Production Notes - A View To A Kill

Whether the timing was deliberate, to take some of the wind from the sails of rival Bond film "Never Say Never Again" (1983), is unclear, but the day before Kevin McClory's film was released, EON Productions announced that Roger Moore was to return in his seventh Bond film, announced as "From a View To a Kill".

Moore had been resisting signing a long term contract with EON since his original three film contract had expired following "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) and had been negotiating with producer Albert Broccoli on a film-by-film basis. Moore had twice before expressed his reluctance to continue with the role, trying to quit before "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) and "Octopussy" (1983) only to be lured back by increased salaries.

Prior to "A View to a Kill", Moore again expressed his reluctance to return to the role and again Broccoli and Bond paymasters United Artists had tempted him back with a salary hike. This time, however, Moore and Broccoli came to an agreement - Moore would play Bond one last time and then he would walk away from the role.

With Moore back in the saddle, if only temporarily, returning director John Glen set to work on pre-production. His preferred choice of screenwriter, "Octopussy"s George MacDonald Fraser, was unavailable and the script was being prepared by Bond series old-boy Richard Maibaum in collaboration with executive producer Michael G. Wilson and Broccoli. The team had noted the explosion in available computer technology and the public's fascination / concern with all things hi-tech so decided that their story should centre around the planned destruction of America's Silicon Valley.

With a title taken from one of Ian Fleming's short stories, the trio first concocted a treatment that saw the villain, deranged industrialist Max Zorin, attempting to wipe out the west's primary source of high technology by re-directing the path of Halley's Comet. That fanciful notion was dropped early on, perhaps fearing that it would return the series to the excesses of the 70s.


Christopher Walken, who had scored such a huge success in "The Deer Hunter" and who had appeared alongside Sean Connery in "The Anderson Tapes" (1971) was cast as the insane Zorin, beating of competition from the likes of Lee Van Cleef and Rutger Hauer. Ironically, Walken had also been among the cast of Michael Cimino's disastrous "Heaven's Gate" (1980), the catastrophic failure of which had almost left the United Artist's bankrupt.

Joining forces with Bond against Zorin's evil machinations was the third of TV's The Avengers to defect to the Bond camp. Patrick Macnee had feared that he would never get the chance to appear in a Bond film after he had criticised Broccoli for 'poaching' Honor Blackman away from The Avengers to appear in "Goldfinger" (1964). But Macnee had appeared in the the TV movie "Sherlock Holmes in New York" (1976), playing Dr Watson to Roger Moore's Sherlock Holmes and Moore was keen to work with Macnee again. On Moore's recommendation, Macnee was cast as undercover agent Sir Godfrey Tibbett.

The new Bond girl was going to be former Charlie's Angels star Tanya Roberts. Broccoli had seen Roberts in "The Beastmaster" (1982) and had been so impressed by what he saw that he decided that she was just right for the part of geologist Stacy Sutton.

Perhaps thee least likely, but certainly one of the most distinctive of Bond girls, was former model and disco diva Grace Jones, the athletic and striking co-star of "Conan the Destroyer" (1984). Her work on that film had so impressed Broccoli that she was quickly added to his 'shopping list' of actors for the now subtlety retitled "A View To A Kill".

But one long-standing Bond girl was preparing to make her farewell performance - when Moore bowed out of the series, so would Lois Maxwell who, along with Albert Broccoli, was the only surviving member of the team that had created "Dr No" back in 1962. Maxwell had asked that her character go out with a bang, being killed of in the course of duty. Broccoli vetoed that plan but Maxwell finally got to film a proper goodbye scene a few years later when she appeared opposite Terence Connolly [as M] in an advert for Brook Street Employment Agency - Moneypenny was seen signing up with the agency after she has handed in her notice to M!


Pre-production was going along nicely when suddenly disaster struck. The immense, custom-built 007 sound stage that had been built at Pinewood to house "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) was severely damaged in a fire on 27 June 1984 shortly before it was due to house Ridley Scott's "Legend" (1984). With "A View To A Kill" due to move in towards the end of the year, the race was on to almost entirely rebuild the stage in time.

With a budget of $30 million under its belt, the production kicked off in July 1984 when the second unit began its work. Moore joined the main unit at Pinewood on 1 August and from their home base, the crew would visit Royal Ascot for the racing scenes, and both a waterlogged quarry near Staines and the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in West Sussex for the scenes around the entrance to the mineshaft.

The teaser was shot on location in Iceland before the main unit decamped to France to shoot in both an automated Renault production facility (which stood in for the warehouse hidden beneath Zorin's stables) and where the spectacular Eiffel Tower parachute jump would be performed by Bond veteran B.J. Worth. The impressive palatial home of Max Zorin was recreated at the 18th century chateau at Chantilly.

A large part of the schedule was taken up with the San Francisco shoot. All of the stunt scenes on the Golden Gate Bridge and the nocturnal chase through the city on a fire engine were staged by the second unit while the main unit worked on the scenes in Chinatown.

On 7 January 1985, the newly rebuilt 007 stage, now renamed the Albert R. Broccoli 007 stage in honour of the producer who had made Pinewood his second home, was officially reopened, though it had been finished some time before and was now playing host to Peter Lamont's huge set representing the interior of Zorin's mine workings. The finale called on the services of over 100 stuntmen, the largest stunt team ever assembled for a Bond film.


Prior to release, EON had one last complication to sort out. It had come to their attention that there already existed a real life company named Zoran Ladicorbic Ltd owned and run by the fashion designer Zoran. EON decided that discretion was the better part of valour and ran a disclaimer at the beginning of the film, distancing their entirely fictional Zorin from any real person or organisation.

John Barry was again charged with creating the soundtrack for the film and, for the first time in the series history, he approached a pop group rather than a solo artist to perform the title song. Duran Duran were chosen because they had enjoyed tremendous success on both sides of the Atlantic. Released slightly ahead of the film itself, the single became the most successful Bond theme tune so far, reaching number two in the UK singles charts and going all the way to number one in the US Billboard chart.

In a reversal of recent trends, "A View To A Kill" opened in the States first, on 24 May 1985. It's UK premiere, on Wednesday 12 June, was, as usual, held at the Odeon Leicester Square and was attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales, their third Bond premiere. Admissions were significantly down on "Octopussy", particularly in the States where the box-office dollars from paying customers fell from $225 million to a relatively measly $161.6 million.

Moore himself, finally saying goodbye to a character who had been a part of his life for over a decade, was particularly disappointed with the direction that "A View To A Kill" had taken: "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."

With Moore leaving for pastures new, and audiences apparently leaving with him, the way was open for EON to take stock and prepare the way for a new era for Bond.