James Bond, the British super agent with a licence to kill, was introduced to the world, in 1962, in the now classic thriller, Dr. No. Bond, the brainchild of the British author, Ian Fleming, was ‘born’ in Jamaica. Fleming had visited Jamaica and fallen in love with the island. In 1946, he purchased a property and built Goldeneye, his Jamaica home. It is here that he escaped, every January and February, to write the Bond books. He has been quoted as saying he doubted the books would have been written had he not been on the island.
Dr. No, the first of the books to be adapted to the screen, was also set in Jamaica, and was filmed entirely on location on the island.
As you might imagine, the filming of the first James Bond movie was a big deal in Jamaica at the time. There were almost daily reports in the local paper, The Gleaner, of movie-related news, for example the arrivals of the stars, Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, the location where filming would take place, etc.
Several locals, including the men who played Three Blind Mice, the photographer, Freelance (Miss Jamaica 1961, Marguerite LeWars), as well as the band, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, appeared in the movie but the real “star” was the island. Filming took place at different locations in Kingston, Port Royal and Ocho Rios, most notably:
- Palisadoes Airport: James Bond makes his first appearance in Jamaica at Palisadoes, which is now known as the Norman Manley International Airport.
- King’s House: In the movie, Bond goes to Government House though he actually went to King’s House, the residence of the Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Jamaica.
- Morgan’s Harbor Hotel: Byron Lee and the Dragonaires are seen playing that infectious number, Jump Up, Jump Up, at Morgan’s Harbor Hotel, which is still located on the airport road.
- Dunn’s River Falls: James Bond and Quarrel hide from Dr. No’s machine near Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios.
- Laughing Waters: Probably one of the most eye catching scenes in the movie is when Urusla Andress walks out of the sea at Laughing Waters near Ocho Rios
- Reynold’s Bauxite Terminal: Dr. No’s lair at Crab Key is actually Reynold’s Bauxite terminal in Ocho Rios
Filming on the island wrapped after about six weeks with the remaining scenes done in Pinewood Studios, London. Several months later, on August 6, 1962, Jamaica went from British colony to an independent country (More on Jamaica’s anniversary in a later post).
Dr. No was released on October 5, 1962 but didn’t have its premiere in Jamaica until September 17, 1963, it was till playing a year later.
Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun both have scenes that were in Jamaica, however Live and Let Die was the only other James Bond movie to be filmed here.
Fifty years later, Bond is as popular as ever. In November, the franchise will release its latest installment, Skyfall. I cannot wait!
Set Your DVRs!
Now, if you are as passionate about James Bond movies as I am, I’m happy to report that on July 1, Encore is marking the 50th anniversary with an all day marathon of James Bond films. It’ll start at 7:00 a.m. with Dr. No and end with Never Say Never Again. Following the marathon, every Thursday nights in July, beginning at 8:00 p.m. they’ll show other Bond films uncut and commercial-free. Set your DVRs!
Other Bond Events
‘Designing 007 – Fifty Years of Bond Style’ opens on July 6. Tickets cost £12.