The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

In search of 007th heaven: A travel yarn in three parts (Part 3)

We welcome back Sebastian Doggart for the final installment of his story about the pilgrimage he made to Goldeneye, the Jamaican coastal retreat where Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond novels. In Part 1, Sebastian reports on his clever ploy to gain admission to the birthplace of James Bond. In Part 2, he registers disappointment at the conversion of Goldeneye into GoldenEye, a soulless bolt-hole for the rich and famous. In this final part, he tracks down the original locations where some famous scenes in two early Bond films were shot.

Back on the cactus-studded road, fortified with a cup of 007’s favorite Blue Mountain coffee, I — along with my two Bond girls: my lovely girlfriend, Emily, and our cheeky six-month-old daughter, Alma — renewed the quest to find some legitimate traces of Britain’s greatest spy.

The movie that pays greatest tribute to Fleming’s love for Jamaica is Dr. No (1962). Filmed just outside the island’s capital city, Kingston, on the south coast, Dr. No features the first Bond car chase, as glimpsed in the film’s original trailer. (Notably, I did not encourage our red-eyed Jamaican driver to hit the accelerator and, for Alma’s sake, was relieved to see a large blue traffic safety sign saying: “SPEED KILLS. Don’t be in a hurry to eternity”.)

Also as glimpsed in this trailer, Dr. No also introduced the world to the first Bond Girl: Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder — emerging from the waves, cuddling a conch shell.

No matter that her voice was dubbed in the final film, Ms. Andress in a bikini was a vision that launched a million erotic fantasies, including my own. The beach where this iconic scene was filmed is as hard to reach today as it was for Bond in the movie. Located four miles west of Ocho Ríos, behind the Roaring River generating station, on a privately owned, rentable estate, it is approached by an unmarked track that ends at a security gate. The Laughing Waters stream — in which Bond and Honey concealed themselves — still pours into the sea.

But Bond and Honey’s actual hiding place is now a very unromantic drainage ditch.

In both the movie and the book, Honey’s beach lies on the island of Crab Key, which is Dr. No’s well-appointed hide-out. Bond and Honey make their way from the beach, through a lush forest, where they find a stunning waterfall in which to wash off.

I would do the same thing…

The cascade used for the movie is now one of Jamaica’s top tourist attractions, Dunn’s River Falls. As we reached this reputedly picturesque spot, the first thing we noticed were grotesque conga lines of cruise-ship passengers — mainly American, but with a large smattering of Chinese — clambering over the rocks. How I wished I’d had a Walther PPK pistol to silence the tour-guides as they orchestrated raucous football chants.

(Afterwards, Alma exacted her own ruthless revenge on the commercialized desecration of the waterfall. As we were waiting for our driver to pull up, a septuagenarian American couple, all sunhats and positive energy, approached us. Alma served up her gummiest, sweetest grin to the lady, whose tired face melted. “Awww,” she cooed, “you are the cuutest ba–“, at which moment she stumbled sharply and fell face first on to the asphalt. A blackish red liquid oozed from her mouth. Emily shielded Alma’s gaze from the horror. The husband yelled for help. A call went out to out to an ambulance, which — do they have one permanently stationed at the Falls to handle tourists tumbling down the rocks? — arrived within minutes. The lady was carried into the back of the ambulance, as her husband asked a fellow cruise passenger to tell the captain not to leave until she had been patched up and discharged.)

Dr. Julius No’s lair was where he entertained Bond and Honey for dinner…and concealed the laser that could disable American missiles. It also contained the nuclear reactor where he would meet his death, sinking into the boiling liquid from which he was unable to escape because of his metal hands.

The building used for the reactor’s exterior is a bauxite plant that sits beside the main road on the crescent harbor of Discovery Bay. It’s owned and operated by the American company Kaiser. Beneath its russet-stained dome is where the “red gold” that is Jamaica’s second-leading money earner after tourism is transformed into aluminium for export to U.S. refineries.

The other movie where Jamaica plays a major role is Live and Let Die (1974), the first film to star Roger Moore as James Bond.

Jamaica stands in as the Louisiana bayou for the classic scene in the crocodile farm owned by the evil Mr. Big. In the film, Mr. Big’s real name is Kananga, which was taken from real-life crocodile wrangler Ross Kananga, who was the double for Moore in the scene where Bond escapes by running over a phalanx of crocodiles.

In this clip you can see all five takes of Kananga performing this perilous stunt for Moore. The location was an actual crocodile farm called Swamp Safari, near the town of Falmouth. (It was being refurbished when we visited and is due to re-open next year.)

In Live and Let Die, Jamaica is also the fictional Caribbean island of San Monique. In the original novel, Bond comes here to track down what his MI6 boss, M, believes to be a stash of gold that was originally amassed by the notorious pirate Henry Morgan, himself an early foreign resident of Jamaica. That gold was being used by the criminal network SMERSH to fund nefarious activities in America.

In the movie, Kananga’s base was conceived of as a cathedral-like cave beneath a cemetery. It was here where the infamous drug lord kept his submarine. And it was here, in a shark-infested lagoon, that Moore kills Kananga by stuffing a bullet of compressed air down his throat, causing him to explode.

The Kananga scenes were shot in the real-life Green Grotto and Runaway Caves near Discovery Bay. They comprise a network of limestone caves and a limpid lake, 120 feet below sea level. Originally a Taíno place of worship, the caves had a recent incarnation as a nightclub — but after revelers damaged the stalactites, it was closed down. Today, tour guides are scrupulously protective of the green algae on the walls.

As my Bond girls and I wound up our 007 tour and headed back to New York, I was re-energized to write my own Bond novel. It will begin with our hero discovering that his mother, whom he has not seen since he was very young, is alive but has been kidnapped by a mysterious criminal gang.

With Bond’s fascination for women clearly linked to an Oedipal complex and an impossible love for his mother, this will set up the highest stakes of any 007 story ever. In an extraordinary final twist, his mother will be revealed as none other than…M herself!

M for Mummy! Genius!

What do you think? Will this effectively reboot the Bond franchise?

img: The intrepid Sebastian Doggart with his equally intrepid “Bond girls,” girlfriend Emily and their daughter Alma, snapped in front of Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica, with conga lines of cruise-ship passengers in the background.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby, who, having just said good-bye to her London home, is about to embark on her long-anticipated relocation adventure.

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