Tag: locations

“OHMSS50”: Exclusive chat with Vic Armstrong (2019)

INTERVIEW

 
On Monday October 5, 2020, Vic Armstrong turns 74. The legendary English stunt performer began his Bond career at the age of 20 when he was the first ninja to slide down a rope into Blofeld's volcano lair in "You Only Live Twice" (EON 1967).

Vic Armstrong since doubled for George Lazenby in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (EON 1969), Roger Moore in "Live and Let Die" (EON 1973) and Sean Connery in "Never Say Never Again" (Taliafilm 1983) before graduating to second unit director and stunt co-ordinator on three of Pierce Brosnan's Bond films: "Tomorrow Never Dies" (EON 1997), "The World is Not Enough" (EON 1999) and "Die Another Day" (EON 2002).

> Read our previous interview with Vic Armstrong from "Bond in Motion" (2014)

Bond•O•Rama.dk met up with Vic Armstrong again in Switzerland in June 2019 during the "OHMSS50" anniversary celebration at Piz Gloria/Schilthorn. We had a chat about Vic's second unit work on "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" back in 1969 and some of the other exotic Bond locations he has had the privilege of working on.

Vic Armstrong at Piz Gloria, June 2019. Photo credit: Brian Iskov/Bond•O•Rama.dk

Of all the filming locations you've worked on for the Bond films, which one is your favourite?
They're all fantastic, but this [Piz Gloria and Schilthorn] is iconic. I was here for three-four months [for "OHMSS" in 1969]. It just went on and on with the second unit. We stayed through. The snow came, and it melted while we were still shooting. Fabulous.

I'd only been in the business about five years when I got the call to come here, and I was one of the second group of stuntmen to arrive. We came here basically to do the attack at the Schilthorn where the helicopters come in and we jump out with the flamethrowers, jump into the snow, then run up and attack Blofeld. So we did that. Then we did the car chase down in Lauterbrunnen, and then I stayed up with the second unit and we did all the rest of it. I remember the first night I arrived it was dark when I got here, and they sent us down to Stäger [the local sporting goods store] to get fitted for ski equipment. They said, "Would you mind learning to ski?". Fine, well, I am paid to do that, you know! So they kitted us out with all the ski gear and I walked back to the hotel. It was a moonlit night in the winter, and it was absolutely stunning. I was looking across at the Eiger ... Ah. It was bright as daylight. Just amazing. I've never forgotten that.

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OHMSS 50: Pictures from Mürren, Lauterbrunnen and Bern (2019)

2019 marks the 50-year anniversary of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (EON 1969).

The following photo report concludes our coverage of the unofficial fan event "OHMSS50". Bond•O•Rama was invited to participate in the second half of the celebration that took place at and around Piz Gloria in Switzerland from May 31 to June 2, 2019.

OHMSS50, part 1: Exclusive pictures from Piz Gloria

All photos on this page © Brian Iskov/Bond•O•Rama.dk. DO NOT PUBLISH, EDIT OR REDISTRIBUTE ANY PICTURE CONTENT WITHOUT SOURCE REFERENCE.

Mürren

Much of the location shooting of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was centered around the Schilthorn Peak in the Bernese Alps. From October 1968 to June 1969, EON Productions set up base in the nearby Alpine village of Mürren, 1638 metres above sea level.

Mürren was then, and still is, a car-free zone. The OHMSS50 arrangers did however manage to transport a 1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow up into the village via cable car. A private chauffeur drove the VIP guests back and forth between Hotel Eiger and the Schilthorn cable car station (which amounts to a ten minute-walk). In this photo, George Lazenby is being guarded by SPECTRE henchmen in orange jackets.

A nice touch: Blofeld's white cat lies in the back of the Rolls Royce.

Michael Häckl from the website 007collector.com is pointing out the location where EON Productions built their own church tower in 1968 because they found the actual church in Mürren to be rather unspectacular. The establishing shots featuring the tower were never used in the final film but for a while the structure remained a popular playground for the village kids who enjoyed jumping from the tower and into the snow. Today the square lies next to Café Liv.

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OHMSS 50: Exclusive pictures from Piz Gloria (2019)

This year marks the 50-year anniversary of the release of EON Productions' "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969).

From May 25 to June 2, around 250 James Bond fans from 17 countries gathered for the fan event "OHMSS 50". The ambitious unofficial celebration, arranged by journalist and expert Bond travel guide Martijn Mulder from the web site On the tracks of 007, covered several of the film's locations in Portugal and Switzerland.

Eleven of the cast and crew members from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" returned to the scene as the caravan of fans reached Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn mountain in the Bernese Alps. Bond•O•Rama's Brian Iskov had the privilege of being an accredited member of the press for the concluding Swiss part of OHMSS50.

On the tracks of 007 (external link)
Schilthorn Piz Gloria (official site)

The rotating alpine restaurant Piz Gloria, only accessible by cable car, is of course famous as Bleuchamp's (Blofeld's) Institute for Allergy Research in EON's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Nearly all of the film's scenes in The Alpine Room were shot on location after the film crew discovered the half-finished building on the Schilthorn peak during a recce in 1968. Construction had come to a standstill due to financial woes. EON Productions saw that the location perfectly matched the script's demands and agreed to pay for the completion.

When the restaurant opened its doors to the public in 1969, around the time of the film's worldwide release in cinemas, Piz Gloria wisely took its name from the film. The site has capitalized greatly on the 007 connection ever since. In recent times an interactive exhibition (Bond World), a Bond Cinema and an outdoor Bond Walk of Fame has been added to the attractions at the Schilthorn. The crafty Swiss even got away with a unique clause in the contract which allowed them to promote Piz Gloria as an official Bond location - a right that EON Productions has never before or since granted anyone. Thus the gift shop is packed with 007 merchandise not available elsewhere.

The anniversary celebration "OHMSS50" culminated on Saturday June 1 with a stupendous party at Piz Gloria. George Lazenby (007) led the starry VIP line-up, and the magnificent-sounding cover band Q the Music incorporated several of John Barry's musical cues from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" into their triumphant live concert in the low-ceilinged foyer.

Theser are Bond•O•Rama.dk's exclusive pictures from OHMSS50 at Piz Gloria.

All photos on this page © Brian Iskov/Bond•O•Rama.dk. DO NOT PUBLISH, EDIT OR REDISTRIBUTE ANY PICTURE CONTENT WITHOUT SOURCE REFERENCE.

Journey to Blofeld's Hideaway. The cable car from the mountain village of Mürren is the only way to reach Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn peak. From the mid-station Birg (where Bond's colleague, Agent Campbell, is seen in the film) onwards you get a clear view of the fabled Bond location. A sight that will inevitably give any 007 fan an immense thrill.

On June 1, 2019 George Lazenby returned to Piz Gloria where he spent several months shooting "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" in late 1968. He has visited the alpine location several times and attended the opening of the Bond Walk of Fame in 2015.

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