From Russia With Love – Bond’s Istanbul Suits, Pt. 3: Charcoal Flannel

Sean Connery as James Bond in From Russia With Love (1963).

Sean Connery as James Bond in From Russia With Love (1963).

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent and spy

Turkey, Spring 1963

Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

For the 007th of May, I’ll be picking up where I left off in my examination of the From Russia With Love suits.

At this point in the film, Bond has just spent his second day in Istanbul, exploring a series of underground catacombs with Kerim Bey, the charismatic MI6 Station Chief. For that daytime excursion, he wore a Glen Urquhart suit. That evening, Kerim invites Bond to dine with him and his gypsy friends. Assuming that it’s Spring (I forget how I came to this conclusion, but I like it), where the temperature in Istanbul can dip into the low-40s, Bond opts to wear something a little heavier with a flannel suit. As GQ creative director Jim Moore explained in the February 2010 issue:

Put on flannel and the cold will not penetrate.

Granted, it doesn’t appear to be an especially cold scene, whatwith the gypsy Vavra sweating everywhere and Kerim himself sporting a lighter summer suit. It is somewhat surprising that Bond was outfitted in flannel, especially since these scenes were filmed in the summer and Connery does appear to sweat when the action starts. It’s a very elegant suit, nonetheless.

What’d He Wear?

While Bond was always a more exciting dresser than the typical “man in the gray flannel suit” trope, his attire at the gypsy camp is literally a gray flannel suit. Charcoal gray, if you’re being specific. This suit also received an extensive examination on Matt Spaiser’s blog The Suits of James Bond.

Connery practices his

Connery practices his “smoldering eyes” look simply because he is literally smoldering in a warm flannel suit.

According to the February 2010 issue of GQ, “As a general rule of thumb, break out the heavier suits in November and put them away April 1st. Flannel’s meant to keep you warm, not make you sweat.” There may be some truth to this, as I wouldn’t recommend wearing a heavy flannel suit in July unless you dwell in the southern hemisphere, but Bond is venturing from the urban Istanbul into the Turkish countryside. A rugged and durable material like flannel holds up nicely when heading out into the unknown. The same GQ issue contained this quote from designer Scott Sternberg from Band of Outsiders:

With a flannel suit there’s a sense of ruggedness, durability. I just think suits look better when they’re cut in heavier, heftier materials. Down to the stitching, everything is exaggerated, and it just looks better. It’s still refined, it’s sophisticated, but it’s not your regular business suit anymore.

Of course, this would be a strange setting to wear a regular business suit anyway.

Of course, this would be a strange setting to wear “a regular business suit” anyway.

Of Bond’s five Istanbul suits in the film, this would be the warmest of them all. In case you need a reminder, the five suits are a charcoal dupioni silk suit at the airport, the Glen Urquhart twill weave suit worn earlier that day, this charcoal flannel suit, a lightweight Glen check suit (different from the previous) worn while meeting Tania, and the dark gray semi-solid suit on the Orient Express.

All of his suits, including this one, feature the typical Anthony Sinclair “Conduit Cut”. The jacket is single-breasted with a low 2-button stance and a suppressed waist.

There are flapped hip pockets and a welted breast pocket, where Bond wears a folded white linen handkerchief. Before eating, Bond takes the handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his hands. However, he doesn’t return it to his pocket until after the gunfight with Krilencu, so some people neglect to realize he had a pocket square for this scene since the girl fight and the gunfight are the highlights of the scene.

The mere prospect of eating takes Connery from looking dejected to wearing an ear-to-ear grin. Here he removes his pocket square handkerchief to wipe his hands before eating.

The mere prospect of dinner takes Connery from looking dejected to wearing an ear-to-ear grin. Here he removes his pocket square handkerchief to wipe his hands before eating.

The suit jacket also has short double rear vents and high armholes, both allowing Bond the maximum range of movement during the gunfight. Bond keeps his jacket buttoned throughout the entire sequence, both out of decorum (although he needn’t worry about that at the gypsy camp!) and because he can; unlike the notorious Skyfall suits, Bond is able to move comfortably in his buttoned jacket without looking like he is going to bust out of it.

The flannel suit for dinner transitions into an action suit unexpectedly.

The flannel suit for dinner transitions into an action suit unexpectedly.

His trousers are the same Sinclair style with double reverse pleats and a high-rise waist with an extended tab front and “Daks top” button-tab side adjusters. The bottoms are finished with turn-ups/cuffs. There are on-seam side pockets but no rear pockets on these trousers.

Connery doesn't wear an undershirt, but with that sweater who would need to? Any idea what brand his bath products and toothpaste are?

Connery doesn’t wear an undershirt, but with that sweater who would need to?
Any idea what brand his bath products and toothpaste are?

As usual for From Russia With Love, Bond pairs suit with his standard pale blue shirt and navy tie. His shirt is a pale blue cotton poplin Turnbull & Asser dress shirt with a spread collar, front placket, rear side darts, and 2-button turnback (or “cocktail”) cuffs.

FRWL6-shirt1

His slim tie is a navy blue grenadine “garza grossa” weave, tied in a tight four-in-hand.

Bond wears a pair of black leather 3-eyelet derbies with a pair of black socks that have a red band toward the top of the sock. We rarely see Connery’s Bond’s socks, so this red band could be consistent on many of them without us ever knowing. Sean Connery will take that secret to the grave with him.

Bond in the lap of gypsy luxury.

Bond in the lap of gypsy luxury.

For the first time in the film, Bond is wearing his watch with a suit. It is the same Rolex Submariner 6538 as he wore with his suits in Dr. No, with a silver case, black face, and a dark undersized RAF strap. This watch has the Rolex 1030 automatic perpetual movement. Bond wears it through the rest of the film. If you’d like your own Submariner 6538, there’s one on eBay currently going for more than $7,000… you would just need to provide the strap.

He wears it on his left wrist, best seen when the gypsy girls are tending to him the morning after the gunfight. When he returns to his hotel room, he appears to have taken it off again.

Bond also wears his trusty light chamois leather shoulder holster, balancing his Walther PPK in place under his left arm. The holster is secured by a blue strap across his back and shoulders.

FRWL6-holster

Go Big or Go Home

Bond immerses himself in the Turkish gypsy experience. Kerim takes him to the gypsy dinner, where he immediately takes a liking to Rakı, an anise-flavored apéritif that is considered to be the national drink of Turkey. Rakı is traditionally served either straight or with some chilled water, but Bond takes it a step further and drinks “this filthy stuff” straight from the bottle.

Bond settles his nerves after a gunfight by drinking raki straight from the bottle.

Bond settles his nerves after a gunfight by drinking raki straight from the bottle.

Kerim himself says in the novel:

…we are invited to share their supper. It will be disgusting but I have sent for raki.

The dinner described by Fleming is “a large plate of some sort of ragout smelling strongly of garlic, a bottle of raki, a pitcher of water, and a cheap tumbler… The ragout was delicious but steaming hot. Bond winced each time he dipped his fingers into it.” Ragout is a stew consisting of highly seasoned meat and vegetables, served as a main dish. Kerim corrects Bond when the latter goes to eat it with his left hand, saying quietly, “With the right hand, James. The left hand is used for only one purpose among these people.”

If you’re not in the mood to eat the authentic gypsy meal that Kerim provides for him, Bond also orders a much more accessible breakfast from room service of “green figs, yogurt, coffee… very black.” This is a surprising choice, given the literary Bond’s obvious preference for scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, consumed several times in each of Fleming’s original novels. A blogger at Thoughtful Eating kindly prepared green figs and yogurt for the good of the Bond fan world, reporting positive results.

The gypsy camp sequence has received some criticism from modern critics as an archaic and misogynist hold-out inspired by Ian Fleming’s own personal male chauvinism. James A. Janisse nicely summed it up in his mostly positive review of the film from his site, The Analytic Critic:

And then there’s the women. Whereas Dr. No‘s chauvinism could be chalked up, at least in part, to being a product of the ’60s, From Russia With Love cannot rely on this anachronistic excuse. It’s just straight-up overt here. Nothing exemplifies the excess of this film better than the scenes in the gypsy camp. It starts with a belly-dancing sequence, mirroring the opening credits, that goes on far too long for comfort. Just when the viewer is relieved of the hypnotism of that gypsy woman’s hips, the story segues immediately into an extended woman-on-woman wrestling match, complete with ample fleshy close-ups. The argument between these women is resolved in the most appropriate way possible, of course – an implied threesome with our dashing hero. At this point, it probably takes Bond more effort to not get laid.

To be fair, this happens to me all the time.

To be fair, this happens to me all the time.

When Bond is rewarded for his efforts with the two gypsy girls, it’s certainly a cringe-inducing and non-essential twist just to show us “Look how much you wish you could be like James Bond right now” that would, hopefully, not make it into a modern movie, at least not without some attempt at a justifiable explanation. Still, if fate somehow finds you in a similar predicament, you’d be foolish to refuse it.

Kerim: The women will fight until one of them is dead or surrenders. The winner will marry the man they both love, the loser will be cast out of the tribe, never to return. If both quit, the elders of the tribe will then decide who will marry the chief’s son.
(One of the gypsy girls, Vida, begins cursing at Zora in Romani.)
Kerim: She’s saying that-
Bond: Yes, I think I got it without the subtitles.

Of course, when Bond returns to his hotel room the next night, he’s in for even more anonymous sex! This time, it’s the “lovelorn” Soviet clerk, Tatiana Romanova, who was used to bait Bond to Istanbul. The scene where he enters his bedroom, gun drawn, and finds her in bed is considered to be so iconic that it is typically used when screen-testing new Bond actors.

In 1983, James Brolin screen-tested this scene with Maud Adams, the only major Bond girl to show up in two different 007 adventures (as Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun and the titular role in Octopussy).

The scene was also used in a screen test for Sam Neill, who was fresh from his another British spy role on Reilly: Ace of Spies. However, Roger Moore continued in the role for two more years  before Timothy Dalton was called in to replace him.

From Russia With Love is often cited as one of the best Bond films due to its relative credibility as a straight espionage story. Although it has some over-the-top moments, its close adherence to Ian Fleming’s original novel can be credited with providing much of the realism in the story. In Chapter 17 (“Killing Time”) of the novel From Russia With Love, Bond had just finished showering and reflecting on his eventual meeting with Tatiana when he receives a call from Kerim Bey, offering to pick him up that night for dinner:

Live the life you would normally. Go home now and have a bath and a drink. The local vodka is all right if you drown it with tonic water. If nothing happens, I will pick you up at eight. We will have dinner at the place of a gypsy friend of mine. A man called Vavra. He is head of a tribe. I must anyway see him tonight. He is finding out who tried to blow up my office. Some of his girls will dance for you. I will not suggest that they should entertain you more intimately. You must keep your sword sharp. There is a saying “Once a King, always a King. But once a Knight is enough!”

Exposition aside, this is almost exactly the set up for Bond’s dinner with Kerim and the gypsies on a Saturday night. Even the girl fight between Vida and Zora, which some have unfairly accused the film of inventing for salacious aesthetic purposes, is included as well as Kerim’s warning to Bond not to interfere. “My God, what a hell-cat, thought Bond,” is a direct quote from the novel. Indeed, just as Vida is about to finish Zora, Krilencu’s Bulgars attack the camp in both novel and film, and Bond springs into action with his pistol to save the day.

After eight .25-caliber shots from his Beretta bring an end to the Bulgar assault, the literary Bond is rewarded by Vavra:

Kerim chuckled. “He said that his judgement was right. You killed well. Now he wants you to take on those two women.”

However, the literary Bond does not get the “happy ending” that Connery’s Bond receives on film. Instead, Bond replies, “Tell him even one of them would be too much for me,” before he and Kerim leave immediately to kill Krilencu.

How to Get the Look

Bond’s attire at the gypsy camp is definitive of Connery’s finest attire with a sleek gray Conduit Cut suit, pale blue shirt, navy blue grenadine tie, Rolex, and Walther PPK. If your goal is to emulate the simple elegance of Connery-era Bond, this is the suit to get.

FRWL6-crop1

  • Charcoal flannel 2-piece “Conduit Cut” suit tailored by Anthony Sinclair, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with a low 2-button stance, narrow notch lapels, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and double rear vents
    • Double forward-pleated trousers with 3-button tab “Daks top” side adjusters, straight on-seam side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffed bottoms
  • Pale blue poplin long-sleeve Turnbull & Asser dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback/”cocktail” cuffs
  • Navy blue grenadine woven silk necktie, worn with a four-in-hand knot
  • Black leather 3-eyelet plain-toe derby shoes/bluchers
  • Black dress socks with a red band toward the top
  • Rolex Submariner 6538 wristwatch with a silver case, black dial, and dark undersized RAF strap
  • Light brown chamois leather shoulder holster (RHD) with a blue strap, for the Walther PPK
  • White linen folded pocket square

The Gun

While Bond fends off Krilencu’s killers with his trusty Walther PPK, it is his newly-issued ArmaLite AR-7 Explorer rifle that he actually uses to bring about the Bulgar’s demise.

Bond takes

Bond takes “human shield” to a whole new level.

The AR-7 was originally designed in 1958 by Eugene Stoner, inventor of the venerable M16 military rifle. It was developed from the earlier AR-5, the bolt-action rifle adopted by the U.S. Air Force as the MA-1 aircrew survival rifle, chambered in .22 Hornet. The AR-7 is instead chambered in the more common .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) and features a blowback semi-automatic – rather than a bolt-action – system.

The ArmaLite AR-7 and variously shaped magazines.

The ArmaLite AR-7 and variously shaped magazines.

Although initially developed from an aircrew survival weapon, the AR-7 found instant popularity in the civilian market as a utility or emergency rifle among backpackers and outdoorsmen. This popularity has continued through today despite the development of more powerful weaponry. Its size and caliber do not make it a very practical weapon for a sniper, despite Q’s description, with a drift-adjustable front sight and an aperture rear peep sight adjustable for elevation, giving the rifle a maximum accurate range of about 50 yards. However, the rifle is good for hunting small game at close range. It is, after all, a “survival rifle” and not an assault rifle.

One of the most valuable features of the AR-7 is its ability to self-store its three parts – the 16″ aluminum barrel, action, and magazine – inside the plastic stock, taking the weapon from a 35″ length when fully assembled to only 16″ for storage. With a weight of 2.5 pounds, the rifle is light and convenient enough for easy transportation. The plastic foam-filled stock also allows the weapon to float when stored inside the stock.

Bond assembles the rifle.

Bond assembles the rifle.

Naturally, reliability for such a takedown-friendly weapon is a question worth considering. Original ArmaLite models from the first run of production are considered to be the most reliable by enthusiasts before the design was sold to Charter Arms in 1973. After Survival Arms sold the design to Henry Repeating Arms in 1997, reliability reportedly increased.

The ammunition used plays a major factor into the weapon’s reliability. Round-nosed, high velocity, 40-grain bullets should be used as opposed to flat-nosed, which tend to jam on the edge of the barrel chamber. The high velocity round, which can fire the .22 LR round up to 1,280 ft/s, is necessary due to the heavy dual recoil springs and bolt. Additionally, the rifle’s standard 8-round magazine is integral to the operation since the feed ramp is part of the magazine. Minor beveling of the barrel chamber and continually maintaining the condition of the feed lips and feed lamp should prevent possible firing malfunctions, but the magazine can become worn over time and the barrel takedown nut typically loosens after the weapon has been fired. While the 8-round magazine is standard, the AR-7 can be fitted with magazines holding up to 50 rounds, although this shouldn’t be necessary for such a last-ditch weapon.

Bond hunts large game from a long distance… sort of ignoring the point of the rifle.

Bond was issued the AR-7 by Q before leaving for Istanbul:

Inside the case, you’ll find an AR folding sniper’s rifle. .25 caliber, with an infrared telescopic sight.

Q (aka the screenwriters) makes a mistake by claiming the rifle is chambered in .25 caliber; some say it’s possible that Q could have modified the AR-7 to accept .25 ACP rounds, but it’s absurd for Q to have swapped in an even more anemic round for Bond’s gun, especially when claiming its utility is for sniping.

Bond’s AR-7 also has a custom suppressor and an infrared scope. He uses the rifle in a later sequence to deflect SPECTRE assassins, but it is Kerim that uses the rifle here to shoot Krilencu. In an impressively accurate firearms depiction for an early Bond film, the AR-7 is never shown to actually kill from a long range; Kerim’s shot wounds Krilencu and causes him to lose his balance and fall to his death; Bond’s shot stuns a SPECTRE helicopter passenger, causing him to drop a grenade and blow up the helicopter.

Bond must trust Kerim a heck of a lot.

Bond must trust Kerim a heck of a lot.

(Trivia Note: The rifle’s stock and the custom scope and suppressor were later seen inside Bond’s glove compartment in the pre-credits sequence of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, perhaps to lend some continuity to Lazenby’s Bond.)

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

How can a friend be in debt?

Footnotes

Matt Spaiser also wrote about this specific suit on his informative blog, The Suits of James Bond.

10 comments

  1. Matt Spaiser

    You wrote “The shirt has no rear darts, likely since it would have been custom-fitted for Sean Connery’s figure by Turnbull & Asser.” Actually, the shirt does indeed have rear darts. Bespoke shirts sometimes have darts because they can shape the shirt more than the side seams alone do, and athletic figures can benefit from that. Frank Foster made my bespoke shirt with rear darts just like he made for Lazenby and Moore, and probably for Connery as well.

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Matt,
      Thanks for your input on this. I must have missed the darts when I reviewed my screenshots; I had taken some of the rear of his shirt, but perhaps at a poor angle. Do you know off-hand if all of his FRWL shirts had rear side darts? Very impressive that you have Foster-made shirts. I’m sure the details like tab cuffs and cocktail cuffs must receive many compliments!

      Like

      • Matt Spaiser

        I won’t say positively that all of the shirts in the film have rear darts, but I noticed them on this shirt and on the ecru shirt at the end of the film in particular. It would make sense that all of them have darts since they would all be cut from the same pattern.

        People don’t notice the unconventional details on the shirts. If you want everyone to notice your clothes you need to wear bold colours and patterns. What people notice in my bespoke shirts, however, is the better fit. They think it’s me, however, rather than the shirt that looks better. And that’s the goal. You want your clothes to make you look your best. If most people notice your clothes and not you then you aren’t dressing well.

        Like

  2. Teeritz

    Very detailed write-up, LS! And dammit, somebody did a post on Bond’s Istanbul breakfast, huh? And here I was, thinking that I was being original.
    By the way, that Submariner on eBay will fetch a handsome price by the time that auction ends.

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Did I miss the Teeritz post on Bond’s breakfast?? Please send me the link so I can include it here! It’d be a pleasure to share it with Bond fans.

      Bond’s Rolex will be much better highlighted in the next Istanbul suit post when they offer a pretty nice close-up in the Russian consulate. In your experience, how high do you think that eBay Submariner will go?

      Like

      • teeritz (@teeritz)

        Hah, that breakfast post was in my ‘Food & Drink’ section (not really much about food, more about Dry Martinis and coffee); http://teeritz.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/breakfast-bond-style.html

        The 1950s models don’t come up very often. Back then, of course, they were bought in order to be worn, not put away in a safe as an investment. As such, their condition sometimes shows water-entry at some point (due to careless use and wear), but more often than not, 40 or 50 years of exposure to light will cause a nice, creamy patina to the hour markers and hands (that’s a plus to many collectors) OR a broken and brittle array of old, tritium shards flaking off (that’s a huge minus to most collectors).
        That eBay Sub could finish up anywhere between twelve to twenty grand. Sorry for the big ball-park figure. I haven’t followed the pricing of Fifties Subs for some time now. About ten or so years ago, a late ’50s/early ’60 Submariner in good condition was fetching thirty or forty thousand dollars. And you couldn’t swim with it!
        But then, that watch, at that price, it ain’t about swimming.

        Like

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