007 Travel story: Key West (USA) 2019: Home of Felix Leiter

007 Travel story: Key West (USA) 2019: Home of Felix Leiter

October 25, 2020 0 By 007 Travelers

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

Today’s Bond locations:

Felix Leiter’s house

Conch Republic Seafood Company

Mallory Square

Tuesday 9th of July:

Our first morning in Key West was a bit rainy, so the air felt really fresh and nice. We headed to breakfast in our beautiful hotel Casa Marina Key West – a Waldorf Astoria resort, which is Bond’s hotel of choice in John Gardner‘s novelization of “Licence to Kill” (1989) and we had one of the best breakfasts ever. Everything you can ever imagine was available and served! We’d also like to give our special thanks to the omelet chef.

After checking out of the hotel our next address was 707 South Street, which is the home of Felix Leiter (David Hedison) in “Licence to Kill” (1989). See a little picture of the celebration party after the wedding of Felix and Della Churchill (Pricilla Barnes).

Mika and Pirita / 007 Travelers in front of Felix Leiter’s house

We boldly rang the doorbell and introduced ourselves. We asked if it would be possible to take some photos outside of the house and the lovely owner agreed immediately and also invited us inside to take some photos. There is a wonderful “Bond room” there, which is filled with framed 007 posters.

He also showed us the pool where the party takes place in the movie. It was a lovely spot. In the movie the pool looks bigger,and there are so many people around it. Owners have made some changes and improvements and the pool looks even better now than back in the days the movie was filmed.

In the movie, in the house we mentioned earlier, sad things happen, too, when Dario (Benicio Del Toro) kills Della Churchill and takes Felix hostage and later feeds him to sharks in a warehouse. He then brings Felix back to the house where Bond (Timothy Dalton) finds him badly wounded and Della´s dead body.

An interesting fact is that in the book “Live and Let Die” (1954) by Ian Fleming, Felix is fed to the sharks, but this never happened in the film version of “Live and Let Die” (1973). Now in the film “Licence to Kill” (1989) this happens to Felix and also in John Gardner’s novelization, so the lighting really strikes twice in the same place in this case… 🙂

There was a shape of body on Leiter’s bed. It was covered with a sheet. Over the face, the sheet seemed to be motionless.
Bond gritted his teeth as he leant over the bed. Was there a tiny flutter of movement?
Bond snatched the shroud down from the face. There was no face. Just something wrapped round and round with dirty bandages, like a white wasps’ nest.
He softly pulled the sheet down further. More bandages, still more roughly wound, with wet blood seeping through. Then the top of a sack which covered the lower half of the body. Everything soaked in blood.
There was a piece of paper protruding from a gap in the bandages where the mouth should have been.
Bond pulled it away and leant down. There was the faintest whisper of breath against his cheek. He snatched up the bedside telephone. It took minutes before he could make Tampa understand. Then the urgency in his voice got through. They would get to him in twenty minutes.
He put down the receiver and looked vaguely at the paper in his hand. It was a rough piece of white wrapping paper. Scrawled in pencil in ragged block letters were the words:
And underneath in brackets:

Ian Fleming: “Live and Let Die” (1954)

Walking into Leiter’s study was like stepping into the past. In a way he had known what was there before opening the door, but when he saw it, the whole of his being shrank back. The room had been ransacked, but there, on the leather couch, lay the bundle wrapped in a rubber sheet, blood dripping from it onto the floor.
Bond gritted his teeth. The whole thing had a doom-laden sense of déjà vu. Quickly he unwrapped the sheet. The only question now was whether Felix was alive.
What was left of his clothing was bloody and torn, the false limbs were gone, and with them a lot of flesh and some bone around the stump of his leg, together with jagged rips in the shoulder to which he once fitted the artificial arm.

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

David Hedison as Felix Leiter in “Licence to Kill” (1989).
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

Later in the film Bond comes back once again to investigate Felix’s room. The police have secured the area, but Bond jumps over the fence to go to Felix’s room.

After leaving Felix Leiter’s house we drove to the center of Key West.

And, oh yes, there is also a Hard Rock Cafe in Key West!

Mika, Pirita and Hard Rock Cafe Key West

Sloppy Joe’s Bar (201 Duval Street) & Capt. Tony’s Saloon (428 Greene Street) are also famous bars of Key West.

“People drinking in Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s came out on to the sidewalks; folks who had been patiently waiting in church for the wedding, stampeded for the door as the news passed through St Paul’s like a brush fire; the good ol’ boys sitting around Garrison Bight, and the smart young people around the modern Marina could hardly believe their eyes.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

“They got some small ones in the aquarium. Right on the ocean at the bottom of Duval. But that wouldn’t be any good to Sanchez. The . . .’ He stopped abruptly as a sudden thought struck him. ‘Hey, wait a minute. There’s this place on the other side of the Key. What the hell’s it called.
Ocean something. Ocean Exotica, that’s it. They have this big warehouse, built out on a pier. All kinds of fish there. They’re also into some kind of special breeding. Some guy told me they have pumps or something for fattening up fish. Large place, and there’d be plenty of room under the pier to keep a shark cage.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

Ocean Exotica is the place where Felix Leiter almost meets his fate when he is attacked by the shark… In real life the place is Conch Republic Seafood Company located at 631 Greene Street.

Bond and Sharkey (Frank McRae) (in the book role name is Sharky) come to investigate the place first in daylight.

Pirita / 007 Travelers
Bond and Sharkey think about what to do
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

When the sun has gone down, Bond and Sharkey came back to Ocean Exotica and this time they used a boat and approached from the seaside of the building.

We believe that the sequence from Isthmus City where Bond, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) come to the shore was filmed near this place.

Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

We ate delicious Key Lime Pies at Conch Republic Seafood Company. Key Lime Pie is one of Bond’s favourite foods.

“He wandered over to the buffet where white-coated waiters assisted in dispensing plates of jumbo prawns, accompanied by the usual hot red sauce; salmon, both cold and smoked, and a great assortment of salads. Bond saw there were puddings also and eyed the local Key Lime pie which, if not a gourmet dish, he always found cleared the palate wonderfully.”

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

Key Lime Pie and 007

Then it was time to check into our hotel, which was Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Key West.

Accommodation during 09-11 July 2019

HotelFairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Key West ***
Address: 2400 North Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, Florida, USA
Booked: Via Hotels.com
Price: $186,15 + tax $23,17 / 1 night, total = $418,84
Breakfast: Included
Wi-Fi: Free
Parking: Free
Check-in: From 15.00 
Check-out: Until 11.00
Room type: STDO

We checked in and got the room number 252 and enjoyed the hotel’s lovely pool. We also saw nice iguanas walking around the pool area.

The hotel has a free shuttle bus that takes guests to Key West center and back. We took that chance and rode to Mallory Square to watch the amazing sunset. There were many different artists earning some money by performing wonderful stunts and tricks.

In the movie version of “Licence to Kill” Bond and DEA operative Hawkins (Grand L. Bush) meet at Mallory Square.

Hawkins (Grand L. Bush) and Bond (Timothy Dalton) walking on Mallory Square in “Licence to Kill” (1989).
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq, LLC

They had agreed to meet in Mallory Square to watch the sunset. This, as any visitor to Key West knows, is a must ritual for tourists and even for some residents.

‘Let’s lie low today,’ Bond had said. ‘You find out what you can. As for me, well, the things I have in mind can only really be done after dark.’ He did not know then that with the darkness would come other unplanned events.

About an hour before sunset, the worshippers begin to gather in Mallory Square, and with them, the showmen, travelling magicians, jugglers, fire-eaters, acrobats, painters and the purveyors of handmade baubles. It is a fun occasion, harmless, and certainly beautiful on clear nights when the sun produces a spectacular crimson sky, the colour reflecting on the whole town.

Sharky and Bond met just as the sun went down and the hundreds of people in the square began to applaud God for the special effects.

John Gardner: “Licence to Kill” (1989)

After the sun had set beyond the sea, we walked around the beautiful Sunset Pier. People were eating, drinking and having fun. It was truly an evening to remember…

Mika / 007 Travelers

Before going back to the hotel we had a late dinner at Sandbar Sportsbar, which is located at 511 Greene Street. The service was a little slow this time and the food itself was more or less “basic”, but hey, this was a sports bar, we didn’t expect any gourmet food and we ordered cheese burgers and fajitas.

The free shuttle bus came at a scheduled time and we hopped on and drove back to the hotel. Tomorrow would be another day in paradise and more Bond locations from “Licence to Kill“.

See more 007 TRAVEL STORIES here