28 Feb 2017

The Palacio Estoril Hotel - Portugal

In On Her Majesty's Secret Service from 1969, Bond is taking a few days off from his current assignment to track down Blofeld, an operation called Bedlam. Mi6 has no information about Bond's whereabouts and Moneypenny is searching for him through their contacts in Amsterdam, Madrid and Cairo, all with negative replies. In reality, Bond is holidaying in Portugal.

Bond is staying at the Palácio Hotel in Estoril on the Portuguese riviera, a short 30 minute drive from central Lisbon. Located in Cascais, one of the richest municipalities in Portugal, the five star Palácio Hotel is still one of the finest on the coast. It was built in 1930 and it is located only a five minute walk from the famous Casino Estoril, the casino which sign supposedly is reflecting in the hotel swimming pool in the film.    

             "-Your baggage sir? 
-In the boot. Take care of those clubs."

During the Second World War Portugal was neutral, which resulted in several royal families went into exile in Estoril, leading to the Portuguese Riviera around Estoril becoming known as the "Coast of Kings". The Hotel Palácio became the hotel of choice of numerous members of European royalty as well as both British and German spies and military personnel.

Visible in the film are several signs from various automobile clubs in Europe, including the Automovel Clube de Portugal, the Automobilclub von Deutschland and the Royal Swedish Automobile Club - Kungliga Automobil Klubben. These same signs can still be found on location on either side of the magnificent entrance to the hotel, as seen in the film.

The signs of Automovel Clube de Portugal ACP (below), the Automobilclub von Deutschland AvD, the Royal Swedish Automobile Club, KAK (Kungliga Automobil Klubben) and the Automobile Club d'Italia (above left) as well as the Automobile Club de France (above right) are all seen in the film and can still be found on location today.

In the film, the hotel is probably supposed to be located in France, given that the corresponding scenes from the novel unfolds in a fictive village called Royale-les-Eaux, a seaside resort close to Le Touquet on the Atlantic coast north of Paris. Furthermore, at the Baccarat table in the casino, Francs is used rather than the Portuguese escudo, which was the currency before the Euro in Portugal. However, the location of the hotel is somewhat unclear, since the hotel manager is named Manuel and it is obvious that he does not speak French to the bellboy in the hotel. 

From a Bond perspective, this is definitely one of the coolest hotels you can stay at, together with for instance the Grand Hotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary or the Peninsula in Hong Kong.

Read more about the hotel's history or make reservations on the hotel website here.

21 Feb 2017

L'Americain - Tangier

In Spectre Dr Swan is taking Bond to Tangier in order to show him L'Americain, a secret place pointed out to Bond by Dr Swan's father, Mr White. L'Americain turns out to be a hotel, located in the ancient medina of Tangier.

L'Americain is, in fact, an old palace situated on Rue Ibn Abbou (very close to the Kasbah Museum, where the scenes during the Trade Conference in The Living Daylights were filmed). The name is the Palace of Abdeslam Akkaboune. It is a private residence which is currently undergoing some kind of renovation that appears to have been halted. 

The exterior is an anonymous door located only some fifty/hundred meters from the entrance to the Kasbah museum. I do not know much about the origin of this palace but apparently the Rolling Stones have stayed here sometime in history.

We visited Tangier for a few days over new years eve in 2016. During our visit to the Kasbah and the ancient Medina, we found the location of the entrance to L'Americain. Luckily enough we arrived at the same time as a man who was about to enter the palace. We asked him if we could have a look inside and after calling out to a women inside who answered the door they let us in. This is definitely one of the cooler locations in Tangier (at least in the Kasbah) given that it is still very recognisable and given that the palace is a private residence not accessible to the public.

12 Feb 2017

The magic carpet ride - Tangier

On this day, 12 February 2017, it is exactly 30 years ago since the principal photography of The Living Daylights finished. The filming wrapped with filming the scene where Timothy Dalton watches 004 fall to his death in Gibraltar on 12 February 1987. To mark this 30 year anniversary this post will cover the location from a deleted scene filmed in Tangier - the scene with Bond riding on a "flying carpet". 

After faking the assassination of general Pushkin during the Trade Conference Bond escapes over the rooftops pursued by Moroccan guards. Bond's escape, and the scene that was deleted from the finished film, originally ended with Bond sliding down a rug on top of telegraph wires, looking like Bond is riding a "magic carpet", and landing on the back of a tradesman's motorcycle. The scene was filmed by the Kasbah, just outside the wall surrounding the old Medina in Tangier. This was the same location used for filming one of the scenes in Spectre.

Bond sliding down the magic carpet with the stunning background of Tangier

In the deleted scene, Bond buys a carpet from a salesmen on one of the rooftops. After escaping a few more bullets, Bond places the rug on some telegraph wires and slides off. The building from where Bond slides down is a restaurant today and you can access the roof from the dining room on the second floor. From here you basically have the same view as Dalton in the picture below. The carpet ride ends with Bond jumping down onto a passing motorcycle, this scene was filmed at the nearby street Rue Amrah. It was a lucky move to remove this scene from the film as it had too much of a "Roger Moore-feeling" over it and would have slowed down Bond's otherwise cool escape over the rooftops.

The guards that pursuit Bond as he escapes over the rooftops come out through a large gate to the Medina, this gate is called Bab el-assa. Sharp little eyes will of course notice that this is the same gate that Bond and Swan walk through in Spectre on their way to L'Americain.

The guards watch as Dalton slides down on the "magic carpet"
Bab el-assa entrance gate - also seen in Spectre

The Living Daylights premiered on 27 June 1987 at the Odeon Leicester Square in London and shares anniversary this year with You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies

The entire scene can be found on Youtube here including a short explanation by director John Glen why the scene was removed.

7 Feb 2017

Whitaker's villa - Palais Mendoub, Tangier

For the villain's lair in Timothy Dalton's first outing as James Bond in The Living Daylights, the filmmakers chose a magnificent palace in Tangier. The main villain, the arms dealer Brad Whitaker, is living in Tangier where he and the defected Soviet general Koskov is plotting to buy opium with Russian money in Afghanistan.

The large villa is located in the Marshan district in Tangier, which is a residential district to the west of the old medina. This area was settled around 1840 mostly by Europeans. It is apparent when you walk around this area that this is, or at least was at the time of filming, a very expensive residential area. Sadly, many of the beautiful mansions situated along the same road as Whitaker's villa are abandoned and in a decay.

In the film, the CIA are watching Whitaker from a neighboring house and a yacht sailing in the Strait of Gibraltar. A camera snaps pictures as general Pushkin enters the house. Whitaker's villa is in reality called Palais Mendoub and was at the time of filming a museum created by Malcolm Forbes, the American billionaire mostly known for being the publisher of Forbes magazine. Today the Palais Mendoub is owned by the Moroccan government and used as a residence for foreign dignitaries. The villa is thus heavily guarded and not accessible for the public anymore.

General Pushkin arrives with his KGB body guards in limousines
The neighboring CIA house from the film can be found right next to the villa and appears to be a private residence.

The Forbes museum included a collection of 115,000 models of lead soldiers, re-enacting the major historic battles in the world, from Waterloo to Dien Bien Phû, realistically recreated with lighting and sound effects. This inspired the filmmakers to include the model soldiers in the film and they made it part of the story as it became the hobby of the villain, Brad Whitaker.

The last time the exterior of the villa is seen in the film is during the night as Bond is about to infiltrate the house with the help of Felix Leiter.