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..."

26 Sep 2016

Chasing Fatima Blush - Menton

 In Never Say Never Again, Bond chases Fatima Blush through the French Riviera after discovering that she has killed agent 326, his ally Nicole at their villa in Villefranche-sur-mer. Bond is driving his Q-bike down Les rampes Saint-Michel and follows Fatima Blush down the street called Rue Longe in the city of Menton.

Rue Logettes to the left and Place du Cap seen to the right 

Rue Longe comes out through an archway in a building onto Rue des Logettes, the street that Fatima Blush is seen coming down on in the top picture. She then turns left on the the square called Place du Cap and continues along the beach road. The action on the motorbike was filmed in the city of Menton, a very picturesque village located close to the Italian border on the French Riviera. Several part of the motorbike chase were filmed in and around Menton and Villefranche-sur-mer, which is located further west, between Nice and Monaco.

Standing on Place du Cap - the beach vaguely visible in the background 

The arch from which Rue Longe intersects with Rue des Logettes
Fatima Blush has a few henchmen waiting for her and Bond in two cars at Place du Cap. When they spot Bond they start pursue him along the beach, where he already is pursuing Fatima Blush.

Bond drives across the small square as the two cars start chasing him
A similar marquis with the text Specialiteés, as seen through the windscreen of one of the cars can still be found on location at the restaurant La Coquille d'Or. Menton is a beautiful village on the Riviera and this location is well worth a visit, primarily because you can find so many parts of the motorbike chase within walking distance. A lunch at one of the nearby squares is highly recommended.

Blush calls on her henchmen in the two cars and orders them to stay away from Bond since he is her to catch. They do not appear to follow orders however, as they both start pursuing Bond. Blush of course knows that there are Spectre agents waiting in the tunnel ahead, ready to catch Bond as she lures him into the tunnel.

The view from inside one of the bad guy's cars as they start pursuing Bond 

After driving across the square Blush continues along the beach road and ultimately ends up inside the Tunnel Pascal Molinari where they try to capture Bond. The tunnel will be covered later.

The beach road leading up to Square Victoria and the tunnel

18 Sep 2016

Tracy's death - Arrábida Natural Park, part 1

For the final scene in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the director Peter Hunt searched Portugal for the perfect location to shoot Tracy's inevitable and tragic death. It is not an understatement to say that he found it. The road where Bond pulls over to remove the wedding flowers from the car, after a short drive from Draco's estate, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Bond locations I have visited.

Through the windscreen of the Aston, a view point is visible to the left. This view point is still there and is a perfect place to stop the car and have a picnic lunch. You should really take your time at this location. There is not very much traffic on these roads, at least not in early May which was the time of our visit, although you have a few people stopping occasionally for photos. But if you stay long enough you will spend some time all alone at this location. 

Bond and Tracy are driving along the mountainside roads that lead from Setúbal through the Parque Natural da Arrábida (Arrábida natural park). This location is located in the Setúbal municipality approximately an hour drive south of Lisbon. This is a beautiful area and both the coastal road and the mountain roads are well worth a drive.

The easiest way to get to Setúbal is to drive across the bridge Ponte 25 de Abril and continue down the A2 highway out of Lisbon. In Setúbal, you should follow the N10-4 road going west. The spot where Bond pulls over is located along the road N379-1, a few kilometers from where the road intersects with N10-4. 

Bond and Tracy are overtaken by an Oldsmobile with some youngsters, right before stopping at the spot where Tracy will meet her faith. The road is quite narrow and stopping your car at the exact spot as Bond did in the film is not recommended and really not possible, especially as there is right right-hand traffic in Portugal, since 1928. Bond himself is driving as if it was left-hand traffic in 1969.

Say it with flowers! 

As Bond removes the flowers from the car, a Mercedes 600 Grosser approaches in the distance...