Does James Bond Ski More than he Gambles?

FasterSkierMarch 15, 2022

The James Bond films from Eon Productions have lasted for more than 59 years with 25 outings thanks to the character’s enduring popularity, but also because viewers have a good idea about what to expect from them. 007 adventures always feature common tropes and scenes that have become intrinsically linked with the slick spy. Bond famously has a close connection with casinos, but it could be argued that skiing is an equally important element of the franchise.

Bond is Traditionally Associated with Casinos

The Bond pictures have always stayed true to Ian Fleming’s source material in many ways, and like the books, the MI6 agent is never far from the casino tables. This connection was established in the first-ever scene in the franchise to feature Bond, where Sean Connery’s character was seen playing a game of baccarat in an opulent casino. Casino play is a trait that filmmakers have been keen to continue over the years, especially now that online casinos are so popular around the world. Because anyone can now easily play blackjack and other Bond favorites with live dealers, they can find it easier to relate when the character takes part in them on screen. Being able to relate to such a sophisticated and fascinating character is an appealing thing to many audience members and contributes to the franchise’s staying power.

Caption: A baccarat clip from the 1967 Casino Royale adaptation from Columbia Pictures.

Baccarat is the spy’s game of choice, but he has been known to play numerous other table offerings in different films. Filmmakers have also adapted some aspects of the books to suit trends in popular culture. For instance, in Fleming’s 1953 work, Casino Royale, Bond takes part in a high-stakes baccarat game with Le Chiffre. When Martin Campbell made the third silver screen adaptation of Fleming’s debut novel in 2006, he opted to change the casino game to Texas Hold’em poker instead. This is because the film was released at the height of the poker boom, and the New Zealand-born director thought this would be more relatable. It turned out to be a great decision and the film became the highest-grossing Bond entry at the time, taking $616 million at the worldwide box office.

It’s clear that Bond has been witnessed at the felt numerous times over the years, and it is a setting that the character looks at ease in. However, it could also be noted that the spy is at home on the slopes, and there have been countless skiing segments across the franchise. Indeed, Bond has been speeding down mountains ever since George Lazenby evaded bad guys on skis in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. Since then, various other Bond actors have featured in iconic clips and the films have included a few of the world’s most stunning skiing locations.

What are the Best Skiing Locations in Bond and Were the Scenes Realistic?

For people who love skiing, it’s always great to see the sport depicted on the big screen. Obviously, the action in the Eon Productions titles doesn’t usually reflect real-life – think about it, how many times have you been chased by Soviet agents when you’ve been carving up a double black diamond? However, it does provide excellent escapism and can allow skiers a chance to reminisce about the slopes or get excited about an upcoming trip.

When Bond goes skiing, he does so almost exclusively in the Alps. However, the spots that he has appeared in have varied in different films. Most recently, Daniel Craig’s 007 raced down the drops of Sölden in Austria, and many skiers may have recognized the distinctive and awe-inspiring Ice Q restaurant, 3000 meters above the town. This was in 2015’s Spectre, and it was reported that Craig took skiing lessons to prepare for the role. This was one of the more realistic Bond skiing clips, especially when compared to some of the others.

There have been a couple of inconceivable snow-based scenes in Bond over the years. The Living Daylights in 1986 saw Timothy Dalton careering down the mountainside of the Austrian location of Weissensee. However, he didn’t do this in the traditional manner that most of us would choose. Instead, he escaped the bad guys in a cello case.

Roger Moore’s feats on a makeshift snowboard in A View to a Kill in 1985 were also a tad unrealistic and weren’t helped by the Beach Boys playing in the background. However, the skiing before this part that showed the spy managing with just one ski was impressive. This was one of the rare occasions when Eon Productions opted for a location other than the Alps, and it was filmed in Siberia.

Caption: The skiing scene in A View to a Kill.

In fitting with his role as a suave super spy, Bond is always portrayed as an expert on skis. Many of the actors have tried to pull off some moves themselves, but they always have stunt doubles to fill in for the more difficult tricks. These have sometimes been professional action actors, but other times filmmakers simply turned to local ski instructors.

Which Trope Would Viewers Like to See More of?

Casino and skiing scenes have occurred in Bond films with a similar frequency, and they both serve different purposes. The casino games usually act as a backdrop to slow-burning tension and give scriptwriters an opportunity to devise some intriguing conversations between diametrically opposed characters. Skiing sequences, on the other hand, are used to show high octane action and are designed to have viewers on the edge of their seats in a different way.

Some would say that the ideal Bond picture is one that includes all the familiar tropes, including casino gaming and skiing. Other viewers would want to see more of the pastime that interests them. Most would agree, however, that both skiing and casino games are classic features of Bond movies.

Bond has gambled in a slightly higher number of films than he has skied in, but there’s not much in it. Both activities have occurred so often that they have become associated with the character, and future filmmakers should think about including both.


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