Isle of Surprise

From chapter 16 of Live and Let Die:

It had always been rumoured that there was treasure on the Isle of Surprise and everything that was known about Bloody Morgan supported the rumour.

The tiny island lay in the exact centre of Shark Bay, a small harbour that lies at the end of the Junction Road that runs across the thin waist of Jamaica from Kingston to the north coast.

Fleming gives a small description of the Island:

His ships always anchored in Shark Bay and he careened them in the lee of the Isle of Surprise, a precipitous lump of coral and limestone that surges straight up out of the centre of the bay and is surmounted by a jungly plateau of about an acre.

And a few more details a bit later:

A few weeks after the sale, the yacht Secatur put in to Shark Bay and dropped anchor in Morgan’s old anchorage in the lee of the island. It was manned entirely by negroes. They went to work and cut a stairway in the rock face of the island and erected on the summit a number of low-lying shacks in the fashion known in Jamaica as ‘wattle-and-daub’.

Fleming has taken the real Cabarita Island, out on the bay outside of  Port Maria and turned it into the Isle of Surprise. From The Jamaican Magazine:

The curious little island of Cabarita is sometimes referred to as Treasure Island. It once belonged to Henry Morgan, the notorious buccaneer, who it is said lost it while gambling. This small circular island is a three-quarter mile swim from Pagee Beach, and forms part of the breakwater for Port Maria. It comprises seven and a half densely wooded acres, with steps cut into the rocks, which lead up to a two-acre plateau. Local lore tells of buried treasure, and of a shallow grave where the skeleton of a runaway slave was found along with a flint stone pistol beside an old hut.


I like the details about the carved steps in the rock leading to the plateaued top. Fleming took some creative licence in describing when the steps were made, the size of the island, and the distance from the shore. He says a couple of times that it is a 300-yard swim to the island.

On a side note, Fleming had a thing for pirates and treasure, didn’t he?

Gandy Bridge/Tampa Airport

Gandy Bridge is a six-mile bridge connecting Tampa with St Petersburg.

James Bond drives across the bridge from St Petersburg to Tampa after his second meeting with The Robber in Live and Let Die.

The original bridge was constructed in 1924 and this was the one on which Bond traveled. Three years after the novel takes place, a second span was added to the bridge. At one time it was the longest bridge in the world.



Bond enjoys the cool air of the bay on his face, and at the end of the bridge, he turns left towards the Tampa airport, spending the night at the first motel that looked awake. After awaking at midday, he writes his report to the FBI and heads to the airport.

Tampa Airport in 1952

1952- Bond walked through these doors the following year.
1952- Bond walked through these doors the following year.

Treasure Island, Florida

In Live and Let Die, James Bond and Felix Leiter make their Florida headquarters on Treasure Island, at a place called The Everglades. Treasure Island is next to St. Petersburg, and has been a popular beach area for many years.

Bond describes how he and Solitaire arrived there:

they were checked at the intersection of Park Street and Central Avenue, where the Avenue runs on to the long Treasure Island causeway across the shallow waters of Boca Ciega Bay.

View Larger Map

You can see on the map the intersection of Park and Central which looks like this today.

Bond paid off the cab at The Everglades, a group of neat white-and-yellow clapboard cottages set on three sides of a square of Bahama grass which ran fifty yards down to a bone-white beach and then to the sea. From there, the whole Gulf of Mexico stretched away, as calm as a mirror, until the heat-haze on the horizon married it into the cloudless sky.

They’re assigned to cabin number one – right on the beach.

While this is not The Everglades, it is another group of cottages on Treasure Island from about the same time period.


When Felix Leiter goes missing one morning, Bond receives a call at The Everglades from a “Dr Roberts” at Mound Park Hospital, saying his friend is there. Bond hurries over.


The call turns out to be a misdirection play to get Bond away from the cottage.

Here are a few other views of Treasure Island.

1937 Cord Saloon

From Live and Let Die when James Bond is in Florida.

But Leiter had got hold of an old Cord, one of the few American cars with a personality, and it cheered Bond to climb into the low-hung saloon, to hear the solid bite of the gears and the masculine tone of the wide exhaust. Fifteen years old, he reflected, yet still one of the most modern-looking cars in the world.

Not much to go on here, but truthfully there weren’t that many Cords made. Bond says it is fifteen years old, which would make it one of the last production runs for the Cord, which were not made after 1937. Referring to the “low-hung saloon,” the Cord was known for being lower to the ground than most of the competition. The Cord introduced front-wheel drive to the industry and featured innovations such as retractable headlamps. We’re not told whether the car was a convertible or not, so here are a couple models that might be the car referenced by Ian Fleming:

1937 Cord 812

1937 Cord 810
1937 Cord 810

1937 Cord Phaeton Saloon
1937 Cord Phaeton Saloon

1937 Cord 810 Sportster
1937 Cord 810 Sportster

For more information on the Cord, including vintage advertising check this post – Vintage Cord Advertiments Here is another detailed look at a 1937 Cord – 1937 Cord 810 Westchester : Classic Cars For everything you ever wanted to know about Cord, look at this gorgeous book – Cord Complete.

Jacksonville Train Station

James Bond briefly visits the city of Jacksonville in Live and Let Die, when he and Solitaire hop off the Silver Phantom train to avoid Mr Big’s men.

The station they would’ve entered at that time would’ve been the Union Terminal, which at one time was the largest railroad station in the south.

The platform which they exited the Silver Phantom would’ve looked like this:


This photo is from the debut of the Silver Meteor in Jacksonville.

Bond and Solitaire go for a “bad” breakfast at a nearby diner, and then come back.

When they had paid they wandered back to the station waiting-room.

The sun had risen and the light swarmed in dusty bars into the vaulted, empty hall. They sat together in a corner and until the Silver Meteor came in Bond plied her with questions about The Big Man and she could tell him about his operations.

While the building still stands, it is no longer a train station. Here is what the room that Bond and Solitaire likely sat in looks like today.


Chesterfield Cigarettes

This American brand of cigarette pops up throughout the Bond novels.

In Casino Royale, it is the brand that American agent Felix Leiter is smoking. As they get together for their first drink.

Leiter shook at Chesterfield out of his pack. ‘I’m glad to be working with you on this job,’ he said, looking into his drink

Bond then assesses Leiter.

His grey eyes had a feline slant which was increased by his habit of screwing them up against the smoke of the Chesterfields, which he tapped out of the pack in a chain.

In Live and Let Die, Bond twice is cited as smoking Chesterfield Kings, first at the St Regis while contemplating events that brought him to his present assignment, and then while on the Silver Phantom with Solitaire.

Bond slit open a fresh pack of King Size  Chesterfields with his thumb-nail, as he settled back in his comfortable chair in the warm luxurious room, his mind went back two weeks to the bitter raw day in early January when he had walked out of his Chelsea flat into the dreary half-light of a London fog.

On the train:

He dug in his pocket for his cigarettes and lighter. It was a new pack of Chesterfields and with his right hand he scrabbled at the cellophane wrapper.

Solitaire ends up opening the pack, removing a cigarette and lighting it for him. He tells her she’s going to be busy because he smokes three packs a day.

Interestingly, in Diamonds Are Forever, which takes place largely in America, we’re not told which brand Bond is smoking. He could’ve brought enough of his Morland Specials to make it through the trip, I suppose. Tiffany Case smokes her Parliaments throughout.

In Goldfinger, Bond returns to America, and he is back with his Chesterfields. When he is a guest of Mr Du Pont he starts his day as follows.

He went back into the bedroom, picked up the telephone and ordered himself a delicious, wasteful breakfast, a carton of king-sized Chesterfields and the newspapers.

He holds out the pack of Chesterfields to Jill Masterton when he meets her and she accepts one.

Then, later in the book when Bond is a guest/prisoner of Goldfinger, he enjoys bossing Oddjob around.

Oddjob, I want a lot of food, quickly. And a bottle of bourbon, soda and ice. Also a carton of Chesterfields, king-size, and either my own watch or another one as good as mine. Quick march! Chop-chop!

When Bond learns the details of Goldfinger’s plan, “he reached inside his coat pocket for the Chesterfields and lit one.”

Then, as again a prisoner of Goldfinger, he refuses to talk until his demands are met.

We will have a talk, Goldfinger. And I will tell you certain things. But not until you have taken off these straps and brought me a bottle of bourbon, ice, soda water and a packet of Chesterfields. Then, when you have told me what I wish to know, I will decide what to tell you.

When Bond locates Domino in Nassau during Thunderball, she is buying cigarettes, and actually trying to find one that will convince her to stop smoking. Bond recommends Dukes. He orders them, and she objects:

But Bond had already paid for the carton and for a packet of Chesterfields for himself.

When Bond returns to America in The Spy Who Loved Me, he offers Viv a cigarette after she offers to make him some scrambled eggs.

‘Have one? Senior Service. I suppose it’ll have to be Chesterfields from now on.’ His mouth turned slightly down as he smiled.

In 007 in New York, Bond again has his Chesterfields.

James Bond sat back and lit one of his last Morland Specials. By lunchtime it would be king-size Chesterfields.

Originally produced by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, the brand was sold in 1999 to Philip Morris, and while still being produced, is more popular in Europe these days. During the 1940’s and 50’s Chesterfield was a major sponsor of television programs, and their advertisements were plentiful, many featuring major movie stars and athletes of the day.






The Silver Phantom (or Silver Meteor)

This was the train taken by James Bond and Solitaire on their trip from New York City to Florida in Live and Let Die.

Seaboard Air Line Railroad introduced the train and route in 1939, and now under Amtrak, continues to run to this very day.

Fleming refers to it as the Silver Phantom, which he also makes reference to as a “sister train” to the Silver Meteor train. In real life, the sister train to the Meteor was the Silver Star.

The train leaves from Pennsylvania Station, where Bond and Solitaire arrive separately.

It lay, a quarter of a mile of silver carriages, quietly in the dusk of the underground station. Up front, the auxiliary generators of the 4000 horsepower twin Diesel electric units ticked busily. Under the bare electric bulbs the horizontal purple and gold bands, the colours of the Seaboard Railroad, glowed regally on the streamlined locomotives. The engineman and fireman who would take the great train on the first two hundred mile lap into the south lolled in the spotless aluminium cabin, twelve feet above the track, watching the ammeter and the air-pressure dial, ready to go.

Bond heads into the train,

Bond stepped on to the train and turned down the drab olive green corridor. The carpet was thick. There was the usual American train-smell of old cigar-smoke. A notice said ‘Need a second pillow? For any extra comfort ring for your Pullman Attendant. His name is,’ then a printed card, slipped in : ‘Samuel D. Baldwin.’

Their sleeping room is compartment H in car 245, toward the rear of the train. They meet and their Pullman Attendant Baldwin takes care of them, even giving Bond a warning that they have an enemy on the train. Bond and Solitaire have chicken sandwiches for lunch, (with Old Fashioneds) and scrambled eggs (with “bottled” martinis) for dinner. After a note is slipped under their door, Bond decides to leave the train early, with the assistance of Baldwin, he and Solitaire exit the train in Jacksonville.

In Goldfinger, Bond again rides this train, but in the opposite direction. He orders Goldfinger:

“Right. Now jot this down on the back of your cheque book and see you get it right. Book me a compartment on the Silver Meteor to New York tonight. Have a bottle of vintage champagne on ice and plenty of caviar sandwiches. The best caviar.

He also specifies to “make that compartment a drawing-room” as he’ll be taking Jill Masterton with him as a “hostage.”

It’s a luxurious trip from another era, similar to the experience of the Stratocruiser, where there is fine dining, service, and other comforts that you just don’t find in today’s travel experience.

Trains - Seaboard Railway's Silver Meteor, Metallic

Silver Meteor W Palm


Pennsylvania Station, New York

The original Penn Station was built in 1910 and was destroyed in 1963 to make room for the new Madison Square Garden.

In Live and Let Die, it is the setting for Bond and Solitaire’s exit from New York via The Silver Phantom.

After Bond is dropped off at the drive-in by his cab, Bond walked quickly through the glass-covered concourse and through gate 14 down to his train. 

So Bond walks through the glass-covered concourse:


and finds his gate. Is that the correct 14 there on the right?


Went down the stairs:


Down to the track level.

You can get some good footage of this location in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Strangers on a Train.

Haig and Haig Pinchbottle

Haig and Haig Pinchbottle is a blended scotch whisky in a unique three-sided bottle. The bottle was actually trademarked in the United States in 1958.

In Live and Let Die at Sugar Ray’s, Bond and Leiter have scotch-and-soda with Haig and Haig Pinchbottle.

When Bond returns to his hotel room after his “meeting” with Mr Big, “He put a handful of wilted ice cubes into a tall glass, poured in three inches of Haig and Haig and swilled the mixture round in the glass to  cool and dilute it. Then he drank down half the glass in one long swallow.”

When Bond shows up at The Everglades, Leiter grabs a bottle of Haig and Haig and some soda water and they both have a long drink.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, during Bond’s initial encounter with Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Union Corse produces bourbon for Bond, and a bottle of Pinchbottle Haig for himself.


James Bond in Harlem

In Live and Let Die, James Bond spends an evening in Harlem, accompanied by Felix Leiter.

Harlem is a large neighborhood on the northern section of Manhattan.

After Martinis at the St Regis, they take a bus to Harlem. First stop is Sugar Ray’s which is on Seventh Avenue at 123 Street.

This was a real spot, owned by the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Bond and Leiter “walked under the canopy” and slip into a booth.


This photo is from 1950. For more on Sugar Ray’s check this post from Harlem Bespoke and this article in the New York Times.

Bond and Leiter have Scotch-and-soda – with Haig and Haig Pinchbottle scotch. They listen in on a conversation at a neighboring table – one that is cringe-inducing to read 60 years later.

Next, they go to Ma Frazier’s on Seventh (“further up the avenue” Leiter says) for the “best food in Harlem, or at any rate it used to be.”

The restaurant is “cheerful” and they eat a meal of “Little Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland with bacon and sweet corn.” which Leiter refers to as “the national dish.”

From my limited research, I haven’t found a real Ma Frazier’s in Harlem. This map from about 20 years prior to Bond’s visit points out a few locations mentioned by Fleming and might provide some clues:


Next to Seventh Avenue, you’ll notice Gladys’ Clam House, and then up a block to the left, you’ll see Tillies, which specialized in fried chicken. I wonder if Fleming based Ma Frazier’s on a couple of places. There could’ve actually been a Ma Frazier’s, but I haven’t found any reference to it. You can see above that they would’ve passed Tillies on their way to the Savoy.

On their third stop of the evening, they hit the Savoy Ballroom.

By the time they left the restaurant it was ten-thirty and the Avenue was almost deserted. They took a cab to the Savoy Ballroom, had a Scotch-and-soda, and watched the dancers.
Most modern dances were invented here,’ said Leiter. ‘That’s how good it is. The Lindy Hop, Truckin’, the Susie Q, the Shag. All started on that floor. Every big American band you’ve ever heard of is proud that it once played here – Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Galloway, Noble Sissle, Fletcher Henderson. It’s the Mecca of jazz and jive.’
They had a table near the rail round the huge floor. Bond was spellbound. He found many of the girls very beautiful. The music hammered its way into his pulse until he almost forgot what he was there for.



Savoy Ballroom

Savoy Ballroom Vignette (Video featuring interior shots of Savoy)

The Savoy closed in 1958, and was torn down. There is a plaque that marks the location.

Leiter mentions that they won’t be able to go to Small’s Paradise, (real place, remained open until 1986) which you see on the map up on the right, on the other side of Seventh, but they do go into Yeah Man across the street. There isn’t much to be found about this place, which again was a real spot, other than the advice on the map above to “Go late!”

Finally, they end up at The Boneyard, a “small place on Lenox Avenue”, and unfortunately we’re not given more details on the location. Part of me wonders if Fleming based The Boneyard on the Lenox Lounge, a Lenox Avenue landmark that was in its prime during that time.


It’s a complete guess on my part, but it fits the type of place Fleming was describing.