In the fourth installment in the series looking at
the world of James Bond, we visit North America...
The World Of James Bond - North America (1)
4th September 2004
James Bond makes a number of trips to North America in the course
of the books. Traveling both by intention and as the accidental
guest Auric Goldfinger, among other places Bond visits Miami and
St Petersburg in Florida, the gambling Mecca of Las Vegas, watches
the races at Saratoga and pays a fleeting visit to Canada. However,
the first time we find Bond in North America is the first of several
trips to New York.
When we meet James Bond at the beginning of Live And
Let Die he has just arrived at Idlewild airport (renamed
JFK in 1963) and rather than go through the standard immigration
procedures in place to enter the United States, he ends
up with his passport being stamped in the black Buick that
awaits him and his FBI escort. The Buick draws up at “the
best hotel in New York, the St. Regis, at the corner of
Fifth Avenue and 55th Street”, a hotel dating from
1904 that still regularly receives some of the most prestigious
awards in the travel industry. Bond is allocated a room
on the top floor, where he is surprised to find Felix Leiter
waiting for him.
Above: Idlewild, now named JFK airport.
Leiter seems to have the measure of Bond from his previous encounter
in Casino Royale
and immediately mixes Martinis, followed
by a substantial lunch “of American cooking at its rare best”.
After an afternoon of “Americanization at the hands of the
FBI”, Bond reads up on Voodoo before heading for bed and on
waking orders breakfast in his normal decisive manner: “Half
a pint of orange juice, three eggs, lightly scrambled, with bacon,
a double portion of café Espresso with cream. Toast. Marmalade.
Got it?” Unfortunately, in addition to his breakfast he also
has a bomb delivered to his room, almost with tragic consequences.
One of the more interesting sequences concerns
Band and Leiter paying a visit to Harlem. First they enter
Sugar Ray’s on Seventh Avenue at 124th Street for
a Scotch and soda (not 123rd as stated by Fleming).
The restaurant was owned by world champion boxer Sugar
Ray Robinson in an area once renowned for its jazz clubs
and after finishing their drink they walk up Seventh Avenue
to Ma Frazier’s for the “best food in Harlem,
or at any rate it used to be”. After a dinner of Little
Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland they take a taxi to
the Savoy Ballroom for another Scotch and soda.
Left: The St. Regis hotel, Fifth
Avenue and 55th Street, New York
The Savoy was founded in 1926 and located between 140th and
141st Streets on Lenox Avenue. The vision of its two founders
was to create one of the first racially integrated public places
in the country and a long succession of dance fads were started
at there, including the Lindy Hop. Following the Savoy, Bond and
Leiter are tracked to Yeah Man before visiting one of Mr Big’s
own establishments, the presumably fictitious Boneyard.
The pair return to their hotel bloodied
and bruised after their encounter with Mr Big and the telepathic
Solitaire. Having exhausted their investigation in New York
they decide to go to St Petersburg in Florida, Leiter traveling
by air and Bond on the Silver Phantom train.
Solitaire unexpectedly makes contact with Bond and they
travel together on the Silver Phantom to St Petersburg,
where Leiter is later thrown to the sharks; more of that
Right: The Savoy, Lenox Avenue, New
The next time Bond is in New York is in Diamonds Are Forever.
Arriving again at Idlewild, Bond has successfully infiltrated
a diamond smuggling racket and delivering the £100,000 worth
of uncut stones that he has smuggled into the country inside golf
balls he bumps into his old friend Felix again and immediately
go for Martinis and lunch at Sardi’s
restaurant. Located in the heart of New York’s theatre
district at 234 West 44th Street (between Broadway and Eighth
avenue and close to Times Square), Sardi’s was founded in
1921 and is more known for its theatrical clientele that its food
- “Leiter avoided the fashionable room at the famous actors’
and writers’ eating house and led Bond upstairs”.
Above: Sardi's Restaurant, 234 West
44th Street, New York
This is the first occasion that Bond had seen his old friend
since he “disagreed with something that ate him” and
notices the heavy limp and the steel hook that has replaced his
right hand. Sipping the medium dry Martini that Leiter has ordered
for him, Bond doesn’t recognise the Vermouth – it
is Cresta Blanca, a “new domestic brand from California”.
In 1953 a group searching for the perfect Martini submitted the
results of its tastings – they concluded that it should
consist of three parts gin to one of Cresta Blanca, which was
used by the Cresta Blanca Wine Company in its advertising for
the next five years and it is likely that this is where Fleming
came across the vermouth.
Leiter recommends Brizzola, a cut of beef that Raymond Benson
in his book “The James Bond Bedside Companion” claims
is an invention of Fleming’s, although upon a search of
the web it shows up as a marinated rib-eye steak. Learning that
Leiter has now left the CIA due to his injuries and now works
they find that their investigations cross and decide to team up
Above: 21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street,
Before departing for Saratoga Bond finds
time to dine at the 21
Club with his contact on the smuggling job, Tiffany
Case. Located at 21 West 52nd Street, “21” was
a favourite of Humphrey Bogart and Richard Nixon amongst
others and currently specialises in “fusing American
cuisine with modern innovation and flair”.
First ordering drinks of course, “the waiter brought
the [Vodka] Martinis, shaken and not stirred, as Bond had
stipulated, and some slivers of lemon peel in a wine glass”
and then, demonstrating that he is anything but conventional,
a bottle of rosé Champagne – Veuve Clicquot
Rosé - which “seemed to have a faint taste
of strawberries”. They eat caviar, followed by cutlets
with asparagus with mousseline sauce and with coffee order
“a Stinger made with white crème de menthe”
on the house, after which they return to their separate
rooms in their hotel, the Astor, overlooking Central Park.
For dinner the following night he visits Voisin’s (375
Park Avenue, now home to the Seagram Building) for “two
Vodka Martinis, Oeufs Benedict and strawberries” and then
at nine the following (Sunday) morning meets Leiter in his “Studillac”,
a Studebaker with a Cadillac engine and make their way to Saratoga.
Fleming had come across a car of the same design owned by his
friend William Woodward Jr. Known as Billy, he had inherited a
fortune from his father, but in 1955, following a party in Long
Island where they had quarreled, his ex-showgirl wife shot him
dead. Claiming that she thought he was a prowler, his wife was
acquitted, although few agreed with the verdict. Fleming dedicated
"Diamonds Are Forever" “To J.F.C.B and E.L.C.
and to the memory of W.W. Jr., at Saratoga. 1954 and ‘55”.
The next time James Bond is in New York, he is again sitting
in Felix Leiter’s Studillac, headed for Idlewild.
At the end of the Goldfinger case, he is expecting
to head homeward but is kidnapped by the villain, who has
remained at large. Bond and Pussy Galore end up being rescued
by the navy after the plane is ditched in the sea.
Bond’s final visit to New York is in the short story
007 in New York. Again staying at the Astor and going
to “21” for “a couple of dry martinis”
– the food had apparently deteriorated since he dined
their before – he decides on dining in The Edwardian
Room at the Plaza for “one more dry martini at the
table, then the particular scrambled eggs he had once…
instructed them how to make”.
Above: A Studillac - Studebaker body
with a Cadillac engine
"The World Of James Bond" will continue to visit
North America in the next installment..
Article by David Leigh.