From Russia With Love – Red Grant’s Gray Check Suit

Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant in From Russia With Love (1963)

Vitals

Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant, lethal SPECTRE assassin

Istanbul, Spring 1963

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

Background

Robert Shaw set the Bond franchise standard as the dangerous Donald “Red” Grant in From Russia With Love, one of the most memorable antagonists in the series.

Grant is arguably the archetype for subsequent villains that followed his laconic, icy blond example like Vargas in Thunderball, Necros in The Living Daylights, and Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies, though none could ever match Robert Shaw’s truly menacing presence on screen.

From Russia With Love is notable in the Bond canon for also being a helluva good espionage film on its own. Much credit for this comes from the film’s paranoid atmosphere, a true product of the Cold War and no doubt enhanced by Grant’s constant presence as he lurks in the dark shadows of the narrative. We don’t know Grant’s exact mission at the outset, and his unpredictability is all the more unsettling as he efficiently dispatches with nearly everyone that comes into contact with Bond… and it’s only a matter of time until he has 007 himself in his crosshairs.

What’d He Wear?

From the time that James Bond alights at the Istanbul airport through the gypsy camp gunfight up to the confrontation at the Hagia Sophia mosque, Grant wears the same gray check suit, pale blue shirt with double cuffs, and royal blue satin tie. It’s as though Grant took a page out of Bond’s book, dressing subtly enough to effortlessly blend into the background while still stylish enough to satiate his pride.

Grant’s full-cut wool suit is actually a small-scale gun club check in black, maroon, and navy on a gray ground. Gun club check is a pattern more frequently associated with country clothing, such as the sport jacket that Timothy Dalton would wear as 007 himself in The Living Daylights, but a smaller scaled check like Grant’s is very suitable for the frequently shifting locales of Grant’s mission in Istanbul.

What's a good assassin without a pair of dangerous-looking black leather gloves? Grant's gloves have basket-woven thumbs.

What’s a good assassin without a pair of dangerous-looking black leather gloves? Grant’s gloves have basket-woven thumbs.

The boxier, buttoned-up look of Grant’s three-button suit jackets give him a lethal appearance with a businesslike approach to killing, amplified by the padded shoulders. Like his other suit, this jacket is single-breasted with narrow notch lapels and single back vent. The hip pockets are flapped, and Grant wears a white pocket square in the welted breast pocket.

In fact, most of the details are consistent between Grant’s suits save for the cuffs; this suit has 3-button cuffs while his later suit has only a single button at the end of each sleeve.

The double forward-pleated trousers are finished at the bottom with cuffs.

Grant coolly leaves the scene of a crime.

Grant coolly leaves the scene of a crime.

Grant’s shirt and tie plays with his parallels to Bond’s From Russia With Love “uniform”, as Sean Connery also wears almost exclusively blue silk ties with pale blue poplin shirts. While James Bond prefers navy grenadine ties, though, Grant sports a louder royal blue tie in shiny satin silk.

Grant’s pale blue poplin shirt has a spread collar and double (French) cuffs, likely worn with the same round blue enamel gold disc cuff links that he would later wear when battling Bond on the Orient Express. (A costume-related continuity error actually gives Grant two different sets of cufflinks with the Orient Express suit.)

Yikes, Rosa!

The black leather plain-toe slip-ons that Grant wears appear to also be the same that he would wear on the Orient Express. With short black elastic side gussets, these loafers best resemble a Chelsea boot that’s been cut off at the ankle. Connery would wear similar footwear the following year in Goldfinger with both formal and casual outfits.

For an extra bit of trivia, the teal taxi in which Grant joins Rosa Klebb is a 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook. At 12 years old, the car would be ineligible for Uber... although I imagine potential riders would also be put off by the intense rust on the fender.

For an extra bit of trivia, the teal taxi in which Grant joins Rosa Klebb is a 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook. At 12 years old, the car would be ineligible for Uber… although I imagine potential riders would also be put off by the intense rust on the fender.

Though it gets little action here, Grant wears the same garotte-customized Milan wristwatch that he demonstrated to great effect during the pre-credits scene. The heavy steel watch, replicated at YourProps.com, has a white dial with gold case markers at each quarter hour and black numeral markings at all but 3:00, where the number is cut out for a date window. The brown leather strap is debossed through the center.

How to Get the Look

Red Grant looks both predatory and dapper as he stalks Bond through the nooks and crannies of Istanbul.

  • Gray gun club check wool suit, consisting of
    • Single-breasted 3-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and back vent
    • Double forward-pleated trousers with turn-ups/cuffs
  • Pale blue poplin shirt with spread collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
    • Gold disc cuff links filled with blue enamel
  • Royal blue satin silk tie
  • Black leather plain-toe side-gusset loafers
  • Black dress socks
  • Milan wristwatch with heavy steel case, white dial (with 3:00 date window), brown leather strap, and garotte wire
  • Black leather gloves with basket-woven thumbs

Though he mocks the mannerisms of a gentleman, Grant does wear a gentlemanly white pocket square in his breast pocket.

The Gun

Every movie assassin needs a stylish handgun, and Grant takes inspiration from 007 by borrowing a different weapon from the German military’s early 20th century arsenal, arming himself with the distinctive Mauser C96.

Streets of Istanbul by day, sneaking behind a gypsy wagon at night... Red Grant will be the first to tell you there's no such thing as "a typical day" working for SPECTRE.

Streets of Istanbul by day, sneaking behind a gypsy wagon at night… Red Grant will be the first to tell you there’s no such thing as “a typical day” working for SPECTRE.

The Mauser C96 is easily recognizable with its long barrel and the unique round wooden grip that earned the weapon its “Broomhandle” nickname. It could be fitted with a shoulder stock that ostensibly converted it to a carbine rifle. The standard model used the proprietary 7.63x25mm Mauser ammunition, fed by a 10-round stripper clip into an internal magazine in front of the trigger.

Though not practical for concealed carry, the Mauser is a sensible option for Grant in this context. He isn’t sure where his mission will take him, but he will almost certainly need to exercise his skills as an assassin and he may need to do so from a distance. A rifle would be both impractical and conspicuous, but the range and accuracy offered by the Mauser C96’s long 5.5-inch barrel and its high-velocity 7.63x25mm cartridge makes it a suitable carbine substitute in a pinch.

Bond would also be grateful for the accuracy of Grant's Mauser C96...although he doesn't know it yet.

Bond would also be grateful for the accuracy of Grant’s Mauser C96…although he doesn’t know it yet.

As its name implies, the Mauser C96 was introduced in 1896, beginning more than four decades of continuous production and countless variants until 1937. The classic configuration was Grant’s 5.5″-barreled model in 7.63x25mm Mauser, but contracts around the world meant different needs for different militaries; the Chinese developed approximately 8,500 “Shanxi Type 17” pistols chambered for the powerful .45 ACP cartridge, the Bolshevik Russian government purchased large numbers of the short-barreled M1921 Mauser that was thus nicknamed the “Bolo” Mauser, and the Imperial German Army contracted 150,000 Mauser pistols to be chambered for its standard 9x19mm cartridge during World War I. This latter variant gained its “Red 9” moniker from the large number 9 that was burned and painted onto the grips to warn users from incorrectly loading them with 7.63mm ammunition.

One of the most famous developments of the C96 was the select-fire “Schnellfeuer”, produced by Mauser from 1932 to 1936 after the Spanish firms Beistegui Hermanos S.A and Astra-Unceta y Cía S.A. developed their own select-fire C96-type machine pistols in the late 1920s.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

2 comments

  1. dpurves

    What do you think of the fit around the shoulders? The drape in the chest seems ok, but the shoulders never seemed to quite work. Being next to Connery’s suits is a high bar, mind you.

    Like

  2. Shin-hau Khoo

    Daniel Craig’s Bond almost resembles a modern day version of Red Grant – the latter is definitely a noteworthy dressed up man in FRWL.

    Like

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