Licence to travel – following James Bond around the world: From Russia With Love

After the fabulous ‘Skyfall‘, the world is holding its breath for the 24th James Bond film, ‘Spectre’ coming out in November, perfectly timed for my birthday as is tradition 🙂

An essential element of the appeal of the early movies remains in place today – the use of exotic foreign locations. In this series we’ll be returning to locations used in each of the 23 films so far released (we’re purists and are not including the first ‘Casino Royale’ or ‘Never say never again’).

We’ll show you how to find them, where to stay nearby and let you know of any 007 experiences you really shouldn’t miss – such as performing the actual bungee jump from the opening sequence of ‘Goldeneye’. We’ll add a short summary of the plot, some video clips and throw in some fun trivia and goofs for each movie too, because we’re nice like that. Lights, camera, action!


From Russia With Love, 1963

The poster

Image (c)

The trailer

The plot

The dastardly organisation SPECTRE introduced in the first movie, ‘Dr. No’, has a cunning plan to trick James Bond into stealing a Soviet decoding machine and then unknowingly deliver it to them. Naturally Bond is to suffer a humiliating demise in the process.

The countries

England, Turkey, Yugoslavia (now Serbia, Croatia and Italy)

The locations

Despite a budget twice that of ‘Dr. No’, money was still quite tight so most location filming was carried out around Istanbul in Turkey. The final scene showing 007 and Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) sailing under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice is obviously faked. The bad guys’ training camp of ‘SPECTRE Island’ which is also where a fake Bond is offed during the opening scenes, was in fact the grounds of Pinewood Studios and SPECTRE HQ was actually the studio’s main administration building.

After a brief sequence with Silvia Trench (returning from the first film) on the banks of the Thames (shot in Berkshire) Bond is called to MI6 by Moneypenny. Having been briefed by M and equipped by Q, 007 is sent to Istanbul, Turkey, to meet and bring back Romanova – a potential defector. He arrives at the former Yesilköy Airport, which has now been swallowed up by Istanbul Ataturk Airport and is unrecognisable from its Bond days.

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) Emmanuel PARENT

Bond is driven to meet Ali Kerim Bey (played by Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz) in Istanbul’s bustling covered market of Kapali Çarsi â€“ the Grand Bazaar â€“ one of the biggest in the world and most recently seen in ‘Skyfall’. After discussing his mission, Bond checks in to his hotel to find that his room is full of hidden bugs. Making the excuse that the bed is not big enough he asks to be moved but is told by the shady-looking staff that only the bridal suit is available. Not to be outsmarted he accepts it.

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) Vlasta Juricek

The following day, Bey accompanies Bond down to his cellar where a boat is waiting. The flooded underground chamber allows them to sail beneath the Russian consulate and observe proceedings inside with a handy periscope poking through the floor. This spooky location is no set – it’s the Yerebatan Cistern â€“ in Sultanahmet Square. After a full restoration it is now open to the public as a museum. Bey doesn’t tell Bond the truth about its history though – it was built in 532AD by the emperor Justinian, not Constantine. Bond gets his first look at Romanova and Bey recognises a Bulgarian assassin who must be after 007. Bond asks for the plans of the consulate building. Clearly, he has a plan…To escape the attentions of the assassin Bey takes Bond to a gypsy settlement where he is treated to both belly-dancing and a catfight before the camp is attacked. They beat off the assailants and the plot progresses with Bond using a folding sniper rifle to kill the Bulgarian assassin.

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) John Burke

The next day Bond is to meet Romanova who has the plans he needs. They arrange for the exchange to take place inside one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks – the Hagia Sophia mosque. It was originally a church but was converted into a mosque (with minarets added) in the 15th century and became a museum in 1935.

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) Lost in Transliteration

Later Bond has a secret meeting with Romanova on the Bosphorus Ferry and obtains full details about the Lektor which he passes on to London. 007 proceeds with his plan – Bey sets off an explosive charge which sends gas through the Consulate and enables Bond to steal the machine, perhaps a little too easily.

Image (c)

All three escape aboard the Orient Express at Istanbul’s Sirkeci Station which was built in 1890 to welcome the service. Today you can eat at the Orient Express Restaurant and visit the Orient Express Museum. Platform 1 has changed little since Bond walked along it in the film. With a few alterations. the station also appears as â€˜Belgrade’ – where Bond sends a message to M – and ‘Zagreb’ – where Bond is contacted by fake agent Grant. Some legendary actions scenes ensue until Bond and Romanova manage to leave the train and continue by flower truck and then on towards Venice by boat. An epic motorboat chase takes place at the end of the movie – filming of the sequence began off the Turkish coast near the Greek border, but it was abandoned after a series of problems and delays. In the end it was completed – along with the truck versus helicopter scenes – on the west coast of Scotland.

Where to stay on location

In the book, Bond is said to prefer ‘the sleazy romance that clings to old-fashioned continental hotels’ and chose to stay at ‘the Kristal Palas on the heights of Pera’. This was clearly a pseudonym for the Pera Palas Hotel, which at the time was a little past its prime. It was built in 1892 to provide accommodation to passengers arriving on the Orient Express and was the first top-class hotel in Istanbul with a somewhat notorious bar scene. These days it’s rather different after a $32 million renovation – the wonderful neo-classical facade and Art Nouveau interiors have been restored and rows of original brass key fobs hang behind the reception desk. Incidentally Agatha Christie wrote ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ in room 411 which now bears her name.

Bond experiences

While not specifically Bond-themed, the Istanbul Byzantine & Ottoman Relics Tour takes in Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar, leaving you to explore the Cistern independently.

The classic lines

Blofeld: Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one.

Blofeld: Siamese Fighting Fish. Fascinating creatures. Brave, but on the whole, stupid. Yes, they’re stupid… except for the occasional one such as we have here, who waits. Waits until the survivor is so exhausted that he cannot defend himself. And then, like SPECTRE, he strikes.

Klebb: I find the parallel amusing.

Blofeld: Our organization did not arrange for you to come over from the Russians just for amusement, Number Three.

Kerim: [Tapping his nose] This is an old friend of mine. And it tells me something smells.

Bond: Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something.

Grant: I might not know my wines, but you are the one on your knees.

Kerim: I like big families. My whole life has been a crusade for larger families.

Blofeld: Kronsteen, you’re sure this plan is foolproof?

Kronsteen: Yes, because I have anticipated every possible variation of countermove.

Klebb: But what makes you think that M will oblige you by falling in with your plan?

Kronsteen: For the simple reason that this is so obviously a trap. My reading of the British mentality is that they always treat a trap as a challenge. And they couldn’t possibly pass up the chance of getting the Lektor decoder.

Morzeny: Grant’s one of our best men. Homicidal paranoiac, superb material. His response to our training and indoctrination have been remarkable.

Bond: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends.”

Sylvia: [Spying a scar on Bond’s back] Souvenir from another jealous woman?

Bond: Yes. But I haven’t turned my back on one since.

Kerim: You know why I stay in this mad business?

Bond: It could be that you find selling rugs a bore.

Bond: Your clock, is it correct?

Clerk: Always.

Bond: Of course. [A moment passes.] Excuse me. You did say your clock was correct?

Clerk: Russian clocks are always… [Tails off as a bomb blasts the embassy.]

Bond: [After killing Klebb.] She’s had her kicks.

The trivia

A true story inspired Ian Fleming to write the book. In 1950 a US naval attaché was murdered and thrown from the Orient Express train by a Communist agent. Fleming has taken part in an Interpol Conference in Istanbul, Turkey which gave him the setting and he took its title from the film ‘To Paris with Love’ (1955).

President John F. Kennedy listed the book among his top ten favourite novels of all time – this made it an easy choice for the second Bond film.

In “Death of a President” (1964) a book by William Raymond Manchester, he states that this was the last movie JFK ever watched – on 20 November 1963 in the White House.

The film’s release in the USA was postponed due to the political climate after Kennedy’s assassination.

Given the tensions of the Cold War at the time, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman didn’t want James Bond’s main enemy to be Russian. The film version changed things so that he faces the criminal organization SPECTRE instead, who are out for revenge after the death of their operative, Dr. No.

‘From Russia With Love’ marked the first appearance of Desmond Llewelyn in the role of Q. Peter Burton played Q in Dr. No but was unable to return for this film. Llewelyn reprised the role in 16 subsequent Bond films (17 performances in all – he was not in ‘Live and Let Die’) which is the most times a single actor has played the same role in major motion picture history.

Pedro Armendáriz, who played the role of Kerim Bey, was terminally ill with cancer during filming. One of the main reasons Armendariz had accepted the role was to be able to provide financial security for his widow and the film’s schedule was changed to film his scenes while he was still physically capable. However in some of them, such as the Gypsy camp battle sequence, director Terence Young had to double for the actor in some of his long distance shots. A month after completing his part in the film, Armendariz committed suicide in a hospital in Los Angeles as his cancer worsened, inspired by his friend Ernest Hemingway.

This is the second and final appearance of Sylvia Trench.

Walter Gotell, who plays Morzeny, went on to become a regular Bond character in the role of General Gogol.

Anthony Dawson played the unseen Blofeld and had previously played Professor Dent in ‘Dr No’. In the credits his part is shown as a question mark. He retuned to the role of Blofeld in ‘Thunderball’ (1965). He is the only actor to have played Blofeld more than once – although in this film Blofeld’s voice was dubbed by an uncredited Eric Pohlmann.

Colonel Rosa Klebb was based on an actual Russian colonel that Ian Fleming once wrote about in the Sunday Times.

The role of Tatiana Romanova was played by the Miss Universe 1960, the Italian actress Daniela Bianchi. But her accent was considered too strong so her voice was dubbed in the film by yet another uncredited particpant, Barbara Jefford.

Sean Connery has said that this film was his personal favourite of all the Bond films he made.

In this film, Connery doesn’t say “Bond, James Bond” although he does so in the book.

This was the first Bond film to feature a pre-credit sequence and the first to end with the declaration “James Bond will return in …” – in this case it was ‘Goldfinger’ (1964).

Director Terence Young was trapped in an air bubble inside the helicopter when it crashed over water during filming. After being rescued he went straight back behind the camera with his arm in a sling.

The opening scene where ‘James Bond’ is killed by Red Grant was originally written to appear later in the film. But editor Peter R. Hunt decided it would make a good teaser and thus began the now-traditional pre-credits sequence. The man who originally played 007’s double actually looked so much like Sean Connery that the director re-shot the scene with a man with a moustache.

Sean Connery received eight specially-tailored Savile Row suits to use in the film, each costing around $2000.

Bond often drives his beloved Bentley in the books yet this film is the only one in which it is used.

The attaché case is the first proper Bond gadget and one of the only gadgets to actually appear in Fleming’s novels. Other “high-tech” gadgets (for 1963) include the mobile car phone in the Bentley, the tiny tape recorder in the camera, the AR7 folding rifle, the retractable garrotte in Gante’s watch, and of course SPECTRE’s spring-loaded shoe knives.

More than 3,500 onlookers swarmed the Sirkeci Railway Station to watch the filming. This unexpected problem caused delays in shooting and to create a distraction director Terence Young had stuntman Peter Perkins hang upside down from a balcony nearby so filming could continue

The Maiden’s tower is visible in the background during the ferry scenes. This later featured as Renard and Elektra’s lair in ‘The World Is Not Enough’ (1999).

Robert Shaw and Sean Connery did most of the fight on the train themselves. It took three weeks to film yet lasts only a few minutes on screen.

During the helicopter sequence the inexperienced pilot flew far too close to Sean Connery and nearly killed him.

The footage of the exploding SPECTRE helicopter was recycled for a number of British TV shows as stock footage. You can see it in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Daemons’ (1963).

The film’s theme song ‘From Russia With Love’ by Matt Monro can be overheard on the radio when James Bond and Sylvia Trench are enjoying a picnic in a boat early in the film and was the first ever Bond theme to receive a Best Song Golden Globe nomination.

The Royal World Premiere of ‘From Russia With Love’ (1963) was held at multiple venues in London including the London Pavilion, with the Odeon Leicester Square being the main venue for the occasion. This was the last time Bond creator Ian Fleming attended a premiere before his death.

By the time the film opened in the USA in April 1964, production of ‘Goldfinger’ had already begun.

The budget was $2,000,000 – double that of ‘Dr. No’.

The goofs and gaffes

Martine Beswicke, who played Zora, was originally credited as ‘Martin Beswick’ in the opening title sequence. Monty Norman’s name is also misspelled ‘Monte Norman’ in the credits.

Despite the fact that Morzeny says “Exactly 1 minute, 52 seconds. That’s excellent” at the beginning of the film, his lips never move.

We see Bond replacing the knife in its hidden slot when he is about to leave M’s office after receiving instructions from Q regarding the briefcase. But in the next shot, as he leaves, the knife is back in Bond’s hand.

Watch Blofeld’s ring when he is talking to Klebb and Kronsteen. It briefly swaps hands.

When Tatiana visits Klebb, Klebb closes the door but it doesn’t shut properly. You can see a crew member’s hand pulling the door shut.

Kerim Bey gets shot in his right arm during the battle at the gypsy settlement. He quite clearly smears fake blood on his sleeve with his left hand.

Bond forgets to turn the bath tap off after he meets Tatiana in his hotel bed.

The words used for “pull” and “push” signs on the doors inside the Russian consulate are in fact literal translations of the corresponding English verbs (“dergat” and “pikhat”). This is not what is usually written on the doors in Russia (“to” and “fro” are used); also the colloquial forms of verbs are used, not the written forms.

The sign for the Soviet Consulate in Istanbul is written in Russian and, for some reason, English – but not Turkish.

Kerim Bey is seen holding the Lektor Decoding Machine as Bond, Romanova and Bey turn around from an approaching swarm of rats under the Russian Consulate, yet in the next scene suddenly it is Bond who is holding the machine as the three make their escape.

Towards the end of the train fight scene with Red Grant, the blood on Bond’s hand vanishes and then reappears.

Just after the helicopter crash, when Connery is running down the hill away from the helicopter, you can see another person in the same kind of suit coming up the hill from the right. Understandably they appear to trying to stay out of sight from the camera.

At several points during the boat chase, the reflection of Terence Young’s hand can be seen in the windshield of Bond’s boat.

There are just four drums of petrol on the boat, but there are at least 15-20 when they explode in the water.

In the last sequence of the film in Venice, when Bond is examining the film taken of himself and Romanova in the hotel the film is in 8mm format. Yet when he throws it into the canal it changes to 16mm.

We hope you enjoyed this article. James Bond will return in the next installment of the series – Goldfinger

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1259

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