London Filming Locations: GoldenEye (1995)

After a six year hiatus the James Bond franchise returned in 1995 with Irish actor Pierce Brosnan at the helm as the series was modernised a bit in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War and this ended up providing background for the plot.

Following opening scenes in Switzerland (filling in for the USSR) and Monaco, the capital of England appears as we see the debut of the MI6 building, Vauxhall Cross (below) at 85 Albert Embankment. It would go on to appear in ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ (1999), ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) and ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) and just so you know that it really is London, a red double decker passes by in the foreground on 36 minutes.

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Over the decades, many world locations have been faked in Bond films and ‘GoldenEye‘ is no exception. Sure, there are a few shots of the real St Petersburg but much of it was shot in the UK in the nations capital. Somerset House (below) at The Strand on 55 minutes doubled up as Russia’s second largest city whereas in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ (1997) the courtyard was seen as 007 is driven to the MI6 HQ. This place is a short distance from Temple tube station and also appears as scenery footage at the start of ‘Love Actually‘ (2003).

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Other “Russian” locations in London to feature include Brompton Cemetry (below) on 58 minutes which is the exterior of the St Petersburg church where Natalya meets Boris by chance. This cemetery can also be seen in the Rowan Atkinson Bond spoof ‘Johnny English‘ (2003) and in ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation‘ (2015).

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The interior is St Sofia’s Cathedral (below) which funnily enough is on Moscow Road near Bayswater Station.

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The Langham Hilton (below) at Portland Place is portrayed as ‘Grand Hotel Europe’ and is seen briefly on 63 minutes.

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One final “Russian” location is Drapers’ Hall (below) on Throgmorton Street near Bank station. It is the St Petersburg council chamber where a General discovers that Natalya has survived the detonation. I visited here on two occasions with the first one being hindered slightly by a lot of visible scaffolding which meant I had to zoom in close to cut it out.

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A couple of years after ‘GoldenEye‘ and this place, which isn’t open to the public, became Russia again in ‘The Saint‘ (1997) starring Val Kilmer.

For other London filming locations click on the links below:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    Notting Hill    The World Is Not Enough     Paddington    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Re-Visited)    Entrapment    Sliding Doors    Eyes Wide Shut     Four Weddings & A Funeral   Die Another Day

London Filming Locations: Die Another Day (2002)

This much derided 007 movie marked the 40th anniversary of the franchise and includes references to each of the 19 Bond films which preceded it. Having watched it again for this feature I don’t actually mind it as much as I previously thought. Sure there are some ridiculous gimmicks and too much computer imagery but the first half is pretty good. Continue reading

Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2014

Another year has passed and despite my reservations about the future of such ‘top 10……filming locations’ this time last year, I have managed to do enough locations to warrant another list. It’s quite 007-centric and has in the main included just topping up pre-existing entries. Here then, in no particular order, is the Top 10……filming location trips for 2014…

1) Entrapment, 1999 (Click here)

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2) The Hangover Part II, 2011 (Click here)

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3) The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 (Click here)

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4) Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 (Click here)

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5) The Wolverine, 2013 (Click here)

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6) Godzilla, 1954 (Click here)

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7) Notting Hill, 1999 (Click here)

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8) The World Is Not Enough, 1999 (Click here)

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9) Skyfall, 2012 (Click here)

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10) Quantum Of Solace, 2008 (Click here)

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For the best filming locations for other years please click on the links below:

2009     2010     2011     2012     2013

Top 10……Movies Filmed In Central America

Before I went travelling around Central America during the Christmas and New Years holiday of 2012/2013 I spent the months before preparing as only I do! Forget internet research and thumbing through guidebooks, for my work beforehand is often all about watching movies (and TV shows) filmed in that part of the world. Thankfully there were just about ten of them which makes it perfect for a top 10 listings feature; the perfect aid for anyone going or thinking of going to Central America.

This area, sandwiched between North and South America, possesses seven countries (eight if you include the southern part of Mexico as is often the case) of which five feature here. Sorry but I don’t know of any western productions being shot in Honduras or El Salvador!

Here then, in no particular order, are the top 10 movies filmed in Central America…

1. Nicaragua – ‘Carla’s Song‘ (1996): Robert Carlyle leaves Glasgow behind to go to war-torn Nicaragua to help Carla search for her past. Estelí; the third largest city in Nicaragua is where a lot of those scenes were filmed. It is 150km north of capital city Managua.

2. Belize -‘The Mosquito Coast‘ (1986): Based on the novel of the same name, this tells the story of a family leaving the USA in the hope of finding a happier, simpler life in the jungle but things don’t quite go to plan. Hotel Mona Lisa on the south side of Haulover Creek in Belize City was one of the filming locations.

3. Belize – ‘The Dogs Of War‘ (1980): This one is also based on a novel and is about a small, international unit of mercenary soldiers privately hired to depose of the President of a fictional West African country so that a British tycoon can gain access to vast mines of platinum. The movie was shot in Belize City and the Chateau Caribbean hotel was where Christopher Walken’s character stayed upon his arrival.

4. Guatemala – ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope‘ (1977): The rebel base where Luke Skywalker and co launch their attack to destroy the Death Star and save their people from Darth Vader’s grasp was shot in Tikal. It gets only 13 seconds of screen time and features the Millennium Falcon flying over Yavin 4 which is overseen by a rebel standing on top of Temple IV in the western part of the national park. More details here.

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5. Guatemala – ‘Moonraker‘ (1979): Tikal features again on screen but this time only for three seconds! 007 travels through the Amazon in search of villain Hugo Drax’s lair, encountering Jaws and other henchmen along the way, before he discovers it supposedly at Temple I of Gran Plaza. More details here.

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6. Panama – ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008): Due to its diversity Panama doubled up for both Bolivia and Haiti. Colon at the Caribbean end of the Canal represents Port Au Prince in the latter and Casco Viejo in Panama City fills in for Bolivia. The ruins of the Old Union Club were revamped for villain Dominic Greene’s party. More details here.

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7. Panama – ‘The Tailor Of Panama‘ (2001): Another 007 connection for Panama with Pierce Brosnan playing a far seedier agent than Bond. Filming took place in the picturesque old town of Casco Viejo, the lobby and bar of The Marriott Hotel and Gatun Lake. More details here.

8. Panama – ‘Contraband‘ (2012): To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills in this action crime thriller. The Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal and the  local neighbourhood known as El Chorillo featured in the filming. The latter is an impoverished area within Panama City where some of the more salacious scenes take place.

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9. Costa Rica – ‘Spy Kids 2: Island Of Lost Dreams‘ (2002): The artificial Arenal Lake which is situated in the northern highlands was one of the locations used in this sequel production along with Manuel Antonio National Park. Known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails this impressive landscape has white sand beaches, lush foliage, great mountains and tropical forests which made it a prime area to film this sci-fi family adventure film.

10. Costa Rica – ‘1492: Conquest Of Paradise‘ (1992): Directed by Ridley Scott, this overly long flop of a film details the discovery (albeit a fictionalised one!) of the New World by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and the effect it had on the indigenous population of the Americas. Filming took place at Playa Herradura (Herradura beach) in Puntarenas; a coastal town on the Pacific Ocean located about four km north of Jaco.

Top 5……Tokyo Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Whilst its probably possible to spend the night at the Wolverine temple or outside the Grudge house, I certainly doesn’t recommend it!! There are far more appropriate and more conventional ways to absorb the atmosphere of a handful of films which have been shot at various places in Tokyo. Last month featured the top 10 movie locations where you can stay and earlier in the year there was the top (double oh) 7 Hotels featured in James Bond films. Now, its time to bring you a list of movie-related places where you can stay in Japan’s capital city.

So here, in no particular order is the Tokyo Fox top 5……Tokyo movie locations where you can stay

1. Hotel New Otani (from $217 per night), 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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You Only Live Twice (1967) – This hotel plays the part of Osato Chemicals exterior for a few brief moments on 24, 28, 36 and 41 minutes respectively. The nearest station is Akasaka-Mitsuke. Its small, but peaceful gardens round the back are worth a visit for anyone wishing to take a break from the concrete jungle. More details here

2. The Park Hyatt Hotel (from $507 per night), 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Featuring throughout the films 97 minute entirety, this is where the characters Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johanson) stay and the 52nd floor is the New York Grill & Bar where a fair few scenes were filmed including when they meet for the first time on 23 mins. This place is a great one for the lunch set menu (5000 yen) with the salad and dessert buffet spread being sufficient enough in itself! A delicious main course of grilled Australian beef or lamb is also part of the deal and the aforementioned buffet is laid out on the table where Bob and Charlotte first meet. More details here

3. Hotel Okura (from $237 per night), 2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku.

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Walk, Don’t Run (1966) – Cary Grant’s swan-song was mostly set in and around Toranomon during the 1964 Olympic Games. On his arrival in Tokyo on business, he turns up at Hotel Okura in the first minute but is unable to get a room there so goes to the British Embassy where he sees an advert for an apartment which he soon fast-talks his way into sharing with Samantha Eggar. More details here

4. Imperial Hotel (from $337 per night),  1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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Wasabi (2000) – Appearing on 47 mins this is where Hubert (Jean Reno) books into ‘pretending’ that the young under-age Japanese girl is his daughter with the irony being that she actually is, not that she knows it! More details here

5. Nakagin Capsule Tower (from $51 per night), 8-10-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku.

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The Wolverine (2013) – Logan and Mariko disembark (52 minutes) from the Shinkansen in “Nagasaki” though in reality it’s a combination of Fukuyama and  Ginza where the Nakagin Capsule Tower appears as a love hotel which they check into. The interior of these tiny apartments could be seen in episode four of the BBC documentary ‘Journeys Into The Ring Of Fire‘ (2006). The building is a fine example of Tokyo modern architecture and now you can actually stay there thanks to airbnb website. More details here

Bonus: Karaoke-Kan (from $17 per night), 30-8 Utagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Those wanting to experience a night at a movie location on a shoestring budget should get themselves into rooms 601 and 602, which featured on 46 minutes, and is where Bob sings ‘More than this’ by Roxy Music. You’ll have to check out at 6am though as that’s when it closes each night…or morning if you prefer! This particular idea for a cheap nights stay in Tokyo actually featured on the ‘The Travel Show‘ (Episode 31) on BBC2 last Friday (19th Sept). More details here

London Filming Locations: The World Is Not Enough (1999)

It was pretty much a law of diminishing returns where the Pierce Brosnan Bond-era was concerned and by the time of his third outing as the double agent things were starting to get more and more ridiculous regarding plot, excessive action scenes and an over-reliance on technological devices of some sort. Still, it was enjoyable enough and the follow up ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) made it seem not so bad after all!

The MI6 Headquarters building is Vauxhall Cross (below); the same building which would reappear in ‘Skyfall‘ (2012). It’s located at 85 Albert Embankment next to Vauxhall Bridge.

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The pre-titles sequence along the River Thames is actually the longest one of all the 23 James Bond films clocking in at just over 14 minutes. It starts off at the MI6 building, and goes past Westminster, which is clearly seen alongside Big Ben, as the chase continues on down to Tower Bridge.

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Perhaps the most memorable part of the chase was on 10 minutes at Glengall Bridge (below) in the East End’s docks where, with the bridge closing in true dramatic movie style, Bond hits a special button which allows the boat (Q’s retirement recreational boat no less which is on show at the ‘Bond In Motion’ exhibition at London Film Museum) to go under the water to avoid the bridge. No doubt the underwater scene was shot in the studio but it was classic Bond with him slyly finding a moment to adjust his tie!

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The bridge, which opened in 1990, is located at Millwall Inner Dock and Crossharbour Station on the DRL Line is technically the closest station though many of the other stops on this line are in close proximity too. I actually walked from Canary Wharf which is three stops away!

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From there the chase proceeds along Ornamental Canal (below) at Wapping Lane where he soaks a couple of traffic wardens at the right-angle bend as they motor on towards the purposely built canoeing clubhouse.

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A brief detour on tarmac and then its back on the water as the scene comes to a climax in Greenwich at the Millennium Dome (below) as it was known then. These days its sponsored and is called the O2 Arena. Sadly, my photo below is a rather poorly scanned photo which I took back in 2005. 

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Not quite London, but Luton is near enough to the nations capital for its airport to have been re-named London-Luton in 1990 to re-emphasise the airport’s proximity to London……and if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for Tokyo Fox!! So with that in mind let us remind you that Luton Hoo, Hotel, Golf & Spa (also used in ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ and ‘Four Wedding’s And A Funeral‘) in Bedforshire was actually used to portray the interior of Electra’s Baku palace in Azerbaijan.

Click here to see 15 ‘fake’ Bond filming locations.

After that, the action moves on to a few places including Turkey where the Maidens Tower (below); a tiny islet off the coast at Uskudar, is where ‘M’ (Judi Dench) is taken prisoner.

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Bonus: London has of course regularly appeared in many Bond films and is the true home of 007. It made a brief appearance on 15 minutes in ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008) when Daniel Craig’s Bond is driven into the entrance of a high rise apartment (below) belonging to a deceased double agent where he and M realise the extent of the mysterious organisation. The flats are called The Water Gardens and they’re on Burwood Place close to Edgware Road tube station.

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The city of London featured extensively throughout the awesome follow up ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) which you can see in detail here.

For other London filming locations click on the links below:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    Notting Hill

‘Bond In Motion’ Exhibition

One of the things I really wanted to do whilst I was back in the nations capital was to visit this exhibition at London Film Museum in Covent Garden. With no-one else interested in going with me it was just a question of finding some time to myself to visit this fairly pricey place (£14.50 entry), and thankfully that opportunity arose the day after we returned to London from our mini trip back to my hometown.

This museum boasts as having the largest official collection of original 007 vehicles and is the largest display of its kind ever staged in London. The majority are loaned from the archive of EON Productions who produce the movies and the Ian Fleming Foundation who have located and restored many of the vehicles.

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The ticket sellers at reception advise you to start upstairs on the upper mezzanine that features some examples of the production company’s concept art and storyboards which was interesting enough but it’s downstairs where the real excitement exists as that’s where you can see the vast collection of vehicles representing almost all of the 23 Bond movies thus far.

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Each and every vehicle thankfully has a large TV screen next to it looping the moments it was seen in the film which is a great idea and really adds to the occasion as it isn’t too easy remembering the role each car, motorbike or whatever played in the movie.

There are about 50 James Bond vehicles on display and below are a selection of them:

Skyfall (2012): Honda CRF250R – The motorcycle which Bond rode through the streets and bazaars of Istanbul as he chased an assailant in the films pre-title sequence.

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Quantum Of Solace (2008): Aston Martin DBS & Montesa Cota 4RT – The former was heavily damaged after a chase at the beginning of the film in Siena, Italy. The motorcycle was rode through the streets of Haiti which in reality were filmed in Panama.

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Casino Royale (2006) – Aston Martin DBS V12 – A product placement deal with Aston Martin was probably the main reason this one featured on screen. The car only features a spare gun and a defibrillator and was destroyed during Bond’s pursuit of Le Chiffre.

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Die Another Day (2002): Aston Martin V12 Vanquish – The infamous car possessing a rather silly gimmick; the ability to effectively become invisible at the push of a button.

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The World Is Not Enough (1999): Q’s Retirement Recreational Boat – The boat which Bond rode along the Thames, and even under it, in hot pursuit of an assassin.

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Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): BMW R1200C & BMW 750iL – The stolen motorcycle was ridden through the streets of Saigon with Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed together. The car was remotely controlled by Bond during a chase inside Brent Cross shopping centre car park in London which doubled up as ‘Hamburg’.

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The Living Daylights (1987): Aston Martin V8 + Cello Case Sled and case – The combination of 007 and Aston Martin were reunited for Timothy Dalton’s first outing as the double agent.

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A View To A Kill (1985): Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II & Renault 11 2XE – Bond is driven around in the impressive Rolls whilst the Renault features in an early car chase as 007 pursues an assassin through Paris at high speeds whereby it loses its roof and manages to  jump onto and off a sight-seeing bus.

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Octopussy (1983): Acrostar BD-5J Jet & the auto rickshaw – This mini-folding jet was  originally owned by Budweiser and can be seen exiting a horse-box. The latter was driven through the streets of Udaipur with Bond as a passenger rather at the controls.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Lotus Esprit S1 – Q delivers this special submarine car to Bond in Sardinia. It is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles.

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Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Honda ATC 90 ATV & Ford Mustang Mach 1 – The dune buggy that went after Bond whilst the car is owned by Tiffany Case and during theLas Vegas chase it manages to balance on two side wheels to drive through a narrow alley although it mysteriously exits on the other two wheels in one of the great 007 movie goofs.

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You Only Live Twice (1967): “Little Nellie” – the aircraft flown by Bond to try and locate Blofeld’s hidden rocket base from the air. The weapons include two fixed machine guns, rocket launchers, heat-seeking missiles, rear-firing flame guns and aerial mines.

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Goldfinger (1964): Rolls-Royce Phantom III & Aston Martin DB5 – The Rolls was  owned by Auric Goldfinger and driven by Oddjob; one of the great Bond villains. The Aston Martin prototype has appeared in many Bond films but with slightly different number plates.

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There’s a photo opportunity allowing you to don a tuxedo (top half only) and recreate the gun barrel scene which features in all the movies. This could be pretty cool but £8 for something that could just as easily be done online for free was not worth it in my eyes!

There’s a cafe and souvenir shop beyond the main gallery which you need to pass through to exit the place. The cafe is surrounded by a few artefacts as well as a GoldenEye pinball machine and the gift shop is a place like no other with just about every conceivable product having the ‘Bond In Motion’ label on it. Needless to say that the 007 fans were lapping it all up!

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The London Film Museum is open 7 days a week from 10am and is located at 45 Wellington Street in Covent Garden. It is open for the rest of this year.

The London Film Museum in County Hall on the Southbank closed at the end of last year.

Madame Tussaud’s Waxwork Museum

One of the things that my mother-in-law wanted to do in London was to visit this very famous and hugely popular waxworks museum. I have to say that I’d never had too much enthusiasm for going to this place which may surprise regular readers (yes, such people do actually exist!) who have witnessed me travelling wide and far just to get my picture taken with a statue of some sort. However, I have always had a slight problem with there being so many of them in one place and the rather high entry fees probably put me off a bit too!

Before we arrived in England though, I went online and was able to book the four of us some tickets for an early evening visit which were sold at 50% lower fare and I guess £15 per ticket in this day and age ain’t so bad. The first part of the museum is a red carpet affair with some of the world’s biggest and most famous movie stars on show. It certainly hits you how busy this place is which took me a little by surprise as whenever I’ve seen friends pictures on Facebook at this place it’s looked like there’s been plenty of room and space to wander freely and get your photo’s taken with the stars! However, in reality it’s a mad crush and you’ve gotta almost force your way through to the front to get that all-important picture. Luckily my wife and mother-in-law were pretty good at that and soon got into the spirit of the place whilst my father-in-law and I took a little longer to adjust to the hordes of people in attendance.

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The stars on show in this area included Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis, George Clooney, Dame Judi Dench, Daniel Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger (all pictured) as well as Russell Brand, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Emma Watson, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and many more.

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We then proceeded along the walking route to the ‘Sport’ section where I got my hands on the World Cup alongside England great Bobby Moore, met David Beckham again (there’s a model of him and his wife in the ‘Party’ zone) and got to hang out with rugby and tennis legends Jonny Wilkinson and Boris Becker.

It was in this section that I realised you really have to pick and choose the ones you want to get photographed with although I’m sure there are some people who do each and every model. Global superstars of past and present like Pele, Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods and Usain Bolt featured among British talent like Tom Daley, Mo Farrah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Lewis Hamilton and so on. All interesting to me but pretty much unknown by my wife and her parents!

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We passed through the royals (just too many people waiting for picture opportunities) and culture sections fairly quickly before stopping at the music section which was stocked full with models of pop queens like Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Adele, Cheryl Cole, Kylie and Rihanna. Other legends like Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, the Beatles and erm, One Direction were on display.

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In terms of the waxwork models the World Leaders zone was pretty much the last area of real interest with the likes of Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Boris Johnson and David Cameron (but no Japanese politicians!) featuring among others not that my wife knew who the latter two were when she took the above photograph! We finished off things with the Spirit of London ride; a black cab ride through periods of British history such as Elizabethan and Victorian era’s, Shakespeare, the Plague, the Great Fire of London, The Industrial Revolution, the World Wars, the swinging sixties and so on

The finale was the Marvel Super Heroes and their 4D movie experience went down way better than expected having had to wait nearly twenty minutes to see it.

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Overall, we probably spent about 90 minutes in the place which in all honesty was fairly quick and proof that you could easily stay there for a few hours. Someone came up with the idea of stopping for dinner afterwards at the nearby Wetherspoon’s pub next to Baker Street Underground Station and my father-in-law finally got the chance to sample some fish and chips and a pint of Guinness.

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On Screen #5 – Thailand

This south-east Asian country has long been used in films but more often that not its just been used to replicate other Asian countries, particularly Vietnam, as was revealed in On Screen #1. This series though focuses primarily on how each country is portrayed on screen whether it be real or faked.

The readily available mix of exotic jungles, beautiful beach settings, elephants, low production costs and relatively experienced film crew members make Thailand an attractive proposition for foreign production companies.

Possibly the most famous time when Thailand played itself on the big screen was for the Danny Boyle adaptation of the classic (albeit a little over-rated in my opinion) Alex Garland book ‘The Beach‘ (2000). Leonardo DiCaprio and co were filmed at Khao Yai National Park, Krabi and of course Maya Bay in Phuket which was the secret beach. More details of the exact locations can be seen here.

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Over his 50 years in cinema, James Bond has gone round the world taking in a vast array of places and of course that has included Thailand albeit on quite a small scale. Ratchdamnoen Boxing Stadium, Muang Boran and the Mandarin Hotel in Bangkok featured in the ninth film in the 007 series; ‘The Man With The Golden Gun‘ (1979), which starred Roger Moore and Britt Ekland. More famously Khao Ping Gan a.k.a. James Bond Island was used as Scaramanga’s lair.

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The Bridge On The River Kwai‘ (1957) starring Obi-Wan Kenobi, erm, I mean Alec Guinness may be all about the building of the bridge in Katchanburi area but in reality it was filmed in Sri Lanka and the contraption seen on screen is far more impressive than the actual bridge in Thailand.

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Far more recently ‘Only God Forgives‘ (2013) features plenty of Thailand in this dark tale of murder and vengeance featuring Ryan Gosling as a man who runs a Thai boxing club as a disguise for a drug business but when his brother murders a prostitute and is thus killed a series of further killings take place in Bangkok.

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Technically ‘The Railway Man‘ was also a 2013 movie due to it debuting at some film festivals not that it really got its worldwide release till this year. Based on Eric Lomax’s novel of the same name, Colin Firth plays a former British Army officer, who was tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp during WW II. That camp was filmed at Ipswich in Queensland, Australia. On discovering that the young Japanese officer who haunted him is still alive Eric travels to Thailand to confront his tormentor. This is when Thailand for real is seen with Bangsue train yard in Bangkok used for scenes where thousands of Allied prisoners were forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burma railway during WW2. The Death Railway and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery were used for brief shots.

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Of course, Thailand has been a popular destination for western productions over the years and other films of note to have been shot there include ‘The Big Boss‘ (1971), ‘Duel Of Fists‘ (1971), ‘Year Of The Dragon‘ (1985), ‘Kickboxer‘ (1989) and ‘Alexander‘ (2004).  ‘American Gangster‘ (2007) has a few scenes in “Bangkok” which in reality were shot in Chiang Mai with drug lord Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) smuggling heroin in the late 1960’s via the coffins of seven American Vietnam War soldiers.

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I can’t say that I was too taken in by ‘The Hangover‘ when it came out in 2009. I thought it was ok but couldn’t understand why so many people loved it and sadly that affection resulted in its 2011 sequel (not to mention a third one last year!) which saw the guys going to Thailand for a wedding.

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Another sequel to arrive in Thailand was ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason‘ (2004) which featured some romantic sea cruising which was shot at the 200-year-old Muslim village on stilts at Ko Panyee in Phang Nga Bay. Nai Yang Beach and Phuket Airport were also used for some scenes. The crew built a Thai-style restaurant from scratch for the scene where Bridget was momentarily swept away during a romantic dinner with Daniel Cleaver.

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The Impossible‘ (2012) deals with a British family’s story about the ordeal they suffered during the terrible 2004 tsunami which hit Phuket. This film emphasises a feel good plot within the the context of mass devastation. It was filmed in part in Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak but most of it was shot in Alicante, Spain.

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At the end of the day though, filming on location in Thailand isn’t always so easy due to a variety of reasons and one such example of that is ‘Anna & The King‘ (1999) which, due to the protests of historical inaccuracy from the Thai Film Board, had to be filmed in Malaysia. Protracted negotiations and rewrites resulted in 20th Century Fox finally moving the production, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat, to the likes of Penang (Bangkok harbour and some street scenes), Ipoh, Perak, Parit, Papan, Langkawi and Selangor. Many, many decades before that ‘Anna & The King Of Siam’ (1946) and ‘The King & I‘ (1946) were banned from filming in Thailand for the same reasons and so alternative locations were found.

You can see previous On Screen articles by clicking on the links below:

On Screen #1 – Vietnam (Click here)

On Screen #2 – Istanbul (Click here)

On Screen #3 – Myanmar (Burma) (Click here)

On Screen #4 – Brazil (Click here)

TF Top (Double Oh) 7……Hotels Featured In James Bond Movies

Hotels have played a major part in the James Bond series of films over the last 50+ years with the secret agent going around the world on his many missions whilst splurging on many a fine hotel. Now, everyone’s favourite secret agent hasn’t always stayed in the accommodation listed here but they have all featured in the movies at some point. The cost of spending a night in one of these hotels varies quite a bit and one needs to be seriously minted to afford some of these places! With a slight twist on the usual TF Top 5/10…… series’ we bring you the top (double oh) seven (see what we’ve done there!) places to stay for one to follow in the footsteps of James Bond.

1. Hotel New Otani (from $217 per night), 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 102-0094, Tokyo, JAPAN.

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You Only Live Twice (1967) – This hotel in Chiyoda-ku plays the part of Osato Chemicals exterior for a few brief moments on 24, 28, 36 and 41 minutes respectively. The nearest station is Akasaka-Mitsuke. Its small, but peaceful gardens round the back are worth a visit for anyone wishing to take a break from the concrete jungle. More details here

2. Riviera Hotel & Casino (from $21 per night), 2901 Las Vegas Boulevard South, USA.

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Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Bond may have stayed at the Tropicana but its the Riviera which plays a more important part in the film. This is where he wins $50,000 and the opportunistic Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) who he takes back to his room where gang members ambush them and throw O’Toole off a high rise balcony into a pool below not that they knew there was a pool there! This has been parodied a couple of times; in ‘The A-Team‘ TV series and more recently in ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013). Martin Scorsese’s ‘Casino‘ (1995) used this place as the fictitious Tangier casino. More details here

3. The Peninsula (from $604 per night), Salisbury Road, HONG KONG.

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The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) – Just a stones throw from the ferry terminal on Kowloon in Tsim Sha Tsui is this hotel (seen on 27 minutes) which is where Bond tracks down Scaramanga’s mistress Miss Andreas Anders’ who had been collecting gold bullets at a Macau casino room. It is room 602 where he puts pressure on her to inform him of Scramanga’s appearance and plans. More details here

4. Hotel Danieli (from $893 per night), Riva degli Schiavoni, 30122 Venezia, ITALY.

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Moonraker (1979) –  Situated round the corner from St Mark’s Square, the Hotel Danieli is where Dr Goodhead (Lois Chiles) stayed in Venice. It could also be seen in ‘The Tourist‘ (2010) which featured Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie as well as former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton. The interior was also the inspiration for the tiny studio-built sinking palazzo used at the end of ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006) which can be seen on the DVD extras. More details here

5. Langham Hilton (from $605 per night), 1C Portland Place, Westminster, London W1B, UK.

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GoldenEye (1995) – As Tokyo Fox reported back in March many Bond locations have been faked with Russia being a prime example in the first outing for Pierce Brosnan as 007. This hotel in London doubled up as the “Grand Hotel Europe.” More details here

6. Mandarin Oriental Hotel (from $39 per night), 48 Oriental Ave Alley, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, THAILAND.

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Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – Bond (Roger Moore) is reunited with his British assistant Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland) at this place on 65 minutes whereby they share dinner. Inevitably their evening is interrupted! Anders (Maud Adams) tells Bond that she wants him to kill Scaramanga and will pay him at a boxing venue the next day. More details here

7. Instituto Nacional de Cultura (National Institute of Culture), Calle 1a Oeste, Caso Viejo, Panama City, PANAMA.

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Quantum Of Solace (2008) – As you may gather from the name of this one, it isn’t actually a hotel but the “Andean Grand Hotel” in Bolivia where Bond (Daniel Craig) takes MI6 officer Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) to having been unhappy with her original choice as part of their cover. More details here