60 Years Ago, One Perfect Spy Flick Created A New Standard For James Bond — Literally
From Russia With Love has several awesome scenes. But one small moment is more pivotal than all the others.
In 1963, the second James Bond movie, From Russia With Love, hit theaters almost exactly one year after the first movie, Dr. No. Back then, movie sequels and franchises were never made like this before 007, and arguably, nobody has done it better since. In the early 60s, EON producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, passed on the opportunity to produce a movie starring the Beatles, partially in favor of gambling on the possible success of their burgeoning James Bond franchise. Debuting on October 10, 1963, From Russia With Love proved the gamble was going to pay off. From Russia With Love was considered bigger, and better than Dr. No in every way. Today, it's easy to argue that the tone of how we think about James Bond begins right here.
This isn’t just an over-the-top, after-the-fact argument. From Russia With Love quite literally set the standard for every single James Bond actor and film that followed. And it’s all because of the fact that one very specific scene lives on, performed by countless actors in several auditions, for six decades.
Most actors who have played James Bond — including Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig — all, at one point or another, were required to recreate one classic scene in From Russian With Love. Here’s what happens in the scene: Bond enters his hotel room to find that Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) is already in his bed. In the movie, Tatiana is a would-be Russian defector, who claims to already be in love with 007 based on his photograph. Although Tatiana later switches sides in the movie, at this point, in this early scene, she’s playing Bond, and he, in turn, is trying to get information out of her. But, their banter is sensuous and flirty, even though the subtext is espionage and secrets. In the context of From Russian With Love, it's an electric moment. But, fascinatingly, this scene’s influence out of context is arguably a bigger deal.
As revealed in several behind-the-scenes James Bond books (like Nobody Does It Better and The James Bond Archives) and confirmed in several interviews, EON productions created a tradition of using this specific scene to audition new Bond actors. This scene is the ultimate test for new Bond actors, if they can walk this line of steamy romance, and stealthy spy, they understand the role of James Bond. As recently as 2022, Bond co-producer Michael G. Wilson said: “We always use the same scene...Anyone who can bring that scene off is right for Bond. It’s tough to do.”
What’s so interesting about the immortality of this single scene is the fact that several famous actors who never played James Bond have performed the scene. From James Brolin in 1983, Sam Neill in 1987, to Henry Cavill in 2006, plenty of actors have performed this small, intimate Bond moment, even when they didn’t end up getting the job. Many of these auditions have surfaced on DVD special features, and many are easy to find on YouTube, too.
But, perhaps the most interesting thing is, that these auditions almost always happen without the public knowing. So, while Daniel Craig’s James Bond successor has yet to be named, your favorite actor could be reciting Sean Connery’s dialogue, in secret, right now.