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From Russia With Love (1963) - Illustrated Reference

Updated on December 30, 2016

From Russia With Love was directed by Terence Young and premiered on 10th October 1963. Starring Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya and Robert Shaw. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum. Music composed by John Barry. Theme sung by Matt Munro. 115mins.

James Bond is sent on a mission to Istanbul to acquire a Lektor decoding machine from a beautiful Russian agent. It is a ploy by SPECTRE to lure 007 into a trap and avenge the death of their operative, Doctor No.

From Russia With Love was Ian Fleming’s 5th Bond novel, it was first published in 1957 and was followed by Dr. No, while in the movies Dr. No preceded it.

The novel was listed as one of President Kennedy’s top 10 favourite books in Life Magazine in 1961. According to the book “Death of a President” (1964) From Russia With Love was the last film JFK ever saw, at a private screening in November 20, 1963.

Sean Connery
Sean Connery
Daniela Bianchi
Daniela Bianchi
Pedro Armendariz with Sean Connery
Pedro Armendariz with Sean Connery
Lotte Lenya with Robert Shaw
Lotte Lenya with Robert Shaw
Vladek Sheybal
Vladek Sheybal

Sean Connery (1930-) / James Bond

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sean Connery won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Untouchables (1987). Has also played 007 in Dr. No (1962), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never say Never Again (1983).

Bond: You're one of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen.
Tatiana: Thank you, but I think my mouth is too big.
Bond: No, it's the right size... for me, that is.

Daniela Bianchi (1942-) / Tatiana Romanova

Born in Rome, Italy and Miss Universe 1960, Daniela Bianchi's voice was dubbed by Barbara Jeffoed for her role as Tatiana, her films include - Code Name Tiger (1964), Always on Sunday (1966), Special Mission Lady Chaplin (1966), Dirty Heroes (1967) and Operation Kid Brother (1967).

Pedro Armendariz (1912-1963) / Kerim Bey

Born in Mexico City, Pedro Armendariz discovered he was dying from cancer while he was filming From Russia With Love, production schedule was changed so he can finish his scenes first, he shot and killed himself in June 1963. His son Pedro Armendariz Jr appeared in the Bond film Licence to Kill (1989).

His films include - 3 Godfathers (1948), Fort Apache (1948), Diane (1956), The Conqueror (1956), The Wonderful Country (1959) and Captain Sinbad (1963).

Lotte Lenya (1898-1981) / Rosa Klebb

Rosa Klebb is no.3 in the SPECTRE hierarchy, a lesbian who likes to attack her enemies with a poison tipped blade hidden in her shoe.

Born in Vienna, Austria, singer and actress Lotte Lenya was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actress for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961). Her films include - The Appointment (1969) and Semi-Tough (1977).

Red Grant: “My orders are to kill you and deliver the Lektor. How I do it is my business. It'll be slow and painful.”

Robert Shaw (1927-1978) / Donald 'Red' Grant

On the Orient express Bond encounters SPECTRE assassin Red Grant posing as Captain Nash, culminating in one of the most brutal fights in cinema history.

Born in Lancashire, England, Robert Shaw was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actor for A Man for all Seasons (1966 as Henry VIII). His films include - Battle of the Bulge (1965), Battle of Britain (1969), The Sting (1973), The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974), Jaws (1975 as Quint), Robin and Marian (1976), The Deep (1977), Black Sunday (1977) and Force 10 from Navarone (1978).

Vladek Sheybal (1923-1992) / Kronsteen

Kronsteen is SPECTRE no. 5 and master of planning, he is also a master chess player.

Born in Zgierz, Poland, Vladek Sheybal's films include - Casino Royale (1967), Billion Dollar Brain (1967), Mosquito Squadron (1969), Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969), Puppet on a Chain (1971), Scorpio (1973), The Wind and the Lion (1975) and Red Dawn (1984).

Desmond Llewelyn (1914-1999) / Major Boothroyd 'Q'

Born in Newport, Wales, Desmond Llewelyn played the head of Q Branch in 17 Bond films, the last was The World is Not Enough (1999). His other films include - Hamlet (1948), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), A Night to Remember (1958), Curse of the Werewolf (1961), Cleopatra (1963), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Prisoner of Rio (1988).

The novel had a shock twist in the tale - Rosa Klebb manages to stab Bond with her poison tipped blade, the book ending with Bond’s presumed death. Ian Fleming was disappointed with flagging sales of the books and wanted to kill off Bond. But when From Russia With Love turned into a bestseller Bond returned in Dr. No.

Q (Desmond Llewellyn) appears for the first time in the Bond series, providing 007 with a black leather case equipped with flat throwing knife, an AR7 folding sniper’s rifle, 20 rounds of ammunition, a tin of talcum powder with tear gas cartridge and 20 gold sovereigns.

The first appearance of Bonds nemesis and head of SPECTRE - Ernst Stavro Blofeld, we don’t see his face yet and he is referred to here as No.1.

The name “Ernst Blofeld” appears on the closing credits next to a question mark. He is seen stroking a white Persian cat and feeding his Siamese fighting fish.

We first hear Matt Munro sing the title theme song on a radio during the film.

By the time From Russia With Love premiered in the U.S. production was already under way on the third Bond adventure – Goldfinger.

In some countries From Russia with Love was retitled –

From Moscow With Love (Poland)
Hearty Kisses From Russia (France)
Love and Kisses From Russia (Belgium)
The Return Of Agent 007 (Latin America)
007 In Istanbul (Finland)
Agent 007 Sees Red (Sweden)
007 Averted The Spy Plot (China)

The Critics Wrote -

"It is neither uplifting, instructive, nor life-enhancing. Neither is it great film-making. But it sure is fun." (Guardian)

"Slightly disappointing... The set-pieces - rough stuff on a train and in a gypsy camp - seem sparse and the pace drags too often." (Shipman)

"A preposterous, skillful slab of hardhitting, sexy hokum. After a slowish start, it is directed by Terence Young at zingy pace." (Variety)

"Fast, funny entertainment... (Bond's) further antics should provide a strong boxoffice attraction as his movie fame grows and his appeal broadens." (Hollywood Reporter)

"The second Bond adventure and possibly the best, with Istanbul and Venice as backdrops" (Halliwell)

"Daniela Bianchi as the beautiful girl. And, oh, how beautiful, luscious and voluptuous she is! Even old "Double Oh Seven" cannot resist her, and takes her home at the end.

Terence Young has directed the whole thing grandly, with some color photography of Istanbul and surrounding country that gives it the proper key. Don't ask any more. Just go to see it and have yourself a good time." (New York Times)


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    • Steve Lensman profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Lensman 

      7 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Hinton, Robert Shaw made this film one of the best, a memorable villain.

    • hinton1966 profile image


      7 years ago

      My favorite flick, Connery was the best in this one, I think after this one he got bored with all the gadgets. Robert Shaw shines, his best role other than Jaws. You have picked a good group of movies to write about. Nice job.

    • Steve Lensman profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Lensman 

      7 years ago from London, England

      Goldfinger and Hearty Kisses from Russia at the top, your moviescore is working just fine Cogerson, no need for an overhaul yet. :)

      Though I expected Dr. No to be higher on your list, critics and fans have a soft spot for the first Bond film. I would have placed it inside the top 10.

      Thanks for the info!

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Hey Steve.....looking at my Bond movie score ranks the Bond movies in this order....#1 Goldfinger #2 From Russia With Love #3 Thunderball #4 Casino Royale(2006) #5 Goldeneye followed by two more Connery Bonds #6 You Only Live Twice #7 Diamonds are Forever.....the only Connery Bond movie that my scoring system does not like is Dr. No.....and that still finished 13th out of 24.

    • Steve Lensman profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Lensman 

      7 years ago from London, England

      If I had to pick the best Bond film of them all it would be Goldfinger, the quintessential Bond movie IMO.

      But my personal favourite has always been You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery was so bored playing Bond by this time he can barely stifle a yawn when Blofeld tells him his plan to start WWIII. I liked his bored barely interested Bond and it's one of the reasons the film is a favourite, plus the Japanese locations, ninjas, Barry's music, the song, all tops.

    • Robwrite profile image


      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      One of Bond's best. Connery was the ultimate Bond. I haven't read the book but I liked the film. I'll still go with "Goldfinger" as the best.

      So Flemming wanted to kill off Bond, eh? That's not uncommon with writers who get too identified with their characters. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes once but had to bring him back because the fans and the Queen were so upset about it.


    • Steve Lensman profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Lensman 

      7 years ago from London, England

      Cogerson, brianlokker, thanks for commenting, much appreciated. Writing these hubs has got me interested in re-reading the books, I read the paperback editions ages ago. I wonder if they're available on Kindle? :)

      I used to think Bond fans fall into two camps those that believe From Russia With Love is the best Bond film and those that think Goldfinger can't be beaten. Critics usually cite those two as the best of the series. But I'm sure Cogerson's moviescore hub disagrees. :)

    • brianlokker profile image

      Brian Lokker 

      7 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      This is a great read, and the movie posters and photos are exceptional. I've seen all the Bond movies multiple times, and I'm making my way through the books. Thanks for this entertaining trip back to 1963.

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Another great hub Steve. This was my dad's favorite bond movie ever, we must have watched it twenty times together. Awesome facts with awesome photos, great finds on the artwork. I did not know that Fleming tried to kill off Bond, it makes me think of James Caan in Misery, an author trying to get rid of its main character. Very interesting to see the other titles that the other countries used....I am sending a link to my uncle who was and is a huge Bond fan.....voted up, useful and awesome.


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