Thursday, July 23, 2009

"L" is for Love

"From Russia With Love" that is.....
I love this movie. Thus the name of the blog plus someone I love already lives in Russia! I thought I was being original when I thought of the name, only to realize that there are hundreds of other blogs on different sites and even on this site with slight variations. But enough about our namesake- Onto the movie! I adore Sean Connery. He will always be James Bond to me. Chad identifies more with Roger Moore, but that is all just personal preference in our house. We are a house divided on that issue. In 1963 “From Russia With Love” was released and has grossed $79 million dollars since then. It is celebrated as one of the BEST Bond movies ever. I agree.

It has all the “Russian” clichés- Cold, Icy nights, a Soviet encryption machine called "Lektor" that will “irrevocably unbalance the world order”, KGB agents, wild gypsies, a train ride pseudo “Trans-Siberian”, an infiltrated Soviet consulate, and a sultry Russian love interest named “Tatiana Romanova” to boot. These pictures only fuel our fire of Russian mystique and intrigue.

But what does Russia have to do with “From Russia With Love”? It’s very funny to me actually. Sean Connery is Scottish, the character playing the Russian love interest; Miss Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) is Italian. The film was taped everywhere but Russia- mostly in Turkey and in Scotland, Switzerland, Venice and London as well! But here are some interesting little nuggets I found:
-In Life Magazine, President JFK lists the original book “From Russia With Love” by Ian Fleming as one of his Top Ten Books.
-The crime syndicate was called “SPECTRE” and curiously resembled SMERSH (the real life undercover agency in Russia at the time) but the films directors, Broccoli and Saltzman, wanted to avoid “controversial political overtones”. Right.
-SPECTRE training grounds for its agents were modeled after the movie “Spartacus”
-The scene where Bond returns to his hotel room to find Tatiana in his bed is the “official screen test” for future Bond wannabes and the potential leading ladies!
-Author, Ian Fleming, is rumored to have a cameo in the film. He is wearing Grey pants and a white sweater and waiting to board the train in the train scene.
-They painted white rats with cocoa powder for one of the scenes because it was illegal to film with “wild rats”
- The opening chess match is a reenactment of Boris Spassky's victory over David Bronstein in 1960.

Hard Knocks on the scene:
-The Bond Girl in this film, Daniela Bianchi, took English lessons to play the role. In the end, they dubbed her voice with another woman for the entire film.
- Bond’s alley in the film, Kerim Bey, portrayed by Pedro Armendariz, was diagnosed with terminal cancer during the filming. They moved the filming location to London so that he could be more comfortable and he worked as much as possible, though in horrible physical pain. He killed himself before the filming could be completed and a stunt double completed his role.
-While scouting locations in Scotland the climactic boat chase, the helicopter crashed into the water with Art Director Michael White and a cameraman aboard. The craft sank into 40–50 feet of water, but all escaped with minor injuries.
- Bond Girl Bianchi’s driver fell asleep behind the wheel driving to the set and filming was delayed two weeks to allow her lovely face to heal from all the bruising.
-After the crew was nearly arrested trying to procure a helicopter, they decided to go with a miniature radio operated model instead.

After it’s all said and done- I “LOVE” from Russia With Love!


  1. I'm always happy to read an appreciation of this splendid James Bond movie.

    An interesting postscript regarding the tragic suicide of Pedro Armendariz: he had been a good friend of novelist Ernest Hemingway, who had killed himself the previous year. Armendariz reportedly "took courage" from Hemingway's act and was thus inspired to do it himself. Ian Fleming, who liked and admired Armendariz very much, and was himself suffering from heart disease, "took courage" from Armendariz's decision and, while not exactly committing suicide, immediately resumed smoking and drinking in the prodigious quantities that got him sick in the first place. So, one can draw (at least) a dotted-line connection from Hemingway's suicide to Armendariz's suicide to Fleming's abandonment of any life-preserving behavior he had previously adopted.


    Anyway, I enjoyed your post.

  2. I'm so enjoying all the information that you're posting on here--fun, and nicely researched! Thanks so much for sharing with us!