Ian Fleming’s Secret Cameo in From Russia with Love

by Jake McMillan

Some James Bond fans believe that 007 creator, Ian Fleming, made a secret cameo appearance in the second Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963). The suggestion is that Fleming’s one and only cameo takes place during the Orient Express sequence, after James Bond (Sean Connery) and Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) flee Istanbul with the stolen Russian Lektor decoder machine. Eagle-eyed fans believe that a man standing to the right of the train, seen shortly after Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz) has been found dead, is in fact Ian Fleming.

Bryan Krofchok submitted the following for issue #3c of the Ian Fleming Foundation’s “Shaken, Not Stirred” newsletter in March 1995:

“The curious notion of Fleming’s cameo is mentioned in Roger Ryan and Martin Sterling’s book of Bond trivia, ‘Keeping The British End Up‘, under the heading ‘Brief Encounter’. The scene in question pops up when the Orient Express must stop for a truck that has stalled across the tracks (originally, part of Grant’s escape route). Watch for an oddly placed gentleman wearing a white top and dark pants, who seems to be holding some sort of walking stick.

“… I say that the man is oddly placed, because he seems to have no part in the plot, and cannot simply be brushed off as someone merely out for a casual stroll due to the apparent desolation of the surrounding area. I also find it quite odd that although the train is passing fairly close to him, the man has his back to it and is looking the other way. “

It is not clear to see from the photo, but have a closer look for yourself in the video below:

At first glance, the man on the side of the rail tracks does not appear to be Ian Fleming and the shadow on his face from his cap makes him seem like a man with a darker-skinned ethnicity. However, the more you compare the man in the film with other photos of Ian Fleming, you realise you cannot rule it out. Both men have large ears and the nose and cheeks ‘seem’ to be similar.  Ian Fleming was 6ft tall and the man in the film appears to be shorter than this but it is very hard to judge as he not standing close enough to another something we are sure of the height of to gain a proper perspective.

Also consider the fact the film-makers have never disclosed this (Never say Never!) and that is hard to believe or understand why? The film-makers know that fans would love to know if it were true and surely it would help sales of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray. But no, they have not said anything which suggests that it is probably not true.

It is also odd that his cameo would be in that remote scene, presumably shot on a day when most of the main cast were not around and in the middle of the European countryside somewhere? However! There are publicity stills of Fleming on location during the filming of From Russia with Love wearing a white top(!) in front of and by the Orient Express train. See below, do these images match the man appearing in the film?

These pictures add much further weight to the notion that the man in the film was actually Ian Fleming. In the photos you can clearly see he is wearing a white top with a white shirt collar coming through. Look at the film again. The man by the side of the railway tracks is wearing a white top with a white collar.

My gut feeling is that it is not Ian Fleming as there is no evidence to confirm that it is was him and I am almost (!) certain there would be if it were true.  My heart, though, believes it would be great if it was actually him and that he got to play a tiny part in the film of his famous story. At the very least he has created a genuine Ian Fleming mystery.

3 responses to “Ian Fleming’s Secret Cameo in From Russia with Love

  • rightsmart

    Bond Mysteries? That’s a good idea. You should do a YouTube series!

  • Voicechoice

    This legend started because people viewing the film on TV could not see the cow that the shepherd is looking at, they then put 2 & 2 together and came up with 007. The man has a white top. End of similarity. Wrong sticks, wrong height, wrong shape, wrong trousers (Gromit!), wrong facial colour, WRONG MAN! This was a second unit shot and Fleming would not have bothered himself hanging around with the second unit. Eon will never confirm this because the legend is more interesting than the truth. If you want to postulate a Fleming cameo, try this: Who is the man playing the police inspector in the car that collects Miss Taro from her house in Dr. No. This is a studio shot at Pinewood and the man is NOT the actor who played the inspector earlier on but he DOES look like Fleming! Check it out and discuss.

  • Dan

    NO WAY is that Ian Fleming. The top the man is wearing looks nothing like any of the tops Fleming is wearing; he also is clearly younger, darker, and shorter, and he’s wearing jeans, something Fleming would not likely have been caught dead wearing on the set of a film.

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