billion dollar brain

espionage and proper winter attire

Sep 11, 2012 | Leave a comment

Not sure about the make and model of this Jeep-ish little car parked in the working class district of Kallio and neighborhood of  Siltasaari, Helsinki. Judging by the decal on the side it may have been adequate enough for a surveyor or cartographer of some sort. Siltasaari and nearby Töölö seem to be the prime spots for Cold War-era film locations as well as the rest of Helsinki. Check out this clip from Gorky Park filmed in Helsinki. This jeep/truck thingy was shot in front of the reddish brown apartment building behind Ian Bannen and William Hurt

Also shot in Helsinki was the 1967 Ken Russell film, Billion Dollar Brain, the third installment in the Harry Palmer spy series starring Michael Caine. Caine’s character, Harry Palmer meets a spy on the same frozen Töölö Bay right after he goes shopping at Stockmann for a coat and proper hat.

Here’s the what the bay and house look like today albeit without the snow and seductive double agent.

michael caine, johann and bears

Jan 3, 2012 | Leave a comment

For my car series I don’t like streets with even the slightest bit of a grade to them but I made an exception here. I couldn’t pass up this late 60’s VW Beetle against that yellow background. Note the optional mudflaps and fender splash guards for protecting the finish from the harsh winter rain and snow.  I noticed that the Finns like to paint their buildings in warm tones to remind them of the sun. It’s a nice touch that you immediately notice walking around the city. I visited Helsinki during their warmer months and loved it but I can’t imagine what its like during the winter with extreme temperature drops and a handful of daylight hours. No wonder bears hibernate. For a look at what Helsinki looks like during the winter  (of 1966-67) check out the Michael Caine film Billion Dollar Brain. Helsinki is also used as the location for many films set during the Cold War-era and doubled for Moscow in Gorky Park.

Finnish Lesson #1: The street signs in Helsinki (and most other signage) can get quite confusing because they display the names in both Finnish and Swedish. One street was marked Johanneksenrinne/Johanneksentie/Johannesvägen. Quite amusing. I’m sure Johann (John) is happy though.