Horses are back in a Bond movie. A major action scene in The Quantum of Solace was shot with the Palio di Sienna in the background.
When have horses been part of the plot?
Because I have slept since I saw some of the earlier ones, and I was in grade school when the first Bond film Dr. No hit theaters in 1962 , I couldn’t remember any horseback riding scenes. I Googled for images but found none of any movie James Bond on horseback.
So, I went to one of my “Brain Trusts” — the Sisters in Crime Guppies chapter. FWIW, Guppies stands for ‘great unpublished.” Get it? 😉 It’s designed for aspiring writers, but the camaraderie is so good that published writers stick around.
Anyway, I asked, “Paging any James Bond fans. Have you ever seen him riding a horse?”
Mystery authors surfaced, like Dawn Clark, author and horsewoman KB Inglee and film fan/mystery blogger Jared Case. A discussion ensued and memories stirred.
Like, how could I have forgetten Sean Connery’s Bond rescuing Kim Basinger from the auction block by pulling her onto his horse in Never Say Never Again (1983)?
Let alone Bond joining up with the mujahideen in The Living Daylights (1987)? Or the rigged steeplechase scene, as Jared was quick to mention, in A View to a Kill (1985)?
The Living Daylights (1987)
Oh, those plucky mujahideen! And what a difference a couple of decades makes.
The Timothy Dalton Bond joins forces with a band of horseback-riding mujahideen, Afghan rebels, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Like the English fleet surrounding the Spanish Armada, Bond and his new pals ride circles around the Soviets and their lumbering trucks.
I remember cheering them on, like the rest of the theater audience back in the day. But now, post-9/11 and after watching Charlie Wilson’s War, I’m a little less enchanted and quite a bit more sad.
All Bond films tend to showcase the dreams, nightmares and values of the times in which they were made. Including …
A View to a Kill (1985)
We get an extended Bond-on-horseback action scene in this one, Roger Moore’s last portrayal of Bond.
Bond joins M and Moneypenney for some intelligence-gathering at Ascot. Soon, he’s on the way to the arch-villain’s posh horse farm in Chantilly for a horse sale.
“Farm” is an understatement. The French horse farm scenes were shot on-location at what is now The Living Museum of the Horse. According to the legend (which is mentioned in the Bond movie), a prince expected to be re-incarnated as a horse, so he wanted an appropriate home waiting for him.
Bond’s cover is as a moneyed playboy who’s new to horses and looking for stock to build his breeding program. He’s accompanied by a horse trainer posing as his chauffeur, played by Patrick Macnee. Both of them suspect arch-villain Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, of doping his horses – among other nefarious activities.
The big horse scene is the chase, in which Bond is riding a prospective stallion for his breeding program. Zorin hedges his bets by, not only giving Bond a spirited horse named Inferno, but by booby-trapping the jump course, engaging thugs to chase Bond and by, as suspected all along, juicing the horse Bond is riding.
KB took issue with using a horse as a murder weapon because, as she said, “they make very unsatisfactory weapons.”
She continued “I have known dozens of people seriously hurt by horses but none killed by them, unless you count Christopher Reeve. You can’t ever be sure what a horse will do, and he may do nothing at all.”
As savvy movie goers know now, one horse can’t do everything in the movies. Some movies, like Seabiscuit (2003), do a better job of disguising the different horses than A View to a Kill does.
KB and I spotted about three. One of them has a star in some shots, but doesn’t in others. Walken’s mount is played by at least two horses, too. Careful viewers will also detect the different horses by the way they move.
So, I may be wrong, but us horse-loving Bond fans have experienced a bit of a drought. Plus, we’re eager to see Daniel Craig in riding attire. And we’d like to see how modern movie magic adds excitement to today’s equestrian scenes. So, howzabout a scrambling chase scene of Bond playing polo?
From James Bond to the Winners Circle
Horses in Bond films seem to have lost an advocate when producer Albert R. Broccoli passed away in 1996. “Cubby” Broccoli was an enthusiastic thoroughbred owner. His biggest winner was Brocco, who won the $1 million 1993 Breeders Cup Juvenile and the 1994 Santa Anita Handicap.
Did I leave out your favorite horsey Bond scene? List it here in the comments.
Ed. Note: If you’re looking for a different kind of horse power, check out this listing of the top ten Bond cars.