18 Dec 2016

Play it again Sam... The Venice clock tower

In Moonraker when Bond goes to Venice to investigate Hugo Drax. After discovering the secret laboratory, Bond is chased through the glass museum and into a warehouse by Drax's henchman Chang. The fight ends behind a large clock that is supposed to sit on the building that houses the warehouse.

The clock however, is located right on the north side of St Marc's Square, at the entrance to the Merceria, which is the main street of the city. The clock sits on an early renaissance building that dates from the last decade of the 15th century. On a terrace at the very top of the tower are two great bronze figures, which strike the hours on a bell. These figures are also seen in Moonraker in the very first scene in Venice.

Bond fighting Chang behind the big clock
Through the lower two floors of the tower runs a monumental archway into the Merceria, which linked the political and religious centre at St Marc's square (the Piazza di San Marco) with the commercial and financial centre (the Rialto). In the film, a band is playing below the clock and a tenor is singing an aria during Bond's fight with Chang. 

The aria is "Vesti la giubba", the famous tenor aria from Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci from 1892. "Vesti la giubba" is sung at the conclusion of the first act.

The archway however, is one of the busiest pedestrian passageways to St Marc's square and putting a stage in front of it would be highly unlikely. 

During the fight, Bond throws Chang through the clock, thus destroying one of the famous landmarks in Venice. Chang ends up in the piano on the stage in front of the archway, causing Bond to utter the famous line that actually never was in Casablanca.

"Play it again Sam..."

The clock appears much larger and higher up in the film, and it is questionable whether a fall from the real clock actually would kill you.

24 Nov 2016

Bond in Las Vegas - The Strip

The Union 76 gas station is now a Circle K

In Diamonds are Forever, Bond rents a car in Las Vegas and waits for Tiffany Case to meet him with the diamonds. Bond is waiting at the Hertz' car rental agency which is located along the famous Strip in Las Vegas. This location is possible to identify thanks to a few signs seen in the background as Felix Leiter's car arrives. The sausage shaped "Holiday sign" can still be found on location, today with the wording "Fun City".

A large sign that says Bagdad Inn can also be seen in the background as Felix arrives. Bagdad Inn was a motel dating from the 1950's that was located on 2211 South Las Vegas Blvd. That motel is now called Holiday House, seen in the picture to the left. However, it is the buildings and the chapel next to Bagdad Inn that can be seen in the film. Those are the green buildings with yellow and red doors across the street. Next to the green buildings is a small chapel located, called Chapel of the Bells.

In the film, the Hertz car rental agency was located next to a Union 76 gas station. That gas station can still be found at this location, although it has changed name to Circle K.  

The Union 76 gas station has changed name to Circle K

This location is very close to one of the landmark buildings in Las Vegas, the Stratosphere. The parking lot where Bond is waiting can be found on 2310 South Las Vegas Boulevard next to the Circle K gas station. Whether Hertz actually has an office at this location is unknown.

17 Nov 2016

Back to the Jewelry store - Joalharia Ferreira Marques

Before the marriage with Tracy, Bond drives back to the jewelry store in Lisbon, where he and Tracy earlier have spotted the ring that Tracy will receive as her wedding ring at the ceremony. The jewelry store is known as Joalharia Ferreira Marques, founded in 1926.

Bond is driving down on Rua Áurea and is arriving on Praça Dom Pedro IV where the shop is located. A taxi is seen in the background. The light green and black Lisbon taxis still have the same color scheme today. The shop is located in the Rossio district in central Lisbon, namely on Praça Dom Pedro IV,  No. 7-9. It is easy to find and a must visit when in Lisbon.

This shop has remained unchanged but the location has changed a little. The street in front of the shop where Bond parks his car has been converted to a pedestrian zone and is no longer possible to drive down. However, you can still park in the big square in front of the shop.

16 Oct 2016

From Russia With Love end Credits - St Marc's Square

In the last scene in From Russia With Love Bond and Tania are leaving Venice in a taxi boat after disposing of Rosa Klebb in Bond's hotel suite. Before the end credits, they are traveling down Rio de Palazzo under the famous Bridge of sighs, after which the boat taxi turns right and goes past the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), located right by St Marc's Square.

Bond and Tania sail away towards the horizon as the end credits are rolling, projected on the perhaps most famous view over Venice, the St Marc's Square and the landmark clock tower, called Campanile di San Marco. To get the same view as in the film, you can take a widely boat taxi like Bond (€60 for a trip) or just hop on the regular waterbus called Vaporetto which is much cheaper. There are several Vaporetto lines that run past St Marc's Square where you get the nice view over this very heart of Venice.

The Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) is located to the right
To the right is the large white palace that once was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. It opened as a museum in 1923. The Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale was built in the 14th century although several reconstructions have taken place since then.

The Doge's Palace is one of the more notable landmarks in Venice, together with the Bridge of sighs and the clock tower seen in the background, St Marc's Campanile.

As the boat with Bond and Tania is turning right, the bridge crossing Rio de Palazzo o de Canonica is visible in the background. The Bridge of sighs that they have sailed under a few moments earlier, is also briefly seen in the background between Bond and Tania as Bond is about to show Tania what is on that roll of film.

                           "-He was right you know!
                                            -What is it?

                            -I'll show you..."

As Bond waves goodbye, the Palazzo Ducale is seen in the background
As Bond and Tania are disappearing in the distance, one other notable location is seen at St Marc's square, namely the big round clock (on the white building in the middle) that would also feature in Moonraker 16 years later. That location will be covered soon.

11 Oct 2016

Night Watch: The Regent Hong Kong / Hotel Intercontinental

Night Watch

In 1995, Pierce Brosnan starred in a TV movie called Night Watch. A large part of the action in the film takes place in and around Hong Kong. Brosnan plays UN agent Mike Graham who, together with his partner Sabrina Carver, is sent to investigate the theft of Rembrandt's painting 'The Night Watch'. The trail takes them from Amsterdam to Hong Kong and involves them in art theft and forgery.

In the film, Mike Graham and Sabrina Carver are checking into the Regent Hong Kong Hotel. The hotel is located in Tsim Sha Tsui district on the Kowloon side, just a stone's throw away from the Peninsula Hotel.

The Regent Hong Kong has since 1995 changed owners and is today named the Intercontinental Hotel.


Noble House

The same hotel, the Regent Hong Kong, also featured in the mini series Noble House from 1988 which, coincidentally, also starred Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan, playing the Tai Pan of the Noble House, "Struan & Co", is walking into the Regent for a meeting with police inspector Brian Kwok in the second episode. Unfortunately Brian Kwok has been detained and the Tai Pan never gets to enjoy any drinks at the hotel.

The Tai Pan looks for Brian Kwok in the lobby of the Regent

The Intercontinental definitely has the best hotel bar in Hong Kong. Even better than "Felix", which is the sky bar at the Peninsula or the bar at Ritz in the ICC skyscraper. Mandarin Oriental, located on Hong Kong Island, comes in on a close second. They lose to Intercontinental only because of the view. The location of Intercontinental, right by the water, with a full view over the Hong Kong skyline makes it one of a kind.

The drinks at Intercontinental are outstanding and the service is impeccable. The Peninsula however, probably one of the best hotels in the world, unfortunately does not maintain its otherwise extremely high standards in their sky bar called Felix, which is sad and makes a visit to Felix unnecessary.

The skybar at Sheraton, located across the street from Intercontinental, is also very good, but cannot match Intercontinental's service.

Hong Kong appears to have been a popular filming location during the 1980's and early 90's. It almost feels like everyone wanted to use this location before the handover to China in 1997, which supposedly would have made filming more difficult than under the British rule.

4 Oct 2016

Tracy's death - Arrábida Natural Park, part 2

Bond and Tracy are driving off from the wedding in On Her Majesty's Secret Service to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, every true love of Bond has a very short life expectancy. The final scenes were filmed on the mountainside roads in the Parque Natural da Arrábida (Arrábida natural park), an hour south of Lisbon.

As Bond wants to remove the flowers from the car, he stops at one of the best view points in the natural park along the road N379-1. This view point is called Miradouro Portinho da Arràbida / Rampa de lançamento em madeira and also includes a para-glide ramp. For further directions to this locations read this earlier post.

As Blofeld approaches in the Mercedes, fräulein Bunt takes aim in the backseat with an automatic rifle and shoots a few rounds at Bond before the Mercedes disappears in the distance.

The shots fired apparently goes through the windscreen of the car and kills Tracy instantly. It is strange since Bond is supposed to have bullet proof windows on the car. Maybe, one of the shots went through the open side window, but it still does not explain the bullet hole in the windscreen.

Bond, supposedly throwing himself behind the car as fräulein Bunt opens fire, runs back to the driver seat. As Bond runs around the car, the magnificent view is seen in the background. The area seen in the background is part of Comporta and the long beach briefly visible is called Praia do Pêgo.

When Bond enters the car to pursue Blofeld he finds Tracy dead and a police motorcycle arrives at the scene. For some reason he does not pursue Blofeld but turns the engine off.

"There's no hurry you see. We have all the time in the world..."