Website last updated: 19-11-2023

Steven Jay Rubin remember Vladek Sheybal on his birthday

By: Steven Jay Rubin
Vladek Sheybal Kronsteen From Russia with Love
The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia presents This Day in James Bond Movie History - remembering the late Polish actor Vladek Sheybal (1923-1992) on the anniversary of his birth.

Part of the joy of watching From Russia with Love (1963) is the quality of the film’s villains. It’s a rogue’s gallery for the ages and Vladek Sheybal’s sleepy-eyed Kronsteen is formidable. He plays SPECTRE’s head of planning, and, appropriately, we meet him at a chess match, where he demolishes the game of his Canadian opponent.

Everything about Sheybal’s performance is subtle and nuanced – even the way he disposes of the clandestine message he receives from Blofeld, “You are required at once,” written on a cocktail napkin. Smug and vain, he’s the one who announces that the blackmailing and killing of James Bond (Sean Connery) is the perfect revenge for the killing of SPECTRE operative Dr. No (in the previous film) – one of the few times that another Bond movie is referenced in the early days of the series. You would think that Kronsteen’s confidence would be shattered when his scheme unravels on the Orient Express, but he never admits failure – paying the ultimate penalty.

Four years later, he would appear as an enemy spy master selling clandestine photos in the Casino Royale (1967) spoof – one of the few regular series Bond players that producer Charles K. Feldman would lure into his comedic camp.

So let’s raise one to Vladek Sheybal – a King’s Knight in the chess game we call “From Russia with Love.”

All text. Copyright © 2021 Steven Jay Rubin. All rights reserved.



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