FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (United Artists, 1963)

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


★★★★ The second James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. US release date: April 8, 1964. Budget: $2.2 million. Worldwide box office gross: $78.9 million (US domestic gross: $24.8 million; international gross: $54.1 million).[1] Running time: 118 minutes.

The Setup

To exact revenge for the death of their operative Dr. No, SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld assembles a rogues’ gallery of villains to blackmail and murder James Bond (Sean Connery). They include planner Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal), a master chess player; operations chief Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), a former Soviet master spy; and Grant (Robert Shaw), a blond-pated killer. The bait: a Russian Lektor decoding machine to be turned over to 007 in Istanbul by voluptuous Soviet cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi). Despite the warnings of his friend and local spy chief Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), Bond is snared in the elaborate trap. Only a rigged briefcase stands between 007 and certain death.

Behind the Scenes

A classic adventure thriller, From Russia with Love was the most serious film in the series until the release of Casino Royale in 2006. Its tone derives from that of Ian Fleming’s original novel, probably his best. With From Russia with Love, Fleming attempted to upgrade the character of Bond and create an incredibly intricate blackmail and murder plot, involving the most dastardly group of villains ever assembled. In that novel’s concluding scene, when Klebb kicks Bond with one of her poison-tipped shoe spikes, it looks like the end of 007. And it actually was supposed to be. Fleming was upset with the disappointing sales of the Bond books at the time, and his intention was to kill off 007 once and for all. It was only through the intervention of American author Raymond Chandler, who was a big Bond fan, that Fleming was encouraged to revive Bond in his next book. Thus, From Russia with Love was grounded in a seriousness that was well preserved in Richard Maibaum’s thoughtful adaptation.

Having scored well with location photography on Dr. No, the producers wisely decided to shoot much of From Russia with Love on location in Istanbul. Casting was particularly effective in this entry. Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya stole the picture as blond ice-water-in-his-veins assassin Grant and his spymaster Rosa Klebb, respectively. And the charming Pedro Armendariz—in his final film role—brought Kerim Bey to vibrant life.

Like many Alfred Hitchcock classics, which served as inspiration for both Maibaum and director Terence Young, this Bond film has many memorable set pieces, including the gypsy camp where Bond (Sean Connery) witnesses a particularly nasty girl fight and then has to stave off an attack by Bulgarian agents; the assassination of Krilencu (Fred Haggerty), who attempts to exit his apartment through a movie billboard; Tania (Daniela Bianchi) seducing Bond in his Istanbul hotel suite, filmed by a hidden movie crew; the fight on the train between Grant and Bond, probably the best screen fight ever choreographed; and the famous helicopter and motorboat chase that concludes the film. From Russia with Love lacks the humor some fans expect from a Bond film, and the typical 007 gadgets are kept to a minimum. But it’s still one of the best adventure films ever made.

The Cast
Role
Actor/Actress
James Bond Sean Connery
Tatiana Romanova Daniela Bianchi
Kerim Bey Pedro Armendariz
Rosa Klebb Lotte Lenya
Red Grant Robert Shaw
M Bernard Lee
Sylvia Trench Eunice Gayson
Morzeny Walter Gotell
Vavra, the Gypsy Leader Francis de Wolff
Train Conductor George Pastell
Kerim’s Girl Nadja Regin
Miss Moneypenny Lois Maxwell
Vida Aliza Gur
Zora Martine Beswick
Kronsteen Vladek Sheybal
Belly Dancer Leila
Bulgar Agent Hasan Ceylan
Krilencu Fred Haggerty
Rolls Chauffeur Neville Jason
Commissar Benz Peter Bayliss
Mehmet Nushet Atear
Rhoda Peter Brayham
Major Boothroyd Desmond Llewelyn
Grant’s Masseuse Jan Williams
Mac Adams Peter Madden
Nash Bill Hill
The Crew
Role
Crew Member
Director Terence Young
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum
Adapted by Johanna Harwood
Producers Albert R. Broccoli
Harry Saltzman
Director of Photography Ted Moore, B.S.C.
Orchestral music composed and conducted by John Barry
Title song performed by Matt Monro
Title Song written by Lionel Bart
James Bond Theme written by Monty Norman
Art Director Syd Cain
Assistant Art Director Michael White
Set Dresser Freda Pearson
Costume Designer Jocelyn Rickards
Wardrobe Mistress Eileen Sullivan
Wardrobe Master Ernie Farrer
Makeup Basil Newall
Paul Rabiger
Hairstylist Eileen Warwick
Production Manager Bill Hill
Assistant Director David Anderson
Continuity Kay Mander
Second-Unit Cameraman Robert Kindred
Camera Operator Johnny Winbolt
Location Manager Frank Ernst
Istanbul Production Assistant Ilham Filmer
Stunt Work Arranged by Bob Simmons
Titles Designer Robert Brownjohn
Assistant Title Designer Trevor Bond
Special Effects John Stears
Special Effects Assistane Frank George
Editor Peter Hunt


[1] “From Russia with Love (1964),” The Numbers, accessed May 19, 2020, https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/From-Russia-With-Love