By David Jarratt
Here at Caribtours Towers I have something of a reputation for being a bit of a James Bond anorak and it's true that I'm a huge fan of both the Fleming books and the films (well most of them). I love the way that they act as a mirror to the mores, aspirations and concerns of British society at the time they were produced. If you want good idea of the fashions, politics and perceptions of luxury at any point over the last 60 years a James Bond production from that time is an excellent place to start.
I'm fortunate that my passion for all things Bond overlaps with my passion for the Caribbean as the region has a long and illustrious history with the world's favourite secret agent. So if you'll indulge me here is my guide to James Bond's Caribbean connections:
Everybody knows that this is where the legend started, with Ian Fleming, in the summer of 1952 at his estate Goldeneye, bashing out his first novel, Casino Royal, to distract himself from his forthcoming nuptials. However Jamaica was set to reappear again and again over the next 60 years. It was the key location in both the book and the film of Dr No (including the iconic scene featuring Ursula Andress emerging from the Sea), it was the location for the villain's lair in the novel Live and Let Die and also doubled as the fictional island of San Monique, location of the famous double decker bus chase, in the film adaptation. It also features in the novel The Man with the Golden Gun and the short stories Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only.
Other less well know connections are that the famously fastidious Bond will also only drink Jamaica's famous Blue Mountain coffee and the fact that Fleming borrowed names from his friends in Jamaica to use in his books. One of his neighbours, and later his lover, was Blanche Blackwell, mother of Chris Blackwell of Island Records and Island Outpost Hotels (GoldenEye, Strawberry Hill, The Caves) fame: Fleming named the guano-collecting ship in Dr. No as Blanche. He later used Blackwell as the model for Pussy Galore in his novel Goldfinger and Blackwell gave him a boat called Octopussy, the name of which he used for a later short story.
Fleming clearly loved Jamaica and to read his novels now provides a fascinating glimpse into a time where the sun was setting on the British empire and Jamaica was emerging as a newly independent nation.
Bond's connections with the Bahamas are almost as numerous and varied as those with Jamaica. Both the novel and the film adaptation of Thunderball were set in Nassau including the famous scene involving a shark infested swimming pool and his escape through the island's Junkanoo carnival. The 1983 unofficial remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery, was also set on the island as was the Fleming short story Quantum of Solace. In 2006 the franchise returned with Daniel Craig staying in a stunning beachfront suite at the One&Only Ocean Club (Atlantis is also visible in the one of the scenes) and emerging from the sea in another iconic and well remembered image. All of the scenes set in Madagascar were also shot in the Bahamas.
Not technically the Caribbean I know, but it's in the same Caribtours brochure so I hope you'll forgive me. The gritty Licence to Kill was mostly filmed in Mexico which doubled for the fictional Isthmus City. The spectacularly brash Villa Arabesque, the Aztec-styled Otomi Ceremonial Center in Temoaya and the amazing tanker chase through the Rumorosa Mountain Pass in Tecate are all particular highlights and it's well worth watching the film just for these if you've not seen it before.
Tricky one this. Both GoldenEye and the execrable Die Another Day (where this time it was Halle Berry emerging from the ocean) had scenes set in Cuba but neither was actually filmed there. Goldeneye was filmed in Puerto Rico at the Arecibo Observatory whilst DAD was actually filmed in Spain.