Retro Heaven

From Russia With Love Lobby Cards

Fabulous ephemera from the Bond movie…..

My favourite Bond film has to be From Russia With Love, from the cast to the cinematography, script to the general feel of Cold War Britain and the continent it had the lot. Released on October 10th 1963 it would go in to gross $79 million from a $2 million budget. With Cubby Broccoli himself declaring it one of the best Fleming stories in agreement with President John F. Kennedy it was released to considerable commercial and critical success. Indeed it would be the last film Kennedy saw at the White House before his tragic visit to Dallas.

So to be able to share these wonderful lobby cards or front of house cinema  stills with you is a personal pleasure.

These cards were originally used for display in the foyer of cinemas and movie theatres, most carried scenes from the film as a teaser of sorts. I  remember how exciting the prospect of a new Bond film was or indeed watching one on television at Christmas when the UK Radio Times held the key to millions of people’s Christmas viewing pleasure. The Bond franchise was a thing of beauty for a child; Aston Martin’s with ejector seats, toy figures, books, stickers, card games and aftershave for the men! Looking at these stills reminds me of the ‘event’ a Bond film was, could Daniela Bianchi be more glamorous? Bond more heroic? Back then I think not.

The film had a real sense of grit which got lost along the way, Lotte Lenya who played Rosa Klebb was a compellingly convincing agent, her fight scene was remarkable in so  much as showing women of strength and power at a time when most  roles were little more than cute and subservient. I remember how gripped I was as a boy seeing her performance and to this day it remains one of  my most admired moments in a Bond film.

Pedro Armendáriz was wonderful as Kerim Bey, the Turkish Head of Station in the Cold War theatre who used Bond’s shoulder to assassinate his old enemy, Krilencu and settle old debts. I love this photograph, it was a nod to what went on in the field before the producers succumbed to giant lasers and space rockets.

Of all the Bond girls Daniela Bianchi is perhaps my favourite, I would have liked to have seen her role expanded even though her Italian accent was overdubbed by Barbara Jefford. As the character Tatiana Romanova, a low-level cipher clerk for the Soviet embassy in Istanbul who is coerced into snaring Bond by  Rosa Klebb. Perhaps it was the quality of the storyline and the use of women by both sides of the Cold War that made her character all the more interesting. For me personally she had something different to the others, more restrained, more alluring. These glorious lobby cards remind me of a golden age in Bond films, ephemera and the excitement of seeing it all on the big screen. Those who recall sitting waiting for the television tube to ‘warm up’ and the three channels it broadcast will, I am sure, nod in amusing agreement.

 

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