious to danger. Most of all, Bond is a gentleman – a chivalrous knight who has time-travelled. When he saves the “good girl” of A View to a Kill and holds her in his arms on top of the Golden Gate, it is a sublime romantic gesture. It is true that Roger Moore is showing his age (57) in the role, but there are plenty of tunes left in his violin. James Bond is still a virtuoso, with a licence to thrill. -LAWRENCE O`TOOLE

AVTAK Review: 06/03/85 Review in “New Yorker”

NEW YORKER June 3, 1985 Pauline Kael THE James Bond series has had its bummers, but nothing before in the class of “A View to a Kill.”

You go to a Bond picture expecting some style or, at least, some flash, some lift; you don`t expect the dumb police-car crashes you get here. You do see some ingenious daredevil feats, but they`re crowded together and, the way they`re set up, they don`t give you the irresponsible, giddy tingle you`re hoping for. The movie is set mostly in Chantilly, Paris, and San Francisco, and it`s full of bodies and vehicles diving, exploding, going up in flames.

Christopher Walken is the chief villain; the ultra-blond psychopathic product of a Nazi doctor`s experiments, he mows people down casually, his expression jaded. And the director, John Glen, stages the slaughter scenes so apathetically that the picture itself seems dissociated. (I don`t think I`ve ever seen another movie in which race horses were mistreated and the director failed to work up any indignation. If Glen has any emotions about what he puts on the screen, he keeps them to himself.) All that keeps “A View to a Kill” going is that it needs to reach a certain heft to fit into the series.

As the villainess, Grace Jones, of the flat-top haircut and the stylized look of African sculpture, is indifferently good-humoured the way Jane Russell used to be, and much too flaccid, and as the Bond heroine Tanya Roberts (who has a disconcerting resemblance to Isabelle Adjani) is totally lacking in intensity – she goes from one life-threatening situation to another looking vaguely put out.

About the most that can be said for Roger Moore, in his seventh go-round as Bond, is that he keeps his nose to the grindstone, permitting himself no expression except a faint bemusement. It used to be that we could count on Bond to deliver a few zingers, but this time the script (by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson) barely manages a little facetiousness.

The film does come up with one visual zinger: in the small role of Jenny Flex, a stunning young model named Alison Doody comes up with a curvy walk that`s like sex on wheels.

A View To A Review: 05/24/85 Review in “Washington Post”

At the finale of “A View to a Kill,” James Bond (Roger Moore) dangles from a blimp, an almost painfully appropriate metaphor for the adventure series that is now bloated, slow moving and at the end of its rope. It`s not double-oh-seven anymore, but double-oh-seventy, the best argument yet for the mandatory retirement age. Bond`s adversary here is Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), a renegade KGB agent turned billionaire industrialist, who, in league with his lover/bodyguard May Day (Grace Jones), is plotting to corner the microchip market by destroying Silicon Valley.

Why is Zorin so evil, you ask? It turns out that he was “created” in the Nazi concentration camps by a Mengele figure experimenting with steroids on pregnant women. Most of the children died; those who didn`t survived with extraordinary intelligence and more than a touch of psychopathy. Bond first grows suspicious when one of Zorin`s horses, despite its inferior bloodlines, wins a major race at Ascot. Masquerading as James St. John Smythe, he attends a horse auction at Zorin`s Versailles-like estate, where he meets Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), an heiress fallen victim to Zorin`s aggressive mergers and acquisitions practices.

“A View to a Kill” is nothing if not thorough – it rolls nazism, communism and merger mania into one. In between, the movie follows the usual Bond formula, except the gadgets are a cut less ingenious, the women a notch below stunning, the puns and double-entendres something besides clever. “I`m happiest in the saddle,” says Zorin. “A fellow sportsman,” says Bond. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. There is some magnificent stunt work, which only underscores how inadequate Moore has become.

Moore isn`t just long in the tooth – he`s got tusks, and what looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of a zombie. He`s not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes – it`s like watching women fall all over Gabby Hayes. And unlike “Never Say Never Again,” which made a theme out of Sean Connery`s over-the-hilleries, “A View to a Kill” never acknowledges Moore`s age.

We`re just supposed to take him at face value, and once again, the pound has declined. Jones looks terrific – with her powerful spindly limbs and hard polished skull, she`s a large, splendid driver ant – but the minute she opens her mouth, all the air goes out of her performance. She`s an icon, not an actress. And Roberts is an absolute howl as Stacey. When Bond fills her in on Zorin`s plans, she brays, “dat`s incredibewee dangerous!” and flounces off in a pink nightie. She is, by the way, an expert geologist. Walken wears a blond wig, a formidable contraption that lifts from his baldness in a simian sweep – he looks like Dr Zaius and talks like Joey Bishop. He`s trying to send up the material, but at this late date, Bond has moved beyond camp into irrelevance.

AVTAK 05/22/85 Review in “Variety”

May 22nd VARIETY A VIEW TO A KILL (BRITISH-COLOR) Lackluster 007 epic should earn okay b.o. Hollywood, May 21.

There is hardly a red-blooded American boy whose pulse isn`t quicker by the familiar strains of the James Bond theme and the first sight of the hero cocking a gun at any enemy coming his way. Unfortunately, A View to a Kill,” the 16th outing for the Ian Fleming characters, doesn`t keep the adrenaline pumping, exposing the inherent weaknesses of the genre.

Trading on the Bond name, outlook is good for initial business, but momentum is likely to falter, just as the production does. The potential for cinematic thrills and chills, what with glamourous locations, beautiful women and exotic locations, is still there, but in “A View to a Kill” it`s the execution that`s lacking. A traditionally big Bond opening, this time a daring chase through the Alps, gets the film off to a promising start but proves one of the film`s few highlights as it slowly slips into tedium. Basic problem is on the script level with the intricate plot never offering the mindless menace necessary to propel the plot.

First third of the pic is devoted to introduction of characters in a horse-fixing subplot that has no real bearing on the main action. Bond`s adversary this time is the international industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his love-hate interest, May Day (Grace Jones). Bond tangles with them at their regal horse sale and uncovers a profitable scheme in which microchips are surgically implanted in the horse to assure an easy victory. Horse business is moderately entertaining, particularly when Patrick Macnee is on screen as Bond`s chauffeur accomplice.

Action, however, jumps abruptly to San Francisco to reveal Zorin`s true motives. He`s hatching some master plan to pump water from the sea into the San Andreas fault causing a major earthquake, destroying the Silicon Valley and leaving him with the world`s microchip monopoly. Film sags badly in the San Francisco section when it should be soaring, partially due to Bond`s joining forces with American geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts). Try as you might to believe it, Roberts has little credibility as a woman of science.

Her delivery of lines like “I`d sell everything and live in a tent before I`d give,” makes the obvious laughable. While Bond pics have always traded heavily on the camp value of its characters, “A View to a Kill” almost attacks the humor, practically winking at the audience with every move. Director John Glen, who previously directed “For Your Eyes Only,” has not found the right balance between action and humor to make the production dangerous fun. Walken, too, the product of a mad Nazi scientist`s genetic experiments, is a bit wimpy by Bond villain standards. With hair colored an unnaturally yellow he seems more effete than deadly.

As his assistant, Grace Jones is a successful updating of the Jaws-type villain. Jones just oozes `80s style and gets to parade in a number of sensation outfits (designed by Emma Porteous) giving a hard but alluring edge to her character. As for Roger Moore, making his seventh appearance as Bond, he is right about half the time, he still has the suave and cool for the part, but on occasion he looks a bit old for the part and his coy womanizing seems dated when he does. Other instances when the film strives to stake its claim to the rock video audience backfire and miscalculate the appeal of the material.

Opening credit sequence in MTV style is downright bizarre and title song by Duran Duran will certainly not go down as one of the classic Bond tunes. [Hmmm…Editors.] With all of its limitations, production still remains a sumptuous feast to look at. Shot in Panavision by Alan Hume, exotic locations such as the Eiffel Tower, San Francisco Bay and Zorin`s French chateau are rendered beautifully. Climax hanging over the Golden Gate Bridge is chillingly real thanks to the miniature artists and effects people (supervised by John Richardson). Production design by Peter Lamont is first rate.

Roulette, Mister Bond?

American and European versions of roulette use the same rules. The difference between the two versions is that the American machines have a zero and double zero for 38 compartments, and the European machines have only the single zero for 37 compartments.

Each player is given his own colored set of chips (except in France, where some problems arise since all players use the same colored chips). The chips have no face value; each player tells the croupier the value of his chips when he purchases them. The croupier keeps track of the value of each set of chips by putting a small check chip with this value on the stack of chips.

Half the 36 numbers for the compartments are red and the others black. The zero and double zero are neutral colors (usually green).

The croupier asks the players to place their bets. A player does not have to sit at the table to place a bet. Once all bets are down, the croupier spins the wheel clockwise and then flips the ball counterclockwise around the rim of the wheel. Eventually, the ball lands in one of the compartments and the bets are paid off.

The simplest bet is to place chips on a single number. This is betting Straight Up (Plein); if the ball lands in this numbered compartment, the player is paid off at a ratio of 35 to 1.

Chips can be placed to cover several numbers at once. The diagrams on this page show the American and European roulette tables. The chip marked A touches “14” and “17”; this is called Split Numbers (Cheval). If either of these numbers wins, the player is paid off at a ratio of17 to 1. The chip marked B is placed on the corners of 26, 27, 29 and 30; this is called a Corner (Carre) and pays off at 8 to 1.

A Trio (Traversale Plein) bet is on the three numbers in a particular row (chip C in the diagram is betting on 28, 29, and 30); this bet pays off at 11 to 1. On the American version only, a Five Numbers bet can be made (chip D in the diagram covers 0, 00, 1 ,2, and 3); this bet pays off at 6 to 1. A Six Numbers (Traversale Simple) bet covers two rows (chip E in the diagram covers 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, and 15); this bet pays off at 5 to 1.

A Column Bet (Colonne) covers 12 numbers (chip F in the diagram) in a column, and pays off at 2 to 1. The European tables allow a Split Column (Colonne a Cheval) that covers two columns (24 numbers); it pays off at 1 to 2. A Dozen (Douzaine) bet covers 12 numbers (chip G in the diagram covers 1 through 12); it pays off at 2 to 1. The European tables allow a Split Double (Douzaine a Cheval) where a chip covers 24 numbers; this bet pays off at 1 to 2.

Players can make Even Chance (Chances Simples) bets where the number that will come up will be red (Rouge) or black (Noir), odd (Impair), or even (Pair) or low (Manque; low numbers 1 to 18) or high (passe; high numbers 19 to 36.) These bets pay off even money.

In the American version, if the number that comes up is a 0 or 00, only single bets made on those numbers win. All Even Chance bets are lost in this case. In the European version, a 0 means the croupier “imprisons” the chips (that is, the chips stay on that bet until the next roll) but the chips lose half their value.

Craps He`s Played, Just Once

Craps are played with two six sided dice. The player rolling the dice stands at one end of the table and must throw the dice so they bounce off the other edge of the table. There are usually three or more casino employees at a craps table, keeping track of the numerous bets that can be placed by as many players as can reach the table.

If the player rolling the dice, the shooter, gets a 7 or11 (a natural), on the first roll, he wins automatically. If the gets a 2, 3 or 12 (craps), he loses, Any other number that is rolled is called the “point”; if the shooter rolls this number a second time before rolling a 7, he wins, but if a 7 is rolled before the number, the shooter loses. The shooter continues to throw the dice until he loses on a 7, at which time the dice are passed to the player on his left. The shooter can bet against himself if he wishes.

The craps table is divided into a number of areas where bets are placed (see the diagram at the bottom of this section). Chip A is placed on the “Pass Line” on the table. in this case, the player making this bet thinks the shooter will either get a 7 or 11 or make his point; if the shooter wins, the bettor is paid even money. Chip B is in the “Don`t Pass” box; the player betting assumes the shooter will either get craps (except on a 12, which is a stand off and nobody wins) or not make his point.

Chip C is in the “Come” area. This bet is placed after the shooter has his “point” to make. If the shooter gets a 7 or 11, the bettor wins; on a craps result, the bettor loses. Also, if another number is rolled, the bettor has a “come point” and he will win if the shooter hits this point before rolling a 7. The “Don`t Come” area is played just the opposite; the bettor wins on a craps result and loses on a 7 or 11, or he wins if the shooter gets a 7 before hitting the “come point.”. Both these bets win even money.

A “Field” bet is made on one roll of the dice. If the dice result is a 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11, the bettor wins at even money, and if the result is a 2 or 12 the bettor is paid off double. The bettor loses on a result of 5, 6, 7, or 8 (the points that are most likely to be rolled). Chip D is in the “Big 6/8” box; and the bettor wins even money on a 6 or 8 and loses on a 7.

A bettor can choose to get number the “Hard Way”. If the bettor thinks that two 2`s or two 5`s will be rolled and bets on this, he wins at 7 to 1 (he loses if a 7 is rolled or if his number bet comes up in another combination). Likewise, the player can bid on double 3`s or double 4`s at 9 to 1 odds.

There are a number of other one roll bets. Chip E is in the “7” box, and the bet wins if the next roll is a 7 (payoff is 4 to 1). Other boxes are provided for “11” (paying off 15 to 1), “3 Craps” (paying off 15 to 1 that the next roll will be 3), “2 Craps” (paying off 30 to 1 on a roll of 2), “12 Craps” (also paying off 30 to 1 on a roll of 12) and “Any Craps” (paying off 7 to 1 on a roll of 2, 3, or 12). The bettor loses on any of these bets if the dice result is a number other than the one(s) he bet.

A bettor can also play “The Odds”. After a “point” or “come point” is made, a bettor can go for the Odds, betting that the specific point will be rolled before a 7 is rolled. The payoff is 2 to 1 if the point is 4 or 10; 3 to 2 if the point is 9 or 5; and 6 to 5 if the point is 6 or 8. A bettor can also play against the “point” or “come point”; payoff is 1 to 2 on a point of 4 or 10, 2 to 3 on a 5 or 9 point, and 6 to 5 on a 6 or 8 point. A bettor can withdraw an Odds bet before the dice are thrown.

Also, a bettor can make “Place Bets” by putting chips on the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10.The shooter must hit one of these numbers before rolling a 7 for the bettor to win. (any other result is a stand off). The bets are paid off at 9 to 5 for a 4 an d10, at 7 to 5 for a 5 and 9, and at 7 to 6 for a 6 and 8.

Blackjack or “Vingt-et-un”

This game is also known as “Twenty One” and, in Europe, as “Vingt-et-un”. The house dealer asks for bets and then gives out one card face up to each player plus one for himself. Then he deals a second card face up to the players and himself. (Note that the dealing of cards face up or down varies from casino to casino) The object of the game is to reach 21 or come as close as possible without going over. The players can elect to take extra cards to get closer to 21.

An Ace in this game is worth either 1 or 11 (at the players choice); face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) are worth 10; and the other cards are worth their face value. Thus, a combination of an Ace and a 10 equals 21 (this is called a “natural” blackjack and automatically wins, unless the dealer also has a natural blackjack in which case the player neither wins nor loses his bet).

If a player`s first two cards equal less than 21, he may continue to have the dealer give him extra cards (“hits”) one at a time until he elects to stand or goes over 21 (in which case he automatically loses). After all players have taken their extra cards, the dealer must give himself an extra card if his first two cards total 16 or less and he must stand if his total is 17 or more.

Any player who has a natural blackjack wins at the rate of 3 to 2 (unless the dealer also has a natural blackjack, in which case there is a tie). Any player whose card total is higher than the dealer`s wins at even odds. Any player who ties the dealer`s card total is in a tie and neither wins nor loses his bet. All hands that are less than the dealer`s total or that go over 21 lose.

There are several variations that may occur during a hand. A Split Pair occurs when a player`s first two cards are of the same value ( a pair of 9`s for example) or are both worth 10 ( a 10 and a Queen, or a Jack and a King). The player in this case can split the cards and play them as if they are two hands. Play proceeds as described above and the player can bet on both hands. If the player gets another pair, he can split up those cards for new hands, up to a maximum of 5 splits. The use of Split Pairs varies from casino to casino.

There are some limitations on Split Pairs. If Aces are split, the player receives only one card on each Ace. Also, if a player has an Ace and a 10 or picture card with a split pair, he does not have a “natural” blackjack` instead, the cards are worth 21 and if he wins, the payoff is at even money. These variations in Split Pairs differ from casino to casino.

A second variation is Double Down. When a player`s first two cards equal 9, 10, or 11, he can double his bet. In this case, he receives only one more card (the exception being that if his first total is 9 and he draws a 2, he can be given one more card).

A player may also place an Insurance bet if the dealer drew an Ace on his first card. Before anyone receives a second card, a player may bet up to half his original bet that the deal will get a natural blackjack with his second card. If the dealer does indeed get a natural blackjack, the player is paid off at 2 to 1; if the dealer does not make a natural blackjack, the player loses his Insurance bet.

Backgammon, Kamal Khan!

Backgammon is a game for two players, played on a board consisting of twenty-four narrow triangles called points. The triangles alternate in color and are grouped into four quadrants of six triangles each. The quadrants are referred to as a player`s home board and outer board, and the opponent`s home board and outer board. The home and outer boards are separated from each other by a ridge down the center of the board called the bar.

The points are numbered for either player starting in that player`s home board. The outermost point is the twenty-four point, which is also the opponent`s one point. Each player has fifteen checkers of his own color. The initial arrangement of checkers is: two on each player`s twenty-four point, five on each player`s thirteen point, three on each player`s eight point, and five on each player`s six point.

Both players have their own pair of dice and a dice cup used for shaking. A doubling cube, with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on its faces, is used to keep track of the current stake of the game.

The object of the game is for a player to move all of his checkers into his own home board and then bear them off. The first player to bear off all of his checkers wins the game.

To start the game, each player throws a single die. This determines both the player to go first and the numbers to be played. If equal numbers come up, then both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The player throwing the higher number now moves his checkers according to the numbers showing on both dice. After the first roll, the players throw two dice and alternate turns.

The roll of the dice indicates how many points, or pips, the player is to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:

To start the game, each player throws a single die. This determines both the player to go first and the numbers to be played. If equal numbers come up, then both players roll again until they roll different numbers. The player throwing the higher number now moves his checkers according to the numbers showing on both dice. After the first roll, the players throw two dice and alternate turns.

The roll of the dice indicates how many points, or pips, the player is to move his checkers. The checkers are always moved forward, to a lower-numbered point. The following rules apply:

1. A checker may be moved only to an open point, one that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers.

2. The numbers on the two dice constitute separate moves. For example, if a player rolls 5 and 3, he may move one checker five spaces to an open point and another checker three spaces to an open point, or he may move the one checker a total of eight spaces to an open point, but only if the intermediate point (either three or five spaces from the starting point) is also open.

3. A player who rolls doubles plays the numbers shown on the dice twice. A roll of 6 and 6 means that the player has four sixes to use, and he may move any combination of checkers he feels appropriate to complete this requirement.

A player must use both numbers of a roll if this is legally possible (or all four numbers of a double). When only one number can be played, the player must play that number. Or if either number can be played but not both, the player must play the larger one. When neither number can be used, the player loses his turn. In the case of doubles, when all four numbers cannot be played, the player must play as many numbers as he can.

Hitting and Entering

A point occupied by a single checker of either color is called a blot. If an opposing checker lands on a blot, the blot is hit and placed on the bar.

Any time a player has one or more checkers on the bar, his first obligation is to enter those checker(s) into the opposing home board. A checker is entered by moving it to an open point corresponding to one of the numbers on the rolled dice.

For example, if a player rolls 4 and 6, he may enter a checker onto either the opponent`s four point or six point, so long as the prospective point is not occupied by two or more of the opponent`s checkers.

If neither of the points is open, the player loses his turn. If a player is able to enter some but not all of his checkers, he must enter as many as he can and then forfeit the remainder of his turn.

After the last of a player`s checkers has been entered, any unused numbers on the dice must be played, by moving either the checker that was entered or a different checker

Once a player has moved all of his fifteen checkers into his home board, he may commence bearing off. A player bears off a checker by rolling a number that corresponds to the point on which the checker resides, and then removing that checker from the board. Thus, rolling a 6 permits the player to remove a checker from the six point.

If there is no checker on the point indicated by the roll, the player must make a legal move using a checker on a higher-numbered point. If there are no checkers on higher-numbered points, the player is permitted (and required) to remove a checker from the highest point on which one of his checkers resides. A player is under no obligation to bear off if he can make an otherwise legal move.

Backgammon is played for an agreed stake per point. Each game starts at one point. During the course of the game, a player who feels he has a sufficient advantage may propose doubling the stakes. He may do this only at the start of his own turn and before he has rolled the dice.

A player who is offered a double may refuse, in which case he concedes the game and pays one point. Otherwise, he must accept the double and play on for the new higher stakes. A player who accepts a double becomes the owner of the cube and only he may make the next double.

Subsequent doubles in the same game are called redoubles. If a player refuses a redouble, he must pay the number of points that were at stake prior to the redouble. Otherwise, he becomes the new owner of the cube and the game continues at twice the previous stakes. There is no limit to the number of redoubles in a game. At the end of the game, if the losing player has borne off at least one checker, he loses only the value showing on the doubling cube (one point, if there have been no doubles). However, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers, he is gammoned and loses twice the value of the doubling cube. Or, worse, if the loser has not borne off any of his checkers and still has a checker on the bar or in the winner`s home board, he is backgammoned and loses three times the value of the doubling cube.

The following optional rules are in widespread use.

Beavers. When a player is doubled, he may immediately redouble (beaver) while retaining possession of the cube. The original doubler has the option of accepting or refusing as with a normal double.

Automatic doubles. If identical numbers are thrown on the first roll, the stakes are doubled. The doubling cube is turned to 2 and remains in the middle. Players usually agree to limit the number of automatic doubles to one per game

The Jacoby Rule. Gammons and backgammons count only as a single game if neither player has offered a double during the course of the game. This rule speeds up play by eliminating situations where a player avoids doubling so he can play on for a gammon.


The dice must be rolled together and land flat on the surface of the right-hand section of the board. The player must reroll both dice if a die lands outside the right-hand board, or lands on a checker, or does not land flat.

A turn is completed when the player picks up his dice. If the play is incomplete or otherwise illegal, the opponent has the option of accepting the play as made or of requiring the player to make a legal play. A play is deemed to have been accepted as made when the opponent rolls his dice or offers a double to start his own turn.

If a player rolls before his opponent has completed his turn by picking up the dice, the player`s roll is voided. This rule is generally waived any time a play is forced or when there is no further contact between the opposing forces.

The Thrills of baccarat

Before his assignment to investigate Dr.No, Bond was challenged by Sylvia Trench. While playing chemin de fer at his favorite London casino, he enjoyed a startling run of good luck as the banker. Trench seemed determined to break Bond`s bank and called “Banco” over and over. It soon became obvious to the people around the table that this private battle had implications beyond baccarat.

After rescuing the Countess Tracy di Vicenzo, the daughter of Marc Ange Draco, from an apparent suicide attempt and then a kidnapping, Bond came to her salvation against at the Casino in Estoril, Portugal. Tracy had called “Banco” at chemin de fer and did not have the money to cover her bet when she lost. Bond gallantly stepped forward to cover her bet, which eventually led to their short but loving marriage.

At a casino on the island of Corfu, Bond was controlling the shoe at chemin de fer and playing against a perspiring gentleman named Bunky. After losing a number of times to Bond, the man decided to match only half the bank…that is until his nerve was questioned by the Countess Lisl Von Schlaf. He then matched the whole bank…and lost. (Lisl was schillng for the house.)

In the Casino de Monte Carlo (pictured left), James Bond plays a game of Baccarat against evil villainesses Xenia Onatopp. After losing the first hand, Bond battles back to overtake Xenia on the second hand, thus earning her eternal wrath.

Baccarat and “Chemin De Fer”

Both games are similar and are often mistaken for one another. Chemin de fer offers more choice to the gambler, while baccarat has strict rules as to when a card must be taken or not (in some European casinos it is known as Punto Banco) Both games are akin to blackjack. Chemin de fer will be described first and baccarat next.

In chemin de fer, gamblers are pitted against one another. One gambler puts up a certain amount of money ahead of time in order to control the deal, or bids against the other gamblers for the privilege. He deals until his bank is broken or he withdraws. Six 52 card decks are shuffled together and placed in a device called “shoe”, from which the cards are slid out one at a time. The player dealing is called the “banker” and the other players are called “punters”. The banker tests the shoe by drawing several cards, showing them to the players and discarding them.

The players, starting with the first to the right of the banker, then place bets against the bank. The next player to the right places his bet against the bank, and so on around the table until the amount in the bank is covered or all players have placed bets. Any player may call “Banco” indicating the wishes to bet against the entire bank; should two or more players call “Banco” the first player to the right of the banker has the privilege. The banker is responsible only for the money in the bank, never for any bets that go higher than this amount.

Only two hands are dealt: the banker`s and one hand for all players. The player with the highest bet plays the hand (or the player nearest the right hand of the banker in case of a tie). The banker deals one card face-down to the player and one to himself, and then deals a second card to each hand. After the first two cards are drawn, the punter can choose to draw (carte) or pass (pas de carte); the third card is dealt face-up.

The object of the game is to come as close to 9 as possible, but not 10 (called Baccarat) or more. The face values of the cards are counted together and any 10 in the sum is ignored. Thus, a 7 and 6 equals 3 (6 + 7=13; the 10 is ignored so the value is 3) and an 8 and a 9 equals 7 (17 minus the 10 is 7). If the first two cards add up to 8 or 9, the hand is considered a “natural” (similar to blackjack). A natural 9 beats a natural 8. If the player`s hand is the winner, each of the players receives a portion of the bank equal to what he bet. If the banker wins, he takes the players` money.

In baccarat, there are strict rules as to when a card must be taken and when a player must stand. On a 0 up to 4 count, the punter must draw a card. On 5, he may stand or pass, and on a 6 or 7, he must stand. If he has an 8 or a 9 (a natural), he turns over his hands and shows it to the banker (he does not draw another card). The banker then reveals his hand and, depending on the total, draws or stands. The high hand is the winner. If the card totals are equal, the hand is thrown in and a new hand is dealt, with the punters again placing their bets against the bank. The banker may turn over the shoe to the next player at any time, saying “le banque pass.” No player is forced to be the banker. The house gets 2.5 percent of the winnings from each hand.

Baccarat does not pit one gambler against another. Instead, everyone, including the dealer, bets on the banks hand or the player hand. There is no bank; gamblers` bets are limited solely by the table minimum and maximum. Usually there are two croupiers at the table to oversee the action. They announce the cards and whether a card must be taken or not. There is really very little for the gambler to decide except of the size of the bet.

Baccarat can also be played on a table with a double layout (a deux tableaux). In this case, the banker deals out two hands, one to the left and the other to his right, as well as his own hand. Bets, which pay off even money, can be placed against either player hand or both (a cheval); precedence of who will play against the hands are from the right of the banker or frh the right hand, and to the left of the banker for the left hand.

The bankers deals out the two cards to the player`s hands before dealing his own hand. In both chemin de fer and baccarat, another card must be drawn if the first two cards are 0 through 4; a card may be drawn or not on a 5; and the hand must stand on a 6 through 9. These decisions are predetermined and all players must abide by the rules.

The banker faces certain advantages and disadvantages by playing against two hands. If one of the player`s hands is a natural and 8 or 9, the banker must observe the rules of draw for the other hand. If neither player`s hand is a natural and one asks for a draw while the other stand, the banker can draw or not. And if both players` hand are naturals, the banker must stand. The winning hand is determined as for chemin de fer.

A player who has bet on both hands wins the equivalent of his bet if both punters` hands win. He wins half his bet if one punter`s hand wins, and he loses his bet if the banker`s hand wins.

Q: The Wizard

Attache Case (From Russia With Love) Contains 50 Gold Sovreigns, 40 rounds of ammunition, infrared telescopic sight, AR-7 folding stock survival rifle, and a can of tear gas designed to look like talcum powder. The canister will explode if the case is opened inappropriately. 007 used this case to help defeat Red Grant.

Cigarette Rocket (You Only Live Twice) Demonstrated by Tiger Tanaka and his secret service, this nifty little invention miniaturizes a rocket and places it inside of a cigarette. It is ignited by lighting the cigarette. A fuse embedded in the tobacco triggers the rocket out of the lit end. 007 used this gadget to set in motion a chain of events that would help him escape from Blofeld and his underground volcano lair.

Cell Phone (Tomorrow Never Dies) Q Branch, in conjunction with Ericsson Mobile Cellular Phones and BMV, has created one of the most memorable and inventive gadgets. Open the cell phone, tap twice on the pad and the ignition to the BMW750il starts up. Trace your finger around the pad to steer the car. Microcameras placed in the front of the car beam back images to a minituare television display on the cell phone. The combination of pressing 3, Recall, Send will cause a bolt of electricity to jump from the phone. It also comes equipped with a fingerprint scanner. Other features found in the BMW750il are also controlled by the phone, such as reinflating tires, wire cutters, and missle launchers.Bond used this phone to escape Stamper and his men in Hamburg, Germany.

Key Chain (The Living Daylights) A whistle activated key chain. By whistling “God Save The Queen” the chain emits a stun gas capable of knocking out more normal people withing a 5 ft range. A wolf whistle activates a highly charged explosive compound. Bond used this keychain twice; Once to escape a Russian jailor and another time to destroy Brad Whitaker

Pens (Mightier Than The Sword!):

Acid (Octopussy) Comes in two styles: Ball Point and Fountain. Each pen is pressurized with an inert gas designed to emit a 1 inch stream of fluid acid. The Ball Point pen holds 2 cc`s of acid; the Fountain 4 cc`s. It will cut through all metals. This Q Branch invention was used to help 007 escape from Kamal Kahn`s Monsson Palace.

Grenade (Goldeneye) Class 4 grenade; 3 clicks arms the 4 second fuse and another 3 clicks disarms it

Pick (Moonraker) The pen`s head is pressurized to release a 6 inch knife/pick when triggered. 007 used this gadget to kill a Python.

Peton Belt (Goldeneye) 75 foot rapelling cord built into the buckle; fire and out shoots a peton and a high tensile wire designed to support the weight of one man.


Detonator (Moonraker) Pressing twice on the watch face releases a 16 foot long strand of ultrathin wire and 2 blasting caps. Plastique explosives are embedded in the wristband. 007 used this Q Branch invention to help himself, and Holly Goodhead, escape from the impending blast of a Moonraker Shuttle liftoff.

Garrote (From Russia With Love) The time setting stem can also be used to pull out a long strand of ultrathin wire used to strangle advesaries. Red Grant used this watch.

Laser This Q Branch invention contains a particle laser capable of burning through wrought iron steel or 3 inch armor plating. Laser beam has a shelf life of 60 seconds before diffusing. 007 has used this gadget to escape from Maximillian Largo`s North African fortress in Never Say Never Again and to escape from 006`s death train in Goldeneye.

Magnetic A counter clockwise turn of the watch facing creates a magnetic field strong enough to attract metal objects from as far away as 25 feet and up to 50 lbs. 007 used this Q Branch invention to eliminate Kananga in Live and Let Die.

Printer / Receiver (The Spy Who Loved Me) Contains a shortwave receiver, paper punch,enough paper for a message of 128 characters, and a RAM microchip which stores the message received.

Radar (Octopussy) A miniaturized radar unit packed into the facing of most standard Q Branch watches. They are capable of picking up 4 different types of homing devices. 007 used this watch to monitor the comings and goings of Kamal Kahn at The Monsoon Palace.

Rotary Saw (Live and Let Die) A miniaturized saw and motor are triggered by subtle pressure points in the watch casing. The saw has the capabilities of cutting through steel at the rate of a half inch per minute. The life of the motor is 10 minutes. 007 used the saw to free himself and Solitaire from Dr.Kananga`s roped clutches.

Television (Octopussy) This Seiko/Q Branch invention contains a 1 inch liquid crystal television monitor that displays live images from any remote camera beaming a signal into it. As usual, the watch has all the other basics, such as time settings and alarm bells. 007 used this gadget to locate Octopussy`s position after being kidnapped by Kamal Kahn.


Avram (Thunderball) Lightweight tracer that can be placed on someone else or swallowed in the form of a pill. Range is 3 miles and broadcasts for 3 hours upon activation.

Davey (Goldfinger) Distinguishing characteristic of this tracer is that it is indestructable. Has a 6 hour broadcasting life and a 3 mile range of detection.

Echo (Octopussy) Transmits only in response to certain broadcast frequencies. Radar tracking units, typically found in Q Branch watches, can only home in on the signal from the tracer and cannot be used to track anything else.

X Ray Safecracker (Moonraker) The Safecracker is disguised as either a pocket calculator or cigarette case. A plate swings out to form a viewing screen similar to a flouroscope. A burst battery with an extremely short shelf life generates the needed electricity to operate the safecracker. The life of the battery is less than 60 seconds. This Q Branch invention was used to remove sensitive documents from the safe of Hugo Drax that connected him to a nerve gas facility in Venice, Italy.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Ride With 007!

Aerospatiale HH-65A Dolphin
Bond used this helicopter, with help from CIA/DEA agent Felix Leiter, to reel in drug lord Franz Sanchez` light airplane in License To Kill. Background on the Dolphin: –Uses the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System as its primary long range navigational aid. –Powered by 2 Lycoming LTS101-750A-1 turbo shafts, its maximum speed is 257 kph and has an endurance of 4 hours –Length 13.46 meters, rotor diameter 11.93 meters and height 3.51 meters –7.62mm M60 machine guns can be mounted in the doors for suppressing fire in hostile areas, but most missions are flown without armament to save weight and increase endurance

Aston Martin DB-V
The classic. The one car that all others are inevitably compared to. It has appeared in Goldfinger, Thunderball and GoldenEye. It comes equipped from Q Branch with machine guns, smoke screen, oil spray, ejector seat, radar tracking, rear bulletproof screen, Level 3 armor, retractable tire shredders and a small wine chiller underneath the arm rest. It seats 2 people (at times) is 190 inches long, 4000 pounds (2 tons), generates 375 horsepower, and can go from 0-60 in 5.7 seconds.

Aston Martin Volante
The Aston Martin made a triumphant, updated, modernized return during 007`s “The Living Daylights” mission. 007 and Kara used it to escape from Czech soldiers. Refinements, courtesy of Q Branch, include: lasers that emit from the hubcaps, rocket turbo booster, outriggers, stinger missiles from the headlights and a self destruct mechanism. Other specifications include: –Front Engine / RWD –15 foot in length –6 foot width –Nearly 5 ft. in height –5 speed manual transmission –Top Speed 255 kph / 159 mph –0-60 (mph) in 6.0 sec –355 Horsepower @ 5300 rpm

Bede Ministar Acrojet
This lightweight, one person mini-jet is able to reach top speeds of 250 mph and perform maneuvers in spaces with a width of less than four feet. Bond used this jet to escape the heat seeking missile Colonel Toro launched against 007 in “Octopussy”, and instead, turned the situation against the Colonel that eventually led to his death. There are only two of these jets in the world. Bond first wanted to use these jets for himself and Holly Goodhead on their “Moonraker” mission, but circumstances negated that possibility.

The C-130 Hercules
The Hercules was used in The Living Daylights even though the producers tried to disguise it is as a Russian transport plane. In the film, Necros and 007 fight to the death on a bale of heroin that dangles precariously outside of the airplane. Later, 007 and Kara jettison the plane via a parachute rigged jeep found in the cargo hold. A little background info on the C-130: It can accommodate 92 combat troops or 64 fully equipped paratroopers. Paratroopers exit the aircraft through two doors on either side of the aircraft behind the landing-gear fairings or off the rear ramp for airdrops. It contains four engines, each capable of 4,300 horsepower. It`s 97 feet (29.3 meters) in length; 38 feet and 3 inches in height (11.4 meters); its wingspan is 132 feet and 7 inches (39.7 meters); top speeds reach 374 mph at 20,000 feet; maximum altitude is 33,000 ft and holds a crew of 5.

The C-141 Starlifter
The Starlifter was used by Anton Murik as a command post to initiate Operation: Meltdown in the John Gardner 007 thriller “License Renewed”. It was here, in the cargo bay doors, that 007 and Caber had a fight to the death. A few features of the C-141 Starlifter include in-flight refueling capability and 2,171 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The C-141 has a changeable cargo compartment and can transition itself from rollers on the floor for palletized cargo to a smooth floor for wheeled vehicles, aft facing seats found in commercialized airplanes or sidewall canvas seating for passengers. More characteristics include 20,250 pounds of thrust in each of its four engines; a wingspan of 160 feet (48.7 meters); a length of 168 feet and 4 inches (51 meters); a height of 139 feet and 3 inches (11.9 meters); achievable speeds of nearly 500 mph. (Mach .66) at 25,000 ft. altitude; unlimited range with in-flight refueling; can hold up to 200 troops; has a crew of 2 pilots, 2 flight engineers, and 1 loadmaster.

Citroen 2CV
After having his own car rendered useless in “For Your Eyes Only”, 007 hitches a ride with Melina Havelock in her Citroën 2CV. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have, and 007 certainly made the best of a bad situation. The Citroën 2CV is not Lotus Turbo Esprit, but it gets the job done.

Jaguar XK8
The Jaguar normally has a V8 four-valve-per-cylinder engine with an output of 290 horsepower. Q Branch and its Special Vehicles Operations Unit improved upon the Jag`s performance and added a few, actually a lot, of extra goodies. Those extra modifications include: –Chobam armor plating; a “reactive skin”. If the car is shot at, the bullet is deflected back at an opposite and equal force. –Self-healing metal via vicious fluids. –Electrically sensitive pigments in the paint that can change colors like a chameleon; also comes with interchangeable license plates for use in foreign countries as well. –GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) navigation with a self driving mechanism. –Heat seeking rockets and cruise missiles –A flying scout that is launched from underneath the car, flies up and over the car, surveys the territory, and sends back pictures and data of targets ahead of you Can emit holographic projections from the headlights and taillights, as well as inside the car, giving the impression someone is in the car when they are not. James Bond used this car to escape danger in the novel “The Facts Of Death”.

Lotus Turbo Esprit
Possibly the second most famous 007 car after the Aston Martin DB5. It has been seen in The Spy Who Loved Me, and For Your Eyes Only. It comes equipped with rear oil slick spray, surface to air missile, and can be converted into an underwater submersible capable of depths not greater than 16 feet. It`s submarine capabilities are only good for up to 15 miles before the batteries need to be recharged. The Esprit is 130 inches long, with the engine in the middle, thereby cutting down the length of the car. It can reach 160 horsepower, go from 0 to 60 in 8.4 seconds and seats 2. It also contains a self-destruct anti theft device: if anyone unauthorized tries to break into it, it will automatically explode. Take that, would be carjackers!

Lunar Roving Vehicle
Initial contractor the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was Boeing with GM Delco making the electronics. Whyte Technology made improvements on the LRV design that was first used on the Apollo 15 mission. 007 stole the LRV during a training session at the White Technology Center on his “Diamonds Are Forever” mission. Other LRV facts: –The chassis was made of aluminum. –It can carry equipment, astronauts, and a payload of up to 1100 lbs , more than twice its own weight. –Power is supplied by 2 silver-zinc batteries, each 36v, 121 amp-hours per battery, encased in magnesium, then enclosed by thermal blankets and dust covers. –The LRV had an inertial navigation device that always pointed toward the LEM (bearing and distance), so the astronauts would not have to guess where they were in the lunar environment Lunar rover data and quotes are from “The Lunar Roving Vehicle: A Historical Perspective” by Saverio F. Morea, Director, Research and Technology Office, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama.

Moonraker Shuttles
This shuttle can transport cargo and humans into near Earth orbit 100 to 217 miles above the Earth. The cargo — or payload — is carried in a bay 15 feet in diameter and 60 ft long. The orbiter and the two solid rocket boosters are reusable. Other features of the Moonraker: –Can carry a total of 10 persons –Launched from an upright position, with thrust provided by the three Moonraker engines and the two Solid Rocket Boosters. –After 2 minutes, the two boosters are spent and are separated from the external tank. They fall into the ocean at predetermined points and are recovered for reuse. –The Moonraker`s main engines continue firing for about 8 minutes. They shut down just before the craft goes into orbit. The external tank is then separated from the orbiter. It follows a predetermined trajectory into a remote area of the ocean but is not recovered. James Bond and Holly Goodhead used Moonraker 6 to get to Drax`s space station, and then used Drax’s personal Moonraker shuttle to escape.

The Neptune
The Neptune is a two person, “wet sub”, which means that it becomes partially filled with water. Melina Havelock and James Bond used the Neptune to recover the ATAC and fend off Kristatos’ men on Bond`s “For Your Eyes Only”

Polaris Indy 600
Seen only in A View To A Kill. The Polaris has front and rear suspension, liquid cooled disc brakes, and can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph. It seats two.

Riva 2000 Boat Glider
Bond`s most technologically advanced speedboat ever. He used this boat to escape Jaws on the Tapuraki River, in Brazil, during his “Moonraker” mission. The boat comes equipped with, courtesy of Q Branch: Self guiding torpedoes that are launched from the taillights and follow the wake of the target’s boat floating mines launched from a retractable tray Rear bulletproof shield Roof converts into a hang glider for quick and easy getaways.

Rocket Belt
Originally designed in 1953 by Bell Aerosystems Engineer Wendell F. Moore, the rocket belt was part of an American Army project to create a “small rocket lifting device” that could improve soldier mobility and maneuverability. Q Branch improved upon the idea with a version that included fuel tanks, handlebars, a control throttle and a pair of rocket nozzles. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) fuel was fed over silver mesh, which in turn produced 1,400-degree steam. The steam , then forced through nozzles, unleashed 330 pounds of thrust and 135 decibels of sound. The biggest obstacle to overcome was limited fuel capacity. The belt’s oxygen tanks could only hold enough H2O2 for a 23-second flight. 007 used this device to escape from Jack Bouvard`s French Chateau in Thunderball.

T-55 Battle Tank
The Battle Tank was used by 007 to escape from a Russian interrogation center and to chase down Ourumov, who had kidnapped Natalya, in GoldenEye. The tank holds up to 4 crew members and is armed with the following: 100 mm Main Gun; 7.62 mm Coaxial Machine Gun; 7.62 mm Machine Gun. Ammunition includes 34 -100 mm shells, 500-12.7mm shells, and 3000-7.62 mm shells. It`s 6.45 meters long, 3.27 meters wide, 2.4 meters in height and weighs nearly 5 tons.. It has a 520 horsepower, V-12 Water Cooled Diesel Engine that can run at top speeds of 48 kph. It`s protected by 203 mm of Steel Armor and comes with Infra-Red Night Scopes.

Spain, Vietnam and China – bond movie locations

Spain: Was once an original location shoot for Tomorrow Never Dies but was scrapped just prior to filming. The film was behind schedule and this may have been the reason. Spain and the Guggenheim made it back into the next film, The World Is Not Enough.

Vietnam: The producers wanted to actually film the relevant scenes of Tomorrow Never Dies in Vietnam where part of the film is set. Apparently the Communist factions of either China or Vietnam didn`t approve and took away Bond`s permit to film there. Thailand was then used as a substitute. EON will tell you though that they backed out of Vietnam, not the other way around. Why China would crush this production is a mystery, since the script is very complementary of them. Speaking of China…

China: Was one of the original locations for Licence To Kill. Locations had been scouted as early as December of 1987 in preparation for a summer 1988 filming date. What happened to the China angle? The primary reason is that EON wanted to be the first major Western film production to use China as a backdrop. “Empire Of The Sun” beat them to it. And it would`ve been more expensive to film in China as well and EON found a good place to film with Cherubusco Studios in Mexico City.

Bond and morocco

Tangier and Quarzazate served as two of the international backdrops for “The Living Daylights”. Morocco is located in the far Northwest corner of Africa. It`s boundaries are primarily made up of The Atlantic Ocean, The Meditteranean Sea, and The Atlas Mountain range.

Tangier For Brad Whitaker`s villa in “The Living Daylights”, the producers made use of the esate of Albert Broccoli`s good friend, Malcolm Forbes. The interiors were filmed at Pinewood , but extensive exterior footage was shot around the sprawling sea side estate, including use of the pool, gardens, and sea side terraces. The crew filmed exteriors in the early part of October `86 during the day. And it shows. For while the climactic fight between Whitaker and 007 was supposed to be in the evening, the bright shining light of the sun in closeups of 007 infiltrating Whitaker`s compound clearly show that this sequence was not filmed in the evening.

Though production in Tangier did run smoothly overall, there were a few holdups. The cherry red `57 Chevy Impala Liz and Ava use to drive 007 to Felix`s yacht kept stalling out so many times that the director had two men get behind the car and push it for closeups of the car coming to a stop. Luckily, the car did manage to start long enough to get one good wide shot of it pulling in front of Leiter`s yacht. In addition to that little problem, the $5 million dollar yacht, on loan to the producers , pulled in to the marina several hours late, thus holding up filming that day.

On a side note….prostitution is everywhere in Tangier. Discos, restaurants, street markets, shopping centers, etc… It`s very obvious and not hidden. So it`s not a stretch to understand why Ava and Liz went undercover as prostitutes to lure 007 to Leiter`s hideout. General Pushkin and his wife stayed at the Hotel Ile De France which is a real hotel in Tangier. The Convention Center where the North African Trade Confernce takes place is real as well, but the interiors were shot in an assembly hall in England.

Quarzazate This small town deep in the heart of Morocco was planned and built to be the next big Casablanca. It failed and is instead mostly a ghost town, with hotel occupancy rarely at full capacity. The producers used Quarzazate to double for Afghanistan. With it`s barren ranges, and snow capped mountains, it was the perfect location to simulate then war torn Russian occupied Afghanistan. Quarzazate`s airport and runway were converted and remodeled to resemble General Fedor`s basecamp.

Useful Facts:

Full country name: Kingdom of Morocco

Area: 447,000 sq km

Population: 29 million

Capital city: Rabat

People: 55% Arab, 44% Berber, 0.7% foreign immigrants, 0.2% Jewish

Chief Religion: Islam

Government: Constitutional Monarchy

Head of State: King Hassan II

Language: Apart from classical Arabic, the everyday language in Morocco is a dialectal Arabic, as well as Tamazight (Berber) spoken in the Rif, the Atlas and the Souss and varies according to region. Most Moroccans speak French and many speak Spanish and English.

Dress: Appropriate attire for women is a customary courtesy for the Moroccan tradition, mostly in the South where shorts and very provocative attire on women is discouraged.

Money: The Moroccan currency is the Dirham (DH) divided into 100 centimes. You can only obtain Dirhams in Morocco.

–Special assistance with this story courtesy of The Department of Ministry and Tourism For The Kingdom Of Morocco

goldeneye – never say never again – casino royale ’67 – Monaco!


Monaco is often described as the jewel of the Cote d`Azur. As one of the smallest countries in the world, it is in the heart of the Riviera at just over 13 square miles in diameter. Monaco was designed with the rich and famous in mind, and it`s easy to see why James Bond frequented this beautiful area of land in both film and book.

Monte Carlo is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and has something for everyone. Whether you want to sunbathe, swim, golf, shop, or go to the opera, Monte Carlo can accommodate you.

While in Monte Carlo, spy out the royal palace of the Grimaldi`s on the Place du Palais. Or if you are in to sports, check out the Monte Carlo Golf Club. The course, at 2600 ft. above sea level, is short but challenging. From it`s tenth and thirteenth holes players can gaze at the beauty of the Mediterranean, the Alps, distant Italian towns and even St. Tropez. The adjoining Monte Carlo Country Club offers superb tennis facilities. From September through December, the Monte Carlo Symphony offers Sunday concerts in the auditorium of the Convention Centre. The best troupers from around the world are invited to perform in the International Circus Festival in December. The arrival of spring is celebrated with the Bal de Rose, whit one hundred violinists playing in a ball room decorated with 12,000 roses, where, it is said, champagne flows like water.

The Casino de Monte Carlo

Monaco boasts of having the largest and the most famous gambling establishment in the world-the Casino de Monte Carlo. Since it first opened it`s doors in 1863, the Casino has welcomed statesmen, royalty, international celebrities and her majesty`s most sophisticated secret agent, James Bond 007.

The Casino and its neighboring counterpart, the Hotel de Paris, are both owned and operated by the Societe des Bains de Mer (Society of Sea Bathers). In 1863, one of it`s members, Francois Blanc was asked to take over the financially troubled casino. Blanc is credited with turning the “Rock” as Monte Carlo was known in those days, into the fashionable and sumptuous resort visitors enjoy today.

Today, the S.B.M is a privately-owned company, regulated by the government. The taxes paid by the SBM go towards public works and supporting the principality.

In Monte Carlo, as anywhere where gambling is a major industry, superstition and legends flourish. The most interesting of these stories concern people who have “broke the bank”. One could never break the Casino itself, but, in the old days, each roulette table was assigned a fixed reserve of money. If a player won a table`s entire reserve, the “bank” at that table was considered broken and the table was covered with a symbolic mourning cloth until the bank was replenished.

In the summer of 1891, an Englishman named Charles Wells broke the bank not once but several times. In three days he turned 10,000 gold francs into a million. When he returned to England he found he was a national hero. Wells later returned to the Casino in November of that year and started winning all over again. The Casino management naturally wanted to make sure that Wells was not cheating and hired private detectives to watch Wells and the Casino staff for any signs of collusion. They found nothing. Unfortunately Wells squandered his forunte and tried his hand again the next year. But his streak of luck had ended, and he died in poverty and disgrace. No one has ever figured out the number combination that was the source of Well`s initial good fortune. There have been a number of theories: a coat check number, a room or restaurant table number, a specific date or a child`s age.

The American Room

In April 1979, the American Room opened in the Casino. Since that time it has been welcoming visitors from North American with comparable style gambling and an English speaking staff. (The staff members are sent to an intensive training course in Las Vegas) An ornate skylight allows daylight to filter into the room and the eight chandeliers of Bohemian crystal (each weighing over 300 pounds) provide nighttime illumination.

Gambling in the American Room is played with American rules. For example, the American roulette wheel displays both a double zero and a single zero. Each player is given different colored chips and players fix the value of the chip themselves. Minimum and maximum bets on other games are 25 and 2500 francs for blackjack and craps. In addition to the 4 roulette wheels, the room also features 12 blackjack tables, 3 crap tables, a baccarra table and 150 slot machines. The American Room is open daily (except the evening of May 1st which is Labor Day in France). The slot machines can be played from 10 am to 4 am. You must be 21 and over to gamble.

The European Rooms

For spies who prefer a more traditional form of European elegance, the Casino offers the European Rooms. The Salles Touzet (named after the rooms designer) and the Salon Prive (also called the Salle Medecin after its renovator) are open daily. The Salon Super-Prive is a small, ultra-exclusive room that is available only by appointment.

The Touzet rooms were built in 1889 and share three arches. The most striking feature of these rooms are the stained glass windows which portray the most famous society women of the late 19th century. The paintings that hang upon the walls of the Touzet are called “Folly” and “Fortune”. The Salles Touzet is open from 10 am until 4 am. It contains four European roulette tables, a trente-et-quarante table, and a punto banco/baccara table.

The Salle Blanche (White Room) is reserved for overflow crowds from the American Room. It is sometimes used as a salle prive for high-stakes games where the participants desire quiet and privacy. The Salon Prive (Private Room) was decorated in gold and silver in “Empire” style by Francois Medecin in 1909. A formal dining room connects with the Salon Prive, which is open from 3pm to 4 am. The Salon Super Prive is an exclusive room that has the rich look of natural leather and mahagony. It contains a single baccara table with a double layout. The Salle Prive offers five European roulette tables, two trent-et-quarante, five baccara/chemin de fer tables, and one banque a tout ba table. The dress code is formal (the American Room is casual) and the games are European versions (roulette does not have the double zero and the chips are all the same color). There are no slot machines the the European rooms.

Monaco Grand Prix

There are two major car races each year in Monaco: the Monte Carlo car rally in January and the Grand Prix in May.For over 50 years the Monaco Grand Prix has been regarded as the most prestigious motor race in the world. With the Principality of Monaco as the backdrop it is no surprise. The seductiveness of Monte-Carlo during the Grand Prix of Monaco week is like no other. Monaco is where the high rollers come to experience motor racing.

The Grimaldi family has ruled Monaco for over 700 years, ever since Francois Grimaldi delivered her from the Genoese. Seven centuries ago, Francois Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, gained admittance to their castle. Once inside, he drew his sword and opened the gates, letting in Monegasque soldiers who seized the castle and freed Monaco.

The population of the Principality consists of 29,972 people , 5,070 of whom are Monégasques, 12,047 French and 5,000 Italian

The Principality is divided into five areas :

1) Monaco-Ville on the Rock, the old fortified town, with the Prince`s Palace, the ramparts, the gardens, the Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum

2) The Condamine, the harbor area

3) Monte Carlo, created in 1866, in the reign of Prince Charles III who gave it its name, with its internationally famous Casino, its great hotels and leisure facilities, some created recently : Larvotto beach, the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, the Boulingrins Gardens

4) Fontvieille, a great technical achievement with the filling-in with rock of 40 meters of water to produce a platform of 22 hectares supporting an urban, tourist and sports complex adjoining a yachting harbor and a pollution-free industrial zone

5) Moneghetti, the Révoires and the Exotic Gardens (on the western border with Cap d`Ail)


By air :
The Nice – Côte d`Azur International Airport is located 22 kilometers away from Monaco. Helicopter and bus services, taxis and hire cars provide permanent links between the airport and the Principality.

By helicopter (scheduled services or on request), the duration of the flight is 7 minutes.

By train :
The Monaco-Monte Carlo (SNCF) railway station is a stop for many international trains. The railway is a rapid means of communication between the Principality and all the localities of the Côte d`Azur from Cannes to Menton. By road :
The A8 motorway, which connects with the whole of European motorway system, serves the Principality by means of easy access roads (an exit A8 – RN7 coming from Nice, la Turbie going to or coming from Nice, Roquebrune going to or coming from Italy).

By sea :
The two harbors of the Principality, the Condamine (Hercule harbor) and Fontvieille, are equipped to handle yachts of all tonnages while intercontinental liners are able to anchor in the bay of Monaco.

Daytrips from Monte Carlo:
Roquebrune village : mediaeval castle, 6 km
La Turbie : Tower of Augustus, 8 km
Eze village : the Eagle`s Nest of the Côte d`Azur, 9 km
Menton : the Cocteau Museum, 10 km
Beaulieu : the Greek villa Kerylos, 11 km
Villefranche sur Mer : Jean Cocteau Chapel and Citadel, 11 km
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat : Ile de France Museum, 12 km
Saint Paul de Vence : the Maeght Foundation, 38 km
Antibes : Picasso Museum, 40 km
Vence : Matisse Chapel, 42 km
Biot : Fernand Léger Museum, 42 km.

–Some information provided by Thrilling Locations (Victory Games) and by Monte Carlo Online

Disneyland France’s 007 Adventure

Lights…Camera…James Bond Action!

A new James Bond stunts show is featured live on stage at the Walt Disney Studios’ French theme park.

Did you miss Paris and the banks of the Seine during Summer ’84 when Remy Julienne and his stuntmen were shooting that infamous AVTAK car chase sequence?

Fear not: With brand new motor stunts show conceived by Remy Julienne, you’ll be able to see in front of you Bond-related stunts from A View To A Kill. Set in a large arena (like the Indiana Jones Florida stunt show M.G.M. Studio), attendees are invited to the “shooting of an action movie”.

The large set describes a Mediterranean town, complete with shops, bridge and even a canal (which suspiciously reminds me of Remy’s involvement in the Jean Claude VanDamme movie, Double Team). The “assistant directors” brief the audience–our hero has just got his hands on some top-secret documents, and he must escape!

The festival of stunts includes Bond driving a bright red Opel (too bad Aston-Martin couldn’t be involved) as our man 007 is chased by four black sedans. With amazing skill, the hero manages in the nick of time to avoid collision with his various pursuers, departs his car for a nearby building–from which he comes out again on a motocycle moving right through a large bay window shop (as in For Your Eyes Only) and a new chase begins with the villains changing vehicles as well.

I won’t make a listing of all the stunts here but there is a car cut in half by an explosion, a biker rolling under a Tanker on fire which is engulfed in flame, a car jumps from one truck to another, and a radio-controlled car, and …a surprise Disney guest-star car arrives for a grand finale…

As a French entertainment critic, I was fortunate to sit with Remy Julienne at a restaurant just before the premiere show, and he was quite thrilled to see most of his memorable works finally being recognised by Cinema-goers. This is a superb show designed by one of the top auto stunt directors anywhere!

–Kevin Collette

Visit Walt Disney Studios
“Disneyland Resort Paris”
Highway A4 – Exit 14, France

bond’s Canary Islands, Hong Kong and Iran

Sunset over ancient city of Yazd, Iran

The Canary Islands: Broccoli and Saltzman took a look at these islands for possible use in You Only Live Twice. Japan was picked instead.

Hong Kong: Was an original location for the film Tomorrow Never Dies. The original script also involved the Chinese takeover of the territory as a backdrop to the plot. Concerned about what might happen when the Chinese actually did take over Hong Kong, then studio President John Calley called advisor Henry Kissinger (yes, *THE* Henry Kissinger) to get his perspective on what to expect when Hong Kong reverted back to the Chinese. Kissinger predicted riots. Calley got nervous. The script got changed. Hong Kong got the boot.

Iran was to have been a location for the film The Man With The Golden Gun. Broccoli, Saltzman, Guy Hamilton and Tom Mankiewicz took a scouting trip out there. However, Mankiewicz and Hamilton had a falling out, Mankiewicz left the production, Richard Maibaum came on, and they decided to go for the far east. Also, the delay between The Man With The Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me was in part caused by Harry Saltzman apparently using EON as a guarantor for his risky commerical ventures. Apparently there was an attempted takeover.

James Bond, Healthy Drinker

It seems James Bond was right in ordering his Martinis shaken, not stirred.

His good health, radiant looks and ability to maintain an active lifestyle could be, at least in part, down to his favourite tipple, researchers from Canada`s University of Western Ontario said…

Their findings, published in the British Medical Journal, show 007`s shaken Martinis contain stronger antioxidant properties to remove harmful substances from the blood and body than the stirred variety.

“Shaken martinis have a superior antioxidant activity than those that are stirred, but the reason for this is not clear,“ the research paper said.

It added that the study had not taken into account the olives that James Bond is served with his drinks.

Both shaken and stirred Martini contains higher levels of antioxidants than Sauvignon Blanc wine and whisky.

Bond`s cocktail, specified in Ian Fleming`s novel Casino Royale, called for three measures of Gordon`s gin, a measure of vodka and a half-measure of Kina Lillet vermouth.

–Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republished with permission.