From Russia With Love: The United States was far From Russia With Love in 1963 – Part One
From Russia with Love is the second EON Productions entry into the James Bond film series and it is an outstanding film. Many choose From Russia With Love as one of their favorite James Bond movies, and we have to agree – this is definitely is one of our top 5 Bond films ever made by EON Productions because of the screenplay, the cast, and just how well the story unfolds before our eyes. This is a top-notch Bond! This is Part 1 of a 2 Part show on From Russia With Love.
In today’s podcast, Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato will take an in-depth look at this movie. They’ll discuss how many of the things that come out in this movie set the stage for later films in the franchise. They’ll also look at how real-world events and scenes from earlier movies may have influenced From Russia With Love.
- Episode Notes
From Russia With Love
How would you feel about a love affair between the US and Russia in 1963? Well, it wasn’t likely, as then the United States was as far as it could be, From Russia With Love.
Join us now as we search for the love in From Russia With Love!
5th Ian Fleming James Bond 007 novel (1957), 2nd EON Productions James Bond 007 film (1963). When Ian Fleming wrote the novel, the Soviet Union had not yet launched Sputnik, the first satellite ever put into space. But by October 4th, 1957, Sputnik was successfully launched which began the official space race between the then Soviet Union and the United States – so the subject matter of the film was very much on everyone’s mind worldwide – what will happen in space, and what will tensions between the US and the Soviet Union bring to the world. Another great choice by EON Productions to produce this film in 1963. Any advantage one super-power could gain on the other would be a strategic plus for that country.
The movie is all about James Bond heading to Istanbul to attempt to retrieve the Lektor, the top-secret Russian decoding machine.
- Sean ConneryLink to bio
- Daniela BianchiLink to bio
- Robert ShawLink to bio
- Pedro ArmendárizLink to bio
- Bernard LeeLink to bio
- Lois MaxwellLink to bio
From Russia with Love is the second EON Productions entry into the film series and it is an outstanding film. Many choose From Russia With Love as one of their favorite James Bond movies, and we have to agree – this is definitely is one of our top 5 Bond films ever made by EON Productions because of the screenplay, the cast, and just how well the story unfolds before our eyes. This is top-notch Bond!
Here is as 2 minute plus a trailer to whet your appetite for the film, and to refresh your memory as to the tremendous number of great action shots and theatrical shots that we will see in many more spy movies to come throughout the next 5 plus decades.
The exotic locations, the tremendous explosions, the intrigue, the beauty of the photography and sets – all rolled up into one great film! The clip is fast-paced, as are many parts of the film. This is one of the best spy movies ever! The villains are true villains, from Red Grant, Kronsteen, to Rosa Klebb – and of course, Blofeld – who has people obeying orders in fear of death.
In one of the most intriguing pre-title sequences, the mood is dark, the setting is dark, and we see Bond pursued by an agent (SPECTRE).
Pre-Title Sequence in a setting we are not familiar with and with a very perplexed and worried look upon James Bond’s face – he really does not look confident, which makes us viewers nervous. He has a gun in hand, as he walks cautiously around these dark grounds with statuary and foliage – lot s of hiding places. Until, from behind, Bond is strangled to death. For 1 minute and 52 seconds, he was pursued and killed. Bond, dead. But wait… .ala Mission: Impossible’s use of masks, the mask is lifted off of Bond to reveal that it was really someone else. Note that the Mission: Impossible television series does not start until 3 years after the filming of From Russia With Love, so here, the film could have possibly influenced one of the major components of Mission: Impossible television series, and later the films! Of course, The List of Adrian Messenger was released in June 1963 and was the first we know of to heavily use make-up and facial masks as disguises, which are peeled off at the end of the film. So perhaps, From Russia With Love was influenced by The List of Adrian Messenger (not a spy movie per se) and then later influences the spy television series, Mission: Impossible and the subsequent films.
There is a great article written about some of this by Jeremy Dunns, April 14, 2015. Read it!
John F. Kennedy was President of the US then, and Ian Fleming actually met President Kennedy. Kennedy was quoted as saying that From Russia With Love was one of his 10 favorite books. The Fleming novels took off in sales after that. Of course, later in 1963-1964, the film was released, but President Kennedy had been assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.
The subject matter of the film, obtaining a Soviet Lektor (which is an encoding device to protect communications – much like the Enigma machine in WW-II) which was stolen by SPECTRE, giving the West an advantage over the Soviets, was very much in vogue at the time. In the film, Russia is very much aware of James Bond already, and the pre-title sequence demonstrates how they are training to be able to kill Bond. So, the tension of the film is established immediately.
In this clip, we get a glimpse into the existence of SPECTRE and how SPECTRE works its evil plans. We even see here a reference to Dr. No – and that by stealing the Lektor from the Russians, and setting up the plan for the Russian girl to theoretically defect and provide the Lector to the British, MI6 will most certainly send Bond, and then SPECTRE can exact their revenge on Bond for the death of Dr. No. So, we see for the first time a reference to a previous Bond movie – we will see others in future Bond movies. Here you see, Number One, stroking a white cat, but you never see his face. Kronsteen in Number 2 and Rosa Klebb Number 3. High-level planning to get the Lector and kill Bond too.
The attention to detail for the sets continues EON Productions meticulous execution of fabulous sets, many built at Pinewood Studios outside London, and of course many scenes filmed on location – which SpyMovieNavigator is focused on with our videos.
Tatiana and Klebb (Head of Operations for SMERSH) Have A Meeting
Here we see the behind the scenes plan for getting the Lektor. Tatiana Romanov works for Russia, and she thinks Klebb is still head of operations for the Russians (SMERSH). This set is in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and you can still find this very building (an inn) that was used to shoot this scene. Again, a great set, nice lighting, a believable meeting. The set details make the movie most believable, and the locations feel very real. This scene sets up the rest of the movie, with two characters here who will appear at the very end of the movie as well. The atmosphere really shows at this moment, Tatiana is not in control, and the cat walking past her ads to the intrigue and dark atmosphere, as does the creaking door, all while Shaw watches her enter. Colonel Klebb, with a threatening baton/whip in hand, demonstrates that she is in complete control, and reinforces that with, after Tatiana says about making love to Bond, ”And if I refuse?” Klebb sternly rebukes, “Then you will not leave this room alive.” Note, when Klebb places her hand on Tatiana’s knee to wrestle complete control of the situation, Tatiana is very uncomfortable and shifts her legs. Klebb may have same-sex tendencies, and others have written at length about this. We think this scene might have been filmed in Istanbul as well, and we are investigating. The exterior of the building it is said was Istanbul.
A Smart Looking Piece of Luggage: Briefcase
As Bond is called into M’s office to get the details of his assignment to Istanbul to recover the Lector, we see Q Branch, the quartermaster (Boothroyd), for the first time, played by Desmond Llewelyn. This first scene with Q is one of my favorite scenes in any Bond movie because you just have to love Q! I have loved Q played by Llewelyn from this moment forward, and enjoy every moment he is in a scene. He is a special character and here we see him for the first time. Bravo, Desmond!
And Q does give Bond a rather smart piece of luggage, which, of course, will come in very handy. From here on out, Q is very much in tune with what field agents might need!
Bond Lands in Istanbul
After leaving M’s office, knowing that he is Instanbul-bound, he signs the photograph that M wants back and gives it to Miss Moneypenny with the inscription, “With Love” to which Bond adds above it, “From Russia!” Notice Moneypenny’s face – looking longingly at Bond. All the Connery movies have these playful interactions between the two. This is a very tightly written scene, reinforcing the rendezvous with Tatiana Romanov, the mission to get the Russian Lektor, and the title of the movie. Brilliant piece of writing here to get the viewer absolutely hooked, and one of the many reasons, From Russia With Love is a fan favorite.
At the airport in Istanbul, we are again left with unknows as there is a suspicious man following him out of the airport (the Bulgarian) and another in a car observing Bond. We will grow to know both of their roles very precisely soon. And, as in Dr. No, a driver is sent for him, but this time, through validation through a spoken code, it is an ally, not an adversary.
Bond makes it to the hotel safely, but tailed, and checks into Room 32. He quickly searches for bugs and finds one behind a painting. As if one bug is not enough, he keeps looking for more – in the chandelier and then checks the phone with an electronic device. Of course, he will switch rooms. This scene shows again the mystery of who is following him, and the thoroughness that 007 exhibits in the execution of his duties. Between Dr. No, and From Russia With love, we are beginning to learn who James Bond is: A tough assassin in Dr. No and a thorough, untrusting agent in From Russia With Love.
James Bond and Karim at Cistern
Bond heads to Istanbul to meet Karin Bey the MI6 agent in Instanbul, and to talk about meeting Tatiana Romanov (who thinks she is working for Russia under Klebb who has defected to SPECTRE) who can get the Lektor. After a bomb goes off in Bey’s office, and he is wondering why the Russians are acting like this, Bond tells him maybe it is because he is here. Then SPECTRE will steal the Lektor and sell it. Here, Karim Bey takes Bond beneath his offices and to the underground cistern where he uses a periscope to spy on the Russian embassy.
This location is actually near the Aya Sofia Mosque. There is an entrance fee, but when you enter, you walk down the steps that Bond and Karim walk down in this scene. Very cool!
The Gypsy Camp
Bey uses the gypsies for information. This has caused tension with the rival gypsy groups. This is a beautiful scene on a beautiful evening, with belly dancing, and even a serious fight between two gypsy women . We quickly see that Krilencu is involved here as well, and it is also clear that Klebb’s assassin is nearby too, though Bey took precautions not to be followed. The assassin is at this point protecting Bond because he needs Bond to get the lector first. Bey is wounded in the arm.
Krilencu was trying to kill Bey. So, next Bey and Bond head to where Bey knows Krilencu lives. Bey feels he better kill Krilencu before Krilencu gets another chance to kill Bey. So, Bond, with his trusty Ar-7 briefcase rifle, heads to the known living location of Krilencu.
Here Bond and Bey take care of Krilencu so there is no other chance Krilencu will get Bey. Bey’s sons are security police, in on the attack. This is a touching scene, and you see how close Bond and Bey are – almost like a Felix Leiter kind of closeness. It also highlights how much Bond and MI6 agents in the field are assassins. This is a clear-cut assassination – shooting an unarmed nemesis as he escapes. A perfect set-up.
It’s the Right Size
When Bond gets a new suite at the hotel because of the bugged suite, he returns to it to find Tatiana Romanov in his bed. This is the first time they meet when she says to him that she thinks her mouth is too big, and Bond says, “it’s the right size . . . for me that is.” Again, we see Bond is flirtatious with women, and even while kissing her, he is asking her about the Lektor, where it is, and how she can draw a map of the consulate. It is obvious they will sleep together from the dialogue, and Tania (her friends call her that) looks fabulous and inviting – Daniella Bianchi is perfect for Tania. We also discover that behind the mirrors, they are being filmed – part of a plan to do away with them both later in the film.
Red Grant Kills Foreign Agent
Tania obviously got the plan of the consulate and will leave it at the Aya Sofia as Bond had suggested. The Blue Mosque is seen in the background as Tania approaches Aya Sofia. We see more intrigue here- nothing goes quite that simple in a Bond movie. You will see some familiar faces we saw at the airport when Bond landed in Istanbul. Remember, Tania is leaving the plan for the Consulate in a small container for Bond. But one of the guys we saw at the airport, is tracing her and goes to retrieve it before Bond. But he is killed by the other man we saw at the airport following Bond – later identifying himself as Red Grant. But he does not take the compact container – why not?
Remember, this is a complex plan – Tania thinks she is working for the Russians, and Klebb and Shaw have other plans. They want Bond to get the plan. And this all comes out in this scene. And you can still visit Aya Sofia and it is exactly the same as it was in the movie!
Ferry Boat Encounter
Ferry Boat Encounter – In this clip, Bond is clandestinely meeting with Tatiana Romanova on a ferry boat in Istanbul, on the Bosphorus. Here, he has a camera gadget that conceals a tape recorder and pretends to be taking pictures of Tatiana. But in reality, he is recording her describing the physical attributes of the LEKTOR, the Russian decoding machine.
Bond is calm, cool, and very directive – completely in control of the encounter. Watch his face, listen to the well-written dialogue. He is in command.
She also describes where it is kept in the consulate, when it is used, and so on. Clearly, Tatiana is starting to fall for Bond. We will see, of course, in many more Bond films, and certainly in other spy movies along the way – where the spy wins over a key ally in a woman. This has happened in spy movies since the first one, The 39 Steps in 1935.
So check out the beautiful scenery, the Ferry Boat Encounter, as Bond advances the opportunity to get the LEKTOR. We must call-out Daniela Bianchi, who is stunning as Tatiana, both in beauty and in her role. She is voiced by British actress, Barbara Jefford. Bianchi, an Italian actress, was 1st runner-up in the Miss Universe contest of 1960. She steals lots of scenes in our opinion and was perfectly cast.
As a way to see Istanbul, this Bosphorus River Ferry is a very good way to do it according to many who have traveled to Istanbul.
Russian Clocks are Always Right – Escape with the Lektor
The Lektor is the reason Bond is in Istanbul, and here he receives clearance from M to proceed with the mission. Note Bond tells Kerim Bay that they will execute the plan for getting the Lektor out of the Russian Embassy on the 14th after Bey asks the 13th? Bey is to explode a bomb at 3 PM, and here Bond asks if the clock is correct as he checks his watch as well. The gates when Bond walks through to access the Russian Embassy are still around, but not near the other filming locations. When the bomb goes off, chaos ensues, and Bond gets into the room where Tania has the Lektor, with team gas in the air, mask on Bond, and she says that she thought it was going to be the 14th but today is the 13th. The question is why did Bond tell Karim in his office that it would be the 14th, but then they executed it on the 13th? Perhaps they were being cautious in case anyone overheard, but it is not absolutely clear in the clip.
One of the greatest train fights in all cinema, this one is brutal, painful, and dangerous. In 1935, in The 39 Steps, we see a train chase in a spy movie pretty much for the first time. From Russia With Love takes this to new heights, which will impact many future spy movies – with tremendous train fights and chases like Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission Impossible (1996), SPECTRE, Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and others. This is one of the best train fights of all time.
The acting is superb by both Robert Shaw and Connery. Shaw, as Grant, is tremendous, and you see the vulnerability of Bond clearly and also how Q’s gadgets can save the day when used properly.
This train fight is a tremendous scene and a turning point in From Russia With Love. Remember, in the pre-title sequence, Shaw was training to kill Bond, and his plan has worked flawlessly to this point. But, when Bond gets the better of the ole boy, the tide turns. Grant is dead, not Bond.
SpyMovieNavigator has a signed Sean Connery photo of him in the train car. Very cool.
Truck vs. Helicopter
In what will become a staple item in future spy movie films, this helicopter chase scene sets the stage for the rest of From Russia With Love, and for many spy movies to come. The first helicopter searching for a “spy” is in The 39 Steps from 1935, a Hitchcock produced movie. It appears only for a few seconds, but it is the beginning of the use of this vehicle in pursuits throughout dozens of movies, and spy films for sure. Many Bond movies, Mission: Impossible movies and more of the best of the rest.
This scene again shows how in tune Q is in what gadgets Bond might need for a mission, as his smart looking piece of luggage with the AR-7 comes in very handy once again.
SpyMovieNavigator was actually in Scotland looking for Bond locations, and we tried to find the rock that Bond was hiding under when he shot down the helicopter and we could not find it! We were close to the location and should have been able to find it, but we could not.
Death of Kronsteen
We know very little about SPECTRE at this point, but this scene highlights how brutal and unforgiving SPECTRE is, and we get a glimpse of # 1, albeit from shoulders down, as he is stroking a white cat, as we flashback to the cat that walked by Tania as she was on her way to meet Klebb for the first time. SPECTRE wants the Lektor as they have made arrangements with the Russians to return it to them, for a price. The atmosphere this scene creates is one of terror – terror for # 3 and # 5, but terror and tremendous tension for the viewing audience, as we realize the SPECTRE will stop at nothing, does not tolerate failure, and, as Blofeld says, SPECTRE always delivers what it promises.
Here we see for the first time, the poison blade that pops out of the shoe of the assassin here, as he kicks # 5 with it. How long does it take for Kronsteen to die? 12 seconds and # 1 is not happy that it takes that long. Bond is up again an evil organization!
Klebb’s Final Assault
Just when you think it’s safe…Klebb shows up once again, in Venice, as Bond and Tania are ready to depart. The thing to note here is that Klebb now has the poison shoe bald device that killed # 5 in SPECTRE # 1’s office. Here, she is willing to use it to kill Bond and retrieve the Lektor. Here in the film, Bond escapes the poison blade, and Tania – who Klebb still thinks is on her side, foils Klebb’s plans to kill Bond. Here in the film, Bond escapes without injury, though in the novel by Ian Fleming, Bond is punctured by the poison blade, and his fate is unknown.
In the film, as below, Klebb’s attempts to kill Bond with the poison shoe blade and with a pistol are foiled by Tania as she shoots Klebb. Twice Tania reassures Bond that she knows nothing about Klebb being there, by shaking her head left and right while looking directly at Bond – twice – to show Bond her loyalty is to him. We all feel relief that Tania is on the “good” side, and Klebb, evil incarnate – is finally dead. As in many Bond films, you never know when it’s over – but now, the danger is over at least!
Escape to Venice
After the helicopter chase scene in which Bond and Tatiana escape, they force the driver to take them to the dock where Red Grant was supposed to meet them and escape. This scene was actually shot in Scotland, and SpyMovieNavigator has visited the dock location.
We could not find a clip of the pick-up truck arriving at the dock, but in our videos below this is what the dock and the bluffs look like now. In the movie, the pier is in great shape as the yellow truck drives onto the pier and stops at the end. Then, Bond, Tatiana, and the truck driver board the escape boat on their way to Venice, Italy (this was supposed to be taking place in Turkey, but this scene was shot in Scotland)!. The dock today is a bit dilapidated, and if you are watching this online, you can see that. But we found the actual dock in Scotland, and this is the place where the final escape with the Lektor takes place, and the ensuing chase by the SPECTRE boats. A very key location in the movie. In our video, you can also see where. In the distance, the chase scene begins, as the bluffs and hills are pretty much the same.
You will see the bluffs and water that appear in our video above in the boat chase scene which appears in the film, below. Very cool to be there, and Scotland is a beautiful country!
Venice – Canal Scene Ends the Movie
The boat scene in Venice, when Tania and Bond are now relaxing with the mission complete, the establishing shots are of the Doge Place, the Bridge of Sighs, the Venice canals. It looks like green-screen stuff with eh actors super-imposed against the background. One of the things see here in the background, is the Bridge of Sighs – for a short time behind Bond and Tania. The Bridge of Sighs, in olden times, was the bridge prisoners would cross over from the courtyard where they were sentenced to death or to prison and maybe even to the execution area – so they knew they would never cross that bridge again or see the beautiful view of Venice they could see through the bridges barred windows. Hence, the sighs. Here, in From Russia With Love, there could be a couple of meanings: 1) That Bond and Tania are now beyond the danger zone – they passed under the Bridge of Sighs and the mission is accomplished; they are out of danger; 2) or, it can be a sexual symbol – Bond is reviewing the film of he and Tania making love in the bridal suite (that Tania did not know about as you recall) – and Grant was going to use this film as the reason Tania and Bond were dead – one was going to use it as blackmail against the other, then murder and suicide. So, the film had enough sexual content to be potent. Bond is looking at it now and Tania asks what it is, and Bond just says that he will show her all as they pass from canal to canal – to the Grand Canal., which can be taken as metaphors or symbols. It is a pleasant moment for the two of them, as they wrap up their mission, and their passion. And they are now in the safety zone! And Daniella Bianchi as Tania was just perfect casting – she is stunning! Tell us what you think!