The Making of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: A 60th Anniversary Retrospective


When the 1962 release of Dr. No proved to be a success at the box office, United Artists greenlit the production of a second 007 adventure movie. Series producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli decided upon the novel From Russia, With Love primarily based on the fact that President John F. Kennedy had named the novel as one of his ten favorite books of all time in a Life magazine article.
The budget of the movie would be drastically increased to $2 million dollars, basically, double what Dr. No cost. United Artists also ponied up $100,000 as a bonus in pay to Sean Connery, which was in addition to his fixed $54,000 salary.

Screenplay and Director

Johanna Harwood, who punched up the dialogue in the previous 007 outing’s script, and Richard Maibaum, who also had writing duties for the earlier Bond film, were brought back to write the script for From Russia with Love. The script was to follow the novel closely, with one significant change – the decision was made to replace the Soviet undercover agency SMERSH with the crime syndicate SPECTRE to avoid any political overtones.
Harwood would leave the project due to frustration with director Terence Young’s constant tinkering with the script, adding things, not in the novel. Maibaum continued scripting duties throughout the movie’s production, including adding Red Grant to several scenes in Istanbul, a deviation from the novel.
Although Young was brought back to direct after the success of Dr. No, the producers had at least one big-name option available to them. Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock expressed interest in directing a Bond movie soon after the release of Dr. No, but likely due to financial constraints due to fears he would be too expensive it never came to pass.


The part of Bond adversary Red Grant was originally offered to professional wrestler, actor, and stuntman Joe Robinson, who turned it down. Next, it was offered to Robert Shaw, who also turned it down because he thought the script was “rubbish”. However, his wife, actress Mary Ure convinced him to change his mind and he accepted the role.
For the role of Karim Bey director John Ford recommended Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz to Young. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the casting of Armendáriz would cause considerable challenges when filming began.
Many actresses were considered for the part of Tatiana Romanova including Pia Lindström, Sally Douglas, Magda Konopka, Margaret Lee, Lucia Modugno, Sylva Koscina, Virna Lisi, and Tania Mallet. Eventually, the producers settled on German actress Elga Anderssen. However, when producers began to interact with her they regretted the choice and pivoted to 21-year-old Italian actress Daniela Bianchi for the part.
Bianchi’s screen test was the scene in which Bond finds Tatiana in his hotel bed and had actor Anthony Dawson (who had played Professor Dent in Dr. No). For many years later this scene was used as the screen test for all prospective James Bond actors and “Bond Girls”.
Arguably the most important casting in the movie was the role of Major Boothroyd, which had the largest impact on the series as a whole. Welsh actor Desmond Llewelyn filled the part after Peter Burton decided not to reprise the role from Dr. No. The character would become known simply as “Q” and Llewlyn would play the role in the series seventeen times.


Just prior to the beginning of filming Armendariz was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When shooting commenced on April 1, 1963, the decision was made to film his scenes first. His scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios in England instead of in Turkey as was originally intended. When it proved impossible for him to continue working, Armendariz committed suicide. The remainder of his scenes used either a stunt double or Young himself as stand-ins.
Another character also had a stand-in but not due to a death or serious injury. Young thought Bianchi’s legs were unattractive and used another woman or the scene where Bond spies on the Russian embassy in Istanbul with a periscope.
Although most of the movie was filmed at Pinewood Studios, portions were shot on location in Istanbul, Scotland, and Spain. Bond creator and novelist Ian Fleming, spent a week on set while in Istanbul supervising the production.
There were two accidents that occurred during the filming of the movie. The first incident occurred while scouting filming locations for the boat chase at the film’s climax in Scotland. The helicopter crashed, sinking into the waters near Argyll. Luckily, nobody on board, including Young, art director Michael White, and a cameraman, was seriously injured.
A few days later, Daniela Bianchi’s chauffeur fell asleep behind the wheel while on his way to the set, crashing the car, this resulted in sustaining several bruises on her face and caused her scenes to be delayed several weeks while she healed.
The boat chase originally was to be shot in Istanbul but was moved to Scotland. This was due to cost overruns and the need to wrap up filming in order to meet the planned October release date. The speedboats could not go very fast due to the many waves in the sea. This resulted in the sound being replaced since it was unusable. The explosion during the climax of this sequence was filmed at Pinewood and was hard to control. Several stuntmen were injured in the process.
The opening credits of the movie were created by designer Robert Brownjohn by projecting the credits on female dancers. This was inspired by constructivist artist László Moholy-Nagy who projected light onto clouds in the 1920s. From Russia With Love started the trend of scantily clad women appearing during the credits.


From Russia with Love is the first Bond movie to feature John Barry as the main composer of the soundtrack. The main theme was composed by Lionel Bart. Barry traveled with the production to Istanbul to get inspiration from the local music.

“It was like no place I’d ever been in my life. (The Trip) was supposedly to seep up the music, so Noel Rogers and I used to go ’round to these nightclubs and listen to all this stuff. We had the strangest week, and really came away with nothing, except a lot of ridiculous stories. We went back, talked to Lionel (Bart), and then he wrote ‘From Russia with Love.”

– John Barry

Release and Reception

From Russia with Love premiered on October 10, 1963, at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. In 1964 it was released worldwide with the United States premiere on April 8, 1964, at New York’s Astor Theatre. President Kennedy was given a special screening of the film at the White House on November 20, 1963. This was two days before his assassination.
The movie earned $12.5 million dollars worldwide. Twice the box office of Dr. No. Despite the sensational box office numbers, reviews were more mixed. However, in later years the consensus would put it near the top of the franchise in terms of reputation as a true classic.

If You Enjoyed This Article We Recommend:

Scholars’ Spotlight: Robert Shaw (Click Here)

The Making of DR. NO: A 60th Anniversary Retrospective (Click Here)

Bond Girls: A Scholars’ Spotlight – Part 1 (Click Here)

If You Don’t Want To Miss Any Of Our Content In The Future Like Us On Facebook and Follow Us On Twitter and Instagram

%d bloggers like this: