A View to a Kill: Bond–Behind the Scenes

Along with the other stories in Ian Fleming’s 1960 anthology For Your Eyes Only, the original short story “From a View to a Kill” was originally envisioned as an episode of an abandoned 1958 CBS James Bond TV series.

A View to a Kill was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who also co-authored the script along with Richard Maibaum.

Broccoli initially wanted to rehire George MacDonald Fraser from Octopussy to co-write the screenplay but he was unavailable. Originally Maibaum’s script included Zorin manipulating Halley’s Comet into crashing into Silicon Valley, but Wilson insisted on a more realistic plot.

At the end of Octopussy, the “James Bond Will Return” sequence listed the next film as “From a View to a Kill,” the name of the original short story, but later the title was changed.

When a company with a name similar to Zorin (the Zoran Corporation) was discovered in the US, 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 would have a disclaimer about the use of the Red Cross.

Villain: Christopher Walken

David Bowie initially accepted the role of Zorin, but later declined, saying “I didn’t want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs.” The role was then offered to Sting, who turned it down, and finally to Christopher Walken.

Priscilla Presley was going to be cast as Stacey Sutton, but she had to be replaced by Tanya Roberts because of her contract with Dallas.

The original script had Barbara Bach reprising her role as Major Anya Amasova from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. However, Bach declined the role, and so a new character–Pola Ivanova–was created, played by Fiona Fullerton.

Patrick Macnee, as Bond’s ally Tibbett, became the fourth former star of The Avengers TV series to appear in a Bond film, after Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Joanna Lumley. David

Yip’s character Chuck Lee was originally scripted as Felix Leiter, but he was rewritten into a new Asian-American character in order to capitalize on the setting of San Francisco.

Dolph Lundgren has brief appearance as one of General Gogol’s KGB agents. Lundgren, who was dating Grace Jones at the time, was visiting her on set when one day an extra was missing, so the director John Glen then asked him if he wanted to attempt the role. Lundgren appears during the confrontation between Gogol and Zorin at the racetrack, standing several steps below Gogol.

Principal photography began with the horse racing scenes at Ascot Racecourse on August 1, 1984.

The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in London, Iceland, Switzerland, France and the United States with the budget initially being $35 million. 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, Dunsmuir House, San Francisco City Hall and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Lefty O’Doul Bridge was featured in the fire engine chase scene.

Production of the film began on 23 June 1984 in Iceland, where the second unit filmed the pre-title sequence.

On 27 June 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 1 August 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-upon-Thames and the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in West Sussex.

On October 6, 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 scenes atop the bridge were shot on October 7, 1984.

In Paris, two stunt parachutists, B.J. Worth and Don Caldvedt, were set to undertake jumps from 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 descent. 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.

Airship Industries managed a major marketing coup with the inclusion of its Skyship 500 series blimp in the film. At the time Airship Industries was producing a fleet of blimps 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 blimp seen in the climax was then on a promotional tour of Los Angeles after its participation in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics. At that time, it had “Welcome” painted across the side of the gasbag, but was replaced by “Zorin Industries” for the film. During the summer of 1984, the blimp was used to advertise Fujifilm. In real life, inflating the airship would take up to 24 hours, but during the film it was shown to take two minutes.

The shoot went over schedule by two weeks, but the production was completed $5 million under budget at $30 million. Filming completed on January 16, 1985.

Soundtrack: Song

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 from 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” reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, thus becoming the peak song in the James Bond series. The 2015 track Writing’s on the Wall later outperformed the song in the UK by reaching number one.

Duran Duran was chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor, a lifelong Bond fan, approached producer Albert 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 tribute band Gidea Park with Adrian Baker, is used during a chase in which Bond snowboards; it has been suggested that this sequence helped initiate interest in snowboarding.

This was the first Bond film to world premiere outside the UK, opening on May 25, 1985 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.

The British premiere was held on 12 June 1985 at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London.

It achieved a box office gross of $152.4 million worldwide with $50.3 million. On its opening weekend in the US and Canada it grossed $13.3 million from 1,583 theaters over the four-day Memorial Day weekend.

It was the biggest opening for a Bond film ever at the time, but not enough to beat Rambo: First Blood Part II which was number one for the weekend with a gross of $25.2 million from 2,074 theaters. Although its box office reception was excellent, the film’s critical response was mostly mixed.

Roger Moore was too old–he was 57–at the time of filming, and had visibly aged in the two years that had passed since Octopussy.

He was not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes. Sean Connery declared that “Bond should be played by an actor who’s in his early 30s. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!” Moore said that A View to a Kill was his least favorite Bond film.

Moore claimed that he was mortified to find out that he was older than his female co-star’s mother. He was quoted as 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.”

Kael also singled out the dispirited direction and the hopeless script. “Director John Glen stages the slaughter scenes so apathetically that the picture itself seems dissociated. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen another movie in which race horses were mistreated and the director failed to work up any indignation. If Glen has any emotions about what he puts on the screen, he keeps them to himself.)”