During this summer's unofficial OHMSS 50 celebration for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" at Piz Gloria, James Bond•O•Rama.dk had the pleasure of meeting long-time EON associate John Glen.
The 87-year-old Englishman edited "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and directed the second unit on location in Switzerland back in 1968-69. John Glen later performed the same duties on "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) and "Moonraker" (1979) before graduating to director on every EON-produced Bond film during the 80's: "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), "Octopussy" (1983), "A View to a Kill" (1985), "The Living Daylights" (1987) and "Licence to Kill" (1989).
In this exclusive chat with Bond•O•Rama.dk John Glen discusses some of his favourite Bond locations as well as the editing techniques of "OHMSS" and other tricks of the trade.
John Glen, what would you name as your favourite Bond location?
I think Piz Gloria [would be at number one]. The Bernese Oberland is probably one of the best locations we've ever had. It's such a vast scene, it's very James Bond in its aspects. [The Bond connection] is the history of this place, isn't it. I believe Piz Gloria and Schilthornbahn is the only Bond film location ever to write in their contract that they had unlimited means of promoting it as an official Bond location. And apparently EON Productions are not very happy about that.
It's indirectly free publicity, it's still 007, isn't it. And that's the important thing. It's an amazing franchise. Everyone says, how long can it go on for. I remember Lewis Gilbert saying to me that he thought it would probably come to an end after "Moonraker", "maybe that's the end of the series". It cost a lot of money, "Moonraker". Subsequently, of course, all of these new markest have opened up.
On September 2, 2016, James Bond•O•Rama.dk had the pleasure of talking to Maryam d'Abo during the "James Bond in Oslo" event.
The British-French actress starred as Kara Milovy opposite Timothy Dalton's James Bond 007 in "The Living Daylights" (EON Productions 1987).
In 2002, Maryam d'Abo co-wrote, produced and hosted the TV documentary "Bond Girls are Forever" in which she interviewed a string of actresses from EON Productions' James Bond film series. The interviews were edited into a tie-in book also titled "Bond Girls are Forever". The book was co-written by John Cork and published by Boxtree in 2003. Maryam d'Abo has since revisited and re-edited the documentary twice, in 2006 and again in 2012.
The following is a transcript of our chat in Oslo. Our time was sadly limited to 15 minutes, as Maryam d'Abo had to rush to the airport.
James Bond•O•Rama.dk: Didn't you play the Queen of Denmark in a film – or rather, a queen of Denmark? Maryam d'Abo: Yes, I did.
I believe she was called Queen Rosalind? Maryam d'Abo: Can't remember the name, but I did play a Danish queen in "The Prince and Me 2: The Royal Wedding" (2006) with this American actress [Kam Heskin, ed.]. We shot outside of Prague. I went back to Prague after "Doctor Zhivago" (2002), the TV series, yeah.
So you didn't go anywhere near Denmark. Maryam d'Abo: No. But I've been to Copenhagen. I did something there ... Gosh. I went there a couple of years ago to do something. It might have been a commercial. I was flown in to Copenhagen and stayed in a really nice boutique hotel. Actually, this [Oslo] was reminding me a little of Copenhagen with the docks and all. But it's not as nice as Copenhagen. It was not a movie, more like a commercial or something like that, because I was only there very briefly for three days. But it was definitely a job.
Did you do a junket for "The Living Daylights" in Copenhagen? Maryam d'Abo: No. Never. I did Vienna, a big junket, and we premiered in Amsterdam.
This is the original Danish ad sheet for "The Living Daylights" (EON Productions 1987), issued by the film's local distributor United International Pictures (formerly United Artists).
The press book was distributed to cinema owners and press in Denmark to mark the film's theatrical release in August 1987.
Note: The Danish title "Spioner dør ved daggry" translates as "Spies Die at Dawn". The accompanying text reads: "25 years of 007! Entertainment worth millions ... for excitement ... for fun ... for you ..."
Chris Corbould, your first Bond gig was as a special effects assistant on ”The Spy Who Loved Me” back in 1976. How many Bond films have worked on since then?
I've done 13 in all [14 including the later ”Spectre” - ed.]. The one film I didn't work on was ”Octopussy” (1983).
So you're definitely an integral part of the Bond family.
Yes. They [the Broccolis] are a great family to work with. I've had many great years working with them. Hopefully many more.
Do you ever get to drive any of the cars in the films?
Absolutely. These [Jaguars and Aston Martins from ”Die Another Day” (2002)] are quite interesting, because my department had to modify both cars. We actually had four Jaguars and four Astons to be four wheel-drived, because there were no four wheel-drive models of these cars. The whole chase sequence, the battle sequence, happened on the ice, so we decided to convert them to four wheel-drive. Plus all the weapons. We had a lot of fun on this sequence on the ice, and because we were on ice, both cars had an inflating ... buoyancy system. So if they went through the ice, they would automatically inflate and keep both the driver and the car afloat.
And you're triggering all effects live from this radio-control console?
Yes. That controls the missiles coming out, the gun rotating, the gun firing ... You know, the driver has enough to do doing all the stunt driving, so we figured we wouldn't give him that responsibility. So we would always handle all the gadgetry that went on.
I'm guessing you didn't do the invisible car. That would have been another department.
No, no, no, we left that to somebody else. I'm not a great fan of that one, but there you go! I think we pushed the limits a bit too far on that one.
So which of the Bond cars did you like the most?
I enjoyed the Vanquish, I thought it was a nice car. Actually liked the one in ”The Living Daylights” (1987), which was a real meaty ... the Vantage?
The [Aston Martin] Volante? The black one with the outrigger skis?
Yeah, that was my favorite, because I was prepping that, doing all the preparation in Austria when we shot it, so we would take it out on the ice and drive it around the ice. It was a lot of fun.
Did you work on the Lotus Esprit when you did ”The Spy Who Loved Me”?
Sadly, I didn't. I was on that film mainly based back in England, and they shot most of that in the Bahamas.
Is it true that you couldn't get the Aston Martin DBS in ”Casino Royale” (2006) to roll over because the tyre grip was too good?
It wasn't that. The centre of balance was so good that the stunt guys tried several times to steer into it and turn it, and in the end, we had to put a small nitrogen cannon in it. So as they turned into it, we would hit the nitrogen cannon, and it would make that flip. Once it was flipping, it was fine. It was just getting it flipping that was the problem, initially. But we got it in the end. They're just class cars, aren't they? They're not designed to flip over. They put a lot of work into them to make sure they don't flip over. We had to help it a little bit.
Apparently, around the time of ”GoldenEye” (1995), the British Automobile Association complained that Bond shouldn't be driving a BMW.
Well, so what really? You have to change every now and again, and when the Aston came back, everybody loved it again. You can't just stick with the same car every time. We had the Lotuses for a little while, we had the BMW's, and we're back to Astons now. It just makes it more fun, I think, if you change it a little bit every now and again. It would get boring if you just kept using the same car.
What do you think makes the Aston Martin such an iconic car?
I think it's quintessentially a very British car, as Bond is. It's a classy car, elegant, and it just lends itself to fast driving. And also, the gadgets that we put in it. You don't expect to see the gadgets coming out of such a classy car. I think [the contrast] that all helps.
Part of your job seems to be giving the cars personality beyond what they already have from the factory.
Yeah, character. Absolutely. That's what we strive to do. We have to really dig deep in your brain these days to try and come up with something that hasn't been seen before. I mean, when you look at how many of the cars have got missiles on! We have to strive and come up with something different.
At the time of the Danish release of "The Living Daylights" in August 1987, TV host Hans Otto Bisgaard interviewed Timothy Dalton (James Bond) and Maryam d'Abo (Kara Milovy) as well as the film's producer Albert R. Broccoli for Danish national television, DR TV.
(Broccoli's co-producer and the film's co-writer, Michael G. Wilson, is seated next to Broccoli in the beginning of the clip).
The segment was broadcast as part of Bisgaard's Friday night show "Under Uret" [Under the Clock] and is in English with Danish subtitles: