Patrick Brennan explores the Orient Express and has his kicks as he takes a look at the second film in the 007 series – 1963’s From Russia With Love
After the success of Dr. No, the Bond series was on a sure footing. From Russia with Love was chosen for the second movie as President John F. Kennedy had named the novel as one of his favourite books, which led to a surge in sales.
During the writing of the novel in 1957, Ian Fleming was tired of Bond and had actually killed 007 off at the end. When the novel was a success, Fleming re-evaluated his position, resurrected Bond, and considered ‘Russia’ as his best novel.
Terence Young returned as director, John Barry took over from Monty Norman as the composer, and the script was penned by Richard Maibaum.
The script follows the novel closely but changes the villains from the real Russian organisation SMERSH to the fictional SPECTRE and adds an action packed-climax involving a helicopter and boat chase. The film’s budget was $2 million, twice that of Dr. No, and it would eventually gross $78 million, becoming the highest grossing British movie of 1963.
Sean Connery returned as Bond, with Bernard Lee as M and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, Pedro Armendáriz as ally Kerim Bey, Daniella Bianchi as Bond’s love interest, Tatiana Romanova, Robert Shaw as evil henchman Red Grant, Lotte Lenya as villainess Rosa Klebb, and Desmond Llewelyn in his first appearance as the quartermaster Boothroyd, giving Bond a gadget-packed attaché case.
The character Boothroyd would become better known by his codename Q and Llewelyn would continue in the role until 1999’s ‘The World is Not Enough’.
Russia began the familiar Bond motif of an action sequence before the main titles, this one involving the henchman Red Grant using a garotte wire in his watch to kill James Bond. The dead Bond is revealed to be an agent wearing a mask, and this sequence was originally later in the movie.