MI6 uncovers rare details of a letter Ian Fleming
wrote whilst on location in Turkey with the From Russia
With Love production team in 1963...
Ian Fleming Secret History - From Russia With
24th January 2005
While the "From Russia With Love" second unit crew toiled away in
Pinewood, the main unit relocated to Turkey on Saturday
20th April 1963, beginning shooting in Saint Sophia on Monday
22nd. Ian Fleming went with them, staying as a guest of
director Terence Young.
Whilst in Turkey, Fleming wrote a letter home from the
set of the film in the guise of a humorous news report claiming
the film "will be even better than Dr. No".
His six-page pocket notebook letter, written in the third
person, gives a unique historical insight into the reasons
why Fleming visited the production in Turkey.
"Ian Fleming, just back from
Istanbul, reports that the filming of From Russia with Love
is going forward, under the generalship of producers Saltzman
and Broccoli & director Terence Young with even more
zest than the 70 strong unit displayed on the Dr. No location
in Jamaica last year."
"The local press avidly chronicles
every movement...of the exquisite Daniela Bianchi (the beautiful
spy), Shaun [sic] Connery & Robert Shaw (villain with a windsor
knot) - his marriage to Mary Ure was announced last week -, &
the Turkish Ministry of Information, whose powerful shoulder provides
ancillary momentum, has cooperated to the point of reconstructing
a complete Orient Express, the romantic train that is no more...may
provide a sound track that will steal the film."
"Fleming’s official business
was to unravel a snarl in the script, but his secret purpose was
to make sure that the rats & bats in his book got into the
film (his man-eating crabs got lost in Dr. No) & he returns
satisfied about the rats (550 at 10 shillings each in the authentic
grey) but the bats in the Istanbul cisterns are proving difficult
to marshal & photograph in the underground murk."
"In the top Istanbul strip tease,
the girl, horrified at the shamelessness of her act, slashes her
wrists (nightly) as the curtain goes down"
Above: A double page from the letter
Fleming wrote in 1962 in the guise of a reporter.
"He thinks From Russia with Love, due here in the
autumn, will be even better than Dr. No, which has been
breaking records all round the world...& which opened
to capacity business in America on Monday."
"When I asked him if anything
else of importance was happening in Turkey...Fleming gave
this typical Thrilling Cities sitrep: ‘The wild flowers
are late but fabulous. There is a desperate shortage of
caviar. The 1962 rose petal jam is of an excellent vintage’...Meanwhile
the typescript of the next James Bond is on the way to Jonathan
Cape - setting, Japan. Title: You Only Live Twice...”
spies still prefer the Park Hotel to the Hilton"
Cubby Broccoli wrote in his autobiography, "When The
Snow Melts", that Fleming was his true self in Turkey,
and not the reserved man he was in London - "He loved
the sounds, the spicy smells, the bazaars, the street merchants
and the belly dancers."
Although published a year prior to "Dr. No",
"From Russia With Love" was the second Ian Fleming
novel produced by Broccoli & Saltzman, in part because
of the wave of popularity the book enjoyed in America when
President John F. Kennedy included it in his top ten books
favourite novels list in March 1961. Fatefully, JFK was
assassinated on November 22nd 1963, just over a month after
the film premiered in the UK.
Opposite: Danish Grafisk Forlag first edition
"From Russia With Love" paperback artwork (1964).
The translated title "Agent 007 Jages" actually
means "Agent 007 Is Chased".
Ian Fleming Biography
Russia With Love" Production Notes