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The Russia House (1990) Poster

Trivia

The full name of Katya Orlova (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) is Ekaterina Borisovna Orlova.
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This movie was the first major film production from the West to be filmed substantially in the Soviet Union, with full permission from the Russian Government. This movie was filmed on location in Russia, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. The beginning and final scenes were filmed in Lisbon, Portugal.
The meaning and relevance of the title "The Russia House" is that it refers to the nickname given to the section of the British Secret Service that was assigned to investigating the Soviet Union.
Michelle Pfeiffer held up filming in Moscow, when she discovered a rule forbidding Western film companies from feeding the Soviet extras they hire, so she stomped off and refused to come back unless they were fed. To resolve the crisis, officials from the Soviet film commission had to be called in. Begging her to return to work, they explained that this was just the way things were done. In an interview with Esquire Magazine at the time of the film's release, Pfeiffer commented on the incident. "In a country where you can't get food, where you can't get soap, here they were watching us shoveling down these platefuls of hot, steamy spaghetti. I didn't sleep that night. It was very traumatic. Then I realized, You know, this is so typically American of you. This is what, as a country, we're accused of all the time. Now, whether I was right or wrong isn't the issue. The issue was, Do I have the right, as an outsider, to come in and force my sensibilities on this culture? At a certain point, I decided to leave my identity at the border. I thought to myself, Okay, you have no identity. And at that point I was able to experience the country as it was, on a purer level, and finally to even embrace it."
This movie was made and first released only about a year after its source novel of the same name was first published.
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Production company Pathe Entertainment, Inc. refused to make the picture without Sean Connery.
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This movie went into development, while its source novel was still in manuscript form.
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Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the role of the mistress in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) (which went to Melanie Griffith) to play the part of a Russian book editor in this film. Her role in this film as Katya Orlova earned her a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress (Drama) but Pfeiffer lost to Kathy Bates for Misery (1990).
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Second consecutive Russia-related movie for Sean Connery, whose previous picture was The Hunt for Red October (1990).
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During principal photography, the infamous symbol of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, finally came down. John le Carré, author of the film's source novel, worked for British Intelligence's Mi5 and Mi6 during the 1950s and 1960s, and worked in West Berlin. Le Carré was in West Berlin when the wall was being constructed. Le Carré drew on this real life experience when he wrote the novel 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold', which is set about a year after the Berlin Wall was built.
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The movie that Katya (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Dante (Klaus Maria Brandauer) went to see in 1968, was Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960).
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Sean Connery had casting approval for the film, as part of his contract.
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The character name of Goethe in the novel, was changed to Dante (played by Klaus Maria Brandauer) for the film.
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The second American movie production to film in Russia. The first had been Red Heat (1988).
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Second collaboration of Sean Connery and Klaus Maria Brandauer, who both had previously worked together on Never Say Never Again (1983). Ironically, Connery had just recently replaced Brandauer in The Hunt for Red October (1990), when production in Bavaria on Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland (1989), Brandauer's directing debut, had been delayed. James Fox also had a cameo in Never Say Never Again, in the role of 'M'.
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A seven episode radio play of John le Carré's novel 'The Russia House' was produced and broadcast by the BBC in 1994 with 'Tom Baker' playing Barley Blair.
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This adaptation was written by Tom Stoppard, and stars Sean Connery. Connery had, at the time, recently been cast as The Player King in Tom Stoppard's film version of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), but Connery had had to withdraw, due to a medical scare, relating to throat cancer, which turned out to be benign. The part went to Richard Dreyfuss, but Connery got to work in a Stoppard production, when he did this movie.
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This picture was filmed on two continents (Europe and North America), in four countries (Russia, England, Portugal, and Canada) and in five cities (Moscow, Leningrad, London, Lisbon, and Vancouver).
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In the year that this film was released, John le Carré was awarded the Helmerich Award. The Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award is an American Literary Prize bestowed by Oklahoma's Tulsa Library Trust. The award is given every year to an "internationally acclaimed" writer who has "written a distinguished body of work and made a major contribution to the field of literature and letters".
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For this film, director Fred Schepisi was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear, at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival.
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Mike Nichols was once attached as director to this film, a job that in the end went to Fred Schepisi. During Nichols' tenure, playwright Tom Stoppard was brought into do the screenplay.
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The character of Harry Palfrey, a.k.a. Horatio Benedict de Palfrey, who is played by actor Neil Morrissey in the mini-series The Night Manager (2016), and also appears in its source novel of the same name, first appeared in the earlier John le Carré "The Russia House" novel, but not in its movie adapation.
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The book is the twelfth novel written by John le Carré.
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Second spy film featuring the word 'Russia' in the title for Sean Connery. The first was the James Bond film From Russia with Love (1963). Connery was the first Bond to appear in a filmed adaptation of a John le Carré spy story. Pierce Brosnan was the second and last actor to do so, in The Tailor of Panama (2001).
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When Sean Connery suddenly became available, the producers of The Hunt for Red October (1990) hired him to play the submarine commander. Unfortunately, Klaus Maria Brandauer had already been signed, and so Paramount had to pay his contract out. As an extra bonus, Connery made sure that Brandauer got a plum part in this film. Connery had previously worked with Brandauer in Never Say Never Again (1983).
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One of two 1990 theatrical movies featuring actor Roy Scheider. The films are The Russia House and The Fourth War. Both pictures were related to the Cold War.
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Sean Connery is seen playing the saxophone in this film. Connery also sports a goatee.
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The full name of Barley Blair is Bartholomew Scott Blair.
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The name of the corporate business venture that Barley (Sean Connery) became a partner in, was 'Potomac Blair'.
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The Russia House (1990), The Avengers (1998), and From Russia with Love (2005) are the final spy credits of Sean Connery, the first iconic James Bond of the cinema.
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This movie was partially filmed in Russia, but it was not the first time that Sean Connery had filmed there, as The Red Tent (1969), in which he starred, filmed there. From Russia with Love (1963), in which Connery starred, did not actually film in the U.S.S.R. A Red Sickle (synonymous with Russian iconography) is formed out of the letter 'R' in many of the opening credits.
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The only theatrical adaptation of a John le Carré novel released during the 1990s. The same decade though, did feature one made-for-television adaptation, A Murder of Quality (1991).
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The closing credits declare that it was: "Filmed at Pinewood Studios, and on location in Leningrad, Moscow, London, Lisbon, and Vancouver."
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This film is one of the few adaptations where John le Carré does not have some sort of cameo appearance.
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The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Sean Connery; and four Oscar nominees: Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and Ken Russell.
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Naomie Harris, who plays Miss Eve Moneypenny in the James Bond films, became the sixth major actor or actress who has starred in movies based on works of John le Carré and Ian Fleming, famous spy novelists. Harris' role as Gail Perkins in Our Kind of Traitor (2016), follows her two previous appearances in Bond movies, in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery have previously portrayed James Bond on screen, and have starred in le Carré adaptations, they being The Tailor of Panama (2001) and The Russia House (1990) respectively, the latter which has a title that evokes Fleming's From Russia with Love (1963) which starred Connery as Bond. Never Say Never Again (1983), co-starred Klaus Maria Brandauer, who also appeared in The Russia House (1990). Alas, Connery and Brandauer have starred in the same two Bond and le Carré spy movies. Moreover, Harris and Brosnan both appeared in After the Sunset (2004). The first actor to portray M in the Bond films, Bernard Lee, was the first actor to do Bond and le Carré. Lee appeared as Patmore in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), which was the first filmed adaptation of a le Carré novel. The Constant Gardener (2005) starred Ralph Fiennes, who played Justin Quayle, and has portrayed the Bond franchise's M character in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015), as has Harris played Eve Moneypenny in the two. Rachel Weisz, the wife of Daniel Craig, previously starred as Tessa Quayle in The Constant Gardener (2005), for which she won a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Award, with Wiesz and Fiennes playing husband and wife in that movie.
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The nickname, of the Mi6 headquarters on the Thames River, in the The Night Manager (2016) mini-series, based also on a John le Carré novel, is "The River House", a phrase which is similar in sound and wording to "The Russia House".
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The synopsis of the novel "The Russia House" (1989) by John le Carré, on his personal website, reads: "It is the third summer of perestroika. Barley Blair, London publisher, receives a smuggled document from Moscow. Blair, jazz-loving, drink-marinated, dishevelled, is hardly to the taste of the spymasters, yet he has to be used - sent to the Soviet Union to make contact. Katya, the Moscow intermediary, is beautiful, thoughtful, equally sceptical of all state ideology. Together, as the safe clichés of hostility disintegrate, they may represent the future - an idea that is anathema to the entrenched espionage professionals on both sides."
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One of two adaptions of John le Carré novels, featuring actor David Threlfall. They are The Russia House (1990) and A Murder of Quality (1991). One was made for television, and the other theatrical. Both were released during the early 1990s, and were the only two le Carré adaptations of the decade.
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Michelle Pfeiffer and J.T. Walsh also starred in Tequila Sunrise (1988).
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Cameo 

Ken Russell: The British film director as Walter, an unorthodox British agent.
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