Bond. James Bond.
Photo by Allan Warren via wikimedia
Roger Moore just passed away. Everyone who was sentient in the 1970s and 1980s will remember him as the “third James Bond”, and everyone who has seen more than a couple of James Bond movies will remember the epic ski chases (snowchases?).
What could be more exciting than barreling down the mountain with a bunch of bad guys hard on your tail, culminating in a BASE jump off a cliff from full Schuss? Well, OK, except for the part where if they catch you, you’ll die a gruesome death at the hands of [insert Bond Villain here]. For everyone not named Bond, James Bond, that shouldn’t be something to worry about, though, so what remains is the thrill of the chase: either in person, racing your ski buddies on the slopes, or vicariously, watching one of the Bond movies that feature such alpine pursuits.
Starting with the latter puts just the right soundtrack in your ear when engaging in the former – as Sninja wrote, during our most recent Operation SNOWCHASE we got in the mood for our epic excursion to Alta by watching a highlights reel of epic James Bond ski chases. And then we played the no less epic soundtrack tracks on our way there.
So for all you James Bond aficionados out there, here are the favorite ski chases of the Snowchasers:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) has Bond, who is masquerading as a heraldry expert, escape from the megalomaniac villain’s lair atop “Piz Gloria” in the Swiss Alps. Pursued by machine gun wielding henchmen wearing black-and-orange uniforms, he escapes twice – first to the village in the valley where he links up with the Bond Girl, then, with her, down yet another series of steep slopes, which makes it look like the village was actually halfway up the mountain… but since this was the first Bond ski chase and it was indeed pretty epic – featuring avalanches, a bobsled track, and, well, machine gun wielding henchmen – all is forgiven. Ski geek factoid: this was Willy Bogner’s breakthrough as a ski cameraman.
- Location: the Schilthorn mountain near Mürren (which to this day still features the lair)
- Bond: George Lazenby
- Villain: Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
- Bond Girl: Diana Rigg as Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo
The Living Daylights (1987) isn’t actually a ski chase, at least on the part of Bond, but it’s nevertheless a snowchase (ha!): James and his girl, a Czech cellist on the run from the KGB, escape their pursuers first in his Aston Martin featuring side-mounted skis and a rocket engine, and then sledding downhill in her cello case while using the priceless instrument to steer. A relatively short but (thanks to the ultra-cute Bond girl) definitely sweet chase!
- Location: Weissensee, Austria
- Bond: Timothy Dalton
- Villain: Joe Don Baker as Brad Whitaker
- Bond Girl: Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) features the arguably best ski chase in the franchise, as part of the opening sequence. James says farewell to his girl-of-the-moment in a ski chalet high on the mountain and proceeds to ski into the valley, but the girl tips off the villain’s henchmen who proceed to give chase in some of the most beautiful ski territory on the planet. Down the mountainside in deep powder, across glaciers and through crevasses the chase goes, which culminates in James Bond skiing off a cliff, only to be saved by the Union Jack-colored parachute in his backpack. He of course survives and subsequently links up with, of course, “Agent XXX”.
We’ll delve into the details of each of the locations in future posts. To tide you over until then, here’s another Bond essential – the “Vodka Martini, shaken and not stirred” as first described in Casino Royale!
- Three measures of Gordon’s Dry Gin
- One measure of vodka, preferably one “made with grain instead of potatoes”
- Half a measure of Kina Lillet [nowadays, Lillet Blanc]
- “Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold”, pour into a “deep champagne goblet” [or Martini glass] and “add a large thin slice of lemon-peel”