A while back we got the complete boxed set of digitally re-mastered James Bond films and we have since been working our way through them. Last night it was the turn of From Russia With Love, regarded by many (says the Wiki entry), as the best ever Bond film and based on the 1957 Ian Fleming novel that President J.F. Kennedy listed as being among his top ten books of all time. What I hadn’t known was just how ill-starred the production had been: for example, the man playing Ali Kerim Bey (the British Intelligence Station Chief in Istanbul), Pedro Armendáriz, was in growing pain and died of inoperable cancer whilst the production was still going on; the helicopter carrying the director, Terence Young, and the art director and a cameraman crashed into the sea off Argyll whilst they were scouting scenes for the climactic boat chase scene – the helicopter sank but they all survived; Daniella Bianchi’s driver fell asleep early one morning and she suffered facial contusions that delayed filming by two weeks; and three stuntmen were seriously injured at Pinewood Studios when a controlled explosion got out of control. Forty-seven years on, the film is still great fun and we much enjoyed it. My better half and I also found it enjoyable for nostalgic reasons. In August 1981 we travelled by rail from Venice to Istanbul (it took three days) and then travelled around Turkey with next to no money for a month. Our train followed the route of the Orient Express but it was the cheaper version, full in the beginning of Yugoslavs heading back to their country from Italy, their rolled up money hidden in empty cigarettes. From Sofia onwards, the train filled up with Turkish gastarbeiter, weighed down with stashed Deutschmarks, their purchasing power increasing with every kilometre they travelled to the south. We ran out of food after a day-and-a-half. We managed to buy some provisions from platform sellers but I shall never forget the generosity and hospitality of our fellow passengers. Nor shall I forget Istanbul and the Turkey of that time (Bodrum was a small, sleepy town then, for example, and not the tourist resort it has since become). And we shall forever remember a picnic on the plains of Troy with food industriously assembled by two cheerful and friendly thieves who’d picked us up as we hitchhiked to the site of Troy itself. (The film jolted these pleasant memories because much was shot on location in Istanbul and on the Bosphorous.)