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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for From Russia with Love can be found here.
No. The first film in the cinematic Bond series was Dr. No (1962). From Russia with Love is the second film in the series as well as the second film to feature Sean Connery as James Bond.
The majority of the James Bond movies are based, at least in part, upon stories by British author Ian Fleming [1908-1964]. From Russia with Love is based on Fleming's 1957 novel of the same name. It was adapted for this film by American screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood.
From Russia With Love is sung by British singer Matt Munro.
At the start of the movie, Bond is in London when he is called to work. M (Bernard Lee) sends him to Istanbul, Turkey to meet with Russian operative Tatiana "Tanya" Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) who has agreed to steal a Russian Lecktor decoding device and hand it over to Bond. It's all a trap, of course, masterminded by SPECTRE's #1 operative, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Anthony Dawson). Once they have the Lektor, Bond and Tanya, posing as David and Caroline Sommerset, hop on the Orient Express, which takes them across Bulgaria to Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). The train continues across Yugoslavia to Zagreb (now Croatia), where he expects to get documentation to get him out of Yugoslavia and into Trieste, Italy. Instead, SPECTRE assassin Donald "Red" Grant (Robert Shaw) has killed Bond's contact and assumed the identity of British agent "Nash". In the final scene, Bond and Tanya wind up on a gondola in Venice, Italy. A map showing their route can be viewed here.
Just before he leaves for Istanbul, Bond is given a photo of Tanya Romanova. Before he returns the photo to M, Bond writes on it, "From Russia With Love."
SPECTRE stands for "The SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion." SPECTRE is an international terrorist organization run by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Its members are recruited from the Gestapo, Smersh, the Mafia, and the Union Corse among others. With the exception of Goldfinger (1964), all of the Bond villains from 1962-71 come from this organization. In Fleming's book, however, the plot was cooked up by SMERSH, a Soviet-Russian organization whose name ("smiert shpionam") meant "death to spies." SMERSH is mentioned in this film, but the antagonistic organization for the early Bond films was changed from the books (where SMERSH is clearly a Soviet force) to the non-country-specific SPECTRE. Number Three in this film is a former SMERSH operative, now working outside the Soviet Union for SPECTRE.
Blofeld's overall plan is to rule the world, of course. He likens his plan to three Siamese fighting fish in a fishbowl together. The wise fish (who represents SPECTRE) hangs back, letting the two others (who represent the West and the East) fight until one of them is killed. While the surviving fish is still totally exhausted, the wise fish will then strike. In this particular movie, the plan, as detailed by SPECTRE's Director of Planning, Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal), is to steal the Lektor decoding machine from the Russians by using Russian agent Tanya Romanova (who will be led to believe that she is working for Russian Intelligence) and James Bond, who will think that he's working for the British Secret Service, making the theft look like a British Intelligence operation. It will be their duty to steal the Lektor from the Soviet consulate in Instanbul where Tanya works with it as a decoding clerk. Meanwhile, SPECTRE assassin Red Grant will be following them, ready to kill them both and take the Lektor back to Blofeld. Blofeld then intends to sell the Lektor back to the Russians (or whomever is the highest bidder) as the Russians will pay big bucks to regain possession and keep the Lektor out of the hands of their enemies. The plan is set in motion when Tanya contacts M, claiming that she has the Lektor but that she will only hand it over to Bond, so Bond flies to Turkey to meet with her.
That man is Benz (Peter Bayliss), a Soviet agent responsible for watching airports and stations. He can also be seen during the meeting on which Bond and Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz) spy with the periscope underneath the Soviet embassy.
Bulgaria was a Communist satellite state of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Bulgaria also borders Turkey so it would be more convenient for the Soviets to employ Bulgarian spies to do their dirty work in the Balkan area.
The Cold War involved the Warsaw Pact and NATO countries. As this movie shows, those two sides carried out their spy games in countries all over the world...including Turkey.
"Nash" (actually Red Grant) explains this by telling Bond his escape route from the train is for two people only (himself and Bond), and asks Bond what he wants more -- the Lektor or the girl, implying that he drugged Tanya to leave her behind on the train. In actuality, Grant/Nash had orders to kill both Bond and Tanya as soon as they got their hands on the Lektor, so it is assumed that Grant drugged Tanya to remove her as an obstacle to his killing the both of them later.
Chloral hydrate, a mild but fast-acting sleeping pill.
Bond and Tanya get off the train and take the truck meant for Grant's escape. They are pursued by two SPECTRE agents in a helicopter. When the agents start tossing grenades at the truck, Bond shoots the helicopter out of the sky. He and Tanya then take a boat intended for Grant and head for Venice, but they are soon pursued by three SPECTRE boats. Bond dumps several fuel drums into the water, then fires on them, blowing up all three SPECTRE boats. Meanwhile, back at SPECTRE headquarters, Blofeld has Kronsteen killed because his plan failed, leaving Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), formerly with Russian Intelligence but currently Head of Operations for SPECTRE, to see to it that Bond is killed and the Lektor obtained. When Bond and Tanya get to Venice, they take a hotel room and arrange to return to London. As Bond finishes his packing, a hotel maid comes in to clean the room. The maid turns out to be Rosa Klebb herself. She pulls a gun on Bond just as Tanya enters the room and recognizes her. Klebb hands the Lektor to Tanya and pushes her out into the hallway. Her gun still pointed at Bond, Klebb begins to follow Tanya, but Tanya knocks the gun from her hand. Bond quickly rushes at Klebb, but she releases a poisoned spike from the toe of her shoe and starts kicking at Bond. He pins her to the wall with a chair. Tanya picks up the fallen gun and shoots Klebb. In the final scene, Bond and Tanya are cruising down a canal in a motorboat. They kiss, and Bond tosses into the water the film that Klebb and Grant shot earlier of Bond and Tanya making love.
Barbara Jefford dubbed Daniela Bianchi's voice because her affectation of a Russian accent was considered too hard to understand.
SMERSH are the villains of the story. Blofeld is not in the book, instead the villains' boss is a general named Gruzaboyschikov. Kronsteen does not die. Bond and Kerim Bey assassinate Krilencu when he enters through Marilyn Monroe's mouth in a poster for Niagara.There are no chase scenes. Grant's first name is Donovan instead of Donald. The decoding machine is called a "Spektor". The Spektor is booby trapped with a bomb. Grant's weapon is a gun hidden in a book. He shoots Bond as the train goes through a tunnel but Bond's cigarette case and book stop the round from entering his heart. Bond kills Grant by shooting him with Grant's concealed weapon. At the end of the novel, Bond finds Rosa Klebb in a hotel disguised as an old woman waiting for Grant. She tries to kill him with poisoned knitting needles. Bond's friend, Rene Mathis, comes in with some men to take Klebb away but not before she kicks Bond with her poison tipped shoe and Bond falls to the floor and presumably dies.
Publicity photos exist of Ian Fleming visiting the outdoor film set of From Russia with Love wearing a white sweater and dark pants, posed sitting on a English shooting stick (a walking stick with a small, fold-out leather seat at the top) on the train tracks in front of the engine of the Orient Express. In the scene where the train passes by one of Kerim Bey's sons, who was waiting there as part of Kerim Bey's original escape plan, there is a man seen in the field beside the tracks, wearing a white top and dark pants, standing in an odd, bent-legged posture, suggesting that he's sitting or leaning on something. It is believed that the man is Ian Fleming with his shooting stick.
Blofeld is played onscreen in From Russia with Love by Anthony Dawson. However, his voice was dubbed by actor Eric Pohlmann. The actor(s) playing Blofeld were credited with a question mark in order to add a sense of mystery to the character.
Early in the film, Red Grant kills a Russian driver and then leaves him in front of the Russian consulate to make it appear as though the British killed him. The Russians retaliate by bombing Kerim Bey's offices. SPECTRE did this for two reasons: (1) To alleviate Bond's suspicions - SPECTRE had anticipated that MI6 would believe the whole mission was some sort of trap and arranged for it to look like the Russians were resorting to desperate measures to contain a security leak. It is notable that Bond's skepticism towards Tatiana's sincerity and the mission is almost completely gone after the attack on Station T, only returning once he sees Benz and Kerim murdered, and (2) To distract the Russians - SPECTRE had also anticipated the Russians would be confused by Bond's arrival, so they tried to draw their attention to Kerim and away from Bond and Tatiana. This explains how Tatiana was able to go to the hotel room of an enemy agent without being compromised.
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