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 Love
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...”

"The best 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".


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