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The film:

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Robert Shaw originally turned down the role of Donald "Red" Grant, calling the script "rubbish". His then-wife Mary Ure convinced him to take the part.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The really long Cat Fight between two skimpily-dressed gypsy women has nothing to do with the overall plot and is pretty Narmy in its attempts to be titillating. Toned down from the book, where both women end up completely naked.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    Kerim Bey, watching over a bound and gagged criminal, with hours to kill: I have had a particularly interesting life. Would you like to hear about it?
  • Even Better Sequel: Is generally considered better than Dr. No, regularly appearing on Top 10 Lists that the former doesn't appear on. Many consider that this film got its own Even Better Sequel in Goldfinger.
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  • Fridge Brilliance: During dinner aboard the train, there's another telltale sign that "Nash" wasn't who he seemed to be. When Grant "accidentally" spills Tania's wine glass, then fills it again and slips in some pills, look at how he's pouring the wine: he's holding the bottle by the neck rather than the body, a big mistake among wine connoisseurs like Bond.
  • Fridge Horror: Tatiana, a loyal Soviet clerk that's good at her job and has no malice against anyone, is manipulated by a traitor through her devotion to country to commit treason and played by Bond to defect out of infatuation as the audience fully knows Bond has no intention of settling down with her, likely leaving her to an uncertain future in an enemy country.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Bond helps a Soviet defector get away with a top-secret piece of Soviet equipment. In The Hunt for Red October, Sean Connery would star as a Soviet defector trying to get away with some top-secret Soviet equipment. At least one reviewer humorously dubbed Red October "From Russia With Sub". Also, a portrait of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is prominently featured inside the Soviet embassy. In Red October, Capt. Ramius (Connery) would extol Gagarin in his speech to the crew.
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    • While in the Istanbul catacombs, Bond is taken aback by the presence of rats. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy reveals that his father Henry Sr., played by Connery, is "scared to death" of rats.
  • Ho Yay: Kerim for Bond. Hell, he treats screwing his mistress like a chore, but he's the most animated and enthusiastic guy in the world when he's sharing a scene with James.
    Kerim Bey: James, life in Istanbul will never be the same without you.
  • Memetic Mutation: From/To [X] With Love.
  • Moral Event Horizon: For most of the film, Grant appears to simply be a professional doing his work. Then he and Bond finally meet and we see what a twisted bastard he really is.
    "My orders are to kill you and deliver the Lektor. How I do it's my business. It'll be slow and painful. The first shot won't kill you. Nor the second. Nor even the third. Not until you crawl over here and kiss my foot!"
  • Narm: Bond checks into his hotel room and casually walks around checking for bugs... with the Bond theme playing in the background the whole time. It's like the Bond canon version of Mike and the bots blurting out "BA-DA-BA-DAAAAAAAAAAA!" during the boring bits of Agent for H.A.R.M.
  • Narm Charm: On the other hand, though, having epic music for that mundane scene arguably makes it better. Also kind of helps that Bond kills someone (Bond One-Liner and all) and the music kicks in right on the scene before that.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Bond finding Tanya in his bed. This scene is used to screen test potential James Bond candidates and Bond girls.
    • The Orient Express fight between Bond and Grant. Every so often after this film, Bond gets into a fight on a train, examples are Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Spectre.
    • Bond being chased by a SPECTRE helicopter (not unlike Cary Grant in North By Northwest) and taking it down with his portable sniper rifle.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • When Blofeld gives his Siamese fighting fish speech, where he explains that the third fish is letting the other two fight so that it can finish off the survivor, it is easy to see that the real reason why the third fish isn't attacking is because the fish tank is divided by a glass wall.
    • Pedro Armendáriz dabs his arm with a red sponge to simulate being shot during the gypsy camp fight.
  • Values Dissonance: Bond slapping Tatiana after Kerim's murder. Granted, Bond is understandably upset over his friend's death and he knows Tatiana has been lying to him, but it seems quite brutish to modern viewers.
    • It's a throwaway line but Kerim casually notes that the Western allies and the Soviets in Istanbul have encouraged a blood feud between the Gypsies and the Bulgars through using them respectively as pawns in the Cold War.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: While the story is very good, keeping the SPECTRE plot a mystery until Bond finds out would have made for a cool twist.

The novel:

  • Complete Monster: Donovan "Red" Grant has been afflicted with a burning urge to kill during the full moon since his youth. Starting with animals, he graduated to vagrants and tramps before becoming a Serial Killer who targeted young woman in his native Ireland. Escaping justice by joining the military, Grant would defect to the Russians after he realized they could offer him the bloodshed he craved. A ruthless, efficient killer, Grant rose to the position of head executioner of the clandestine group SMERSH and was indulged in being allowed to murder with impunity during the full moon. This even extended to Grant being allowed access to prisons with chainsaws during those nights. Bond's chosen executioner, Grant kills his ally Darko Kerim and proceeds to try to murder Bond and his lover, admitting that all he cares about in life is his ability to murder people.
  • Designated Hero: Kerim is intended to be a lovable, larger-than-life Unscrupulous Hero, but it's hard to see him as anything other than a villain due to his backstory, in which he describes how as a drunken teenager he won a woman in a bet and when she refused to go with him, he beat her unconscious, stripped her naked, chained her up, fed her on table scraps and raped her until her mind broke and she said she liked it. But BECAUSE she said she liked it, Kerim himself, Bond, and the narrator all treat it as okay. The only reason he isn't the most loathsome person in the book is that The Heavy is a serial killer-turned-KGB legbreaker with a triple-digit bodycount to his name. None of this is present in the film adaptation, whose version of Kerim is genuinely lovable and is one of the most popular one-film characters.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Bond finds Q Branch's attaché case (which contains two hidden knives, gold sovereigns and his silencer, but neither the tear gas nor the rifle from the film) to be a bit over-the-top (though of course he ends up using everything), and later he laments that his side doesn't provide handy gadgets like Grant's five-shot copy of War and Peace. It's pretty strange to see the iconic "spy gadget" user lamenting that he doesn't get kit like that.
    • Kerim Bey's given name in the novel was "Darko".
  • Nausea Fuel: Fleming's extremely detailed description of what it feels like to be shot in the heart.
  • Tear Jerker: The chapter "Out of Danger," where Bond has to break the news of Kerim's death to his son and M.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Kerim's kidnapping, imprisoning, and attempting to brainwash a woman into loving him in his Backstory is portrayed as a mere "youthful indiscretion" that the Service quickly straightened out of him, rather than the serious crime it would be extremely difficult to redeem oneself from that it would be seen as today. This can definitely hamper modern readers' sympathy for Kerim.
    • Kerim also says that most Turkish people secretly hate democracy and wish for the mass-murdering, serial-raping days of the Sultans to come back.
    • Bond and Tatiana telling Domestic Abuse jokes. Even as playful banter it's doubtful this would fly today outside of a Black Comedy.
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