MI6 digs up one of 007's in-the-field postcards to Miss Moneypenny whilst on the Diamonds Are Forever mission...
Postcards From Bond - Saratoga
8th August 2009
James Bond is back in the USA and hot on the tail of the illusive Tiffany Case, a gorgeous, devil-may-care blonde in league with several American mobsters. In Fleming's fourth James Bond adventure, 007 teams up with his ex-CIA partner Felix Leiter to get to the bottom of a mysterious diamond smuggling ring. MI6 dusts off the archive and uncovers unseen material from Bond's mission in Saratoga.
Above: Never-before-seen postcards from the MI6 archives - postmarked Saratoga Springs 1953...
Diamonds Are Forever Locations
Touching down at Idlewild airport, having successfully infiltrated a diamond
smuggling racket, Bond sets about depositing £100,000 worth of uncut
stones which he has smuggled into the country. In New York, Bond runs into
his old friend Felix again and the pair immediately go for Martinis 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".
Not since the faitful events of "Live
And Let Die" have Felix and James teamed up together. Since he "disagreed
with something that ate him", Felix supports a heavy limp and a 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". When the cocktail
hour extends into lunch, 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 internet it can
be attributed as marinated rib-eye steak. Learning that Leiter has left
the CIA due
to his injuries and now works for Pinkerton's Detective Agency, they find
that their investigations run parallel and decide to team up once again.
Leiter agrees to transport 007 from the big apple to Saratoga, home of races and relaxing sulfur bathes. Before departing, Bond finds time to dine at the 21 Club with his contact on the smuggling job, the brash but enchanting Tiffany Case. Located at 21 West 52nd Street, "21" was a favourite haunt of Humphrey Bogart and Richard Nixon amongst others.
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." Case
and Bond eat caviar, followed by cutlets with asparagus with mousseline sauce
and a coffee order 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".
At 9am the following (Sunday) morning Bond 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,
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".
En routé to Saratoga Springs, Bond and Leiter stop
at The Chicken in the Basket, which must be somewhere on the road to Troy.
They lunch on scrambled eggs, sausages and hot buttered rye toast washed down
with Millers Highlife beer and then iced coffee. In Saratoga, Bond stays at
The Sagamore, "on the edge of the town and only half a mile from the race-track." Fleming
seems to have appropriated the name, but not the location, of a real establishment;
the real Sagamore is on Lake George and just not close enough to Saratoga.
Later, Felix Leiter takes Bond to "the 'Pavilion', the only smart
restaurant in Saratoga", ordering broiled lobster - but only after "two
very dry Martinis made with Cresta Blanca Vermouth". Strangely enough
we read a page later that "Leiter took a pull at his whisky and sat back
in his chair".
Later, on the trail of the Diamond ring, Bond arrives in Las
Vegas and checks into The Tiara. His impression of the Vegas high-rollers is
quite unfavorable, as "the first thing he noticed was that Las Vegas seemed
to have invented a new school of functional architecture, 'The Gilded Mousetrap
School' he thought it might be called, whose main purpose was to channel the
customer-mouse into the central gambling trap whether he wanted the cheese
Bond first likens the mainly women gamblers playing the slot machines to battery hens. When one hits the jackpot though, "they reminded Bond of Dr Pavlov's dogs, the saliva drooling down from their jaws at the treacherous bell that brought no dinner, and he shuddered at the thought of the empty eyes of these women and their skins and their wet half-open mouths and their bruised hands". He is not much more impressed by the Blackjack tables either: "The game was quick and efficient and dull. It was as dull and mechanical as slot machines".
Bored of watching the gambling, Bond goes to the restaurant
and finds the service rather slow. When a waitress arrives at his table he "was
able to order a dozen cherrystone clams and a steak, and, since he expected
a further long pause, a second Vodka dry Martini". When it arrived, the
dinner was excellent and finishing with coffee, Bond goes back into the casino
to sit at a blackjack table, as instructed. He is being paid off for his smuggling
services for The Spangled Mob with a fixed hand dealt by his gang contact,
Tiffany Case. Walking away five thousand dollars richer, he celebrates with
a Bourbon and branch-water in the bar and then in an attempt to up the stakes
with the Spangled Mob he gambles the money on roulette, betting on the colours
and walking out with 20 thousand dollars in his pocket. The Spangled Mob do
take exception to these additional winnings and pursue him across Las Vegas
in a taxi driven by one of Felix Leiter's friends. Bond ends up in the gang's
they take him to the fictional town of Spectreville, two hours drive from Las
Vegas. Owned by Spangled Mob boss, Jack Spang, Spectreville is an old style
western town where he likes to live out his fantasy as a cowboy.
The town is complete with a railway with "probably the
most beautiful train in the world. The engine was one of the old locomotives
of the 'Highland Light' class of around 1870 which Bond had heard called
the handsomest steam locomotives ever built".
Eventually rescued by Felix, Bond and Tiffany Case are driven to Los Angeles and "towards evening, they were sitting in the dark, cool bar of the Beverley Hills Hotel" for the usual Martinis, before flying back to New York and sailing to England aboard the Elizabeth.
MI6 Literary Locations Guide
New York City, USA
Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Diamonds Are Forever
||Postcards From Bond
Delve into the MI6 archives and uncover never before seen postcards from Bond's missions around the world to various MI6 personal. Recipiants include M, Moneypenny, Loelia Ponsonby and May - 007's housekeeper.