Production Notes - From Russia
The success of "Dr No" (1962) virtually demanded that
James Bond return to our screens as soon as possible. Saltzman and
Broccoli were suitably
impressed by their first film's tremendous performance to plan
the follow-up to be as big as they could make it. The choice
to adapt was no doubt influenced by the fact that in March 1961
President John F. Kennedy had named From
Russia With Love as
of his ten favourite novels. Following Kennedy's endorsement,
Stateside sale of the book had rocketed and Saltzman and Broccoli
to realise its potential.
Above: Sean Connery as
Assembling largely the same crew, Saltzman and
Broccoli set to work almost immediately after the release of
"Dr No". The core cast
was reassembled during the early months of 1963 as Richard Maibaum
and Johanna Harwood thrashed out a screenplay that remained
close to Fleming's original.
The cast and crew converged on Pinewood
on 1 April 1963 where director Terence Young filmed Bond's
arrival in M's
office and shot the first scene of many to feature Desmond
Llewelyn as gadget king Q.
Llewelyn had already worked with Young on the war film
"They Were Not Divided" (1950)
and was to stay with the series until his death in 1999,
shortly after his 17th appearance as Q in "The
World Is Not Enough" (1999).
On 12 April 1963, the production headed
outside but didn't have far to go - Pinewood's main administration
in adequately for the SPECTRE training
grounds seen in the teaser. Much of this footage later
had to be reshot,
however, when Young felt that the extra playing the SPECTRE
agent disguised as Bond looked a bit too much like Sean
Connery and was likely to cause confusion.
The increase in budget allowed EON to spread
their wings a little and "From Russia
With Love" was the
first in the series to adopt the now familiar and expected
globe-trotting from Bond. While a second unit crew toiled away in Pinewood,
the main unit relocated to Turkey on Saturday 20 April, beginning
shooting in Saint Sophia on Monday 22nd. Ian
with them, staying as a guest of Terence Young.
Above: Italian actress Daniela
Bianchi as the beautiful Russian operative Tatiana Romanova.
For this film, Peter Hunt - again signed on as editor - worked
more closely with Young and even shot insert footage to help increase
the tension in the teaser and carefully trimming and cutting several
of the film's key scenes in close collaboration with the director.
By May, however, it was becoming clear to all involved that things
were not well with co-star Pedro Armendariz, cast as Bond's Turkish
contact Kerim Bey. Armendariz had been recommended to Young by the
veteran American director John Ford and Young had been keen to give
the experienced actor a try. However, as filming progressed, Armendariz
had developed a nasty limp and was soon feeling unwell.
A check up confirmed the worst - the actor was suffering from
cancer and so bad was the disease that by now only regular shots
of morphine could kill the pain. It later turned out that Ford
had known that Armendariz was dying and had helped him to get
one last job on a prestige production so that his wife would
have some money after his death.
Young was now forced to reschedule much of the
shoot to make sure that the ailing Armendariz would be able
to complete his
scenes. By the second week in June, the actor's work on "From
Russia With Love" was complete. Now confined to a wheelchair,
was guest of honour at a party held on Sunday 9 June by Young.
On 18 June, Armendariz committed suicide while in hospital in
By this time, however, Young had other things to worry about.
Filming in Turkey had presented problems all of its own, many
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.
There were even worse problems during the climactic boat
chase sequence. 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.
But even there, the problems didn't end - while shooting
on location at Kilmichall and off the coast of Crinan, a
series of potentially lethal accidents befell the crew. During
the boat chase, the fireball from the exploding gas canisters
almost got out of hand and that's very real fear on the faces
of the pursuing actors!
It was the helicopter sequence near the end of the film that
posed most of the problems, however - tragedy struck one camera
operator whose leg was hit by the blades of one helicopter that
came in too low and he had to have his foot amputated. Connery
too came close to death when an inexperienced pilot flew a little
too close, almost killing the star.
Even Terence Young almost came to a sticky end in a helicopter
- shortly after take off while shooting at Crinan, his helicopter's
engines failed and the aircraft crashed into the sea. Young barely
managed to escape with his life, clawing his way out of the helicopter
from ten feet underwater. In less than an hour, he was back on
Saltzman, understandably nervous about all this, asked veteran
British director David Lean to step in and take over the production,
but Broccoli was made of sterner stuff and recommended that Young
be allowed to complete the film.
By 23 August 1963, despite all the setbacks, principal photography
was complete, though Young had to travel to Venice to do some final
pick up work for the back-projection shot seen at the very end of
the film. Due to all the problems during the shoot, time was now
running out and the delivery date for the film to be handed over
to United Artists was fast approaching. Reluctantly, Saltzman and
Broccoli had to give up plans to use another of the animated title
sequences created for Dr No by Maurice Binder and Trevor Bond and
had instead to use a simpler but no less effective one created by
Robert Brownjohn. The gyrating belly dancer with scenes from the
film projected over her body was to prove an inspiration to Binder
whose trademark cavorting title girls were soon to become synonymous
with the series.
The film was given its first press screening
at the Leicester Square Odeon on 8 October 1963 and this
time, the response
was much more like it. Though the British press had been
quick to denounce Dr No, they turned up in droves to see
the latest 007 adventure - Alexander Walker of the Evening
Standard recalled the vociferous response from the Fleet
Street hacks who yelled and applauded "every feat
of matchless courage and stunning bedroom virility that
our man pulled off." David Robinson in the Financial
Times was gobsmacked by the "mass exhalation of indrawn
breath from the auditorium" following Bond's brutal
tussle with Grant aboard the speeding train.
Sadly, none of this enthusiasm was that
evident in the published reviews and John Trevelyan, then
the BBFC, was to have a rough ride at the hands of the
press who questioned his judgment in allowing such a violent
film to be released. But, as ever, the public knew better
and the film was another massive success.
On 10 October, Kinematograph Weekly was
forced to admit that "crowds had been gathered at
the theatre since mid-day. By early afternoon it was obvious
the opening day house record was going to be beaten - it
was just a question of by how much.
Saltzman, Broccoli, Connery and Bianchi mingled
with assorted lesser royalty and a smattering of celebrities
to attend the opening
night to see that, yes, their latest offering was indeed going
break those house records. And "From Russia With Love" would
shattering house records wherever it played. It even turned up
in the Kremlin when Soviet premier Leonhid Brezhnev obtained
print from the British embassy and supposedly watched it no less
than three times.
United Artists released the film in the States
on 27 May 1964 as part of a double bill with
"War Is Hell" and it scored another
massive success. Bond was here to stay and the third film in
the series was going to be even bigger and better...