In light of the release of the James Bond 007 ‘Ultimate Edition’ DVDs, the ending gondola scene of 1963’s From Russia With Love has gone under the microscope once more with some interesting results in regards to cuts and censorship.
In an article titled ‘The British Censorship of From Russia With Love’ on the website DVD Talk, Glenn Erickson looks at the film’s editing including the mysterious ‘bad edit’ in the gondola in the film’s final scene.
DVD Talk originally looked at the gondola scene’s cut article in 1997. That article descibed the cut as follow:
In the final scene of From Russia With Love Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi are blithely Gondoliering on a Venetian canal (okay, okay, in front of a rear-projection of a Venetian canal) when Connery produces the 8mm roll of blackmail film taken by SMERSH in the Istanbul bridal suite. He holds the reel up to examine a length of it against the sunlight, and says. “He was right, you know.” Before Bianchi can answer, there is a really obvious cut. A new angle pops on with the actors in different positions and the dialog proceeds as if something substantial has been cut out. Matt Munro has been singing the title song in the background; the lyric jumps forward a few notes, indicating that maybe two or three seconds of film are missing.
The ’97 article asked for help explaining the cut and received two replies at the time. One was from Dale McFadzean, a member of the James Bond 007 International Fan Club. Dale wrote:
“…In the original edit of the scene, Sean Connery holds up the film and says, “He was right you know – what a performance!”, referring to his and Tatiana’s sexual exploits in the hotel. At the time it was thought that this piece of dialogue was a bit risque; and so it was cut. This is why there is a jump of a few seconds in the final scene.”
That is where it stood until DVD Talk was contacted by Gavin Salkeld who had researched From Russia With Love’s files of the British Board of Film Classification. The BBFC made From Russia With Love ‘the target of some pretty stringent censorship’. Gavin had found two key points that explain the cut which it turns out referred to another cut line.
The earlier cut was this:
(From a list of 13 BBFC cuts)
- 10) – Killer Red Grant (Robert Shaw) gets the drop on Bond in his compartment on the Orient Express. Grant’s remark “What a performance!” when he throws the compromising 8mm film reel at Bond is removed.
And the famous gondola scene cut:
- 13) – Bond’s repeat of Red Grant’s quip, “What a performance!” as he examines the film reel in the Gondola, has been cut.
DVD Talk goes on to say, ‘Just to be clear, there is NO uncut version of this anywhere in the world.. From Russia With Love was quite an erotic film when new, and it’s interesting to know just how badly the censors beat it up.’
Great work by DVD Talk’s Glenn Erickson and by Gavin Salkeld who uncovered the BBFC’s files solving another great Bond mystery. One still wonders why this cut was made so poorly, but now at least we know.
Be sure to read DVD Talk’s entire From Russia With Love article which includes the complete 13 point BBFC cut list.
And keep watching CBn for all the latest news on Casino Royale and all things James Bond 007.