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"It's the Cold War version of When Harry Met Sally."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator



From Russia with Love is the second James Bond film made by Eon Productions and the second to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Released in 1963, the film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young. It is based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming.

In the film, SPECTRE's expert planner Kronsteen devises a plot to steal a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets and sell it back to them while exacting revenge on Bond for killing their agent Dr. No; ex-SMERSH operative Rosa Klebb is in charge of the mission. She recruits Donald "Red" Grant as an assassin and Tatiana Romanova, a cipher clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, as the unwitting bait. Bond travels to Turkey and meets with Ali Kerim Bey, the MI6 officer in Turkey. Between them, they obtain the Lektor, and the three attempt to escape with the device on the Orient Express followed by Grant.

Following the success of Dr. No, United Artists approved a sequel, doubling the budget available for the producers. In addition to filming on location in Turkey, the action scenes were shot both in Scotland and Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire. Production ran over budget and schedule, and had to rush to finish by its scheduled October 1963 release date. From Russia with Love was a critical and commercial success, taking over $78 million in worldwide box office receipts, more than its predecessor Dr. No.

Following the financial success of Dr. No, United Artists greenlit a second James Bond film. The studio doubled the budget offered to Eon Productions with $2 million, and also approved a bonus for Sean Connery, who would receive $100,000 along with his $54,000 salary. As President John F. Kennedy had named Fleming's novel From Russia with Love among his ten favourite books of all time in Life magazine, producers Broccoli and Saltzman chose this as the follow-up to Bond's cinematic debut in Dr. No. From Russia with Love was the last film President Kennedy saw at the White House on November 20th 1963 before going to Dallas. Most of the crew from the first film returned, with major exceptions being production designer Ken Adam, who went to work on Dr. Strangelove and was replaced by Dr. No's art director Syd Cain, title designer Maurice Binder was replaced by Robert Brownjohn and stunt coordinator Bob Simmons was unavailable and was replaced by Peter Perkins though Simmons performed stunts in the film. John Barry replaced Monty Norman as composer of the soundtrack.

The film introduced several conventions which would become essential elements of the series: a pre-title sequence, the Blofeld character (referred in the film only as "Number 1"), a secret-weapon gadget for Bond, a helicopter sequence, a postscript action scene after the main climax, a theme song with lyrics, and the line "James Bond will return/be back" in the credits.

Ian Fleming's novel was a Cold War thriller; however, the producers named the crime syndicate SPECTRE instead of the Soviet undercover agency SMERSH so as to avoid controversial political overtones. The SPECTRE training grounds were inspired by the film Spartacus. The original screenwriter was Len Deighton, but he was replaced because of a lack of progress. Thus two of Dr. No's writers, Johanna Harwood and Richard Maibaum, were returned for the second film in the series. Harwood stated in an interview in Cinema Retro that her screenplay for From Russia with Love had followed Fleming's novel closely but left the series due to what she called Terence Young's constant rewriting of her screenplay with ideas that were not in the original Fleming work. Maibaum kept on making rewrites as filming progressed. Red Grant was added to the Istanbul scenes just prior to the film crew's trip to Turkey, a change that brought more focus to the SPECTRE plot, as Grant started saving Bond's life there (a late change during shooting involved Grant killing the bespectacled spy at Hagia Sophia instead of Bond, who ends up just finding the man dead). For the last quarter of the movie, Maibaum added two chase scenes, with a helicopter and speed-boats, and changed the location of Bond and Klebb's battle from Paris to Venice.


Although uncredited, the actor who played Number 1 was Anthony Dawson, who had played Professor Dent in the previous Bond film, Dr. No. In the end credits, Blofeld is credited with a question mark. Blofeld's voice was provided by Viennese actor Eric Pohlmann. Peter Burton was unavailable to return as Major Boothroyd, so Desmond Llewelyn, who was a fan of the Bond comic strip published in the Daily Express, accepted the part. However, screen credit for Llewelyn was omitted at the opening of the film and is reserved for the exit credits, where he is credited simply as 'Boothroyd'. Llewelyn's character is not referred to by this name in dialogue, but M does introduce him as being from Q Branch. Llewelyn remained as the character, better known as Q, in all but two of the series' films until his death in 1999.
Many actresses were considered for the role of Tatiana, including Sylva Koscina, Virna Lisi, Annette Vadim, and Tania Mallet. 1960 Miss Universe runner-up Daniela Bianchi (right) was ultimately cast, supposedly Sean Connery's choice. Bianchi started taking English classes for the role, but the producers ultimately chose to dub her voice over. The scene in which Bond finds Tatiana in his hotel bed was used for Daniela Bianchi's screen test, with Dawson standing in, this time, as Bond. The scene later became the traditional screen test scene for prospective James Bond actors and Bond Girls.
Katina Paxinou was considered for the role of Rosa Klebb, but was unavailable. Terence Young cast Lotte Lenya after hearing one of her musical recordings. Young wanted Kronsteen's portrayer to be "an actor with a remarkable face", so the minor character would be well remembered by audiences. This led to the casting of Vladek Sheybal, who Young also considered convincing as an intellectual. Several women were tested for the roles of Vida and Zora, the two fighting gypsy girls, and after Aliza Gur and Martine Beswick were cast, they spent six weeks practising their fight choreography with stunt work arranger Peter Perkins.
Pedro Armendáriz (pictured left with Connery) was recommended to Young by director John Ford to play Kerim Bey. After experiencing increasing discomfort on location in Istanbul, Armendáriz was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Filming in Istanbul was terminated, the production moved to Britain, and Armendáriz's scenes were brought forward so that he could complete his scenes without delay. Though visibly in pain, he continued working as long as possible. When he could no longer work, he returned home, and took his own life. Remaining shots after Armendáriz left London had a stunt double and Terence Young himself as stand-ins.
Joe Robinson was a strong contender for the role of Red Grant but it was given to Robert Shaw (pictured below). Shaw built himself up for the role and wore lifts to give him height. Shaw (August 9th 1927 to August 28th 1978) was an English actor and novelist. With his menacing mutter and intimidating demeanor, he was often cast as villains. He is not only best remembered for his performance in From Russia with Love (1963) but in A Man for All Seasons (1966 - for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), The Sting (1973), the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), Black Sunday (1977), Force 10 from Navarone (1978), The Deep (1977) and Jaws (1975), in which he played the shark hunter Quint.

Most of the film was set in Istanbul, Turkey. Locations included the Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and the Sirkeci Station which also was used for the Belgrade and Zagreb railway stations. The MI6 office in London, SPECTRE Island, the Venice hotel and the interior scenes of the Orient Express were filmed at Pinewood Studios with some footage of the train. In the film, the train journey was set in Eastern Europe. The journey and the truck ride were shot in Argyll, Scotland and Switzerland. The end scenes for the film were shot in Venice. However, to qualify for the British film funding of the time, at least 70% of the film had to have been filmed in Great Britain or the Commonwealth. The gypsy camp was also to be filmed in an actual camp in Topkapi, but was actually shot in a replica of it in Pinewood. The scene with rats (after the theft of the Lektor) was shot in Spain, as Britain did not allow filming with wild rats, and filming white rats painted in cocoa did not work. Principal photography began on 1 April 1963, and wrapped on 23 August.
Director Terence Young's eye for realism was evident throughout production. For the opening chess match, Kronsteen wins the game with a re-enactment of Boris Spassky's victory over David Bronstein in 1960. Production Designer Syd Cain built up the "chess pawn" motif in his $150,000 set for the brief sequence. A noteworthy gadget featured was the attaché case issued by Q-Branch. It had a tear gas bomb that detonated if it was improperly opened, a folding AR-7 sniper rifle with twenty rounds of ammunition, a throwing knife, and 50 gold sovereigns. A boxer at Cambridge, Young choreographed the fight between Grant and Bond along with stunt co-ordinator Peter Perkins. The scene took three weeks to film and was violent enough to worry some on the production. Yet Robert Shaw and Connery did most of the stunts themselves.
After the unexpected loss of actor Pedro Armendáriz, production on the film proceeded, experiencing complications from rewriting by Richard Maibaum during filming. Editor Peter Hunt set about editing the film while key elements were still to be filmed, helping to restructure the opening scenes. Hunt and Young conceived of moving the training exercise on a Bond double to preface the main title, a signature feature that has been an enduring hallmark of every Bond film since. The briefing with Blofeld was rewritten, and back projection was used to re-film Lotte Lenya's (left) lines.

Behind schedule and over-budget, the production crew struggled to complete production in time for the already-announced premiere date that October. On July 6th 1963, while scouting locations in Argyll, Scotland for that day's filming of the climactic boat chase, Terence Young's helicopter crashed into the water with Art Director Michael White and a cameraman aboard. The craft sank into 40–50 feet (12–15 m) of water, but all escaped with minor injuries. Despite the calamity, Young was behind the camera for the full day's work. A few days later, Bianchi's driver fell asleep during the commute to a 6 am shoot and crashed the car; the actress' face was bruised, and Bianchi's scenes had to be delayed two weeks while these facial contusions healed.

The helicopter and boat chase scenes were not in the original novel, but were added to create an action climax. The former was inspired by Hitchcock's North by Northwest, and the latter by a previous Young/Broccoli/Maibaum collaboration, The Red Beret. These two scenes would initially be shot in Istanbul, but were moved to Scotland; the speed-boats could not run fast enough due to the many waves in the sea, and a rented boat filled with cameras ended up sinking in the Bosphorus. A helicopter was also hard to obtain, the special effects crew were nearly arrested trying to get one at a local air base. The helicopter chase was filmed with a radio controlled miniature helicopter. The sounds of the boat chase were replaced in post-production since the boats were not loud enough, and the explosion, shot in Pinewood, got out of control, burning Walter Gotell's eyelids, and seriously injuring three stuntmen.

Photographer David Hurn was commissioned by the producers of the James Bond films to shoot a series of stills with Sean Connery and the actresses of the film. When the theatrical property Walther PPK pistol did not arrive, Hurn volunteered the use of his own Walther LP-53 air pistol. Though the photographs of the "James Bond is Back" posters of the US release airbrushed out the long barrel of the pistol, film poster artist Renato Fratini used the long-barrelled pistol for his drawings of Connery on the British posters. For the opening credits, Maurice Binder had disagreements with the producers and did not want to return. Designer Robert Brownjohn stepped into his place, and projected the credits on female dancers, inspired by constructivist artist László Moholy-Nagy projecting light onto clouds in the 1920s. Brownjohn's work started the tradition of scantily clad women on the Bond's title sequences.

From Russia with Love is the first Bond film in the series with John Barry as the primary soundtrack composer. The theme song was composed by Lionel Bart of Oliver! fame and sung by Matt Monro, although the title credit music is a lively instrumental version of the tune beginning with Barry's brief James Bond is Back then segueing into Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme". Monro's vocal version is later played during the film (as source music on a radio) and properly over the film's end titles. Barry travelled with the crew to Turkey to try getting influences of the local music, but ended up using almost nothing, just local instruments such as finger cymbals to give an exotic feeling, since he thought the Turkish music had a comedic tone that did not fit in the "dramatic feeling" of the James Bond movies.

In this film, Barry introduced the percussive theme "007" action music that came to be considered the 'secondary James Bond Theme'. He composed it to have a lighter, enthusiastic and more adventurous theme, in order to relax the audiences. The arrangement appears twice on the soundtrack album; the second version, entitled "007 Takes the Lektor", is the one used during the gunfight at the gypsy camp and also during Bond's theft of the Lektor decoding machine. The completed film features a holdover from the Monty Norman-supervised Dr. No music; the post-rocket-launch music from Dr. No is played in From Russia with Love during the helicopter and speed-boat attacks.

From Russia with Love premiered on October 10th 1963 at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. The following year, it was released in 16 countries worldwide, with the United States premiere on April 8th 1964, at New York's Astor Theatre. Upon its first release, From Russia with Love doubled Dr. No's gross by earning $12.5 million at the worldwide box office and was the most popular movie at the British box office in 1963.



Sean Connery returns as James Bond in this thrill-a-minute adventure featuring remarkable villains, beautiful women and exotic locales! This time, Bond squares off against the evil SPECTRE organization in a race to seize a Soviet decoding machine, thrusting him into a thrilling boat chase, a brutal helicopter attack and a deadly brawl aboard the Orient Express.
Add From Russia With Love to your DVD collection.




The film's cinematographer Ted Moore won the BAFTA award and the British Society of Cinematographers award for Best Cinematography. At the 1965 Laurel Awards, Lotte Lenya stood third for Best Female Supporting Performance, and the film secured second place in the Action-Drama category. The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for "From Russia with Love".

Reviews in the day included Richard Roud, writing in The Guardian (comparing the film to its predecessor, Dr. No) "(From Russia with Love) didn't seem quite so lively, quite so fresh, or quite so rhythmically fast-moving." "The film is highly immoral in every imaginable way; it is neither uplifting, instructive nor life-enhancing. Neither is it great film-making. But it sure is fun." Bosley Crowther of The New York Times said: "Don't miss it! This is to say, don't miss it if you can still get the least bit of fun out of lurid adventure fiction and pseudo-realistic fantasy. For this mad melodramatization of a desperate adventure of Bond with sinister characters in Istanbul and on the Orient Express is fictional exaggeration on a grand scale and in a dashing style, thoroughly illogical and improbable, but with tongue blithely wedged in cheek."
Many reflective reviews today place From Russia as one of the best Bond film of all time. In his 1986 book, Danny Peary described From Russia with Love as, "an excellent, surprisingly tough and gritty James Bond film" which is "refreshingly free of the gimmickry that would characterise the later Bond films." Film critic James Berardinelli cited this as his favourite Bond film, writing "Only From Russia with Love avoids slipping into the comic book realm of Goldfinger and its successors while giving us a sampling of the familiar Bond formula (action, gadgets, women, cars, etc.). From Russia with Love is effectively paced and plotted, features a gallery of detestable rogues (including the ultimate Bond villain, Blofeld), and offers countless thrills ". In June 2001, Neil Smith of BBC Films called it, "a film that only gets better with age".

Sean Connery, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig also consider this their favourite Bond film. Albert Broccoli listed it with Goldfinger and The Spy Who Loved Me as one of his top three favourites, explaining that he felt "it was with this film that the Bond style and formula were perfected".

In 2005, the From Russia with Love video game was developed by Electronic Arts and released in November 2005. It follows the storyline of the book and film, albeit adding in new scenes, making it more action-oriented. One of the most significant changes to the story is the replacement of the organisation SPECTRE to OCTOPUS because the name SPECTRE constituted a long-running legal dispute over the film rights to Thunderball between United Artists/MGM and the late writer Kevin McClory. Most of the cast from the film returned in likeness. Connery not only allowed his 1960s likeness as Bond to be used, but the actor, in his 70s, also recorded the character's dialogue, marking a return to the role 22 years after he last played Bond in Never Say Never Again. Featuring a third-person multiplayer deathmatch mode, the game depicts several elements of later Bond films such as the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger (1964) and the rocketbelt from Thunderball (1965). The game was penned by Bruce Feirstein who previously worked on the film scripts for GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and the 2004 video game, Everything or Nothing.


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