The Russia House


2h 3m 1990

Brief Synopsis

An expatriate Englishmen finds love while doing intelligence work in the Soviet Union.

Film Details

Also Known As
La Maison Russie, Maison Russie, Russia House, Ryska huset
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Action
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
1990
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )
Location
Leningrad, Soviet Union; Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; Moscow, Soviet Union; London, England, United Kingdom; Lisbon, Portugal; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 3m

Synopsis

A middle-aged, boozy publisher is enlisted as a spy by British Intelligence after he receives a manuscript, authored by a leading Russian physicist, purporting to lay out the true details about Soviet nuclear capabilities.

Crew

Michelle Allen

Local Casting

Harry Alley

Production

Joseph Alley

Carpenter

Iraklij Amamashrili

Assistant

Terry Aspey

Construction Manager

Ian Baker

Director Of Photography

Ian Baker

Dp/Cinematographer

Geoff Ball

Carpenter

Elena Baranova

Other

Cameron Barnett

Video Playback

Oliver Berg

Dolly Grip

Penny Blackburn

Art Assistant

Miguel Aboim Borges

Property Master

Bruce Botnick

Music

John L Brown

Dolly Grip

Lizzie Bryant

Other

Jose Sa Caetano

Assistant Director

Roger Cain

Art Director

Michael Campbell

Other

Warren Carr

Production Manager

Craig Carter

Sound Editor

Larry Carter

Carpenter

Kita Casal-ribeiro

Location Manager

Jimmy Chow

Property Master

Sue Clancy

Sound Editor

B J Clayden

Boom Operator

Murray Close

Photography

Brian Cooper

Production

Kenny Crouch

Wardrobe

David Croucher

Driver

William Dady

Production

Sandy De Crescent

Music Contractor

Naomi Donne

Makeup

Mark Ellis

Apprentice

Les Erskine

Gaffer

Perry Evans

Gaffer

Roy Everson

Stand-In

Lorraine Fennell

Production Coordinator

Peter Fenton

Sound

Terri Ferraro

Production Coordinator

Frank Fillington-marks

Props

Simon Finney

Assistant Camera Operator

Michelle Fox

Assistant

J R Franklin

Carpenter

Stan Fus

Location Assistant

Dale Garrison

Electrician

Jeremy Gee

Camera Operator

Jeremy Gibbs

Assistant Editor

Irina Gino

Costumes

Peter Godfrey

Camera

Jerry Goldsmith

Music

Nina Golovina

Props

Leonid Golub

Location Manager

Yevgeniy Golynsky

Location Manager

Carlos Goncalo

Transportation Coordinator

Peter Grant

Property Master

Marion Gray

Other

Constantine Gregory

Dialect Coach

Alan Grosch

Generator Operator

Kenneth Hall

Music Editor

Barbara Harris

Casting

L Hazell

Carpenter

B H Hearn

Carpenter

William Henshaw

Other

Joyce Herlihy

Unit Production Manager

Sean Herlihy

Assistant Camera Operator

Ilona Herman

Makeup

Phil Heywood

Foley Artist

Ian Hickinbotham

Location Manager

Robert Hill

Props

Phil Hobbs

Caterer

Lynn Hoey

Production Assistant

Tim Hogan

Key Grip

Richard J Holland

Assistant Art Director

Dinah Holt

Hair

Peter Honess

Editor

Frank Hughes

Driver

Kevin Hyman

Production Auditor

Scott Irvine

Transportation Coordinator

Sergei Ivanov

Art Director

Patricia Johnson

Other

Gary Jones

Production Auditor

Ian Jones

Steadicam Operator

Ian Jones

Camera Operator

John Jordan

Assistant Camera Operator

Stephen Kent

Sound Editor

Konstantin Klimov

Sound

Jo Korer

Wardrobe

Nellya Krasnoselskaya

Casting

Alan Ladd Jr.

Executive Producer

Mike Lang

Other

Steven Lawrence

Assistant

Paul Lay

Production

John Le Carré

Source Material (From Novel)

Rachel Leiterman

Assistant Director

Andrew Lindsay

Caterer

Suzanne Lore

Production Coordinator

Sue Love

Makeup

Jonathan C Lucas

Assistant Editor

E J Luxford

Carpenter

Richard Macdonald

Production Designer

Steve Macdonald

Props

Leigh Mackenzie

Other

Branford Marsalis

Music

Joao Martins

Art Director

Cristina Mascarenhas

Accountant

Paul Maslansky

Producer

Sasha Maslansky

Production Assistant

Lucy Maunsell

Apprentice

Jose Mazeda

Production Manager

Anna Mazo

Production Assistant

Heather Mcdermott

Assistant Editor

Rose Mihalyi

Assistant Camera Operator

Stepan Mikhalkov

Assistant Director

Natasha Mikheyeva

Other

Ossie Mills

Electrician

Kirill Minkovetsky

Assistant

Tim Monich

Dialect Coach

Arthur Morton

Original Music

Chris Munro

Sound Mixer

Gavin Myers

Dialogue Editor

Ruth Myers

Costume Designer

Alexi Nebrutov

Other

Graham Neider

Sound

John New

Carpenter

Glenn Newnham

Sound Effects Editor

J Newvell

Other

Terry Newvell

Production

Gary Nixon

Accounting Assistant

Tamara Odintsova

Casting

Martin Oswin

Sound

Inga Pagava

Other

Nick Page

Caterer

Sid Palmer

Props Buyer

John Patetuchy

Music

Rex Paynter

Caterer

David Pitt

Carpenter

Toby Plaskitt

Key Grip

Ron Purvis

Sound

S Regan

Other

J H Reid

Carpenter

Stuart Reid

Electrician

Caitlin Rhodes

Casting Associate

David Rist

Other

Albert Roper

Other

Richard Rowlands

Other

Chuck Rowley

Transportation Coordinator

Livia Ruzic

Dialogue Editor

Raili Salmi

Transportation

Inessa Sanovich

Production Assistant

George Schembri

Other

Ashley Schepisi

Assistant

Ashley Schepisi

Post-Production Supervisor

Fred Schepisi

Producer

Roland Seers

Production

Mary Selway

Casting

K Sibley

Production

Kira Sineltshikova

Assistant Director

Adam Somner

Assistant Director

Michael Stevenson

Assistant Director

Alex Stitt

Titles

Tom Stoppard

Screenplay

Jim Strachini

Production

Robert Threadgold

Post-Production Accountant

Tanya J Tocher

Caterer

David Tringham

Assistant Director

Alexander Vasilkov

Accountant

Leonid Vereshchagin

Production Manager

Larissa Vladykina

Wardrobe

Rebecca Von Dallwitz

Sound Editor

Keith Vowles

On-Set Dresser

Rob Vreugde

Transportation

Simon Wakefield

Set Decorator

Donald L West

Production Supervisor

Simon West

Assistant Camera

Brian Western

Other

John Whelan

Caterer

Christine Wilson

Script Supervisor

Mickey Wolfson

On-Set Dresser

Colin Wood

Boom Operator

Paul Wood

Electrician

Gary Woodyard

Sound Effects Editor

Rob Young

Sound Mixer

Alexander Yurchikov

Transportation Captain

Michael Zenon

Assistant Director

Igor Zinkovsky

Video Playback

Film Details

Also Known As
La Maison Russie, Maison Russie, Russia House, Ryska huset
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Action
Thriller
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
1990
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )
Location
Leningrad, Soviet Union; Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; Moscow, Soviet Union; London, England, United Kingdom; Lisbon, Portugal; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 3m

Articles

The Russia House


After winning a late life Academy Award® for playing a Chicago cop turned special case detective in Brian De Palma's big screen retooling of The Untouchables (1987), Sean Connery did what any sensible Scotsman would do: he went right back to work. Although the San Francisco-set murder mystery The Presidio (1988) was hardly worth his time, the 68-year-old Connery found himself put to better use as Harrison Ford's adventurer father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Returning exhausted from filming on four continents, Connery backed out of a promise to headline John Boorman's Where the Heart Is (1990) – in which he was replaced by Dabney Coleman – but was back on his feet in time for Sidney Lumet's New York crime comedy Family Business (1989), opposite Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick. Although Connery had hoped to appear as The Player King in Tom Stoppard's big screen adaptation of his absurdist play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), a throat cancer scare forced him once again to demure. (Arbitration obliged Connery to buy out of his contract to the tune of $300,000 while his part went to Richard Dreyfuss.) When the nodules on Connery's vocal cords proved to be benign, the actor broke a physician-mandated thirty-day vow of silence to sign on as a Russian submarine commander in John McTiernan's The Hunt for Red October (1990). It was Sean Connery's first post-Untouchables success and the feature netted MGM a happy $120 million in rentals.

While The Hunt for Red October was being edited, Connery jumped at a second chance to collaborate with Tom Stoppard. For producer Paul Maslansky, the acclaimed British playwright adapted the espionage thriller The Russia House (1990) from the 1989 novel by John le Carré (nom de plume of former British secret service op David John Moore Cornwell). The production would mark the first time a Western film company was allowed to shoot inside the Soviet Union with full government permission. Connery's contract permitted him casting approval.

While a number of local actresses were considered to play Katya Orlova, a Soviet book editor who enlists Connery's expatriate publisher to smuggle the notebooks of an apostate scientist out of the country, Connery and director Fred Schepisi chose Michelle Pfeiffer. The California-born beauty had spent ten busy years in the business but her Hollywood stock rose dramatically after the back-to-back successes of Tequila Sunrise (1988), Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989). Connery also okayed the hiring of James Fox and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Fox's brother Edward had appeared opposite Connery in the Thunderball (1965) remake Never Say Never Again (1983), in which Brandauer had been Connery's choice to play the villain. Coincidentally, Connery had replaced Brandauer in The Hunt for Red October when the Austrian actor got bogged down on the Bavarian set of his first directorial effort.

Connery had been a guest in the Soviet Union twenty-one years earlier, playing doomed Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen in The Red Tent (1969), the final film by Mikheil Kalatozishvili. Nervous KGB agents had shadowed Connery's every move through that production, taking the actor's cinematic association with intrigue and espionage a little too seriously. The Soviet Union to which Connery returned in 1989 was greatly changed. Billeted for the ten-week shoot in Moscow's dreary Ukraina Hotel, Connery found the decrepit state of the country in the era of perestroika reminiscent of post-WWII Great Britain: endless queues, shortages of staples for everyday living, bureaucratic incompetence and generalized shoddiness. Nonetheless, he had nothing but praise for Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, whom he tried (unsuccessfully) to nominate in his place as People magazine's "world's sexiest man." If the conditions were dire, Connery at least could take comfort in a top-flight supporting cast, among whom were Roy Scheider, John Mahoney (a jobbing theatre and film actor who got a leg over with a featured role in the 1987 hit Moonstruck) and J.T. Walsh, along with such reliable British troupers as Michael Kitchen, Ian McNeice, and film director Ken Russell in an unexpected cameo as an unorthodox agent of British intelligence.

MGM had high hopes for The Russia House, which it set for a Christmas week opening. The film's post-premiere party was an embarrassment of Old Hollywood riches: thirty-five chandeliers hung inside a vast tent, the asphalt underfoot resurfaced in blue vinyl, and a 110-table dining area festooned with one thousand pieces of antique furniture borrowed from the prop department of Warner Brothers and tapestries from the 1938 film Marie Antoinette. Long story short, The Russia House was no The Hunt for Red October. Michelle Pfeiffer's Golden Globe nomination notwithstanding, the film was a box office under-performer. Critical reaction was all over the map. While The Washington Post considered it "one of the year's best," Chicago Sun Times critic Roger Ebert panned the "weary spy formula" and Tom Stoppard's "lifeless and boring" screenplay. Rolling Stone could only offer the backhanded compliment "laudably ambitious" while Vincent Canby clucked that the film "comes on like a drill sergeant who talks fast and feeds the recruits more information than they can possibly absorb." Perhaps the unkindest cut came from Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa, authors of The Films of Sean Connery, who declared The Russia House "as exciting as a tour of a babushka factory."

Producer: Paul Maslansky, Fred Schepisi
Director: Fred Schepisi
Screenplay: Tom Stoppard, John le Carre (novel)
Cinematography: Ian Baker
Film Editing: Beth Jochem Besterveld, Peter Honess
Art Direction: Richard MacDonald
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Cast: Sean Connery (Bartholomew Scott Blair), Michelle Pfeiffer (Katya Orlova), Roy Scheider (Russell), James Fox (Ned), John Mahoney (Brady), Michael Kitchen (Clive).
C-122m. Letterboxed.

by Richard Harland Smith

SOURCES:
Sean Connery by John Parker
Sean Connery: Neither Shaken Nor Stirred by Andrew Yule
The Films of Sean Connery by Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa
The Russia House

The Russia House

After winning a late life Academy Award® for playing a Chicago cop turned special case detective in Brian De Palma's big screen retooling of The Untouchables (1987), Sean Connery did what any sensible Scotsman would do: he went right back to work. Although the San Francisco-set murder mystery The Presidio (1988) was hardly worth his time, the 68-year-old Connery found himself put to better use as Harrison Ford's adventurer father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Returning exhausted from filming on four continents, Connery backed out of a promise to headline John Boorman's Where the Heart Is (1990) – in which he was replaced by Dabney Coleman – but was back on his feet in time for Sidney Lumet's New York crime comedy Family Business (1989), opposite Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick. Although Connery had hoped to appear as The Player King in Tom Stoppard's big screen adaptation of his absurdist play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), a throat cancer scare forced him once again to demure. (Arbitration obliged Connery to buy out of his contract to the tune of $300,000 while his part went to Richard Dreyfuss.) When the nodules on Connery's vocal cords proved to be benign, the actor broke a physician-mandated thirty-day vow of silence to sign on as a Russian submarine commander in John McTiernan's The Hunt for Red October (1990). It was Sean Connery's first post-Untouchables success and the feature netted MGM a happy $120 million in rentals. While The Hunt for Red October was being edited, Connery jumped at a second chance to collaborate with Tom Stoppard. For producer Paul Maslansky, the acclaimed British playwright adapted the espionage thriller The Russia House (1990) from the 1989 novel by John le Carré (nom de plume of former British secret service op David John Moore Cornwell). The production would mark the first time a Western film company was allowed to shoot inside the Soviet Union with full government permission. Connery's contract permitted him casting approval. While a number of local actresses were considered to play Katya Orlova, a Soviet book editor who enlists Connery's expatriate publisher to smuggle the notebooks of an apostate scientist out of the country, Connery and director Fred Schepisi chose Michelle Pfeiffer. The California-born beauty had spent ten busy years in the business but her Hollywood stock rose dramatically after the back-to-back successes of Tequila Sunrise (1988), Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989). Connery also okayed the hiring of James Fox and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Fox's brother Edward had appeared opposite Connery in the Thunderball (1965) remake Never Say Never Again (1983), in which Brandauer had been Connery's choice to play the villain. Coincidentally, Connery had replaced Brandauer in The Hunt for Red October when the Austrian actor got bogged down on the Bavarian set of his first directorial effort. Connery had been a guest in the Soviet Union twenty-one years earlier, playing doomed Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen in The Red Tent (1969), the final film by Mikheil Kalatozishvili. Nervous KGB agents had shadowed Connery's every move through that production, taking the actor's cinematic association with intrigue and espionage a little too seriously. The Soviet Union to which Connery returned in 1989 was greatly changed. Billeted for the ten-week shoot in Moscow's dreary Ukraina Hotel, Connery found the decrepit state of the country in the era of perestroika reminiscent of post-WWII Great Britain: endless queues, shortages of staples for everyday living, bureaucratic incompetence and generalized shoddiness. Nonetheless, he had nothing but praise for Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, whom he tried (unsuccessfully) to nominate in his place as People magazine's "world's sexiest man." If the conditions were dire, Connery at least could take comfort in a top-flight supporting cast, among whom were Roy Scheider, John Mahoney (a jobbing theatre and film actor who got a leg over with a featured role in the 1987 hit Moonstruck) and J.T. Walsh, along with such reliable British troupers as Michael Kitchen, Ian McNeice, and film director Ken Russell in an unexpected cameo as an unorthodox agent of British intelligence. MGM had high hopes for The Russia House, which it set for a Christmas week opening. The film's post-premiere party was an embarrassment of Old Hollywood riches: thirty-five chandeliers hung inside a vast tent, the asphalt underfoot resurfaced in blue vinyl, and a 110-table dining area festooned with one thousand pieces of antique furniture borrowed from the prop department of Warner Brothers and tapestries from the 1938 film Marie Antoinette. Long story short, The Russia House was no The Hunt for Red October. Michelle Pfeiffer's Golden Globe nomination notwithstanding, the film was a box office under-performer. Critical reaction was all over the map. While The Washington Post considered it "one of the year's best," Chicago Sun Times critic Roger Ebert panned the "weary spy formula" and Tom Stoppard's "lifeless and boring" screenplay. Rolling Stone could only offer the backhanded compliment "laudably ambitious" while Vincent Canby clucked that the film "comes on like a drill sergeant who talks fast and feeds the recruits more information than they can possibly absorb." Perhaps the unkindest cut came from Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa, authors of The Films of Sean Connery, who declared The Russia House "as exciting as a tour of a babushka factory." Producer: Paul Maslansky, Fred Schepisi Director: Fred Schepisi Screenplay: Tom Stoppard, John le Carre (novel) Cinematography: Ian Baker Film Editing: Beth Jochem Besterveld, Peter Honess Art Direction: Richard MacDonald Music: Jerry Goldsmith Cast: Sean Connery (Bartholomew Scott Blair), Michelle Pfeiffer (Katya Orlova), Roy Scheider (Russell), James Fox (Ned), John Mahoney (Brady), Michael Kitchen (Clive). C-122m. Letterboxed. by Richard Harland Smith SOURCES: Sean Connery by John Parker Sean Connery: Neither Shaken Nor Stirred by Andrew Yule The Films of Sean Connery by Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Limited Release in United States December 19, 1990

Released in United States Winter December 19, 1990

Expanded Release in United States December 21, 1990

Released in United States on Video July 17, 1991

Released in United States February 1991

Shown at Berlin Film Festival (in competition) February 15-26, 1991.

While not an official co-production, film is part of a non-official production arrangement between the USA and the USSR. Reportedly Sean Connery received $4,000,000 for his performance.

Began shooting October 2, 1989.

Completed shooting December 20, 1989.

Technovision

Released in United States Winter December 19, 1990

Expanded Release in United States December 21, 1990

Released in United States on Video July 17, 1991

Released in United States February 1991 (Shown at Berlin Film Festival (in competition) February 15-26, 1991.)

Limited Release in United States December 19, 1990