Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

Ferocious denizens of the sixteen-hundred-year-old underground Byzantine cistern featured in From Russia with Love. A horde of these creatures chase Bond (Sean Connery), Tania (Daniela Bianchi), and Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz).

Filming this sequence in England was a problem for producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, because UK law forbade the use of wild rats in film productions. Explained production designer Syd Cain, “We’re not allowed to use wild rats in England, because if someone is bitten, we can have real trouble. We tried to use tame white rats that were dipped in cocoa to give them the proper color, but after we fixed our stage lights and dressed the set, they became terribly drowsy and wouldn’t cooperate.

“Did you ever try to get a mouse to run? Here we were all standing around waiting for something to happen, and all they would do was lick chocolate coating off each other’s bodies. So that was a bloody failure.

“We ended up going to Madrid, where you can film anything, and we hired a Spanish rat catcher who trapped two hundred of the little beggars. We then hired out a garage and built a tiny part of the Byzantine cistern there. Director Terence Young shot the rats coming down the tunnel, with a plate of glass in front of the camera protecting us from the rats. In the end, everybody was on chairs, even Cubby, who came down to watch. Why? Because all of the rats escaped and nobody wanted to be bitten.”[1]

[1] Syd Cain, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, London, June 18, 1977.


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