Trivia - Licence To Kill
The film was originally to be set in China but production difficulties
became insurmountable. Scriptwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael
G. Wilson wrote two treatments set around drugs in the Golden
Triangle with the villain being a Drug Warlord of the region.
Ideas for the film included a motor cycle chase along the Great
Wall of China and a fight sequence in the recently discovered
museum of ancient terracotta statues at Xian. When the Chinese
Government made a number restrictive demands such as veto rights
over the script, the viability of the location fell through.
With the abolition of the Eady levy in 1985 (a British tax subsidy
for the film industry), film production in the UK was badly hit
as it had become prohibitively expensive. It was estimated that
if shooting had continued in the UK, the budget would have increased
The project was originally entitled "Licence Revoked"
and teaser artwork was produced with this title. Among the reasons
for changing the title was to avoid confusion with the 1981 James
Bond novel, "Licence Renewed", written by John Gardner
(who ended up writing a novel based on this film as well). It
has also been widely reported that a survey revealed that fewer
than 50% of Americans questioned knew what "revoked"
Taglines on early posters for the film when it was known as "Licenced
Revoked" included "You're looking at the world's most
wanted man" and "Dismissed. Disgraced. Dishonored.
There was a minor controversy when the film was being made as
to whether the British or American spelling ("licence"
or "license") would be used in the title. The British
spelling won out.
The screenplay for the movie was inspired by the Akira Kurosawa
classic Yojimbo (1961).
In Italy the title was "Vendetta Privata" (personal
revenge), not following the translation, because the first Bond
film Dr. No (1962) was titled "Licenza di Uccidere",
the translation of this title film.
Just like in the Italian release, the movie had a title not correctly
translated in Sweden: It was called "Tid för hämnd"
(Time for revenge), because Dr. No (1962) had been translated
as "Agent 007 med rätt att döda" (Agent 007
with a license to kill).
The literal translations of some of the movie's foreign language
titles include Personal Revenge (France); The Cancelled Licence
(Japan); Time For Revenge (Sweden); With A Right To Kill (Norway);
Private Revenge (Italy) and 007 Licence To Kill (Brazil, Finland,
Portugal and Spain).
It was the first Bond film to receive an American
rating higher than PG. Some scenes had to be trimmed to reduce
an R rating to a PG-13. The following scenes deleted
are: - A shot of Felix' severed leg in the water. - The oriental
woman Loti being shot in each breast. - Krest's head exploding
against the glass. - Dario's legs being diced as he falls into
the mincer. - Sanchez' burning. All of these shots were restored
in the 2006 DVD release, Ultimate Edition.
The role of Lupe Lamora was initially offered to Maria Conchita
Richard Maibaum suggested Robert Davi to play the part of Franz
Sanchez after seeing him in the TV movie "Terrorist on Trial:
The United States vs. Salim Ajami" (1988).
Former Playboy Playmate Diana Lee Hsu plays Hong Kong narcotics
agent Loti. She also appears in the opening titles.
Gladys Knight's title song is the longest of all the Bond songs.
In the UK, it peaked at the No. #6 position on the UK Charts.
As a Christian soul singer, Knight apparently objected to having
to sing a song with the word "kill" in it, but eventually
she conceded. The song is apparently based on the "horn
line" from the Goldfinger (1964) title song and consequently
royalty payments were allegedly made to relevant personnel. The
music video of this song was directed by Daniel Kleinman, who
succeeded Maurice Binder as title designer on GoldenEye (1995).
Eric Clapton and Vic Flick were asked to write and perform the
title song along with composer Michael Kamen. Apparently, they
re-recorded and made a video of a new version of the James Bond
theme with the guitar riff played by Flick. However, the theme
was rejected by the producers and not used.
This film marked the retirement of Barry from composing scores
and songs for the series. Michael Kamen took over composing duties
on the film as John Barry was undergoing throat surgery at the
time. Creative differences with the band A-Ha on the The Living
Daylights (1987) allegedly also contributed.
This is the only James Bond film not to mention the name of
the song or its artist in the opening credits sequence.
First James Bond film movie to be released as a novelization
since Moonraker (1979).
The second James Bond film to openly feature the word "shit",
the first being Live and Let Die (1973).
James Bond's weapon (on loan from the U.S. Coast Guard) during
the opening pre-credits sequence was a 9 mm 16 round Beretta
92F (at the time of filming, Beretta 92F pistols were issued
to U.S. civilian law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military).
This marks the first time that Bond is seen with a Beretta in
decades (in Dr. No (1962), M ordered that Bond carry a different
pistol, his signature Walther PPK as a replacement).
CIA Agent Pam Bouvier's weapon which was kept in a gun holster
at the top of her black lace left leg garter was a .25 caliber
Beretta 950 automatic.
In the opening sequence, Sanchez beats his mistress with a whip
made from the tail of a stingray. This appears in the Fleming
short story "The Hildebrand Rarity," when yacht owner
Milton Krest beats his wife with a similar implement. Krest is
also one of Sanchez's henchmen, played by Anthony Zerbe.
Still photographer and series veteran Keith Hamshere can be
seen as the wedding photographer.
Felix's bride Della's wedding dress was made
of re-embroidered French lace adorned with seed pearls and opal
sequins. Two versions
of the dress had to be made because the scenes where Della is
attacked were filmed before the wedding sequence. Therefore,
17 meters of the material had to be located at $150 a meter.
The Leiter's bridal car was a white Lincoln Limousine.
John Rhys-Davies was offered a cameo role as General Pushkin
but declined the offer.
David Hedison returns as Felix Leiter, the first
actor to portray the character twice (his debut was in Live and
The character has appeared in nine Eon/Bond films, and has been
played by seven different actors.
Apart from a spin-off video-game, the film's title previously
lent its name to a card game twenty-two years earlier in 1967.
Produced by Golden Wonder,
the packaging boasts the tagline: "An Exciting New James
Bond Game". There are 52 playing cards which include four "Licence
to Kill" cards, 48 "Enemy Agent" cards and there
are twelve "Assignment Cards". The cover of the manual
for the card game read: "O.H.M.S. - TOP SECRET - OO AGENTS
This is the last film to date in which James Bond wears a Rolex,
here identified by researchers as the "Leiter Wedding Rolex".
It is a Submariner Date model, either number 16800 or 168000
or 16610 (virtually identical to the casual buyer). Two decades
after the release of this film, the Rolex Submariner Date 16610
is still in production and virtually identical to the watch featured
in this film - except that its case lugs no longer have holes.
The only watch brand Ian Fleming ever specified by name for his
James Bond character was "Rolex", although his literary
007 wore an Explorer 1016 model.
First Bond film not to take its title from an Ian Fleming James
Bond novel or short story, even though there were still several
usable titles available such as "Property of a Lady"
and "Quantum of Solace" (EON would not secure the rights
Royale" for 15 years). The story, however, is not completely
original, as it takes significant elements from the novel "Live
and Let Die" and the short story "The Hildebrand
The Ian Fleming short story "The Hildebrand Rarity",
upon which part of this film was based, originated as a script
for a never-produced James Bond TV series in the 1950s.
A good portion of Bond's plan to get close to Sanchez comes from
the novel "Goldfinger", when Bond recounts to himself
his exploits in breaking up a Central American drug ring.
The phone number to ring Joe Butcher's telethon was 555 LOVE.
Product placements, brand integrations, promotional tie-ins
and sponsorships for this movie include Budweiser / Busch Beer;
Carlsberg Beer; the Philip Morris Company's Lark Cigarettes;
Kenworth Trucks; Michelob Light; Cutty Sark scotch whiskey; Armorlite;
Bollinger Champagne; Rolex Watches, particularly the Rolex Submariner
16800/168000 watch; Aerospatial Helicopters; Stolichnaya Vodka;
Philips Electronics; and Domark's spin-off video-games, 007:
Licence to Kill and later with Tengen, James Bond:
The scene where Bond resigns from the MI6 was shot at Ernest
Hemingway's house in Key West. That's why when M (Robert Brown)
informs 007 that his licence to kill is revoked, he replies, "I
guess this is a farewell to arms," a nod to one of Hemingway's
most famous novels.
Franz Sanchez' daily surplus of drug money profits was $10 million.
The buy-in amount to his drug cartel for the Asian businessmen
was $100 million per territory. That equated to $20 million per
metric ton. Each of Sanchez' trucks at the end of the movie contained
a 31,600 pound mixture of cocaine & gasoline worth $40+ million.
The names of the Asian anti-drug intelligence agents were Kwang
and Loti. Their organization was Hong Kong Narcotics.
Pedro Armendariz Jr appears as President Hector Lopez. His father,
Pedro Armendáriz, played Kerim Bay in From Russia with
According to Robert Davi, he wrote his line "Loyalty is
more important to me than money."
The character of President Hector Lopez (played by 'Pedro Armendariz,
Jr.') was named after Héctor López, who was the
production supervisor of the shoot in Mexico.
The movie featured several Kenworth W900B trucks. Three were
specifically modified, one so as to be able to do back-wheelies,
one with dual-steering and one with a high supercharge engine.
They were named Pamela One, Pamela Two and Pamela Three, after
the character Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) in the movie. The high
supercharge modified Kenworth W900B truck had increased horsepower
by fitting new turbo charges and injectors. The back-wheelie
modified Kenworth W900B
truck required new suspension be applied
to the rear fault axle as well as a new front axle and fitted
with steering brakes. Its horsepower was increased to 1000 hp,
two to three times the normal capacity. Truckweld co-ordinated
the modification. The driver-less or dual-steering modified Kenworth
W900B truck was the largest and most
of all the trucks for the film Licence to Kill (1989). Apparently,
it had not been done before and the process involved electronic
engines and two throttle steer peddles being able to operate
independently of one another.
Vehicles featured included several Kenworth W900B tanker trucks;
a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II;
a Lincoln Continental Mark VII LSC, James Bond's hire car in
Key West; Sanchez' silver metallic Maserati Biturbo; a 4-seat
high-wing single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk airplane, a Cessna
185 seaplane and a 2-seat tricycle Cessna 150 airplane; a Piper
PA-18-150 "Super Cub" crop-duster float-plane and Piper
J-3 "Cub" airplane; Aerospatiale 350B A-star and US
Coast Guard Aerospatiale HH-65A Dauphin helicopters; a Harbour
Pilot's boat; a black and yellow two-seater Shark Hunter submersible
(mini wet submarine) as seen before in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977);
a Wavekrest remote-control Sentinel underwater exploratory submersible;
Sharkey's fishing boat Pa Ja Ma; a Cigarette 1 Cafe Racer; the
WaveKrest marine research vessel; and an electric golf-car at
the Olimpatec Meditation Institute.
The production office in Key
West was located on 422 Fleming Street.
The gadgets in Q's old
traveling case included an alarm clock; Dentonite toothpaste;
a laser camera and a signature gun with
optical palm reader.
The title of Professor Joe Butcher's book that he holds in his
hand whilst giving his sermon was "Secrets of Cone Power
The name of the US Coast Guard vessel moored at the DEA base
in Florida was Dauntless. The motor-boat that Lupe supposedly went
shopping in was named Pirata. The name of the vessel that played
Milton Krest's research
vessel was the "J.W. Powell". Sharkey's fishing boat
was named Pa Ja Ma.
The license plate number of Franz Sanchez' getaway car in
Isthmus City is GLD 376. The license plate number of the white
limousine that transports groom Felix Leiter and bride Della
Churchill to their wedding
was reception was ZLY 621. The license plate number of the Rolls
Royce car that Q (Desmond Llewelyn) drives in the fictional Isthmus
City was RSD 522.
The cocaine drug stash captured by James Bond was valued at
When Truman-Lodge (Anthony Starke) says that the set up cost
them $32 million dollars, that is an inside joke, a reference
to the film's $32 million dollar budget.
Budget restraints were imposed as the producers were still paying
interest on the overspending of Moonraker (1979).
The card game played at the casino was Blackjack. The name of
the casino was the Casino de Isthmus City.
When they check into their hotel, Bond refers to Pam Bouvier
as Mrs. Kennedy, a reference to Jacqueline Kennedy, whose maiden
name was Bouvier. Pam Bouvier's alias in Isthmus City was actually
Miss Kennedy, James Bond's executive secretary. Q's alias in
Isthmus City was as James Bond's uncle.
The CIA's CD-ROM contained information about Franz Sanchez which
included his Swiss Bank accounts, investments, warrants, indictments
and informants. Of the latter there were nine of whom eight were
deceased. These included: Henry Steiner, James Murphy, Jose Pico,
H. Keen and Jeffrey Giggins. The one active alive informant was
Governor Bob Martinez of the state of Florida presented Albert
R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson and head of marketing Charles
Juroe each with the Great Seal of the State of Florida during
a month's filming at Key West. The Governor also won a walk-on
part in the film as a customs officer at the Key West airport.
Robert Davi had to learn to scuba dive for the scene where he
escapes from an armored car underwater on the Florida Keys.
Although a rig was constructed to help the 8 wheeler truck tilt
onto its side, it wasn't necessary as the stunt driver was able
to pull off the stunt without the aid of camera trickery.
The handgun that Dario used to threaten Bond with at the climax
was a Walther P5; which was used by Bond himself in Octopussy
(1983) and unofficial 007 film released on the same year, Never
Say Never Again (1983).
The number of felony counts faced by Franz Sanchez in Florida
amounted to 139. These added up to a total sentence of 936 prison
The set for the Fox TV show "Paradise Island" (1977)
is the same location used for Sanchez's house.
When Bond lands on the balcony outside Sanchez's office at the
casino, he's startled by a flock of pigeons flying in his face
- this is John Glen's director trademark.
The "Bank" scene in the movie is actually Mexico's
main post office, an old elaborate building of European styling.
Real casinos were illegal in Mexico at the time of filming.
Bond's controversial betrayal of M was, in part, a way to sidestep
the fact that the British would have no jurisdiction in a Latin
American drug cartel.
The "maggots" at Krest's lab in Key West were in
reality white plastic fishing grubs.
Sanchez is from Isthmus City, a reference to the country of
Panama which lies on an isthmus and the corrupt dictator Manuel
who the CIA were working very hard to oust, at the time.
their final appearances with the James Bond series: Richard
Maibaum (writer), Maurice Binder (title design), Robert Brown
(I) as M and Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny. Not to mention Timothy
Dalton as James Bond.
the first time, a Bond film was not made in Britain. Due to
high production costs, it was decided to film much of the movie
During the scene where James Bond is hanging by a hook over
the cocaine grinder, Benicio Del Toro's character is cutting
him loose. During filming he actually cut Timothy Dalton's hand
and the scene had to be stopped so he could be stitched up.
In Bond Girls Are Forever (2002) (TV), Carey Lowell said
that she shut her eyes and flinched every time she fired the
gun and had to be trained to fire with her eyes open because
a CIA op would not flinch. However, she still winces a bit whenever
she fires the handgun.
The climactic truck sequence in Licence to Kill (1989) took
several weeks to film. It was produced by current Bond producer
This was the last Bond film to be produced by Albert R. Broccoli.
He died less than a year after the release of the next Bond film,
In the final chase sequence just after 007 lands on the tanker,
Sanchez fires at Bond hitting the truck's fuel tanks. The sound
of the bullets ricocheting off the tanks plays the start of the
James Bond theme.
The message engraved on the back of the gold cigarette lighter
given to James Bond by groom Felix Leiter and bride Della Churchill
says: "JAMES, LOVE ALWAYS. DELLA & FELIX".
The closing credits song "If You Asked Me To" sung
by Patti LaBelle was featured on the B-side of the main title
song's 45 rpm single and became an unexpected minor hit. The
LaBelle song charted in a Rhythm and Blues Top Ten and was later
sung in a cover version by Céline Dion where it became
an even bigger hit.
Last James Bond film for six years. Legal wrangling over the
ownership of the franchise, coupled by the death of longtime
screenwriter Richard Maibaum and the decision by Timothy Dalton
not to play the role a third time, delayed the release of the
First James Bond movie to include tobacco warnings in its closing
credits. This was in the form of a United States Surgeon General
warning. Smoking of tobacco, cigarettes, cigars occurs in a number
of Bond movies and this is the only one of them to include a
health warning. The film featured product placement of the Philip
Morris Company's Lark Cigarettes. Timothy Dalton starring in a
commercial for the tobacco brand in Japan.
Whilst on the set of "Scarlett" (1994), Timothy Dalton
officially announced his resignation from the role of James Bond
on 11 April 1994.