MI6 looks back to the filming of "From Russia With Love" in Istanbul, where Ian Fleming and intrepid reporters we on location to report on Bond's latest big screen adventure...

Time Tunnel: On The Set Of "From Russia With Love"
26th February 2007

On April 20th 1963, the production of "From Russia With Love" arrived in Istanbul, Turkey to start location filming on the second James Bond film. The crew, led by director Terence Young, started shooting on April 22nd at Saint Sophia and were accompanied by the creator of 007 - Ian Fleming.

Filming in Turkey presented many problems, most of them stemming from the inexperience of local crews and their inability to meet the standards set by Young and his crew.

The sequence at Istanbul's Sirkecki Station, for example, was a nightmare to shoot. Generators had to be set up aboard the train being used for the sequence and left in the hands of a Turkish engine driver who was supposed to pull into the station and hit a predefined mark. The engineer constantly overshot the mark, snapping the generator cables and plunging the location into darkness.

Above: Fleming posing on the train in Turkey

It was during the filming of the city scenes when members of the international press were invited to spend some time with the production on location.

Above: Rare shot of Ian Fleming walking in Istanbul with Pedro Armendariz and Robert Shaw

Above: Sean Connery, Harry Saltzman and Ian Fleming in 1963

Time Magazine reported that "Turkish crowds are so interested in following the progress of the shooting that they have nearly choked it dead. They pay no attention when asked to keep quiet, and even swarm in front of the cameras. To get some scenes shot, Director Terence Young has to stage noisy fake scenes near by, complete with wailing fire trucks and stunt men on high ledges, to decoy the Turks away from the real action. The crowds were even there one day at 3 a.m. last week to see Bond shoot a Russian coming out of Anita Ekberg's mouth.... [Fleming and Connery] sit around between takes sipping viscous coffee and devising fresh ways to avoid paying taxes. Connery says he won't continue to play Bond for more than seven years because he is afraid of getting typed."

Once the Istanbul scenes were completed, production moved on to the climactic boat chase sequence, and yet more problems plagued the crew: the speed boats constantly broke down; Turkish production assistants put kerosene in the tanks instead of gasoline; the weather was inclement; Daniela Bianchi was struck down with seasickness; and eventually an exasperated Young decided to call it a day and abandoned the location at Pendik in Turkey in favour of Scotland.

Despite all the set backs and constant interference by the Turkish locals, director Terence Young delivered one of the most critically acclaimed films in the franchise, and Sean Connery's favourite outing as 007.

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