Bond in the Alps
From Russia with Love
|Book||1957||Chamonix France, Switzerland, Italy|
It was five books in before the Alps made an appearance in the Bond novels. In From Russia with love, Bond reminisces about his youth:
Lunch came. Bond put aside his book and the thoughts that kept coming between him and the printed page, and, while he ate, he gazed down at the cool mirror of the Lake of Geneva. As the pine forests began to climb towards the snow patches between the beautifully scoured teeth of the Alps, he remembered early skiing holidays.
The plane skirted the great eye-tooth of Mont Blanc, a few hundred yards to port, and Bond looked down at the dirty grey elephant's skin of the glaciers and saw himself again, a young man in his teens, with the leading end of the rope round his waist, bracing himself against the top of a rock-chimney on the Aiguilles Rouges as his two companions from the University of Geneva inched up the smooth rock towards him.
The Aiguilles Rouges would make another more poignant appearance in You only live twice later in the series. Towards the end of the book Bond takes the Simplon-Orient Express train through Switzerland. Fleming had taken this journey himself, although he didn't rate it as the restaurant car was closed - the nerve!
In the book the Simplon tunnel is where the Russian agent Grant plans to assassinate James Bond and Tatiana Romanova
Nash took a quick glance at his wrist watch. ‘In about twenty minutes we go into the Simplon tunnel. That’s where they want it done. More drama for the papers. One bullet for you. As we go into the tunnel. Just one in the heart.
You can still take the journey today as part of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express - a private luxury train service from London to Venice. You could also take one of the daily Swiss trains that use the Simplon tunnel to Italy for a cheaper but less glamorous option.
The film of the book was made in 1963 and was the second in the series after Dr No. In it, Bond is played by Sean Connery who doesn't have time for daydreaming about the Alps. He does take the Orient Express train but in the other direction - from Istanbul to Venice past the Slovenian and Italian Alps. Bond only makes it to Trieste though thanks to Captain Nash - played by Robert Harris - who is an imposter with a bad accent.
Sorry old man.
Bond leaves the train and fends off a helicopter in what should be the pre-Alps but the scene was filmed in Scotland thanks to film grants. Bond does end up in Venice for the closing scenes.