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Last month your intrepid CBn correspondents made the five hour plus trek from Los Angeles to Phoenix to visit “BOND. James Bond. The Exhibition”, at the Arizona Science Center. Good thing too, as it now looks like this will be the final U.S. stop for this traveling exhibition of authentic James Bond props and memorabilia. According to museum officials, the exhibit will be going back to England or into storage when its run is complete on April 24, 2005.
The ultra modern Arizona Science Center was easy to spot when we pulled into town – as was the two storey high image of Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh from Tomorrow Never Dies that adorned one side of the building. Inside, Zao’s battle-ready Jaguar from Die Another Day greets visitors at the ticket area. When we asked where the Bond exhibit was located, a helpful museum staffer pointed us down the length of the first floor and said we “couldn’t miss it.”
Indeed, the exhibit is easy to spot with the Aston Martin DB5 from GoldenEye sitting right out front! We all know what the DB5 looks like, but there is something about seeing his car “in the flesh” that is indescribable. It really is one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Just past the DB5 is the special entrance to the exhibit. Here we were given our exhibit pass – a credit card that would be our access to special trivia questions, etc. We harassed the poor ticket taker for information and, after being told we couldn’t take pictures inside the exhibit (due to issues of copyrighted material on the walls—always with the copyrights, Eon!), we proceeded to take his picture. As no alarm bells sounded, so we figured maybe we’d sneak a few pics inside as well.
Upon entering the exhibit, you find yourself inside a small room where you can watch a film about the Cold War (or not). The film gives some context as to the creation of Ian Fleming’s superspy. I guess this is to convince wary parents that there’s some educational value to all this. Okay, we’re educated, now where’s Jinx’s bikini!?
Traveling through a circular tunnel that changes in the light (it took us a few minutes to realize this is supposed to be the opening gun barrel) you emerge inside the “Restricted Area.” Here you swipe your pass card so you can “gain access” to the various information screens along the way. A nifty item here was a transparent Walther PPK used by Daniel Kleinman in the title sequence for Tomorrow Never Dies. It was sort of odd that the large 007 logos that decorated the walls of this room (and later rooms) were lacking the gun portion on the seven. Being official, I would think the full official logo would not be a problem. Go figure.
The next room is a real treat; a full replica of M’s office! It’s time for your briefing, 007. Here you see a film about the creation of Bond and the beginnings of the cinematic Bond empire. The office is a mock up of the classic Universal Exports office of Bernard Lee/Robert Brown fame. The desk is open to sit behind and snap a few pictures… (wait, I thought we couldn’t do that?). The only authentic part of the office is the padded door from The Spy Who Loved Me, which sits behind glass.
Leaving M’s office you travel through a long hallway where you can test your Bond trivia knowledge and view video clips and pics on the many interactive monitors that line the walls. Most of the information and videos are from the DVD documentaries produced by the cuddly John Cork.
At the end of the hall is “Q’s Workshop.” (You’re traveling through the typical structure of James Bond film – get it?) Here sit the Alligator submersible and the AcroStar mini-jet (bigger than I thought) from Octopussy. Display cases all around the room contain other such memorable Q props as the snooper from A View To A Kill, a model of the Lotus submersible from The Spy Who Loved Me, and Bond’s camera sniper rifle from Licence To Kill. A big video screen at one end of the room plays clips of favorite Q scenes from all the films. On the walls are framed sketches and designs of famous gadgets, includes some that didn’t make it into the final films. A grenade cocktail shaker from Goldfinger? A retinal scanner from The World Is Not Enough? Guess these were the things that we shouldn’t photograph. (I’m not telling if we did or not.)
Now you find yourself entering a dark room made to resemble Scaramanga’s funhouse. Inside are famous props used by famous villains (or “Rogues” as the official program calls them); Jaw’s metal teeth, Oddjob’s deadly bowler hat, Scaramanga’s golden gun, Rosa Klebb’s spiked shoe…you get the point. A nifty design all this, but the ever changing lighting does make it a bit difficult to have a real good look at these iconic props. Here, less would have been more.
If you survive the funhouse, you then emerge into the realm of the Bond Girl. On displays is Jinx’s bikini from Die Another Day (hey, there it is!), Electra King’s red dress from The World Is Not Enough, Solitarie’s fortune telling costume from Live And Let Die, and sketches of other various costumes designs, etc.
After being shaken and stirred by the Bond babes, you come to the hall of the explosive climax (okay, they call it the “Action” hall). Here is the exhibit’s best interactive feature – a green screen room where you can see yourself hanging from the Golden Gate Bridge ala Stacy Sutton in A View To A Kill. Outside the green screen room are model props from famous 007 action sequences; including a model of Zukovsky’s caviar factory from The World Is Not Enough, the Neptune sub from For Your Eyes Only, Zorin’s blimp from A View To A Kill, a gold bar (signed by Sean Connery) from Goldfinger, and the Faberge egg from Octopussy. It’s easy to miss, but a model of the Tiger helicopter from GoldenEye and a full size Parahawk from The World Is Not Enough are hanging overhead.
After the movie comes the marketing, and on your way out you travel down a long hallway filled with Bond posters, most foreign sheets, including some rare unused mockups (Bond fans will be familiar with these from Tony Nourmand ‘s terrific book, James Bond Movie Posters).
On leaving the exhibit you enter the special exhibition gift shop where you can buy exhibition T-shirts, posters, and programs, as well as Corgi cars and 007 Sideshow figures. A cool detail here is the Bond silhouette in a light pool on the floor.
After spending the night in the Cary Grant suite (Bond connection? Cary Grant was Cubby’s best man at his wedding to Dana, and his first choice to play 007) in the Hotel San Carlos, the “third most haunted hotel in America”, we motored on back to L.A. On the way we passed a classic Bond villain’s lair and Claude Bell’s Dinosaurs in the desert…certainly these MUST be from a James Bond movie? Or maybe we just had Bond on the brain after our memorable visit to “BOND. James Bond. The Exhibition.”
Thanks to the Arizona Science Center. Nobody does it better!