The opening lines of Goldfinger (1959) by Ian Fleming are as follows: “James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.”
We’ve all been there, James. We’ve all been there.
There are a few major takeaways from the leading sentence of Goldfinger. First and foremost, the airport can be terrible. But also, Bond fits right in. Looking sly, getting boozy, and drinking something he usually doesn’t. MIA is no place for a martini, shaken not stirred. Finally, the dread that sets in after a tough weekend at the beach is something we’ve all shared but we don’t talk about in the tourist guides.
So, what’s James Bond’s footprint in Miami? In the movies, Bond comes to Miami on three occasions, so let’s explore where, when, and most importantly the symbolism of his trips to the Magic City and all of the international spy badassness he brought.
Miami Beach shows up right after the opening credits of Goldfinger, where Bond busts up Auric Goldfinger’s scheme to cheat in a high stakes game of Gin Rummy. There are some great overhead shots of the Fontainebleau Hotel in the 1960s. Also he smacks some woman’s rear in a pretty cringe-worthy fashion. Further proof that Bond, despite his reputation, would be on one of those online dating sites with a warning: “Don’t talk to this creep.”
“Into Miami” by John Barry is a hard-hitting brass tune that should play a lot more in bars here than it does. Has anyone made a club remix? Free idea to an enterprising Miami DJ out there, just credit me and send all the money.
Bond gets his shit wrecked by Oddjob while he’s going for more bubbly in his hotel suite, and then the lady Bond seduced is famously painted gold.
Interestingly enough, Connery and Gert Frobe, the actor who plays Goldfinger, never actually make it to Miami. They did flyovers and some walking scenes with lesser characters, but the rest was filmed in front of a green screen at Pinewood Studios, right outside of London.
Another bit of Miami deception comes later in the movie when the CIA guys are driving after Oddjob. That scene is actually filmed on NW 7th Ave. You can see the Kentucky Fried Chicken on 119th, which is still there. They pass by the famous Royal Castle too.
He takes a while to reveal it, but Emilio Largo — the creepy, eye-patched bad guy of Thunderball — eventually lets on that the climax of his evil plot is blowing up Miami. Screw you, Spectre. Harsh, bro. But blowing up Miami is a seriously ridiculous bad-guy plan. It’s maybe the only time in movie history that Miami warranted this attention.
Of course this won’t do for JB, and the only way to settle it is an underwater battle in Biscayne Bay between Spectre’s scuba guys, Bond, and a bunch of Navy Seals. It’s a super elaborate underwater battle, complete with TONS of frogmen. This scene is AMAZING. Everyone is spear-gunning each other along with half-slow underwater punches and air supplies fatally slashed.
This underwater battle is the single most important Miami film sequence ever made. Future Miami thugs should settle scores beneath the waves. Plus I like saying “scubatrooper.” Bond is a soothsayer.
That said, though there’s some overhead shots of Biscayne Bay, the scene was actually shot off Clifton Pier in Nassau, Bahamas. Again, the elusive Bond is in Miami, but his physical presence is elsewhere.
Roger Moore never winds up in Miami, thank God, but Daniel Craig (sort of) does. In Casino Royale, he gets off a plane from the Bahamas and goes to some museum that with a huge sign that says “BODY WORLDS MIAMI,” but it’s plastered on a building that is definitely not in Miami. According to this website, it’s the Czech Republic Ministry of Transport. Nothing says three-oh-five like a clunky block of Cold War bureacratic anguish.
Anyway, Bond kills a dude there, and then goes to the airport where he kills a different bad guy who is trying to blow up some kind of ridiculous new plane prototype for whatever reason. Bond sort of saves Miami again! But again it turns out that both of these scenes were filmed in Prague. At least they peppered the shots with palm trees.
Timothy Dalton shows up in the Keys in License to Kill, but that’s not so much Miami and Timothy Dalton is not so much Bond as he is a picture of your cool uncle from the mid-1980s.
If you want to soak in a piece of James Bond history here in Miami, the Dezer Collection in North Miami actually boasts one of the largest James Bond Collections in the world. They’ve even got the golden gun. Doesn’t get more legit than that. So while Bond never made it to Miami, some of his coolest stuff did.
How is this possible? The actor that plays James Bond has NEVER actually filmed here. Miami seems to be the perfect place for an international spy with a penchant for booze and fast women. It’s ideal for a pool full of sharks in which to throw your less competent henchmen. And sadly, the upcoming Daniel Craig flick has no location in Miami. We need to start a petition to get Idris Elba Bond down here. Miami would be good to Idris Elba Bond.