23 May 2013

The Mi6 radio control unit - Mi6 HQ?

Midnight in London
In Dr. No, when the radio control at Mi6 looses contact with Strangways who is their station agent in Jamaica, Bond is immediately summoned to M. Moneypenny has apparently been searching London for him and of course he can be found at one of the finest clubs in town. Playing a game of Chemin de fer at Les Ambassadeurs, Bond receives a business card and has to pass the shoe. In the next scene he walks into M's office.
The building to the right is probably the one that still exists today

"-It happens to be 3 am. When do you sleep 007?
       -Never on the firm's time sir..."
              -M and Bond at the office-

The exterior of Bond's office is never shown, but two buildings are briefly visible before the scene at the radio department. When the contact with Jamaica is broken, the foreman of signals immediately informs Mi6. If the buildings shown in the first scene is supposed to house both the radio unit and M's office is not clear.

The foreman of signals is casually dressed for the night shift.

"Foreman of signals, sir. Jamaica's broken off mid-transmission. No Sir it's not a technical fault." 

The buildings that were used in the film can be found at a rather well known place. They are located right next to the real Mi6 headquarters at Vauxhall. Even though the exact same buildings doesn't exist anymore it appears that at least one of the buildings visible in the film still stands on the south bank of the Thames today.
Why these buildings were used is not known. If they are supposed to portray the exterior of Mi6 is not entirely clear but if they are, this is the only time that the Universal Exports is visible during the Connery era. In On Her Majesty's secret service, a sign in the pre-title sequence indicates that the Mi6 headquarters are located in Westminster, close to Big Ben. Then it took another seven films until the exterior would be seen again - this time located at Whitehall in Octopussy.
The real Mi6 can be spotted to the right

14 May 2013

Portuguese Macau

"-But what the hell is Lazar? 
         -Not what, who; a Portuguese, lives in Macau." 
                         Bond to Calthorpe

In The man with the golden gun, Bond goes to Macau to find the weapons and munitions manufacturer Lazar who allegedly has manufactured the golden bullets for Scaramanga. Bond is driven to Lazar's gun shop in a cycle rickshaw, but just before he arrives he passes in front of a casino called Casino de Macau. This scene was shot on location just in front of the floating casino called 'Casino Macau Palace', or 'Casino de Macau' which evidently was the name in 1974. Today, the pedal driven taxi is a tourist attraction in Macau and if you want to try one, you will probably pay about five times more than a regular taxi.
So far this location has been one of the hardest to identify, partly because of the insufficient information about the casino but also because of the very few exterior shots. However, a few old photographs proved to be most helpful and made it possible to determine the location.

Original picture website
In the picture to the left the name on the sign says 'Casino Macau Palace' and if this was the name before or after The man with the golden gun is unknown. But the sign and entrance are the only things from the exterior of the casino that can be recognized from the film, even though the name has been changed. The picture below makes it possible to determine the exact spot where the casino was located, namely along Rua das Lorchas, between Ponte No 12 and 14.

Original picture website
The original casino was moored along the quay in the inner harbor, just opposite the buildings that can be found at 220 Rua das Lorchas today. Bond questions Lazar about by whom the golden bullets will be collected, in order to track down Scaramanga. Lazar claims that he delivers them in the casino, without specifying which casino. It is implied that it is the floating Macau Palace that Lazar is referring to since the sign has already been pictured.

"-Who collects them? 
-I swear I do not know! My instructions are to go to the casino and deliver them, get paid and then vanish."
                -Bond questions Lazar-

Only a few scenes from the interior of the casino is seen in the film. In his book: 'My word is my Bond', Sir Roger writes about the casino where you place your bet through an opening in the roof, which indicate that these scenes were filmed on location in Macau. But since the real casino is gone it is impossible to determine where.
Up until some years ago, Macau still had a floating casino with the same name as the original; Casino Macau Palace. Although the building was new (or at least renovated), as seen in the picture below, the casino was located in the same place as the original. But it also had another location, namely in an area called Fisherman's Wharf, very close to the ferry terminal, where it probably was located up until its retirement. I have not been able to determine for how long the casino was located there, but today the floating 'Macau Palace' is anchored in the inner harbor, in the north western part of the Macau peninsula and it looks like it has been out of business for quite some time.

  "I hate to interrupt your dinner but does señor Lazar live here? Lazaaar..?!"
                           -Bond to a Chinese family-

Avenida Amizade opposite Jai Alai Casino
This is the old location of 'Macau Palace Casino' where it was located up until a few years ago, before it was towed away to its present "resting place" in the inner harbor. If the casino currently is being renovated and awaits a reopening is not clear, but the activity during my visit last year was very low. One can only hope that it will be reopened and moved to its original location. 

One of the many references to the past Bond films that can be found in Skyfall is the fact that Bond again ends up at a floating casino in Macau. The "Floating dragon" casino seen in Skyfall is a fictitious casino that was created in studio for the film, but I think it is obvious that the inspiration for the building comes from the original 'Macau Palace Casino'.

Casino 'Floating dragon' in Skyfall

7 May 2013

Yacht Club de Monaco

Yacht Manticore is anchored in the middle of Monte Carlo harbor. 
In GoldenEye, Bond follows Xenia and the Admiral from the casino to the Monte Carlo Yacht Club, where they park the Ferrari. Bond watches them from the open air theater Fort Antoine where he takes a few snapshots of Xenia and the boat that belongs to the yacht Manticore. He later returns to his car in the parking lot above the yacht club.

Xenia parks along the Quai Antoine and a boat is waiting for her and the Admiral at one of the small piers. The letters Y.C.M indicates that Manticore belongs to Yacht Club de Monaco.
Bond returns to the Aston and receives a message from Moneypenny through his CD-player with information about Xenia and the yacht. The small parking lot is located right above the yacht club, along Avenue de la Quarantaine, but it appears to be a residential parking today so you might not be able to park here, even with an Aston...

          "Goodnight James, I trust you stay, on-a-top of things..."

The parking lot is visible from Fort Antoine (to the bottom left). 
Located at 16 Quai Antoine, the yacht club will move to a new venue on Quai Louis II, where currently a new clubhouse is being built. The building works will be completed at the end of 2013 so this summer is the last chance to visit the yacht club at its present location.
Fort Antoine is visible above the club
Founded in 1953 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Y.C.M. is probably one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world and many of the worlds most luxurious yachts belong to the club. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the reigning monarch of Monaco, is the president of the club since 1984.

1 May 2013

An abandoned station - Vauxhall Cross

"It seems you've become useful again..."

In Die another day, after the sword fight with Gustav Graves at 'Blades', Bond is called back into service. In the lobby of the fencing club Bond receives a key, sent from M. The key opens a door that leads down to a secret part of Mi6, an abandoned tube station called Vauxhall Cross where M is waiting. Bond arrives to the location in a London cab.
The door can be found at the southeast end of Westminster Bridge, just opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The name Vauxhall Cross is a reference to the fact that the real Mi6 HQ is located at the end of Vauxhall Bridge and close to the real tube station called Vauxhall. Since Bond would have had to walk approximately 2 km to get to the real Vauxhall Station, it is implied that the secret station is located somewhere along the south bank.  

Once when I visited the place, the door was open and I got a peek inside. Behind it is a small room housing an electric central, so don't be disappointed if you can't find the steep staircase that Brosnan walks down. That scene and the following at the tube station were shot in studio.

           "An abandoned station, for abandoned agents..."

Another famous location that can be found nearby is the lamp post that was used in the promotional photos of George Lazenby when he "took office" after Sir Sean. That lamp post can be found on the other side of the street, just opposite of the secret Mi6 door.