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The sexy Gypsies of From Russia with Love

We watched the Bond franchise films while we were editing Barbra Novac’s White Flesh Black Market book series during the months of March, April, and May. Lockdown helped as we made little online parties of the fun. The early films kept our 60’s style intact and the films were a good way to ease off the pressures of editing without leaving the style influences we were immersed in.

We’d get together and talk about the edited chapter of the day, make some observations, send them off to Barbra then sit together and watch the film.

One of the things that struck us about From Russia With Love was the Gypsie fight that goes on partway through. All that misogyny aside, we loved the idea of the Gypsie catfight. We all seriously doubted the women were actually fighting over a man. We imagined scenarios where they were fighting each other for secret treasure or espionage secrets right under James Bond’s nose!

They end up pandering to James’ every whim of course, but we were all taken by these gorgeous women who made the most of their badly written parts to create visuals no one can forget.

The two women are Aliza Gur (Vida dressed in Green) and Martine Beswick (Zora dressed in red). It turns out, they are far more than passing eye candy.

Aliza Gur was Miss Israel in 1960 and she then became a semi-finalist in the Miss Universe pageant that same year. When she was in the Miss Universe pageant, Daniela Bianchi (the female lead in From Russia With Love) was her roommate. Gur’s parents fled Hitler’s Germany to Palestine where she was born. She designed her own clothes which she sold to fund her tuition at university and then trained as a combat soldier with the Israeli army.

Martine Beswick ran a removalist business alongside continuing to act well into her seventies. She was in two Bond films, as the Gypsie Zora and then as the ill-fated Paula Caplan in Thunderball. An interesting side note about her is that her name has been incorrectly spelled in the credits so that she appears as Martin Beswick. Also interesting she appears opposite Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC and they also end up in a catfight! Viva la catfights!

Both these women have pretty terrible writing to contend with, yet they both make their mark and are able to embellish their brief screen moments so that they are made memorable.

We loved them in the Gypsie fight scene. We also laughed a lot at Sean Connery’s obvious discomfort as the two women wait on him in the subsequent scene.

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