From Russia with Love
From Russia with Love is the second instalment of the long-running James Bond series from Eon Productions. Released in 1963 and starring Sean Connery in his second appearance as 007, the film was a critical and commercial success, and is often regarded as one of the best Bond films.
This classic spy thriller from director Terence Young and producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli is based on the 1957 novel of the same name, and sees Bond up against SPECTRE, who are out to get him for the death of their man Dr. Julius No.
Bond heads to Istanbul with the aim of getting the Lektor cryptography device from the Soviets, but it’s a trap set by SPECTRE who intend to kill Bond and take the Lektor.
Bond along with Soviet cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) get the Lektor and try get it back to England. They come up against some of SPECTRE’s most formidable henchmen Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and Donald ‘Red’ Grant (Robert Shaw), as they trip across Eastern Europe and head to the safety of Italy.
From Russia with Love lays the foundation for the future of the series, as Bond is introduced to more gadgets from Q, spends time with several Bond girls, and his mission is spread over different locations, not just in one location as it is in the first film Dr. No.
The head of criminal organization SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (No.1) sets its sights on James Bond, seeking revenge for the death of their agent, Dr No.
They aim to lure Bond into a trap, SPECTRE’s chief planner Czech chess grandmaster Kronsteen (No.5), who devises a plan to have Bond try to steal the Lektor cryptography device from the Soviet Union’s consulate in Istanbul.
Blofeld isn’t convinced the British will fall for the trap, but reluctantly gives the operation his blessing on the condition that Bond’s death is ‘a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one.’
The mission is overseen by ex-Soviet counter-intelligence colonel, Rosa Klebb, who’s now No.3 for SPECTRE. She enlists the help of the beautiful cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova who works at the Soviet consulate with the aim of enticing Bond and ultimately setting a trap to kill him.
Romanova calls MI6 to tell them she is willing to defect and will bring the Lektor decoder if Bond goes to meet her in Istanbul.
MI6 call Bond while he’s relaxing by the river with on-off girlfriend Sylvia Trench, whom he’d met previously at Les Ambassadeur’s Club in London. Bond goes to see M, and even though they both smell a rat, they agree Bond should go to Istanbul.
Major Boothroyd, the head of the Q department, gives Bond a briefcase containing a tear gas bomb that explodes if the case is opened in the wrong way, a folding AR-7 sniper rifle, a knife, and 50 gold sovereigns.
Miss Moneypenny gives Bond with a photo of Tatiana Romanova, which Bond commits to memory and signs ‘From Russia with love…’
At a SMERSH training facility, Klebb is most impressed with Blonde-haired assassin Donald ‘Red’ Grant, and assigns him the of killing Bond in Istanbul, and orders him there with all the information her needs.
In Istanbul, Bond teams up with MI6’s local branch head, Ali Kerim Bey, and awaits word from Romanova. Later, Bey is with his mistress, Nadja Regin, at his office, and is nearly killed when the retaliatory bomb goes off.
Bey later takes Bond to a Gypsy camp for the night to hide. There he meets the chief of the tribe, Vavra, who occasionally does dangerous jobs for Bey. As part of the entertainment at the camp 2 gypsy women, Vida and Zora are brought to fight to the death, with the winner earning the right to marry the chief’s son.
However, before the fight can end, the camp comes under attack from Bulgarian gangsters. During the gun fight, Bond saves Vavra’s life, and declares Bond his son. Bond requests to stop the 2 girls from fighting to death, and Vavra sends them both to Bond so he can choose the winner.
Later, Bond goes back to his hotel room and is about to take a bath when a noise comes from the other room. He picks up his Walther PPK and follows a shadow out onto the patio, where he discovers Tatiana lying in her bed.
They introduce themselves before making love, deciding to discuss details of obtaining the Lektor machine in the morning. Unbeknownst to Bond, their encounter is being filmed from behind a one-way mirror installed by SPECTRE.
The next day, Tatiana is supposed to give Bond a map of thew Soviet consulate but she forgets it. A KGB agent is following her and he gets the map before Bond. However, Grant, who’s following Bond’s every move, kills the spy and leaves the scene.
Bond runs back to the dead KGB agent and takes the map, and takes it to Bey who then devises a plan to set a bomb off in the Soviet consulate, allowing Bond to steal the Lektor and get away underneath the city.
The plan works, and Bond, Tatiana and Bey are able to flee Istanbul through the caverns of the underground, and onto the Orient Express bound for Trieste, Italy.
On board the Orient Express, Kerim Bey notices a Soviet officer named Benz, and decides to keep an eye on him. However, Grant kills both Bey and Ben and leaves them in a train compartment.
Bond suspects Tatiana had something to do with Bey’s death and interrogates her, but she claims she doesn’t known what’s going on. Bond isn’t sure what to believe, so he keeps himself and the Lektor away from Tatiana.
Bond is to meet a British agent named Nash when the train stops in Belgrade, but Grant knows this and kills Nash before Bond can meet him. The SPECTRE assassin then poses as Nash, who is supposed to help Bond get the Lektor over the Italian border.
They get off the train in Belgrade, and Bond meets with what he thinks is a British agent named Nash, but it turns out to be the blonde assassin Donald ‘Red’ Grant.
Grant drugs Bond and when he comes to he tells him all about the plot to kill him and Tatiana and make it look like suicide. Bond offers him double whatever SPECTRE is paying him, and gives him the gold sovereigns Q had given him.
He tells him he has more in the briefcase, which he quickly opens. However, it’s the briefcase Q had given him, and Grant opens it the wrong way which triggers a gas canister to explode.
Bond and Grant then fight viciously, slamming each other around, into the room where Tatiana lay drugged and sleeping, and then back to the adjoining compartment.
Grant tries to strangle Bond with a garrote wire that he had hidden in his watch, but Bond is able takes a hidden knife out of his briefcase and stabs Grant in the arm, before strangling Grant with the garrote.
Bond then takes a flower truck, and drives towards Italy. They’re persuaded by SPECTRE assassins in a helicopter who try drop grenades into the truck. Bond throws rocks at the helicopter and one hits one of the assassins, who drops the grenade inside the helicopter causing it to explode.
Hearing of the failed plan, Blofeld is beyond reason and he reprimands Klebb and Kronsteen. They blame each other for the failed mission, so Blofeld presses a button on his desk, and Morzeny enters the room.
Blofeld informs Klebb and Kronsteen that SPECTRE doesn’t tolerate failure, and thinking she is being blamed, Klebb lowers her head, believing that she is about to be killed. Morenzy then pulls out a hidden dagger coated with venom from the toe of his boot, and turns at the last second to stab Kronsteen, who quickly falls dead.
Blofeld then tells Rosa Klebb (No.3) that she is now in complete control of the mission and has one final chance to retrieve the Lektor and kill Bond in Italy.
Bond and Tatiana get over the Italian border and then take a boat to Vencie, but are quickly pursued by Morenzy and other henchmen in 3 speedboats. They fire at Bond and hit barrels of fuel that Bond’s boat is carryng. Bond releases the leaking barrels of fuel into the sea and appears to slow down to give himself up.
They all slow down, before Bond fires a flare at the fuel causing the henchmen and their boats to go up in flames and they panic causing them to crash into each other, allowing Bond and Tatiana to escape.
Bond and Tatiana reach Venice and, but Klebb disguised as a maid is there to kill Bond. Tatiana knocks the gun out of Klebb’s hand, who then kicks out at Bond to stab him with the venom coated dagger in the tip of her shoe. AFter a struggle, Tatiana picks up the gun and shoots Klebb dead.
With the mission complete, the movie ends with Bond and Tatiana enjoying a romantic boat trip down the canals of Venice as Bond disperses of the camera reel of him and Tatiana in the hotel room.
Sean Connery as Bond in From Russia with Love
Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond in his second outing is widely regarded as one of the best Bond movies of all time. Connery’s quick wit and suave demeanour are on full display, cementing his place as one of the most iconic James Bonds.
However, the film’s portrayal of women may not sit well with modern audiences. Bond sleeps with 4 Bond girls and even slaps Tatiana Romanova, leading some to question the movie’s attitude towards women.
Despite this, Connery does show a sense of morality when he interrupts a fight between gypsy girls Vida and Zora, expressing discomfort with the idea of them fighting to the death. This moment highlights Connery’s charm, making him a standout Bond for audiences of all generations.
Another standout moment in the film is the confrontation between Bond and the villainous Donald ‘Red’ Grant. Despite being hunted by Grant and unaware that he’s out to kill him, Bond uses his wit and the help of Q’s gadgets to outsmart him in a memorable fight scene.
The climax of the movie features Rosa Klebb, a former Soviet agent, who tries to kill Bond with a venom-coated dagger in the tip of her shoe. She’s a persistent threat throughout, but Bond manages to subdue the attacking Klebb with a chair before Tatiana shoots her.
Tatiana then remarks on how evil Klebb was, to which Bond responds with his trademark coolness, saying, “Yes… She had her kicks.”
Overall, Connery’s second outing as Bond is a thrilling, sophisticated, and action-packed movie that is sure to entertain even today’s audiences.
Bond Villains in From Russia with Love
Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the head of SPECTRE and over the years becomes Bond’s most regular antagonist. From Russia with Love is the first we ever get to see him, or at least parts of him.
Blofeld was portrayed by Anthony Dawson, who was also in the Dr. No cast as Professor Dent, although the British actor isn’t credited for the role. Instead at the end credits there’s a question mark for Blofeld, probably to add to the intrigue of this mysterious charcater.
Blofeld isn’t a prominent figure in From Russia with Love, and only his lower body is only visible as he strokes his signature white Siamese cat, while orchestrating the plan to avenge the death of Dr. Julius No.
However, the small part he does play and the question mark to credit who plays him, sows the seeds for the mystery of the character who grows to become the world’s most dangerous villain
Played by Lotte Lenya, Rosa Klebb is one of the the main antagonists in From Russia with Love. She’s the former Head of Operations for SMERSH, but defected to join SPECTRE. Ernst Stavro Blofeld referred to her as ‘No. 3,’ making her the third highest-ranking member of SPECTRE.
Klebb is tasked with selecting the girl and the henchman to kill Bond, and choosing Donald ‘Red’ Grant for the mission. Klebb gives Tatiana her orders and is a constant, threatening menace who scares Tatiana.
Klebb records Bond and Tatiana behind a two-way mirror in the hotel room, as part of the plan to set Bond up and make his death look like a suicide. She regularly checks up on Grant, but when his mission fails, she thinks she will be killed by Blofeld.
Along with Kronsteen, Klebb reports back to Blofeld, who tells them both they don’t tolerate failures. He then calls in Morenzy, who has a venom-coasted dagger sticking out the end of his shoe. Just as it looks like he is going to stab Klebb, he turns and stabs Kronsteen instead.
Blofeld gives Klebb one last chance to kill Bond in Venice. She heads there and dresses as a maid and awaits Bond’s return to his hotel room. When he arrives back, Kleebb points the gun at him and tells Tatiana to take the Lektor.
Tatiana shoves the door on Klebb’s arm, causing her to drop her gun. Bond and Klebb then engage in a fight, when Klebb attempts to kick Bond with her venom-coated dagger shoe. Bond traps her against the wall with a chair as Tatiana shoots her dead.
Donald ‘Red’ Grant
Donald ‘Red’ Grant is an imposing henchman hired by Rosa Klebb with the task of killing James Bond. Portrayed by actor Robert Shaw, Grant is a formidable opponent, and it looks like Bond is killed by him at the beginning of the film.
However, Grant is undergoing a training session that Spectre has organized to train henchmen up to kill Bond, and the figure he kills at the start is only a waxwork of Bond.
Grant is a dangerous criminal who was once locked up in Dartmoor Prison for life, but escaped before being recruited by SPECTRE in Tangiers. His mission is to kill Bond, but he also takes on the role of Bond’s protector to ensure the delivery of the Lektor encoding device to SPECTRE.
He’s smart and disguises himself as a British spy Bond is supposed to meet, expertly putting on a British accent and almost fooling Bond. He only gives himself away when he orders the wrong wine with dinner, but drugs Bond with it.
When Bond comes around, Grant tells him of SPECTRE’s plot to kill him and Tatiana and make it appear as a suicide. In response, Bond offers to pay double what SPECTRE is offering, and hands over the gold sovereigns that Q had given him.
He mentions that there is more money in his briefcase, which he quickly opens. However, it is the briefcase that Q had earlier given to Bond, and Grant opens it incorrectly, causing a gas canister to explode.
Bond and Grant engage in a brutal fight, exchanging blows and slamming each other into various objects. Grant attempts to strangle Bond with a garrote wire concealed in his watch. Bond manages to retrieve a knife from his briefcase and stabs Grant in the arm, before using the garrote to strangle Grant to death.
Bond Girls in From Russia with Love
Tatiana Romanova, affectionately known as ‘Tania’ to her friends, is a Soviet cypher clerk who plays a role in a plot to take revenge on James Bond. She was portrayed by Italian actress Daniela Bianchi and had her voice dubbed by Barbara Jefford.
Tatiana works at the Soviet Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. He’s tasked with luring Bond to Istanbul and when she meets him, she’s immediately taken by his charm.
Her commanding officer, Rosa Klebb, manipulates Tatiana into believing she’s on an important mission for her country, when in reality, she is just a pawn in SPECTRE’s plan to humiliate and discredit the British Secret Service.
Bond goes to his Istanbul hotel only to find Tatiana naked in bed. They make love, but unknowingly are being recorded by SPECTRE.
Bond and Tatiana escape the Soviet embassy in Istanbul with Bey’s help to get to Italy on the Orient Express, where they come up against SPECTRE assassin, Donald ‘Red’ Grant. Bond and Tatiana are drugged by Grant but Bond manages to kill him while Tatiana is sill drugged.
They eventually make it to Vencie, only to see Rosa Klebb disguised as a maid. Tatiana recognizes her, but Klebb forces her out with the Lektor while she has Bond at gunpoint. Just as Klebb is about to shoot, Tatiana slams the door into her arm and knocks the gun away.
She then gets the gun and shoots Klebb dead. The film ends with Bond and Tatiana in a boat on the Grand Canal in Venice. Bond gets out the reel of film with of them making love in their hotel, and Tatiana asks what he’s laughing at. Bond throws the reel into the canal and says, ‘let me show you instead,’ as the two slide down in a passionate embrace.
Sylvia Trench meets Bond again after first meeting him before he was sent to Jamaica to investigate Dr. Julius No. It’s six months later now, and they’re picnicking topless in a punt by the river.
As a punter sails by, he calls out to his companion about the thrill of punting and Bond wittily refers to their intimate moments in the boat, saying to Trench, ‘I completely agree,’ to which Trench responds, ‘I might even give up golf for it,’ alluding to the last time they met in his apartment.
Trench then notices a scar on Bond’s side and inquires if it’s a ‘mark from a jealous woman.’ Miss Moneypenny then calls Bond, asking where he is, to which Bond replies, ‘I’m revisiting an old case,’ alluding to Sylvia Trench, before informing Moneypenny that he’s headed to the office.
However, Trench snatches the phone from Bond and informs Moneypenny that ‘he’s not on his way.’ Bond slaps her hand and promises they’ll do it again, leaving Trench disappointed as the last time he was pulled away.
It’s the last we see of Sylvia Trench and she’s the only actress to appear in more than one film as the same Bond girl until Léa Seydoux played the same character, Madeleine Smith, in both Spectre and No Time to Die.
Vida and Zora
Vida (Aliza Gur) and Zora (Martine Beswick) are both in love with the chief’s son and fight to the death to become his wife. During the intense struggle, Zora is overpowered and pinned to a table. Just as Vida is about to strike Zora with a wine bottle, Bulgarian gangsters invades the camp, saving Zora from death.
After the attack, the gypsy camp chief Vavra is so appreciative of Bond for saving his life, he tells Bond he is now his son and tells him he can have anything. Bond asks Vavra to put an end to the girls’ fight.
Vavra reluctantly agrees and sends them both along with Bey to Bond to let him choose the winner. The scene ends with Bond telling Bey, his decision ‘could take some time,’ as he’s left alone with them both.
Kronsteen’s Death for Failure
This scene is high in tension as the members of SPECTRE gather to discuss the failure of their plan. The mastermind behind the plan, Kronsteen, is present, as is Rosa Klebb, a high-ranking member of SPECTRE who was responsible for executing the plan.
It appears like Blofeld is blaming Klebb for the failure and the camera zooms in on her as Blofeld presses the button to allow his personal henchman Morenzy to come in. Blofeld lectures them both on SPECTRE’s inability to accept failure, and Morenzy’s venom-coated dagger shoots out of his boot.
Blofeld continues to hold court over Morenzy and Kronsteen. Just as the tension reaches its peak and it appears as though Morenzy is about to eliminate Klebb, he makes a surprising move and stabs Kronsteen instead. Blofeld then delivers a stern ultimatum to Klebb, offering her a final opportunity to fulfill her mission of killing James Bond.
Lotte Lenya, the actress who portrays Klebb, showcases her talent with a convincing performance. The way she portrays the character’s fear and desperation is a testament to her skill as an actor. The sweat on her brow and the look of terror in her eyes truly bring the scene to life, making for a memorable moment in the film.
Rosa Klebb Attacks Bond with Dagger Shoe
Bond and Tatiana reach Venice and are discussing life in England once they get back, but Klebb enters the room disguised as a maid. Tatiana recognizes her, but Klebb takes out a gun and orders her out of the room with the Lektor.
She then points the gun at Bond and is about to shoot him but Tatiana slams the door open, pushing Klebb over, and knocks the gun out of her hand.
Bond and Klebb then fight, and she attacks him with a venom coated dagger out of her boot. Bond gets a chair and pins her against the wall before Tatiana gets the gun and shoots her dead. Tatiana tells Bond how Klebb was a ‘horrible woman,’ to which Bond agrees, ‘Yes, she’s had her kicks.’
Watch the scene
From Russia with Love
From Russia with Love is a classic Bond film. It’s not as extravagant or gadgety, and is less action-based than the films that followed, but it offers plenty and really set the scene for James Bond going forward.
A young Sean Connery was at the height of his career in this period, and his portrayal of Bond in these early films is hard to compare with. Some of the lingo and actions used, might not sit well with modern audiences, but Connery’s Bond is classic.
From Tatiana Romanova to Rosa Klebb to Robert Shaw, the rest of the cast entertained and enthralled. Overall, From Russia with Love is a film that stands the test of time and remains a fan favorite to this day.
Its blend of espionage, intrigue, and romance make for a timeless tale that is still entertaining to watch. Whether you’re a fan of the Bond franchise or not, it’s worth checking out and is a testament to the enduring appeal of the iconic spy.