A View to a Kill (1985) is
the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and
last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.
Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming's short story
"From a View to a Kill", the film is the fourth Bond film
after The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Octopussy to have an
entirely original screenplay. In A View to a Kill, Bond is pitted
against Max Zorin, who plans to destroy California's Silicon Valley.
original plot in Fleming short story, "From a View to a
Kill", Bond investigates the murder of a motorcycle
dispatch-rider and the theft of his top-secret documents by a
motorcycle-riding assassin. The rider was en route from SHAPE, the
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, then located in
Versailles, to his base, Station F, in Saint-Germain in France. Since
Bond is already in Paris, his superior, M, sends him to assist in the
investigation in any way he can. To unravel the mystery, Bond
disguises himself as a dispatch-rider and follows the same journey to
Station F as the previous rider. As expected, the assassin attempts
to kill Bond. Bond, however, is ready and kills the assassin. He then
uncovers the assassin's hidden base of operations.
The film was produced by
Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who also wrote the
screenplay with Richard Maibaum. It was the third James Bond film to
be directed by John Glen, and the last to feature Lois Maxwell as
Miss Moneypenny. At the end of Octopussy during the "James Bond
Will Return" sequence, it listed the next film as "From a
View to a Kill", the name of the original short story; however,
the title was later changed.
Despite being a commercial
success, with the Duran Duran theme song "A View to a Kill"
performing well in the charts and earning a Golden Globe nomination
for Best Song, the film received a mixed reception by critics and was
disliked by Roger Moore. Christopher Walken, however, was praised for
portraying a "classic Bond villain" Max Zorin, head of
Zorin Industries. When a company with a name similar to Zorin (the
Zoran Corporation) was discovered in the United States, a disclaimer
was added to the start of the film affirming that Zorin was not
related to any real-life company. This is the first Bond film to have
a disclaimer (The Living Daylights had a disclaimer about the use of
the Red Cross.)
Early publicity for the
film in 1984 included an announcement that David Bowie would play
Zorin. He turned it down, saying, "I didn't want to spend five
months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs." The role was
offered to Sting and finally to Christopher Walken (above). Other
cast members included Bond Girl Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton, the
granddaughter of an oil tycoon whose company is taken over by Zorin.
Grace Jones (above) as May Day, Zorin's lover and chief henchwoman.
She also possesses superhuman strength. And, Patrick Macnee (pictured
below center with Moore) as Sir Godfrey Tibbett, Bond's ally who
helps him enter Zorin's villa and stable. Roberts' performance was
nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actress. With Patrick
Macnee (John Steed of TV's The Avengers) appearing in a Bond film he
would be the fouth Avengers cast member to do so, following Honor
Blackman in Goldfinger (1964), Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret
Service (1969) and Joanna Lumley (New Avengers) who had a small part
in OHMSS as well.
Dolph Lundgren has a brief
appearance as one of General Gogol's KGB agents. Lundgren, who was
Grace Jones's boyfriend, was visiting her on set when one day an
extra was missing so the director John Glen then asked him if he
wanted to get a shot at it. Lundgren appears during the confrontation
between Gogol and Zorin at the racetrack, standing several steps
The film was shot at
Pinewood Studios in London, Iceland, Switzerland, France and the
United States. Several French landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, its
Jules Verne Restaurant and the Château de Chantilly were
filmed. The rest of the major filming was done at Fisherman's Wharf
and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Lefty O'Doul Bridge
was featured in the fire engine chase scene. The horse racing scenes
were shot at Ascot Racecourse.
Production of the film
began on June 23rd 1984 in Iceland, where the second unit filmed the
pre-title sequence. On June 27th 1984, several leftover canisters of
petrol used during filming of Ridley Scott's Legend caused Pinewood
Studios' "007 Stage" to burn to the ground. The stage was
rebuilt, and reopened in January 1985 (renamed as "Albert R.
Broccoli's 007 Stage") for filming of A View to a Kill. Work had
continued on other stages at Pinewood when Roger Moore rejoined the
main unit there on August 1st 1984. The crew then departed for
shooting the horse-racing scenes at Royal Ascot Racecourse. The scene
in which Bond and Sutton enter the mineshaft was then filmed in a
waterlogged quarry near Staines and the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in
On October 6th 1984, the
fourth unit, headed by special effects supervisor John Richardson,
began its work on the climactic fight sequence. At first, only a few
plates constructed to resemble the Golden Gate Bridge were used.
Later that night, shooting of the burning San Francisco City Hall
commenced. The first actual scenes atop the bridge were filmed on
October 7th 1984.
In Paris it was planned
that two stunt men, B.J. Worth and Don Caldvedt, would help film two
takes of a parachute drop off a (clearly visible) platform that
extended from a top edge of the Eiffel Tower. However, sufficient
footage was obtained from Worth's jump, so Caldvedt was told he would
not be performing his own jump. Caldvedt, unhappy at not being able
to perform the jump, parachuted off the tower without authorisation
from the City of Paris. He was subsequently sacked by the production
team for jeopardising the continuation of filming in the city.
Industries managed a major marketing coup with the inclusion of
their Skyship 500 series airship in the film. At the time Airship
Industries were producing a fleet of ships which were recognisable
over many capitals of the world offering tours, or advertising
sponsorship deals. As all Bond films have included the most current
technology, this included the lighter than air interest.
The ship used in the climax
was a Skyship 500, then on a promotional tour of Los Angeles after
its participation in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games.
At that time, it had "WELCOME" painted across the side of
the hull, but the word was replaced by "ZORIN INDUSTRIES"
for the film. During the 1984 season, the ship was painted green and
red as a part of Fujifilm's blimp fleet; it was subsequently coloured
white. In real life, inflating it would take up to 24 hours, but
during the film it was shown to take two minutes.
The soundtrack was composed
by John Barry, and published by EMI/Capitol. The theme song, "A
View to a Kill", was written by Barry and Duran Duran, and
performed by the band. "May Day Jumps" is the only track
that uses the James Bond theme. Barry's composition On Her Majesty's
Secret Service was modified for use in the songs "Snow Job",
"He's Dangerous" and "Golden Gate Fight" of A
View to a Kill. "A View to a Kill" was second in the
British charts and first in the American charts, thus becoming the
peak song in the James Bond series.
Duran was chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor (a
lifelong Bond fan) approached producer Cubby Broccoli at a party, and
somewhat drunkenly asked "When are you going to get someone
decent to do one of your theme songs?"
During the opening
sequence, a cover version of the 1965 Beach Boys song "California
Girls", performed by Gidea Park with Adrian Baker (a tribute
band), is used during a chase in which Bond snowboards; it has been
suggested that this teaser sequence helped initiate interest in snowboarding.
This was the first Bond
film with a premiere outside the UK, opening on May 22nd 1985 at San
Franciscos Palace of Fine Arts. The British premiere was held
on June 12th 1985 at the Odeon Leicester Square Cinema in London. It
achieved a box office collection of US $152.4 million worldwide with
$50.3 million in the United States alone. On its opening weekend in
the US it earned $10.6 million.
Although its box office
reception was excellent, the film's critical response was mostly
negative. One of the most common criticisms was that Roger Moore was
57 at the time of filming and had visibly aged in the two years that
had passed since Octopussy. The Washington Post critic said
"Moore isn't just long in the tooth, he's got tusks, and what
looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of a
zombie. He's not believable anymore in the action sequences, even
less so in the romantic scenes, it's like watching women fall all
over Gabby Hayes." Sean Connery declared that "Bond should
be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. Im too old. Rogers
too old, too!". In a December 2007 interview, Roger Moore
remarked, "I was only about four hundred years too old for the part."
has also stated A View to a Kill as his least favourite film and
mentioned that he was mortified to find out that he was older than
his female co-star's mother. He was quoted saying "I was
horrified on the last Bond I did. Whole slews of sequences where
Christopher Walken was machine-gunning hundreds of people. I said
'That wasn't Bond, those weren't Bond films.' It stopped being what
they were all about. You didn't dwell on the blood and the brains
spewing all over the place".
Pauline Kael of The New
Yorker said "The James Bond series has had its bummers, but
nothing before in the class of A View to a Kill. You go to a Bond
picture expecting some style or, at least, some flash, some lift; you
don't expect the dumb police-car crashes you get here. You do see
some ingenious daredevil feats, but they're crowded together and, the
way they're set up, they don't give you the irresponsible, giddy
tingle you're hoping for."
Yet, Lawrence O'Toole of
Maclean's believed it was one of the series' best entries. "Of
all the modern formulas in the movie industry, the James Bond series
is among the most pleasurable and durable. Lavish with their budgets,
the producers also bring a great deal of craft, wit and a sense of
fun to the films. Agent 007 is like an old friend whom an audience
meets for drinks every two years or so; he regales them with tall
tales, winking all the time. The 15th and newest Bond epic, A View to
a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter. Opening with a
breathtaking ski chase in Siberia, A View to a Kill is the fastest
Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the
momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up
and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond
finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action
prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin's
dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco's Golden Gate
Bridge." And although O'Toole believed that Moore was showing
his age in the role, "there are plenty of tunes left in his
violin. James Bond is still a virtuoso, with a licence to thrill."
On the other hand, Brian J.
Arthurs of The Beach Reporter said it was the worst film of the Bond
series. C. Pea of the Time Out Film Guide said, "Grace Jones is
badly wasted." It also appeared on the worst lists of Norman
Wilner of MSN, IGN and Entertainment Weekly.
Danny Peary had mixed
feelings about A View to a Kill but was generally complimentary:
"Despite what reviewers automatically reported, [Moore] looks
trimmer and more energetic than in some of the previous efforts ... I
wish Bond had a few more of his famous gadgets on hand, but his
actions scenes are exciting and some of the stunt work is
spectacular. Walken's the first Bond villain who is not so much an
evil person as a crazed neurotic. I find him more memorable than some
of the more recent Bond foes ... [The film] lacks the flamboyance of
earlier Bond films, and has a terrible slapstick chase sequence in
San Francisco, but overall it's fast-paced, fairly enjoyable, and a
worthy entry in the series."
CLUB SLIDESHOW DEPARTMENT