Pedro Armendáriz, playing the role of Kerim Bey, was terminally ill during filming. He had cancer, which he had likely contracted while filming the notorious film The Conqueror (1956) near the site of the U.S. nuclear test site in the Utah desert. Armendáriz had accepted the role in From Russia with Love (1963) partially as a means of providing financial security for his widow, and the film's schedule was altered in order to film his scenes while he was still physically able. Towards the end of the filming of those scenes, such as the Gypsy camp battle sequence however, director Terence Young had to double for the actor in some of his long shots. One month after all his scenes were completed, Armendáriz, in emulation of his friend Ernest Hemingway, committed suicide in a hospital in Los Angeles as his cancer progressed into the advanced stages.
Then-President John F. Kennedy listed Ian Fleming's book as among his top ten favorite novels of all time. That list was published in Life Magazine on March 17, 1961. Possibly as a result, the producers decided to make this the second James Bond movie. According to the book "Death of a President" (1964) by William Raymond Manchester, this was the last motion picture JFK ever saw, in a private screening in the White House, November 20, 1963.
Hoping for an end to the Cold War, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman didn't want James Bond's main enemy to be Russian, so for the film version his nemesis is the fictitious criminal organization SPECTRE, seeking revenge for the death of their operative, Dr. No (1962).
From Russia with Love (1963) marks the last appearance of the Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson) character, who also appeared in Dr. No (1962). The original plan was for Sylvia to appear in each film as Bond's regular girlfriend, continually frustrated when Bond is called away for his next assignment. This idea was, obviously, scrapped.
The collapsing rifle given to Bond isn't a gimmick, but was an Armalite AR-7 survival rifle which was a production item which actually does disassemble and fit into its stock. However, it fires the .22 long rifle cartridge, not the .25 caliber as was stated in the film. As of 2015, it is still in production by the Henry Repeating Firearms company. It is one of very few firearms that will float when dropped into water.
The love scene between Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi caused censorship problems in Britain. In the scene, a sweating SPECTRE cameraman films James Bond and Tatiana Romanova in bed from a cabinet de voyeur. The British Board of Film Censors mandated to producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman that the voyeurism in the scene was too explicit and to keep the footage of the cameraman as minimal as possible or face risking having the whole sequence censored.
Over 3,500 onlookers flocked to the Sirkeci Railway Station in Istanbul to watch the filming, which caused delays in shooting. As such, director Terence Young had stuntman Peter Perkins go and create a distraction by hanging upside down from a balcony nearby so filming could proceed.
A spin-off video-game was released forty-two years after the film was made. From Russia with Love (2005) includes Sean Connery's likeness and he even provided the voice. It is Connery's last performance as James Bond to date, and he voiced it twenty-two years after Never Say Never Again (1983).
The helicopter carrying Terence Young during filming crashed over water, trapping him below the surface for a considerable time in an air bubble inside the copter's canopy. He was rescued, and then immediately went back behind the camera with his arm in a sling. Harry Saltzman considered replacing him with David Lean, but Albert R. Broccoli insisted that Young finish the film.
The scene in which James Bond and Tatiana Romanova first meet in the hotel suite has since been used as an audition scene for potential Bond actors and Bond girls. This can be seen in the "making of" documentaries for other Bond films including Octopussy (1983).
A scene was cut just before Bond meets Romanova on the ferry. Bond tries to lose his mysterious pursuer and hops into a taxi. Bond takes control of the taxi's brakes, causing the following Bulgarian to run into the back of the taxi as a third car joins the pile-up. The driver of the third car turns out to be Kerim Bey. When the angry Bulgarian protests to Bey, he is told "My friend, this is life", while Bond makes good his escape in the British Embassy's Rolls Royce. Terence Young shot the scene ten times to get the long ash on Bey's cigar that Pedro Armendáriz insisted on. It wasn't until a private screening week before the film's release that Young's twelve year old son spotted that the Bulgarian had in fact already been killed by Grant in the mosque, so it was cut.
Vladek Sheybal (Kronsteen the chess master) was a highly regarded Polish actor, and was hesitant to accept a role in a Bond film because he thought it might not be a good career move. However, his friend Sean Connery persuaded him to sign on, and it helped his career enormously.
Years earlier, Alfred Hitchcock was originally considered as director, with James Bond being played by Cary Grant and Grace Kelly lured out of retirement to play Tatiana Romanova. These ideas were scrapped after Vertigo (1958) failed at the box-office. The helicopter chase scene is an homage to Hitchcock's cropduster sequence in North by Northwest (1959).
The rats in the film were originally coated with chocolate as they were lab rats and needed to look like sewer rats. However, they wouldn't run, and sat around licking themselves. Then, real rats were used, but they wouldn't run in the right direction until Sean Connery opened the door of the studio. Finally, the production went to Madrid, Spain to shoot the rat sequence.
The gadget Bond uses to check his hotel telephone for bugs is actually a device called an Elcometer. It is used to check the thickness (in thousandths of an inch) of surface coatings, usually paint, on ferrous surfaces. The needle moves sharply across the scale because, though the bodies of that type of telephone were plastic, their bases were painted steel.
First Bond film to end with the declaration "James Bond will return in ...", in this case it was Goldfinger (1964). A tradition that would continue until it was used for the last time at the end of Octopussy (1983).
In 1950, a U.S. naval attaché was assassinated and thrown from the Orient Express train by a Communist agent. This story inspired Ian Fleming's novel "From Russia With Love". Fleming's own experience at an Interpol Conference in Istanbul, Turkey provided the setting. The film To Paris with Love (1955) provided the tile.
The building where James Bond meets Tatiana is called the Hagia Sophia. It was originally a church that was converted to a Mosque in 1453. It is currently used as a museum. It is frequently featured in art history texts as an example of domed Basilica.
"Q"/ Major Boothroyd played by Desmond Llewelyn appears for the first time. This character was played by Peter Burton in Dr. No (1962). When Burton was unable to return for this film, the role was recast with Llewelyn in the part. Llewelyn would reprise the role of "Q" in sixteen subsequent Bond films (seventeen performances in all, but he didn't appear in Live and Let Die (1973). Q is referred to by his real name, "Major Boothroyd," only in Dr. No (1962), this movie, and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
Bond's trick attaché case is the first true Bond film gadget. Other "state of the art" gadgets of the time are the mobile car phone in Bond's Bentley, the miniature tape recorder in the camera, the AR7 survival rifle, the retractable garrote in Grant's watch, and the SPECTRE spring loaded shoe knives.
Daniela Bianchi's driver fell asleep during the commute to a 6 a.m. 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.
While the film was in pre-production, the historic route of the Orient Express was changed. Since the 19th Century, the westward-bound Orient Express stopped in Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Strasbourg before arriving in Paris. But, beginning in 1962, the train followed a more southerly route, stopping in Sofia, Belgrade, Venice, Milan and Lausanne. Changes in the script were made to accommodate the re-routing.
The Royal World Premiere of From Russia with Love (1963) was held on October 10, 1963 and attended by John Russell and The Duchess of Bedford. It was held at multiple venues in London which included the London Pavilion with the Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square being the main venue for the occasion. This was the final James Bond premiere attended by Ian Fleming before his death.
Although it was not released until quite late in 1963, the film was the biggest box-office success of the year in Britain - no small achievement in the year of such hit films as Tom Jones (1963), The Great Escape (1963) and The Birds (1963), all of which were released in the summer. Not only that, but in the 82 days between its premiere in London and the end of 1963, it had become the most lucrative film of any kind ever to be released in British cinemas. One industry analyst described the phenomenon of its popularity as "akin to Beatlemania" - a remark which must have made United Artists very happy as they were about to make the first The Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night (1964).
The boat chase at the end of the movie, although supposed to be taking place in the Greek archipelago, was actually filmed in the West of Scotland. The pier James Bond takes off from is at Lunga House and the scene where the flaming barrels are thrown off the boat in Loch Craignish Ardfern, Argyll.
The film's storyline deals with the Lektor Decoding Machine, which was called the Spektor Decoding Machine in the original Ian Fleming novel. Its name was changed because of its similarity with the name of the fictitious criminal spy organization "Spectre". He based this device on his knowledge of the Enigma Decoding Machine from World War II. Fleming was involved with the Ultra Network who cracked the Enigma Code in 1939. The Ultra Network's activities were not released until 1975 in a book called A Man Called Intrepid (1979), written by Fleming's friend Sir William Stevenson. By the time it was published, the closed period on wartime secrets had expired, and the records were finally declassified.
Signs on a door in the Russian embassy in Russian mean rather Twitch/Shove than Pull/Push (and Bond actually pushes when the sign says to twitch). Both Russian words are quite hilarious for a Russian speaker.
According to Robbie Collin in UK newspaper 'The Telegraph', "Bond author Ian Fleming invented SPECTRE in 1959 to replace James Bond's usual, Soviet, enemies. Fleming believed the Cold War might be about to end and wanted to keep his spy thrillers relevant". Fleming's SPECTRE Executive Cabinet included "21 people including former Gestapo members, Soviet spy group SMERSH, Josep Tito [Josip Broz Tito]'s secret police, Italian, Corsican and Turkish organised crime gangs", its goals were "profiteering from conflict between the superpowers, eventual world domination", and its methods included "counter-intelligence, brainwashing, murder, extortion using weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and orbital)".
The garden setting in the opening sequence was inspired by Last Year at Marienbad (1961) which had a lush garden setting with statues. It was actually the garden at Pinewood Studios and director Terence Young had the garden recreated in principal from the art house classic.
The helicopter and boat scenes were meant to 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.
Kronsteen's opponent in the chess match is Canadian. Since the film is set before the adoption of the current Maple Leaf flag in 1965 the official flag of Canada was still the British Union Jack. However, to distinguish themselves from Britain, Canadians utilized the Canadian Red Ensign as a de facto national flag and this is the flag displayed on the podium at the match.
Bond gets Grant's attention on the train when he offers to buy a cigarette from him for fifty gold sovereigns. A gold sovereign has a face value of one pound sterling, but its gold content is worth much more than that. The gold content of fifty gold sovereigns would have been worth 415 dollars in 1963 (gold then being worth $35.35 an ounce). In 2016, that much gold would be worth about 15,000 dollars.
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins for this movie include Rolex Watches, James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner; Taittinger Blanc de Blanc Champagne; a billboard advertising another movie made by the Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli called Call Me Bwana (1963) starring Anita Ekberg and Bob Hope; and Bentley motor vehicles, James Bond drives a Derby Bentley Mark 4 ½ Liter Sports Tourer convertible, the only time he drives a Bentley in the Eon Productions series.
The production was beset with production problems which posed serious problems for the assemblage of the film. Many filmed scenes didn't match with a re-written script, and the film was over schedule and over budget. Editor Peter R. Hunt used innovative editing techniques and tricks, which saved the picture.
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.
Johanna Harwood stated in an interview in a Cinema Retro that she had been a screenwriter of several of Harry Saltzman's projects, and her screenplay had followed Fleming's novel closely, but she left the franchise, due to what she called Terence Young's constant rewriting of her screenplay, with ideas that were not in the original novel.
The helmsman of the lead SPECTRE powerboat pursuing Bond is Peter Twiss OBE DSC who, in 1956, flew the Fairey Delta 2 aircraft to a new world air speed record of 1,132 miles per hour. At the time of the shooting of the film, he was working for Fairey Marine at Hamble, Hampshire, the manufacturer of the powerboats used. Mr. Twiss details his role in the film in his autobiography "Faster than the Sun". He describes a misunderstanding between Sean Connery and Terence Young regarding timing during the fuel explosion sequence which resulted in a re-shoot after two days delay.
This is the first James Bond film to feature John Barry as the primary soundtrack composer. The score allegedly still contains riffs from Monty Norman's work on Dr. No (1962). Barry himself felt that Goldfinger (1964) was the first film in the franchise where he had complete creative control over the soundtrack.
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 U.S. 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.
Richard 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).
Two actresses with bit parts would reappear in later films: Nadja Regin, who plays Kerim's girl, would play the dancer at the start of Goldfinger (1964), and Martine Beswick (called Martin Beswick in the credits), one of the Gypsy girls, returned as Paula in Thunderball (1965).
Krilencu is supposed to be Bulgarian, but uses the Romanian or Moldovan spelling--the Bulgarian would be Krylenko. His hideout is behind a billboard advertising Call Me Bwana (1963), also produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
The periscope in the scene in which Bond and Kerim Bey spy on the Russian Embassy from the Basilica Cistern was actually a dummy wooden periscope double made by UK manufacturing company Barr and Stroud.
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.
According to the book 'James Bond: A Celebration' (1987) by Peter Haining, who passed away in 2007, "Jules Verne's Captain Nemo was the inspiration for (Ian) Fleming's Ernst Stavro Blofeld". The book states that the character " . . . has his origins in Captain Nemo, the hate-fuelled rebel of Jules Verne's classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1870)". Blofeld was originally intended to be the villain in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
According to the film's CD soundtrack sleeve notes, this film's theme song debuted in the UK Charts on November 14, 1963 and went to number 20. In the U.S., the film's soundtrack album charted on May 2, 1964 and went to number 27. Several tracks on the album do not appear in the film whilst the main titles track on the album is different to that in the film. The soundtrack has never had an extended release, with the release of extra tracks, like other Bond soundtracks, apparently due to the masters being lost.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include Love and Kisses From Russia (Belgium); Moscow Versus 007 (Portugal); The Return Of Agent 007 (Latin America); Love Greetings From Moscow (Germany); 007 In Istanbul (Finland); Hearty Kisses From Russia (France); Agent 007 Sees Red (Sweden) ; 007: From Russia With Love (Spain); Moscow Against 007 (Brazil); 007 Averted The Spy Plot (China); To 007, From Russia With Love (Italy); Agent 007 Is Hunted (Denmark) and From Moscow With Love (Poland).
Vehicles featured included The Orient Express Train; SPECTRE's two-seater Hiller UH-12C helicopter; a yellow C30 1961 Chevrolet flatbed delivery truck; a 1960 Ford Fordor Ranch Wagon; a Venetian water taxi gondola; a Fairey Huntress 23 speed boat being pursued by two Huntsman 28 and two Huntress speedboats. In Istanbul, Bond is pursued by a black Citroën Traction Avant and chauffeured by a black Rolls Royce Silver Wraith Phantom V. Bond owns a Bentley automobile as was the case in the original Ian Fleming novels. Here it is a green-black Bentley 3 1/2 litre Drop Head Coupe with MTS radio car-telephone, a uncommon toy for 1963 and only new to Britain at the time of the film. Bond never has a Bentley car again in a Bond film except for Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
The film's title song "From Russia With Love" sung by Matt Monro can be heard on the radio when James Bond and Sylvia Trench are sitting in a boat having a picnic. This song was the first ever James Bond title song to receive a Best Song Golden Globe nomination. A number of others would follow for Bond movies. A cover version of this song sung by Natacha Atlas can be heard on the David Arnold Bond song compilation album, "Shaken and Stirred: the David Arnold James Bond Project".
For the opening chess match, Kronsteen wins the game, with a re-enactment of Boris Spassky's victory over David Bronstein in 1960. Syd Cain built up the "chess pawn" motif in his 150,000 dollar set for the brief sequence.
The pre-title sequence was shot in the grounds of Pinewood Studios, in particular, the distinct building Heatherden Hall. A popular part of the backlot, Heatherden Hall is a Grade II-listed, Victorian country house, and is used as offices, film sets, and as a wedding venue. It, and the grounds, can also be better seen in daylight in the other well-known non-James Bond Ian Fleming book and later MGM film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), amongst other films and television series made at Pinewood Studios.
Several women were screen-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 practicing their fight choreography with stunt work arranger Peter Perkins.
The surname of the Ernst Stavro Blofeld character was allegedly named after Thomas Blofeld with whom James Bond creator Ian Fleming went to school with at Eton College. Also known as Tom Blofeld, he was a Norfolk farmer, a fellow member of Boodle's, and the Chairman of the Country Gentleman's Asssociation. His son is cricket commentator Henry Blofeld. Ernst Blofeld's date of birth in the literary James Bond stories is the same date as Fleming's birthday which is 28th May 1908. Moreover, Ernest Cuneo was a friend of Fleming's. According to the book "Martinis, Girls and Guns: 50 Years of 007" (2003) by Martin Sterling and Gary Morecambe: "Cuneo may have also have inspired Blofeld's forenames - it is but a short leap from Ernest Cuneo to Ernst Stavro". According to the book "For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming + James Bond" (2009) by Ben Macintyre: "Alternatively, Blofeld may owe his name to China scholar John Blofeld, who was a member of Fleming's club Boodles, and whose father was named Ernst". In addition, the book "The Bond Code: The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond" (2008) by Philip Gardner states: "The name is also revealing in a psychological way. Ernst is Teutonic for 'earnest', and Stavros is Greek for 'victor', and so he is the 'earnest victor'", and "the name Blofeld means 'blue field', a swipe at his own blue blood rampant in the field, like heraldry", and moreover, "As the creator of SPECTRE, Blofeld is in reality the spectre of Ian Fleming that looms ever present within his divided mind".
The grandmaster chess match is most unusual, in that it has a normal ending where the loser resigns from a hopeless position. In the vast majority of movies & TV shows, games always end with the "astonishment" of a checkmate, something which hardly ever happens once players have acquired more than a few years' experience.
It may seem a coincidence that Bond should take the boat to Venice, where Blofeld has moored his yacht, but the city is the nearest refuge by sea from Yugoslavia (as the Balkan republics were known in 1963).
Between the two scenes, where Grant leaves the Citroën with the Bulgarian driver's corpse outside the Russian Embassy in Istambul, and the bomb attack on Kerim Bey's place, we can see the view of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (or 'Blue Mosque') for about ten seconds. During which time we hear a sang prayer coming from loudspeakers. Interestingly the melody we hear is shockingly identical with another melody that has otherwise nothing to do with this movie. It's a few bars from 'Jack's Lament' from The Nightmare before Christmas (1993), the part where it goes in 3/4, with the words 'Oh somewhere deep inside of these bones'. Of course, Danny Elfman is far too versatile and original a composer, so it would be silly to think that he built his career on four bars he heard in a movie when he was just ten years old.
Anthony Dawson: In the first appearance of the Ernst Stavro Blofeld villain character in a James Bond movie. His part is uncredited in the credits, which are attributed to a question mark. Dawson had previously appeared in Dr. No (1962) as Professor Dent and again would return as Blofeld in Thunderball (1965). He is the only actor to have ever played Blofeld more than once. The voice of Blofeld in this film was dubbed by an uncredited Eric Pohlmann.
Ian Fleming: (unconfirmed) Some reports maintain that Fleming appears standing next to the Orient Express train. He is wearing grey trousers and a white jumper and stands on the platform to the right side of the train. Some sources deny that this is him.
Bob Simmons: The franchise regular stuntman is the actor appearing in the gun barrel sequence at the beginning of the film. The same footage was used for the first three James Bond movies, the others being Dr. No (1962) and Goldfinger (1964).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The brutal fight in the train compartment, between James Bond and Red Grant, lasts only a few minutes on-screen, but took three weeks to film. Most of it was performed by the actors themselves, rather than doubles.
Red Grant has no dialogue until he first meets Bond, first speaking in a rich, upper class English accent. After he's revealed his true identity to Bond, Grant's English accent changes into a lower-class Irish accent as he is explaining the SPECTRE background plot.
The opening scene where "James Bond" is stalked and killed by Red Grant, was originally written to appear later in the film. However, editor Peter R. Hunt figured it would work better as a teaser at the start of the movie, thus instigating the now-traditional pre-credits sequence. The man who originally played James Bond's double looked so much like Sean Connery, that Terence Young had to re-shoot the scene with a man with a mustache.
Though he isn't shown actually taking it, it is implied that Bond keeps Grant's garrote watch, as the watch appears in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) when Bond cleans out his desk, as well as in a deleted scene in A View to a Kill (1985) when the Paris police return Bond's property.
The actor playing the Bond double did not actually have a mustache. On set, the filmmakers became concerned that audience members not yet familiar with Sean Connery would be confused when Grant pulls off the Bond/Connery mask. The mustache was added to make it clear that the dead "Bond" was someone else.
On-screen body count: 21. This does not include the real Captain Nash, who is presumably killed by Grant off-camera, and Morzeny, who is seen burning following the explosion of the fuel tanks in the Adriatic, but not clearly seen to be dead.
The first line of the Ian Fleming James Bond novel "From Russia with Love" reads: "The naked man who lay splayed out on his face beside the swimming pool might have been dead." The last line of the novel reads: "He said, or thought he said, 'I've already got the loveliest...'. Bond pivoted slowly on his heel and crashed headlong to the wine-red floor." Bond dies a happy, protracted death after being lightly wounded by Rosa Klebb's shoe with a poisoned knife. Ian Fleming was frustrated with the lack of success the novels had had. But when this turned out to be a bestseller, Fleming continued the series instead, and later said From Russia With Love was the best of all the Bond novels.
Kronsteen's death, the boat chase, the opening sequence with the fake Bond being killed by Red Grant, and all scenes with Blofeld were not in the original novel. These were inventions of the film version, most of which due in part to the fact that the main enemy agency was changed to the fictitious SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) rather than SMERSH (Shmert Spionam=Death to Spies), which at one time was a real Soviet counterintelligence agency.