From Russia With Love – Red Grant on the Orient Express
Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant, lethal SPECTRE assassin
The Orient Express, Spring 1963
Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards
Two years ago on the 00-7th of October, I wrote about the gray wool suit that Sean Connery’s James Bond wore in From Russia With Love during his brutal fight with SPECTRE assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw) aboard the Orient Express. Today’s post features Grant’s suit – also gray wool but in a heavier suiting mixed with brown yarns for a warm, fall-friendly outfit – in addition to the watch and weapons that are the tools of Grant’s unsavory trade.
In one of the most faithful retellings of an original Ian Fleming plot, Bond’s escape from Istanbul aboard the famed Orient Express finds him calling for backup from MI6, who sends the staid Captain Nash (William Hill) from Station Y to intercept Bond at the station in Zagreb, Croatia. However, the icy “Red” Grant is already several steps ahead of our protagonist and makes short work of Nash, assuming his identity with what Ian Fleming describes as a “cheap brogue” and appending his sentences with “old man” to the annoyance of Bond after the two make contact.
After Bond satisfies his suspicions with a cursory search of “Nash”‘s belongings, he, Grant, and a lovesick Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) sit down for supper in the dining car for a dinner of grilled sole and wine. Bond orders Taittinger Blanc de Blanc for Tatiana and himself, and Grant may have managed to avoid suspicion if he had followed 007’s example of ordering white wine… but the unsophisticated assassin can’t help himself and orders Chianti. “The red kind,” he even clarifies to the astounded waiter. Bond does his best to disguise his dismay, but he once again grows suspicious.
…though not quite suspicious enough. Minutes later, Bond finds himself waking in a daze in his own cabin, staring at his own Walther PPK pointing back at him in the hands of a focused madman devoid of a conscience. 007’s mind races, appealing to the one trait that proves to be his captor’s undoing: greed.
What’d He Wear?
Red Grant’s travel aboard the Orient Express marks a sartorial departure from the gun club check suit he’d worn for most of the story to this point. Perhaps to stay warmer as the journey takes him further north of the equator, Grant wears a heavy gray and taupe mixed wool suit with white and brown yarns creating a stripe effect in the suiting.
The texture and colors of Grant’s suit recall the “reddish-brown tweed coat” that Ian Fleming described his literary counterpart to be wearing, but the similarities between the clothes worn in the book and in the movie end there.
“You look very fit, Nash,” observes Bond, with a hint of suspicion. If Grant had wanted to downplay his athleticism, he could have opted for a suit with a fuller fit that would have concealed Robert Shaw’s muscular physique. However, Grant himself has a good deal of vanity – ironically, one of the many traits he hates about Bond – and it is this degree of vanity that prevents him from wearing something that would be less flattering.
The single-breasted suit jacket has slim notch lapels of a moderate width that roll just to the top of his three-button front. He keeps a white linen handkerchief folded in the jacket’s welted breast pocket.
With straight flapped hip pockets and a single vent, this suit jacket has a similar cut and style to the jacket of his gun club check suit, though this jacket is uniquely detailed with only a single button on each cuff.
Grant’s double forward-pleated trousers are finished with turn-ups (cuffs), which receive prominent screen time as he reaches down for the holster strapped to his right ankle. As Robert Shaw appears to be wearing them with no belt, these trousers may be fitted with button-tab side adjusters like Anthony Sinclair tailored for Sean Connery to wear with his Bond suits.
The fight sequence does provide a few glimpses of the trousers under the jacket, though the dark lighting of the scene prevents all but the most eagle-eyed viewers to ascertain details beyond the fact that Grant’s trousers have side pockets and at least one jetted back pocket on the right side of his seat.
In addition to many of the shirts worn by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore as James Bond, London shirtmaker Frank Foster also made many of the luxurious shirts for Bond’s allies and villains. As Robert Shaw was a customer, it’s more than likely that his cream poplin shirt in this scene was made by Frank Foster. It has a semi-spread collar, front placket, and double (French) cuffs.
A continuity error shows two different sets of cuff links worn during this scene. For most of the first part of the scene, Grant wears a set of gold square cuff links with a purple stone.
When Grant opens Bond’s case and the fight begins, he is seen wearing a set of gold disc links with a light blue enamel-filled circle and a raised gold semi-sphere center. He wears these cuff links through the end of the scene.
Grant’s black tie has a wider blade than Bond’s ties, and Robert Shaw wears it tied with a more Fleming-approved four-in-hand knot than the Windsor knot derided by Bond in the novel.
Red Grant wears his standard footwear, a pair of black calf plain-toe slip-ons with short black elastic side gussets that resemble a Chelsea boot cut off at the ankle. They may be comfortable shoes, but Grant – in his final moments – may have found himself yearning for a pair of kicks equipped with poison-tipped blades à la Rosa Klebb.
Grant wears these shoes with a pair of plain black ribbed socks. The right sock is somewhat covered by a small black nylon holster fastened around his leg just above the right ankle with a subcompact Llama .25-caliber pistol on the outside.
When Grant first meets Captain Nash at the train station in Zagreb, we see Grant casually but quickly putting on a pair of gray nubuck leather gloves as the two enter the station. Grant emerges seconds later, now wearing Nash’s hat and carrying his attache case as he pulls off the gloves he wore for the murder. Later, aboard the Orient Express, the audience knows that Grant is again preparing to kill as he slides on his gloves while Bond negotiates for the proverbial last cigarette.
Grant’s other murderous accessory and one of the few gadgets seen in the film is his customized Milan wristwatch with a retractable garrote wire on an O-ring. Theheavy 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.
To complete his persona as “Captain Nash”, Grant takes the deceased Station Y agent’s dark gray trilby with its narrow band and short brim. Bond himself would later appropriate this hat after killing Grant and departing the train to meet his contact.
Red Grant’s on-screen outfit differs much from the colorful ensemble of his literary characterization, as described here in Chapter 25 of Ian Fleming’s novel:
The man had taken off his mackintosh. He was wearing an old reddish-brown tweed coat with his flannel trousers, a pale yellow Viyella summer shirt, and the dark blue and red zig-zagged tie of the Royal Engineers. It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad. Bond decided to forget his prejudice. A gold signet ring, with an indecipherable crest, glinted on the little finger of the right hand that gripped the guard rail. The corner of a red bandana handkerchief flopped out of the breast pocket of the man’s coat. On his left wrist there was a battered silver wristwatch with an old leather strap.
After he drops his cover and admits his identity to Bond, Grant divulges that his clothes were provided by “the wardrobe department” of SMERSH, the Russian counter-intelligence agency.
A pro assassin like Red Grant would always have the right tools for his lethal job. The Mauser C96 he carried for long-range work in the gypsy camp would be impractical for concealed carry and the close quarters assassination he has planned on the Orient Express.
In addition to turning 007’s own Walther PPK against him – and carrying the actual Captain Nash’s own PPK in his attache case – “Red” Grant chooses a small but capable enough sidearm. While crouched beside James Bond in his compartment on the Orient Express, Grant slyly lets his right hand fall down his leg, pulling up his trouser cuff and swiftly drawing a subcompact .25-caliber Llama XVIII with dark brown plastic grips from an ankle holster then using it to pistol-whip Bond and briefly knock him unconscious.
The small Llama does the trick for Grant in the short run, giving him just enough of an advantage and the ability to keep Bond subdued before he can arm himself with Bond’s own PPK, chambered in the more lethal .32 ACP cartridge.
The Llama XVIII was a relatively new firearm at the time of From Russia With Love‘s production, chambered in .25 ACP with a six-round magazine as a downsized version of the Llama XV. After the passing of the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968, the subcompact Llama XVIII was discontinued.
Reportedly weighing in around 0.51 kg despite its small size and anemic ammunition, the Llama XVIII would have been a hefty carry piece for Grant to be dragging along on his ankle. However, these miniature .25-caliber pistols appear to be the weapon of choice for SPECTRE operatives in From Russia With Love as Rosa Klebb would later draw a pearl-gripped model when confronting Bond and Tatiana in Venice during the film’s final act.
The .25 ACP is often criticized for its anemic qualities, including by Ian Fleming himself. Fleming had initially armed his hero with a .25-caliber Beretta based on his own experience with the weapon while serving with British Naval Intelligence during World War II. Once the James Bond novels were an international phenomenon by the mid-1950s, firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd was compelled to write to Fleming and suggest that he arm his secret agent with a more powerful weapon, suggesting a revolver like the Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. Following some correspondence between the two that included Fleming’s insistence on a semi-automatic pistol for Bond, a compromise was reached and the author chose the German-made Walther PPK in .32 ACP (7.65mm) as his hero’s new armament.
In the novel, Grant – as “Captain Nash” – claims to be unarmed (“Got a Luger at home, but it’s too bulky for this sort of job”), so Bond hands over his .25-caliber Beretta. The weapon that Grant uses against Bond on the Orient Express was actually a weaponized version of the novel War and Peace with “ten bullets in it – .25 dumdum, fired by an electric battery,” developed by the Russians.
How to Get the Look
When Robert Shaw’s intimidating “Red” Grant finally steps from the shadows to make contact with James Bond during the final act of From Russia With Love, he is able to keep the agent’s suspicions at bay with his sophisticated striped suit and subdued shirt and tie… though it’s not enough to belie Grant’s ignorance in the proper wine to drink with fish.
- Gray-and-taupe striped wool suit:
- Single-breasted 3-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 1-button cuffs, and back vent
- Double forward-pleated trousers with side pockets, jetted back right pocket, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Cream poplin dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Gold square cuff links with purple center stone
- Black tie
- Black leather plain-toe side-gusset loafers
- Black dress socks
- Black nylon right-hand-draw ankle holster, for subcompact .25-caliber Llama pistol
- Milan wristwatch with heavy steel case, white dial (with 3:00 date window), brown leather strap, and garrote wire
- Black leather gloves with basket-woven thumbs
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
You may know the right wines, but you’re the one on your knees.
It’s been hard to find much information on Grant’s garrote watch. The prop you linked to doesn’t look like the one in the movie. The screencap you posted shows it looks more like a World War I trench watch, with the curved bar lugs and a plain bezel.
Of course the zigzag pattern tie actually belongs to the Royal Artillery.
The novel version of Goldfinger also uses a .25, aiming at the eye, claiming a one shot kill every time.
The theory goes that Fleming himself was provided with .25 Beretta during a WWII operation and since he had experience with it he felt comfortable putting the calibre into the hands of his characters. Write what you know.
It’s a sound theory. Though we live in a “bigger is better” world it’s easy to forget that the .22 and .25 pistols were considered valuable sidearms by spies and Mafia assassins alike. Of course they’ll do you little good on a battlefield, or against some large animal, but, in a situation where you need as small a weapon as possible that’ll make little noise and leave behind as small a mess as possible, they’re excellent options.
Yes, Raymaond Chandler generally puts .22s in the hands of pros because they didn’t need anything bigger.
Geoffrey Boothroyd contacted Fleming, a self confessed naif when it came to guns, and told him change Bond’s sidearm, considering the .25 to be ‘a lady’s gun’.