More like a problem eliminator.
– James Bond.
Recently I was invited onto the Betamax Podcast by the shows host Rich Nelson (above right) to talk about Licence to Kill. The day before the recording I watched the film twice in one day, with all the DVD extras and commentaries. I made some notes and wrote them down, I thought I’d publish them here. Please bare in mind these are just my thoughts and rough notes, not intended to construed as a written thesis on the subject of Licence to Kill.
Licence to Kill
According to an article on the Mi6 website, the recently passed David Hedison (Felix Leighter) blew his knees out jumping into shot at the church. The parachute guys, coordinated by a guy called BJ Worth. Which is a great name for Bond’s first gay lover by the way. The stunt guys do their job, the Key West governor has to power down electricity in the area in case they fly into the telephone wires. I’ve been to that church. The lady doing the commentary on the hop-on, hop-off tour in Key West pointed it out. Here on the right is St Mary’s Basilica used in the film Licence to Kill, I nearly a shoulder roll off that coach to get the photo.
At the recent 30th year anniversary showing we caught a presentation by Alan Church who worked as Maurice Binder’s right hand man, on what was to be his last pre-titles sequence for a Bond film. Alan had over 10 hours of footage from the shoot, stashed away in his attic.
The Seven Mile Bridge gets utilised here. They use a remote control van to plunge into the water. Same bridge used for True Lies in ’94. Fact from the net They were going to make a sequel to True Lies but then 911 happened and James Cameron went off the idea of terrorism in movies. Mission Impossible: Fallout riffs this scene when Hunt has to break out Solomon Lane by ramming the police truck into the River Seine.
“SEE you in Hell.” I’d like to say that on my deathbed. Quite bad ass. Even if I’m dying peacefully in my sleep surrounded by my loved ones. Like Murph at the end of Interstellar. Just shout out, SEE YOU IN HELL. Scare the kids. I’ll explain it all in the will. It’s quite a savage scene and apparently they had to cut out a lot of footage. David Hedison said his wife hated that scene. Robert Davi loved the scene and took issue with the over-sensitivity of the test audience that ultimately got the scene cut down drastically. “Jaws was out in the seventies.” Davi exclaims on the DVD extras. Come on pussies!
Why LTK should have been an 18
I actually would rather this film be an 18. I think it does pull its punches and it had to get a 15 certificate. But an 18 version of this film could have really upped the ante. Because it sits on its own enough this film. Daylights had more Bondian things going on. Licence to Kill protrudes a bit; the lack of style on Dalton, the rogue mission etc. If it was 18 then it would have been a more brutal watch. Maybe the Darius/Della gangbang honeymoon? Bond finds Felix with the note, ‘he disagrees with something that ate him’. That’s from Live and Let Die Fleming. Great line. Nicely weaved in.
Bond visits Milton Krest
Bond sees Leighter’s Boutonniere on the floor. “I’m on to you, you shifty bastard,” Bond thinks. Krest has that lazy eye, compounds his shiftiness. I also like some of the retro gear that Krest wears. If Orlebar Brown does a villains line then you could cash in on some Krest.
Bond kills Kilifer
“You keep it, old buddy.” The old buddy line I like. A throwback to what Robert Shaw did with Bond, calling him Old Man. Then Bond tough talks him after killing him on the train. Thanks, Old Man. Kilifer gets hoist by his own petard in the end with the money as it’s the money that knocks him in the shark pool.
Let me indulge you with Hemingway facts. It’s an awesome place to visit and you can see pictures and learn more about it on a previous post. The Hemingway House has 40-50 cats, half of them have 6 toes but all of them have the polydactyl gene. So they are all descendants from Snow White which was Hemingway’s Cat. These cats are spoilt rotten. They have their own vet visits once a week, their own cat fountains, gluten free cat kibble, personal trainers, the lot.
Crazy survival stories
Certain parts of the house are cordoned off to tourists. His carriage house for example where he wrote half his canon. Fenced off to humans but of course cats have the run of the place. We walked into his bedroom and there is a cat just idly licking his nuts on the pillow as the tour guide is reeling off stories. Hemingway’s father killed himself, he had a nutty life. Hemingway had a lot of pain throughout his life. He survived two plane crashes. One hit an abandoned pole and crash landed, the next day he was to be flown off to hospital and that exploded on take-off.
Hemingway had car crashes and concussions was also wounded during the war. So towards the end of his life he was in a lot of pain, which ultimately lead to him taking his own life. The lighthouse opposite the home (where one of the security guards takes a pot shot at Dalton) Hemingway would say it’s convenient to live next to a lighthouse to guide him home when battered.
A note on Lupe
Lupe played by Tulisa Soto, was a Miss Galaxy before appearing in Licence to Kill.
Bare foot ski champion
Nowadays we have Tom Cruise hanging on the side of planes as they take off. But that’s still is a good stunt. Jake Lombard is the stuntman who hangs on to the pontoon as the water plane takes off. Dave Reinhard was the bare foot ski champion who performed the stunt where Bond bare skis behind the water plane.
Yeah I have no idea how Pam got that gun in there. Maybe she found it under the table. The outside of the bar they filmed, inside they filmed at Churubusco studios in Mexico. When I visited the Barrelhead Bar, admittedly it was a bit of an anti-climax. I thought it would be a theme park, maybe a statue of the stripper, or a swordfish. There is a Licence to Kill poster on the wall, but no one gives a shit. Dirty Love. I have nothing to say on Dirty Love. It has the Roadhouse vibe. Michael Kamen also scored Roadhouse.
Bond arrives at the hotel, gives the concierge a sweaty wad of cash. “Fresh flowers every day.” The pinnacle of ‘flash-bastardery’.
Bond in the Casino
Ok so the hair is a little ‘Jesus Christ’. Who signed off on that? But he is in Bond mode. “I want a table, Black Jack, get me a drink, shaken not stirred.” He becomes a bit of a dick but I like that. When he goes up to meet Sanchez he delivers the best dialogue of the movie. “Problem solver? More of a problem eliminator.” It’s in the trailer. Please watch the trailer which someone has done called Fallout, Licence to Kill. I watched it twice yesterday, with two different commentaries. I saw this trailer and it made me want to watch the entire movie again.
Uncle Q and his Licence to Kill Ties
This actually brought the house down in the Prince Charles cinema when Q turned up. In the Blu Ray Licence to Kill commentary, Desmond Llewelyn talks a lot about his ties. He has a different tie for each scene. One will be a tie he got from the cricket club, the rowing club etc. He’s bang into his ties and it gives a little insight into what Q’s hobbies are outside of Bond.
I think what lets this section of the movie down is the pace. So from the casino, to meeting Sanchez, to meeting Q, to then going disguised as a waiter, to then Sanchez explaining to the Japanese investors. It’s quite a chunk.
What else is on the menu?
What could have happened was for Sanchez to have more of an elaborate presentation, Goldfinger has revolving pool tables, Zorin has a miniature of Silicon Valley come through a collapsible centre piece. So I think the film needed something here. So the presentation is over and Sanchez offers up some entertainment to the ‘Orientals’. Now I doubt a scene like that can exist in today’s world. If it did there would have to be a selection for everyone. Girls, Transgenders, Bi-curious, Small boys.
Bond gets captured
The guy who identifies Bond as Mi6, who has a personalised gun. James Bond, 007. “I’m shipping you back Bond.” That guy is great, talks like a bit of a prick, but he doesn’t last long. Heller turns up in a tank! Where the hell did he get that? Heller is so hard.
This mansion is just amazing. Sanchez’s lair belonged to this couple that were mates of the Broccoli’s. Cubby made a donation to their favourite charity and allowed them to use it for free.
Oh the flesh coloured bathing suit that Cary Lowell wears. Apparently this gave the costume department nightmares, they didn’t know whether it would be see-through. According to the commentary Cubby had a great idea, come round to my gaff, have a swim in my pool and we’ll find out if its see-through or not. That’s in the commentary. Krest heads explodes and that’s awesome.
The girls both look stunning in this scene. Apparently Cary Lowell was just stunning in real life. On set the crew were infatuated with her. The clapper boy couldn’t operate the clapper properly.
Bless your heart
Joe Butcher. Wayne Newton is an internet wormhole. He’s remarkably similar and sneaky in real life as he is in the film. Someone paid him 20 million for his house so they could turn it into a museum. He took the money and never moved out. He then tried it on with his construction workers and had lawsuits filed against him for sexual harassment. It’s just bananas the amount of money he’s forked out for lawyers.
FACT: He’s got a swimming pool for his Arabian horses.
I dropped off the face of the earth for a couple of hours reading up on this guy and his eyelid surgery.
He had plenty of guts (Tom Sears gag)
Benicio Del Toro here clocks Bond. He actually cuts Timmy in real life when he cuts through the wire around his wrists. Timmy goes to hospital to get stitched up and still has the scar apparently. He then spits on Bond, which is nasty. Maybe a gag here, ‘what we have to do to get through the daily grind.’
To do the jump from the plane to the truck it had to be just right. So because the weather wasn’t conducive, Paul Western the effects supervisor on Licence to Kill had to delay the stunt for 4 days. In the commentary Western says ‘before a big stunt you’re not allowed to eat, in case shit goes down and you’re taken to hospital. Best to operate on an empty stomach.’ So he barely ate for four days. They then run one truck into the wall. And half the cab comes off in the crash. It looks awesome so they leave that in and work the script around it. Remy Julienne does an 8-wheeler with no stabilizers. So footnote here. I went to Paris and found the barrier that Remy Julienne drove through in the car chase in A View to a Kill. (See photo below).
Rumours of the wind
The wheelie he does through the fire. I don’t know if this is any safer doing it this way round, because the flames are still hitting the truck and if anything, you’re exposing the fuselage and all the gubbins. But I like it plus that’s when the music kicks in. He does the window up, I think that’s quite Roger just doing the window up before going through. The Rumorosa, the rumours of the wind. The name the locals gave to the road where they filmed the sequence. They have abandoned burnt out vehicles where drivers have gone over the edge and killed themselves. Sounds like the back drop to the Titty Twister in Dusk ‘Til Dawn.
Bond brings the lighter out, the Dunhill lighter. There is a story behind the lighter, the props department wanted one to replicate the original with the gunmetal case. They called Dunhill and the sales assistant said, ‘well actually I do have one, someone has asked for a special gift as a Christmas present because they love Dr No‘. So they got that lighter.
Iguana’s are everywhere in Key West. You can kill them legally, but not cook them. The diamond necklace this Iguana wore was real. He loved Robert Davi but hated Lupe.
The music the start the gun barrel is really the stuff of nightmares. In the cinema that sounded fantastic. It’s unlike any other gun barrel and its quite foreboding. I nearly shat myself I’ll be honest. The rest of the score there are lengthy gaps in the Truck Scene, I’ve always thought that, but then a lot of that action speaks for itself and I do like it when it kicks in.
There are a lot of Kamen licks in this film that take me to Lethal Weapon.
Like I can hear Predator in Back to the Future, Alan Silvestri has these trademark signature crescendos that’s his thing. Kamen has his style, that you’ll hear in Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Road House. So the score is not distinguished enough for my liking. But it’s all conjecture, I think he had a ruddy good go, but it’s not got the necessary meat and potatoes that I look for in a Bond score. The album soundtrack is unfortunately, all over the place.
Timmy Vulpine Look
Timothy has this look, a lot of people think it’s a wolfish look. I once heard a debate on the Wittertainment show where they were trying to decide on a look for Benicio Del Toro in Wolfman. Its Vulpine. Meaning looking like a fox or something.
I think he is one of the best villains of the franchise. His character name in Die Hard was Big Johnson. Actors with Acne stars.blog. He has acne scars so he has this reptilian quality, an iguana on his shoulder is just perfect. He dresses well. Davi was the first villain to wear pink. But I think he is more stylish than Bond for sure in this film and is generally quite menacing. He’s a bit mad nowadays just sits at home by his pool doing political rants on Twitter.
Casual wear was really the thing of the 80’s. And it was more the villains who adopted the trends of the time. You had the likes of Hans Gruber dressing better than everyone else. I think of Passenger 57 a couple of years later, the villains were better turned out. The heroes were causal I think in an attempt to be more realistic and relatable. Davi actually dresses normal. I think a lot better than Bond, but this is his hometown. You’re in Sanchez’s environment and not Bond’s.
Jodie Tillen costume designer
Jodie Tillen the costume designer said ‘we paired it back because you see him in Key West and in reality he’s only going to bring a couple of outfits with him to a wedding. So there was no need for an expensive wardrobe.’
I disagree with that.
Look at Spectre, Bond is goes from Solden to Morroco then gets on a train in a Ivory Dinner jacket. Fresh from a fight with Hinx he’s in the middle of nowhere meeting Blofeld in a Brunello Cucinelli suit. That’s how I like my Bond. Looking the nails, ready for anything.
Find a full interview with Jodie Tillen in the From Tailors With Love Book available on Amazon.
Lastly on James Bond style a quote from previous Bond costume designer Lindy Hemming,
People complained that Timothy Dalton’s Bond looked ordinary. They didn’t expect Bond to be like that, whereas they do expect it of Willis. They are different kinds of men. Willis is Blue Collar, Bond is very White Collar.
BIBLIOGRAPHY for LICENCE TO KILL
Download the Betamax podcast now.
Mi6-HQ.com the David Hedison obituary
Fanart.Tv Movie Background
SharkFilmOffice 007 Edition
Thunderballs.org Production stills
Truthful Nerd – LTK review
ComingSoon.Net – James Bond Gadgets
James Bond Radio – LTK review
Actors with Acne Blog – Robert Davi
James Bond Wiki – Research
The Making of Licence to Kill – Sally Hibbin