007 Travel story: Key West (USA) 2019: “A Farewell to Arms”

007 Travel story: Key West (USA) 2019: “A Farewell to Arms”

March 1, 2021 0 By 007 Travelers

In order to read our Florida 007 Travel story from day 1, click here

Today’s Bond locations:

Key West International Airport

Searstown shopping center

Key West City Marina – Charter Boat Row

Garrison Bight Marina

Thai Island Restaurant & Sushi Bar

Pier House Resort & Spa

(Conch Tour Train)

(David Wolkowsky Street)

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Wednesday 10th of July:

What a wonderful day for Bond locations! And there were many of them for today!

We started the morning by driving to Key West International airport (3491 S Roosevelt Blvd), which is featured in “Licence to Kill” (1989) film and novelization, when 007 (Timothy Dalton) is leaving Key West, but finds out that drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) has escaped.

Key West airport today (large pic)
Small pic: Same spot from “Licence to Kill” (1989)
Bond arrives at Pan Am desk in “Licence to Kill” (small pic)
Nowadays there is a baggage belt at the same spot

The airport is quite small and it has changed a lot since filming of “LTK“. We showed the pics from the movie to the security officer and asked where they have been filmed and she was kind enough to show us the actual location.

“Key West International Airport always struck Bond as a somewhat pretentious title, for the major number of scheduled flights were made by twin-engined Pipers, Beechcrafts, or, if you were really lucky, those wonderful old DC-3s (C-47s as the Americans called them) which had seen sterling service prior to Big Two, a euphemism for World War II which Bond rather liked. In fact, the main international destination of ninety per cent of these flights was Miami.

“On the day after Felix Leiter’s wedding, Bond made his way into the relatively small departures building of Key West Airport. He had breakfasted well, paid his bill at the Pier House, asking them to
give the lady in his room anything she required and charge it to his Amex card, and now, walking from the cab to the tiny departures lounge, he realised two things. First, he felt much fitter than he had any right to feel; second, the lounge was unusually crowded. People were actually still outside the door, standing in line for the one check-in counter. There were no first class check-ins at Key West.
As someone once remarked, ‘You’re rather lucky to get a check-in at all.’

Bond stood for fifteen minutes before he reached the harassed young lady who took his ticket.
‘What’s going on here this morning?’ he asked pleasantly. There were a large number of police, marshals and security men around which was most unusual.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

Bond visited Key West already a couple years earlier in John Gardner’s book “Nobody Lives For Ever” (1986), when he landed to the Key West International Airport:

“A moment later the pilot came on the intercom system to ask for seatbelts to be fastened and cigarettes extinguished. He announced that they would be landing in about four minutes. Bond watched out of the window as they dropped towards the lights. He saw water and tropical vegetation interspersed with roads and low buildings coming up to meet them.

‘Interesting place, Key West,’ mused Quinn. ‘Hemingway once called it the poor man’s St Tropez. Tennessee Williams lived here too. President Truman established a little White House near what used to be the Naval Base and John F. Kennedy brought the British PM, Harold Macmillan, to visit it. Cuban boat people landed here, but long before that it was a pirates’ and wreckers’ paradise. I’m told it’s still a smugglers’ heaven, and the US Coastguard operates a tight schedule out of here.’

They swept in over the threshold and touched down with hardly a bump.

‘There’s history in this airport as well,’ Quinn continued. ‘First regular US mail flight started from here; and Key West is both the beginning and end of Highway Route One.’ They rolled to a halt, then began to taxi towards a shack-like hut with a veranda. Bond saw a low wall with faded lettering: ‘Welcome to Key West the Only Frost-Free City in the United States’.

‘And they have the most spectacular sunsets,’ Quinn added. ‘Really incredible. Pity you won’t be around to see one.’

The heat hit them like a furnace as they left the aircraft. Even the mild breeze felt as if it was blowing from an inferno.

The departure from the jet was as carefully organised as the boarding, with Kirchtum close enough to use his deadly little syringe at any moment, should Bond alert their suspicion.

‘Smile and pretend to talk,’ muttered Quinn, glancing towards the veranda where a dozen or so people were waiting to welcome passengers off a newly arrived PBA flight. Bond scanned the faces, but recognised nobody. They passed through a small gate in the wall beside the shack, Quinn and Kirchtum pushing him towards another sleek dark automobile. In a few moments, Bond was again seated between the two men. This time the driver was young, in an open-necked shirt and with long blond hair.

‘Y’awl okay?’

John Gardner: “Nobody Lives For Ever” (1986)

In that same book “Nobody Lives For Ever” (1986) Bond is next taken to Searstown shopping center:

“The car went silent, the driver sullen. Bond watched the signs – South Roosevelt Boulevard, a restaurant alive with people eating, Martha’s. There were wooden, clapboard houses, white with fretted gingerbread decorations along the porches and verandas; lights flashing – Motel; No vacancy. Lush tropical foliage lined the road, with the ocean on their right. They appeared to be following a long bend taking them away from the Atlantic. Then they turned suddenly at a sign to Searstown. Bond saw they were in a large shopping area.

The car pulled up beside a supermarket alive with late shoppers and an optometrist’s. Between the two lay a narrow alley.

‘It’s up there. Door on the right. Up above the eye place, where they sell reading glasses. Guess y’awl want me to pick you up.’

‘Five o’clock,’ Quinn said quietly. ‘In time to get to Garrison Bight at dawn.’

John Gardner: “Nobody Lives For Ever” (1986)

We also found the place and drove around quite a small shopping center.

After that we drove to Key West City Marina, where at Charter Boat Row, Bond meets Sharkey in “Licence to Kill” movie.

Capt. John’s boat place can still be found there.

The bench is not so colourful anymore as in the film…
Capt. John’s parking space is still there and his name written on the concrete
Capt. John’s boat place in “Licence to Kill” (1989)
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

We continued to other marina – Garrison Bight Marina – which doubles Bimini island in “Licence to Kill” movie (1989). Bond goes there by boat to meet Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). Now there is “Thai Island Restaurant & Sushi Bar” in the place where “Barrelhead Bar” is in the movie. We checked first the place from outside and then headed inside. The restaurant was closed, but we were able to take some pictures also from inside where were also posters from “Licence to Kill” and “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974) on the wall.

Bond parks his boat in front of “Barrelhead Bar” in Bimini in “Licence to Kill” (small pic)
In reality this location is in Key West and there is “Thai Island” restaurant at the moment
Pirita / 007 Travelers on location
“Thai Island” restaurant from inside
Mika / 007 Travelers shows the place where Bond came out of “Barrelhead Bar”

It was already lunch time and we drove to Mallory Square parking lot, where we parked our car and walked to “Pier House Resort & Spa” to eat. You can see our introduction with many pics of that place where Bond stays in “Licence to Kill” novelization here. For some reason in the movie it is not mentioned in which hotel Bond stays while he is in Key West. Bond also stays in this hotel in “Nobody Lives For Ever” novel.

‘I’ve had enough of that little joke, thank you.’ He sounded genuinely irritated. ‘Now, where are we staying?’

‘There’s only one place to stay in Key West,’ Sukie put in. ‘The Pier House Hotel. You get a wonderful view of the famous sunset from there.’

‘I’ve a lot to do before sunset,’ Bond said sharply. ‘The sooner we get to this – what’s it called? Pier House – the better.’

John Gardner: “Nobody Lives For Ever” (1986)

Then was time to hop on to one of the famous traditional tourist attractions of Key West: The Conch Tour Train.

The Conch Tour Train is proud to be the legacy of Henry Flagler’s engineering miracle. In 1958, the World-Famous Conch Tour Train began its first journey—transporting visitors back to the past, sharing thrilling accounts of pirates and Indians, visionaries and artists, and moguls and politicians.

Conch Tour Train can be seen briefly in “Licence to Kill“.

James Bond (Timothy Dalton) and Conch Tour Train in background in “Licence to Kill
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

“To Bond, the place was an odd mixture of tourist resort garishness and pockets of great beauty, with areas of luxury which spelled money. It was hot, palm trees shimmered and moved in the light breeze, and they passed numerous clapboard gingerbread houses, which were bright and well painted, their yards and gardens filled with the colour of subtropical flowers. Yet well-kept houses could be adjacent to rubbish tips. The sidewalks were in fine order in one street, in the next cracked, broken or almost non-existent.

At an intersection, they had to wait for an extraordinary-looking train – a kind of model railroad engine built on to a diesel-powered jeep, which pulled a series of cars full of people under striped awnings.

‘The Conch Train,’ Sukie informed them. ‘That’s the way tourists get to see Key West.’

Bond could hear the driver, all done out in blue overalls and peaked cap, going through a litany of the sights and their history as the train wound its way around the island.”

John Gardner: “Nobody Lives For Ever” (1986)

Conch Tour Train. There is also one Bond location mentioned on the train… Sugarloaf Key, which doubles Cray Cay island, where Bond and Felix Leiter (David Hedison) find Franz Sanchez in the beginning of “Licence to Kill“. We will visit Sugarloaf Key on next travel day.

“After his leap from the veranda of the Hemingway house, Bond had slipped to the conch train. It was evening and this was probably the last ride any of the tourists would get. The end of two coaches were empty, and Bond rode the short distance back to the train offices then had speedily made his way to Sharky’s boat.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

We had to wait for a while before the train departed. It was really hot at this time of the day and we tried to drink water as much as we could.

We passed one interesting road sign “David Wolkowsky Street”. David Wolkowsky appears in “Licence to Kill” novel and is a friend of 007. Wolkowsky first appeared in “Scorpius” (1988) Bond novel, which reveals that he works for the CIA.

“Shrivenham had just left when David Wolkowsky arrived in reception. Wolkovsky was the CIA’s liaison officer at Grosvenor Square which meant the American Embassy.”

John Gardner: “Scorpius” (1988).

But who was David Wolkowsky?

David Wolkowsky Street

Wolkowsky was born on the 25 August 1919. He grew up in Key West and Miami and became a developer. In 1967 Wolkowsky hired architect Yiannis B. Antonidis to help design a motel around the restaurant, with 50 unique rooms, to which 50 more rooms that faced the ocean were quickly added. The completed structure was christened “Pier House Resort Motel”, which is mentioned earlier in this story.

Wolkowsky died on the 23rd of September 2018.

Read more about David Wolkowsky here (Wikipedia)

David Wolkowsky

“Like all field agents Bond had documents stashed in most of the major cities throughout the world, and he was also careful to cultivate friends and acquaintances wherever he went. Some had an inkling of his arcane work; others just got on with him, liked him for his company and conversation. David Wolkowsky, a man who had changed the Gulf side of Key West, by restoration and rebuilding, was among the latter, and Bond was unhappy about using him in this side of his life, but there was no other way. It was David who owned Ballast Key and the house he had built on it.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

We hopped off the train and walked a short distance to the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum (Hemingway House), which is located at 907 Whitehead Street. Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote there more than ten years. Nowadays there are over 40 cats and many of those have six toes…

James Bond meets his boss M (Robert Brown) here in the movie and novelization of “Licence to Kill” (1989).

“He looked up and realised where he was. A gate which led into a pleasantly laid-out garden, and behind this a house, with a balcony surrounding the whole of the second floor. There was a bust of Ernest Hemingway above the gate, and a sign which said ‘Historical Monument, Hemingway House. ’CLOSED’. So, he was at the famous place. On his previous visit to Key West he had planned to visit this house where Ernest Hemingway had lived from the early thirties until 1961, and where he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls, Green Hills of Africa, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, among many others. Someone had once told him that the Hemingway house had the saddest atmosphere he had ever encountered in any home.

The sign that can be seen in the movie (small pic) is not on the brick wall anymore

‘Take no notice of the sign, sir. Just go straight in.’ The one in the grey suit was firm-voiced, and Bond now knew where he had seen him before. He even remembered the man’s name. The accent was very English.
He nodded and walked inside the garden, the newcomers flanking him, directing him around to the right. There were cats everywhere. Hemingway had loved cats and had some hybrid variety with extra toes.

In “Licence to Kill” movie there is not such an element in the front yard nowadays like in the picture. During the filming there was the statue of Hemingway in the yard, which is not there anymore
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

They led him past the swimming pool, where Hemingway had thrown down his last quarter into the wet cement, saying that was all he had left. They had left the quarter for all to see – though the infant son of an English author had secretly prised out the quarter on a visit. It turned out to have been minted in 1970.

Hemingway’s swimming pool

Very gently, the pair of bodyguards – for that is what they were – led Bond up the flight of steps taking them up to the veranda. Even on this structure, Bond could feel the sorrow. Someone had been very unhappy here. He hoped he was not about to join in with the sense of despair which permeated the place.

Key West Lighthouse is partly re-painted and parts of the safety fence is removed (take a look at the small pic from the film)

His guards shouldered him to that part of the veranda which looked out on to the street – Whitehead Street. The man who stood there had not been so positioned when they entered the garden, but he was certainly there now, his back immediately recognisable.

M: Effective immediately, your licence to kill is revoked, and I require you to hand over your weapon. Now. I need hardly remind you that you’re still bound by the Official Secrets Act.

James Bond: I guess it’s, uh… a farewell to arms.

Dialogue from “Licence to Kill“.

Bond (Timothy Dalton) meets his boss M (Robert Brown)
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

From somewhere, maybe the church where Felix and Della had so happily married, a bell tolled once. Bond shrugged. He did not believe in omens. ‘Sir?’ he said to the man, who now turned to look at him with cold grey eyes. The two bodyguards seemed to nudge closer to Bond.

‘Well, Commander Bond, what have you got to say for yourself?’ M – the Chief of the Secret Service – asked. He looked furious, and his hands clenched and unclenched as though he was trying to keep his anger in check.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

Bond jumps from the top veranda of Hemingway House (small pic)

The cat cemetery is in the backyard of the house.

In the courtyard there is one house where is also a book shop and other house where you can visit the room where Hemingway wrote his books while he lived in Key West. Also inside the main house there are movie posters on the wall. The posters are of films, which are based on Hemingway’s books or which have some sort of connection. We could not find “Licence to Kill” poster though…

Then there was still two churches to check before we could wrap the day. Surprisingly the church where Della Churchill (Priscilla Barnes) and Felix Leiter (David Hedison) got married is not the same in the movie and in the book.

Let’s start with the film: Bond and Felix land with their parachutes in the front of The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea church (1010 Windsor Lane).

A still photo of the document “Licence to Kill: On the Set with John Glen
Small pic: Guests are waiting Felix and Bond to arrive at the wedding in “Licence to Kill
The bird eye view of The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in “Licence to Kill” (1989)
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC
Small pic: The filming crew waiting for parachutists to land in document “Licence to Kill: On the Set with John Glen
Upper pic: The wedding guests ready to go to the church in “Licence to Kill” (1989)

In the novelization the church is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which is located at 401 Duval Street.

Outside St Paul’s church, Sharky pleaded with the beautiful Ms Della Churchill who had, only minutes before, called the whole wedding off.

‘They’re here, Della. Just twice more around the block and they’ll be sitting up front there, with the preacher ready to go.’

Della took a deep breath, then relented. ‘Okay, only twice more though.’

Sharky leapt into the Bentley telling the driver to go like hell. Over his shoulder he shouted back at Della, ‘Twice more. Slowly, though. Very slowly.’

As it was, the future Mrs Leiter went around four more times at a crawl. Only then were Felix Leiter and his best man, James Bond, in place, their white roses pinned correctly, though their morning clothes looked decidedly the worse for wear.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

We spent the rest of the evening at our hotel’s pool and after that went to watch the beautiful sunset in Mallory Square once more.

On next day we will travel back to the mainland and on the way there are some nice filming locations of “Licence to Kill” and “Goldfinger” (1964). You can continue reading here

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