From Russia With Love (1963) - REVIEWS ONLY

DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
edited December 2022 in Reviews Posts: 23,327
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  • St_GeorgeSt_George Shuttling Drax's lovelies to the space doughnut - happy 40th, MR!
    Posts: 1,699
    <font size=4>From Russia With Love</font>

    by @St_George

    Directed by: Terence Young; Produced by: Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli; Screenplay by: Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood – adapted from the novel by Ian Fleming (1957); Starring: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Vladek Sheybal, Walter Gotell, Eunice Gayson, Aliza Gur, Martine Beswick, Nadja Regin, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn; Certificate: PG; Country: UK/ USA; Running time: 115 minutes; Colour; Released: October 11 1963; Worldwide box-office: $78.9m (inflation adjusted: $576.3m ~ 10/24*)

    * denotes worldwide box-office ranking out of all 24 Bond films (inflation adjusted), according to

    Plot ~ 10/10

    For many Fleming fans, this is their Bond film, and much of that is really down to its plot. It’s brilliant and it’s pure Fleming. In the novel, the KGB cook up a devious, despicable plan (thanks to the mind of a Soviet chess star) to stitch James Bond up like a kipper: a beautiful Istanbul-based Ruskkie girl claims she’s fallen in love with with him and will, if he meets her, defect with a Lektor code-breaking machine (which, like a WWII Enigma machine is highly valuable in the Cold War spy game). So Bond schleps to Istanbul, unknowing a ruthless assassin is waiting to off him (after 007 and the girl have copulated and the act’s been caught on film, that is), while making it look like suicide, stealing back the Lektor and leaving the film on Bond’s body, thereby totally discrediting him. Two alterations are made for the film: the Soviets are actually working for SPECTRE and the plan’s partly in revenge for Bond and MI6′s defeat of Dr No. Clever.

    Bond ~ 10/10

    Quite simply, Connery’s effort here is the first flawless Bond portrayal. He’s still the effortlessly cool man abroad, the shag-magnet for every woman he meets, the cold-blooded killer when necessary and he’s sharper and wittier than a quartet of spades, but given the outstanding plot, things threaten to go tits up for Blighty’s finest with alarming regularity (especially during his train-bound flee across Eastern Europe with girl and Lektor), allowing Connery the chance to really show his acting chops, not least in his scenes opposite Robert Shaw (more of him below). Cool, dangerous, sexy, sardonic, heroic and truly tested – what more could you want in a 007?

    Girls ~ 7/10

    There’s arguably more to Daniela Bianchi’s Tatiana Romanova than Honey Ryder, but unlike the latter she’s not among the great Bond Girls. Why? Well, she’s a bit dull. Bianchi certainly looks good – especially under a sheet wearing only a black neck-choker – and the voice artist who dubs her, Nikki van der Zyl, sounds fine (she also dubbed Dr No's Ursula Andress and would do the same for You Only Live Twice's Mie Hama), but ultimately Tania’s a one-note innocent; a pawn in SPECTRE’s game and a damsel-in-distress for Bond. The other girls this film are Aliza Gur and Martine Beswick’s fighting gypsy camp girls Vida and Zora, whose bout certainly excites (yes, in that way), but their time is very limited. And Eunice Gayson’s Sylvia Trench returns, but this would be her last appearance; presumably the producers realised there already was another unfulfilled-girl-at-home for Bond in the shape of Moneypenny, so why have two?

    Villains ~ 10/10

    Conversely, Russia is crammed full of villains and to a, well, villain, they’re practically all perfect. There’s so many of them, it’s hard to say who exactly is the ‘main’ baddie, but let’s start with the clear chief, SPECTRE’s head honcho Ernst Stavro Blofeld in his very first appearance in the series. Or at least the first appearance of his signature white Persian pussy cat, nibbling on the ‘stupid’ Siamese fighting fish he feeds it. Next up is one-time opera soprano Lotte Lenya’s monstrous SMERSH-defector (and possible lesbian) Rosa Klebb with her fatally poisonous shoe spikes. Then there’s the Czech chess grandmaster whose plan is enacted, Vladek Sheybal’s boggle-eyed Kronsteen. And, finally and best of all, Robert Shaw’s assassin par excellence, the blond bombshell of brilliant bad-assery that is Donald ‘Red’ Grant. Beat them, Bond! (Yes, he does)

    Action ~ 8/10

    You might think that with such a strong story, Russia isn’t the most action-packed Bond film and you’d be right, so why the 8/10? Because it possesses arguably the best fight in the entire 007 canon. ‘Bond versus Grant’ is a full-on, all-out, blue light-dawbed, sometimes sound effect-enhanced, no-holds-barred brawl in a train carriage compartment. It’s so visceral that it comes as something of a shock given it both appears in a PG-rated ‘family friendly’ flick from the early ’60s and alongside the comparatively pedestrian action to be found elsewhere in this flick. That includes a gypsy camp battle set-piece halfway through the movie and a speedboat chase in the finale, the latter of which (as a Bond film action climax) has always disappointed me, must admit.

    Humour ~ 8/10

    Wit is the order of the day in Russia. From his reaction to a goon being shot after emerging through a poster of a film star’s face (“She should have kept her mouth shut”) to his fine remark after Klebb’s demise (“She’s had her kicks”), Bond’s sardonic delivery is on top form. Yet it’s the presence of Istanbul ally Kerim Bey (impeccably portrayed by Pedro Armendariz) that provides the most memorable moments of Russia's humour. A perfect foil to 007′s suavity, this always upbeat, knowing and eccentric MI6 operative offers fine by-play with Bond and genuine pathos come his an untimely demise. Special mention too should go to the scene in which M and Moneypenny listen to the recorded details of the Lektor (see image above) – just what did 007 and his boss get up to in Tokyo? Sadly we’ll never know…

    Music ~ 8/10

    The first Bond film to be properly scored by the legend that was John Barry, Russia's music certainly benefits from his efforts. Punctuating moments of action and suspense with slightly overly dramatic bursts of brass and orchestra (which would soon develop into the Bond sound), Barry’s score also introduces into the world of 007, er, 007 – the fine 007 march, that is. There’s also the first Bond title theme, Matt Monro’s nice ballad (co-written by Lionel ‘Oliver!‘ Bart), but best of all is this flick’s take on the Bond Theme itself, the marvellously monikered James Bond With Bongos.

    Locations ~ 9/10

    Such an emperor of locations is Istanbul, this flick’s primary locale, Bond has visited it twice since (in 1999′s The World Is Not Enough and he’ll do so again this autumn in new effort Skyfall). You simply can’t go wrong with the Saint Sophia Mosque-boasting metropolis; on the one hand Asian exotic, on the other European cosmopolitan, it looks and sounds fascinating, dramatic and utterly seductive. As its patron saint – in Bond terms – Kerim Bey points out too it’s espionage underbelly is appealingly complex and dirty. Plus, let’s not forget, there’s a funky gypsy camp just outside – although clearly that sequence was all filmed back at Pinewood. Venice (another Bond location favourite) also features, but none of the cast actually went there for filming.

    Gadgets ~ 5/10

    Although Russia sees Bond furnished with his fair share of gadgets, they’re hardly the sexiest. Most come inside a gadget itself, an attaché case that, when opened incorrectly, releases tear gas. Its contents number a telephone bug detector, a hidden knife, a folding rifle and, er, fifty gold sovereigns. Bond also uses a tape recorder hidden in a bulky camera. Frankly, though, you know a Bond film’s a rum-do in terms of gadgets when the coolest (i.e. the most memorable) ones belong to the opponents – who can forget Klebb’s aforementioned poison-spiked shoe and Red Grant’s watch that boasts a garotting wire by which he strangles his victims? Answer: nobody.

    Style ~ 9/10

    Connery in Anthony Sinclair throughout? Check. The exotic highs and grubby lows of Istanbul? Check. A platinum blond anti-Bond assassin? Check. A sojourn in a gypsy camp complete with a belly dancer? Check. And a glimpse at SPECTRE goons training (or, in the words of Mike Myers in Wayne’s World, ‘guys doing James Bond stuff’)? Check. The only blot on Russia’s oh-so coolly subtle style quotient is 007 wearing a tugboat captain’s cap during the Adriatic Sea-set climax (dreadful choice, but he’s been through a hell of a lot by that point, admittedly).

    Adjuster: +5

    With a terrific script that stays true to Fleming, canny direction and excellent casting and performances, From Russia With Love is a triumph of a Bond film. Many efforts in the series feature top sequences; this one segues from one to the next practically its entire running time. Yes, its gadgets aren’t outstanding, but given its delivery in almost every other department it deserves an ‘adjustment’ of five more points – anything less just wouldn’t be kulturny.

    <font size=4>Overall: 89/100</font>

    Best bit: Bond and Grant finally fight it out

    Best line: “Red wine with fish – well, that should have told me something”

    Get the full treatment of my 'Bondathon' reviews here
  • X3MSonicXX3MSonicX
    edited September 2012 Posts: 2,635
    I watched FRWL yesterday at night, and i thought it was an amazing movie. I noticed that, in this movie, what it lacked in action it had compensated in story. A great story. It could have not so many action like GE, or TSWLM, But it is a great movie. In my own "analysis", just like TWINE, FRWL was more based on the Ian Fleming's book, not to make a complete action movie like the nowadays Bonds. (Just saying, because more action ain't exactly a problem.)

    I know that i'm not a good reviewer but i'll do my best here, FRWL really impressed me.

    Bond: 10/10 - Connery acted very well imo, and i got some laughs with his quotes and scenes too. My favourite was the Lektor's description being sent to M's office. One of the best scenes i've seen and that probably will be on the list after i see all Bond movies.

    Girls: 10/10 - Daniela also acted good, her performance was great and unpayable. Her scenes were perfect, she added the feeling to the movie. If any other actress made her character instead of her, FRWL wouldn't be the same.
    Lois Maxwell had her moment. The few scenes had worth it, she really had incorporated Moneypenny. I could see that her eyes could bright after she looks at Bond. Also I loved her smooth smile.
    Her relationship with Bond was the best thing in the series and couldn't simply get out. I miss them since DAD and i think most of you or even All of you do that too.

    Villains: 8.5/10 - As Blofeld's face didn't show up, i thought that Lotte and Shaw had compensed it all with their enough efforts. Klebb showed her up as a hard commander in Lotte's acting, while Shaw showed Grant as his best up on the big and strong henchman hired for Spectre.
    The only bad part was that, the Vladek Sheybal's acting wasn't great. The only and few scenes he made wasn't enough, and although he would get a bigger part, still wouldn't impress me.

    Locations: 9/10 - Istambul at 60's were a nice place to live. The train, the hotel, the streets, everything were looking stunningly beautiful and a candy to the eyes. The gipsy camp wasn't that great, but i liked it for the action.

    Action: 9/10 - As spoken before, the movie wasn't great in the action. But with the ones it had, the movie made itself become the unexpendable to be watched movie. The best scene was from the Gipsy camp.
    I think that, the scene that has let me down was the helicopter "fight". It should had more action and feeling there, like the guys from the helicopter trying to shoot Bond, even if it was only with pistols.

    Humour: 9/10 - Every humour quote or scene made me laugh. As i've told before, the best scene was the Lektor's description. M's face after Tatiana had said some things is incredible. Connery's humour also was great, even tho it was misterious. "Who plays with fire gets wet". It hadn't any kind of sense, until you see the relation of the boats scene, then it becomes hilarious.

    Music: 10/10 - I'll give a 10 just for having heard the Bond theme at the hotel.
    The other scenes had great songs also, the style and feeling of these had added action to them and even some suspense. There's no doubt that you guys prefer John Barry from David Arnold. Barry had all the perfection and style for a Bond music.

    Gadgets: 10/10 - Well, the gadgets actually surprised me as of what Q(in the epoch as Boothroyd) had Done in that small case. I'd like to review this part by telling what i thought about the gadgets. Firstly, the way of opening the case it's something what i would forget and i'd be dead in some hours. The sniper wasn't so incredible, however it's very thoughtful. The ammo hided in the upper small compartment of the case was the one who surprised me the most. I still get me thinking, how does the bullets could fit up in that small tube? :O They think about Everything.

    Style: 9/10 - Connery made himself become a legend, and i have no doubt he is the "real Bond" considered by most part of the fans. His charm conduced to Bond's vein is no doubt a gift to the franchise. his way of acting with Daniela in the scenes made up the Bond legend that he is. We can see Bond and Tatiana as a perfect couple if we look more deep at the kind of affection that he gives her. His best 'style scene' was his way to unwear the glasses on the Station. I think it is so great.

    Best bit: Kerim assassinating Krilenko.

    Best line:
    '*Bond* You said it was the correct time. You sure?
    *Man of the consulate* Russian clocks are always *The corridor blows up*
    *Bond* Oh yes. *smiles*'

    Overall: 9/10
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,414
    From Russia With Love

    Dr No was a huge success, on both sides of the Atlantic; an action-adventure with a modern twist on sex and violence. It also came out at just the right time; The Beatles had their first L.P on the week that Dr No was released; the birth control pill was on the market, and, in the same month, the U.S and the Soviets teetered on the brink of nuclear war, over the Cuban Missile Crisis, making Dr No's plot very much topical.

    John F. Kennedy, a friend of Ian Fleming, gave his top ten books, to Life magazine. To Fleming's delight, Kennedy surprised him, by including From Russia With Love. So naturally, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman announced that as their next Bond film.

    From Russia With Love is one of Fleming's finest novels, rich in characterization and a cunning, complex plot. Plus the setting, Istanbul, lent it self perfectly to a James Bond novel, what with it being so full of intrigue, romance and atmosphere.

    To translate Fleming's quintessential, Cold War thriller into a screenplay, the producers again turned to Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood. The pair excelled themselves, not only by retaining all the trappings of Fleming's novel, but by also adding an extra layer of complexity to the plot, by having SPECTRE play the British and the Russians off against each other.

    In addition to the scribes returning, so did Sean Connery, Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell, plus a host of key crew, including Terence Young to direct, Peter Hunt to edit and Ted Moore as the cinematographer.

    To realise the promise of their screenplay, the producers needed to find a director with the necessary panache and drive, but also a talented cast to turn Fleming's creations to life.

    Confident after his success on Dr No, Young would infuse From Russia With Love with his trademark style. He and Connery continued to work on the character of James Bond, combining Fleming's cold, but charming, original, with the cinematic version of machismo and sophistication; thus creating the definitive “Bond style”. Moreover Connery's “rough edges” he displayed in Dr No, have been smoothed over – Connery really was the ruthlessy elegant, bon vivant.

    An international, eclectic cast summoned; it would have, Lottye Lenya, a stage actress since the 1930's, as the “toad-like” Rosa Klebb; Vladek Sheybal, a respected Polish actor, would play the cunning Kronsteen; Red Grant would be played by Robert Shaw, and lastly, portrayed by Pedro Armendariz was Kerim Bey.

    Incidentally, From Russia With Love also featured two hallmarks of the cinematic James Bond; the début of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, not seen in his first appearance, only heard, and Desmond Llewelyn as Major Boothroyd, a'ka Q, the cranky gadget master.

    In fact From Russia With Love has one of the most superlative cast's of the Bond series. Each actor plays their roles quite superbly.

    Battling against the myriad foes are some of the most capable allies that have appeared in a Bond film.

    For the Bond Girl, the producers were looking at undiscovered actresses, to keep the films fresh and exciting. They found a former Miss Rome, Daniela Bianchi. She would play the seductive, but wholly blameless, Tatiana Romanova. Kronsteen would use her as bait, saying if Bond would rescue her, she would bring, to Britain, a brand new Lektor decoding machine. Kronsteen has surmised, correctly, that the British would know its a trap, but treat it as a challenge, to see what, or whose, is at the end of it.

    Bianchi is a revelation as Tatiana, completely believable in her role; she is just naïve and innocent enough to believe that she is doing it for “Mother Russia”. One feels pity when Bond slaps her; she was only doing what's she had been told. One can understand why Bond slaps her, he's on his own mission after all, but one still feels pity for Tatiana, which is a testament to Bianchi's beguiling performance. Bianchi, then, is one of the most memorable Bond girls, mixing playfulness, coyness and sexiness, with the aforementioned character traits.

    Pedro Armendariz is the personification of charisma, as Kerim Bey, Head of Station “T”, Turkey. Ian Fleming wrote that Bey had a “face full of vitality”, and Armendariz lives up to that wonderfully. Despite Bond having just meet Bey, one believes Bond's assertion that “how can a friend be in debt?”, when Bond offers to aid Bey out.

    Kerim Bey is so likeable, witty and personable, that his death comes as a real surprise; one could not imagine Bey dying, because of his life force, sheer animal magnetism and vigour. When Bond discovers Kerim, lifeless, one can empathise with Bond. Thus when he takes it out on Tatiana, whom Bond still believes that she is working for the enemy, one can sympathise. After slapping Tatiana, Bond sits down, unable to comprehend what is happening; a fantastic piece of drama. It is a tribute to Armendariz's charismatic turn as Kerim Bey. Even more so when one realises, that Armendariz was fighting a losing battle with cancer.

    On the villainous side, are two of the most frightening and realistic pairings we have ever seen in a Bond movie; Rosa Klebb are Red Grant.

    She of a poisonous shoe, Klebb is a fascinating, despicable, murderous woman. Klebb is very authoritative, very prim and proper, almost asexual. That is, until in a well written scene, Klebb displays a subtle hint of lesbianism, in her first meeting with Tatiana. In Fleming's original novel, Klebb was a blatant lesbian and got her “kicks” torturing people. As Fleming so memorably said, in his novel, Klebb looked like the “oldest whore in the world”. In real life Lenya was a softly spoken, shy woman; it seems incredible that she can morph into this slimy, evil woman.

    As the psychotic Red Grant, Robert Shaw is unforgettable; he's more than a match for 007. Grant is watching over Bond every step of the way. It is quite superb, and quite unnerving, to see Bond, usually so decisive, being used as a mere pawn, for most of the movie, an excellent piece of writing. It's all building up to the climatic battle, between Bond and Grant.

    Their confrontation takes place on board the Orient Express, with Grant pretending to be Captain Nash, a MI6 contact. However, Bond smells a rat; this is confirmed by Grant ordering red wine with fish, a brilliant piece of snobbery. Instead of chastising Grant on being a murderer, Bond chooses his poor choice of wine!

    The actual fight, after a tense scene, in which Grant has Bond at gunpoint, is a superior, unrivalled brawl, with Bond being matched throughout. In fact Grant gains the upper-hand; only Bond's resourceful thinking saves the day. This is one of the few times that Bond's life seems to be in danger. This is in no small part to Shaw's fantastic performance as Grant, the best of Bond's antagonists.

    Young's direction is uncompromising, evoking the novel in it's brutality and violence. It's also shows Peter Hunt at his very best, “crash cutting” to give the scene a unique energy, an internal dynamism.

    In an important role Vladek Sheybal plays Kronsteen, the Chief of Planning for SPECTRE. A chess genius, Kronsteen has planned for every counter move by the opposition. However, he did not plan for James Bond.

    In Ian Fleming's novel, he builds tension by allowing the readers insight in to what the villains are plotting. The screenplay retains this device; Bond is heading into an almost inescapable trap, which Kronsteen has meticulously schemed.

    Kronsteen, a cold, ruthless man, pays the ultimate price for his arrogance, “Who is Bond, compared to Kronsteen?”. He is assassinated by Blofeld in a gripping scene.

    Consolidating their roles at MI6, are Bernard Lee as M, and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, respectively. In a humorous scene, Bond enters Moneypenny's office, unaware that M is standing behind the door, rearranging files. Bond, as his custom, throws his fedora on the hat stand, saying as he enters, “and now for my next trick...”, however Bond is cut off from completing his sentence, by a disapproving look by M, whom Bond has just noticed. Bond has battled some heinous villains in his time, but a single look from M reduces him to a mere, chastised school boy. It is these moments, subtle as they may be, that makes the early Bond films such a joy to behold.

    Rounding out the cast is Sean Connery as James Bond 007, in the most complete, definitive Bondian performance, ever. Connery is cool, sophisticated, dangerous, suave, cold, arrogant, elegant, charismatic, virile and has a great sense of savoir-faire. He represents the ideal blend of both the cinematic Bond, and the literacy 007. Every Bond actor would try to live up to the high standard that Connery had reached.

    After his impressive work on structuring the James Bond Theme, John Barry asked to score From Russia With Love; an inspired decision. Barry has become synonymous with the sound of James Bond. His first soundtrack is lush, mysterious and stimulating and would mark the commencement, of an unbelievable period of creative, original work, that would last until the start of the early seventies, when he reached his zenith as a film composer.

    There were some noticeable omissions, from the crew of Dr No, notably Ken Adam and Maurice Binder, creator of the imaginative sets and iconic gun-barrel. In their place, would be two more than capable understudies, namely Syd Cain, whose work captured the world of Ian Fleming, and Robert Brownjohn, who provided a titillating main title sequence.

    Shooting From Russia With Love would not be straight forward, however. There were constant rewrites, location changes, Young had a helicopter crash, in which he was lucky to escape with his life, and Armendariz, tragically, lost his cancer battle, but Terence Young and Peter Hunt knew that, despite all of the difficulties, they had something quite extraordinary, coming out of the rushes.

    From Russia With Love is a prefect James Bond film; right from the start it is an unadulterated joy; the locations are stunning and claustrophobic, all at the same time; Young's direction is assured and exquisite, full of effortless chic; Hunt's editing is kinetic; the screenplay is full of danger, intrigue, romance and complexity, and it's enlivened by the peerless cast, most notably, of course, Sean Connery as the masterful, impeccable James Bond.

  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited January 2017 Posts: 28,694
    From Russia with Love (1963): A Review in Two Parts


    Bond and Actor Performance:

    I think it’s safe to say that with both Dr. No and From Russia with Love, we have the two prime representations of Sean Connery’s greatest work as Fleming’s character that are cornerstone performances in the franchise at large. These are Connery’s deepest, meatiest, more resonant takes on the character in scripts that feel like true to form spy thrillers that give him some great stuff to play with, sans any silliness.

    I view Sean’s performance in From Russia with Love as a strong continuation of all he did in Dr. No, to such fruitful results. In Dr. No he was a man very much on his own in a game of deceit, and, while Bond has a bigger team working with him this time around thanks to Kerim’s network of spies-very much a literal and figurative family unit-what made Bond shine as a character in the first adventure is still here in opulence.

    So much of what we get in From Russia with Love is a delicious continuation of the greatness of Dr. No:

    Bond’s arrival at the airport in Istanbul resembles Bond’s touching down in Jamaica in the previous film, where he arrives unsure of who to trust as he is tailed from the airport to his destination. Another fantastic Dr. No callback occurs when Bond investigates his hotel room checking for bugs. The latter scenes are some of my favorites in both films, because they are quiet little moments that really speak volumes of Bond as a character and detail just how dangerous the spy world can be when you’re always being watched or listened in on.

    Bond doesn’t get as many opportunities to showcase his 12-steps-ahead tenacity here as in Dr. No-largely because the film needs to have him duped by the SPECTRE plot surrounding him for a good chunk of the film-but many moments allow him to shine as a character and strong man of action and resourcefulness. The gypsy camp fight is rousing fun and chaotic, with Bond holding his own throughout, and I love that he lies to Tatiana about the date that the Lektor retrieval is to go down (the13th) to make sure the Russians can’t prepare ahead of time to foil his plans.

    There’s also a great feeling of fun in Sean’s demeanor throughout; he seems like he’s really getting a kick out of the shoot, and that comes through in scenes where he’s interacting with other characters. Sean’s thrills make Bond’s blooming friendship with Kerim feel extremely genuine as they share laughs and smiles through all the danger. A highlight of Sean’s performance for me comes during the gypsy camp belly dance scene where, for one second, Sean breaks conviction and starts laughing while watching the dancer. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, but is completely genuine and it creates a sense of camaraderie between Bond, Kerim and all the gypsies that resonates off the screen.

    With all this in consideration, the greatest essence Sean conveys in his performance as Bond here can be best described by one word: “predatory.” The animal magnetism we saw in Sean’s Bond from Dr. No returns to amazing effect, and the best way I can describe From Russia with Love as a film is by comparing Bond and his enemies to wild beasts wrestling for supremacy in an untamed jungle. Everything about this film feels animalistic, beast-like, untamed, wild. Bond is every inch a preying panther slinking his way through Istanbul, setting his sights always on the Lektor. He enters every situation with darting eyes like an animal mapping out the terrain, plotting like the panther for the kill that’ll give it another feast. Even in more tame and “fun” moments like the gypsy belly dance, Bond gazes at the dancer like a lion trying to mate in the wild, starving for the sensuality presenting itself to him in the form of the dancer’s gyrations.

    There’s also a great sense of fury we get to see build up in Bond here, as the conspiracy surrounding him grows more and more apparent over time. From the very moment that he steals the Lektor from the consulate and races on to the train to the instant he kills Grant, we have one of the all time greatest chains of scenes in a Bond film that will ever come. This section of the film is what makes it a classic, gives it that “Hitcockian” vibe, and is littered with duplicity, danger and death, so in tune with the depths of darkness Bond occupies as a spy.

    It’s during these scenes where Sean goes into full-on Bond mode, and the man of danger we saw in Dr. No storming around Jamaica in full control returns, but less confident and more furious and untamed. In From Russia with Love it’s a real treat to watch Bond’s demeanor change over time in how Sean plays him. At first he feels secure in his mission and he makes plans with Kerim to ensure all is in order, promising to drink to their successes while in London. But Bond has yet to account for Grant, the man who has been in the shadows acting unnoticed during the entire film, and before long SPECTRE’s agent will have unraveled all that Bond has orchestrated like a finely tuned killing instrument.

    Kerim’s death signals to Bond that not all is right on the Orient Express or in his mission, crystallizing that the simple trap he and M counted on before is much deeper than a skirmish of Brits and Ruskies. At this point in the film, Bond knows he’s caught in something bigger than he at first prepared for, and doesn’t quite know the full extent of the trap even yet. Connery’s performance is filled with increasing paranoia, as Bond expresses the feeling like he’s being watched. Now, when Bond sees Tatiana after Kerim’s death, he tears open the carriage door and is done playing Lothario. In his mind, she is the one who’s been playing him and he has reason to think she helped engineer the man’s death, consciously or unconsciously. Bond’s face after Tatiana says “I love you” following their confrontation says it all. He’s been here before, you see it in his eyes.

    The carriage confrontation between the spy and Tatiana continues into Bond’s meeting with Grant, who is filling the guise of Nash, as everything comes to a head. Little by little red flags register in Bond’s head until it’s too late to act and Grant has him caught in the crosshairs.

    The entire train exchange between Bond on his knees and Grant with his gun pointed square at him is amazing, representing the pinnacle of Sean as Bond as well as one of the best scenes in the whole franchise. The plan all comes into the clear here and Bond’s ego is done in a bit by Grant. Bond has been had, and even in the face of death itself, he’s interviewing Grant about the kind of tactics the man employed to learn about how he slipped up and got in the rough spot he now finds himself in. Then the conversation turns more sick when Grant seems to be enjoying himself a bit too much, which Bond responds badly to. The increasing levels of anger and disgust on Sean’s face here is the stuff of legend. Bond can’t wait to kill this bastard. The look of repulsion in his Bond’s eyes, mixed with the genuine fear of death are immaculate, and his last minute ingenuity to level the odds equal between him and Grant just as so. The iconic face-off closes with great acting from Sean as he fixes his suit after Grant roughed it up, pilfering his still-warm corpse and barking a contemptible “old man” back at the psycho in retaliation for all the times he’d had to hear it up to that point in the film.

    In conclusion, Sean refines all the iconic and masterful work he did in Dr. No in From Russia with Love, except this time around Bond is a little more vulnerable, a little more over his head in a larger conspiracy, and it’s fascinating to watch him dart between crosshairs as his devastating act against Dr. No and SPECTRE at the end of the last film comes back to haunt him. We don’t get to see Bond until around 20 minutes into this film, but Sean sells every scene afterward to marvelous effect.

    Bond Girl and Performance:

    Tatiana Romanova- This particular watch of From Russia with Love really opened me up to some of the great character details the filmmakers were trying to use to build up Tatiana more as a character. I think that we would be hard pressed to find a woman who is as genuine, natural, raw and real a Bond girl as Tatiana. She’s a beautiful woman who evokes a nice appeal, but she isn’t purposely represented as a Venus-like goddess as Honey in Dr. No is meant to be, which almost separates Ryder from us into an unattainable fantasy. Instead, From Russia with Love delivers us a girl who is ordinary and grounded, and whose actions feel true to what you would expect from such a woman unknowingly caught in a dangerous spy game.

    For a woman used to only modeling (being a first-runner up in the 1960 Miss Universe pageant) and ballet, Daniela Bianchi conveys a convincing innocence needed for this part. Voice dubber Barbara Jefford gives Bianchi’s performance a wonderful voice, sultry at times, and Russian enough without sacrificing a certain air of grace.

    A few character moments I noticed throughout From Russia with Love that build Tatiana up in this image of innocence:

    *When Bond and Tatiana first meet in the hotel room, she almost seems awkward and shy in getting off her clothes, like she isn’t used to this sort of seduction, while Bond wrote the book on this kind of passionate mating ritual. If you look at Tatiana in this scene, her clothes are on the floor and the chair was presumably knocked down as she rushed to prepare herself in the bed for Bond. Her desire to impress is endearing, and sort of adorable. From her opening discussion with Klebb we know Tatiana is the type to fall in hard love with men, but she doesn’t make a habit of sleeping around. She feels commitment minded like a real Russian woman, so when she’s asked to fake a connection for her job, it’s understandable that she’s not effortlessly falling into it. I like this about Tatiana, and how innocent and awkward she feels while seducing Bond, like she’s never sure she’s doing the ritual right. She differs wonderfully from other Bond girls who almost feel too experienced or too “perfect” in their seductions of Bond. We feel all the anxiety of the moment with Tatiana, and because she’s a sweet girl and not an intimidating sexual force, it’s easy to get behind her cause.

    It seems Bianchi was embarrassed and nervous on set as this scene was being shot, always worried she would show too much skin if the sheets slipped a certain way. The real life worries Bianchi had transmit perfectly to the screen and, intended or not, give the scene added layers.

    It’s also from this moment in the film that Bond always calls Tatiana “Tania,” endearingly, instead of by her full name. For all the times Bond appears frustrated by her, he does seem to get on with her well and genuinely cares about her well-being, until his feelings are questioned as SPECTRE’s hand is revealed.

    *A growing connection with Bond seems visible in Tatiana’s words and body language as she and 007 discuss the Lektor decoder on the boat traveling down the Bosphorus. Tatiana seems through the roof in love with Bond, while he knows his mission and what M needs to hear about the Lektor and is trying to keep her focused. It’s visible how frustrated he is by the seemingly lovesick Tatiana who keeps going off on tangents from the crucial information MI6 need to hear about the decoder. It's difficult to tell if Tatiana is being genuine in her feelings, if it's an act put on as Klebb ordered, or a mix of the two.

    *Another great thing I noticed in this viewing of From Russia with Love is how much of a culture clash character Tatiana is throughout. She seems extremely fascinated by western life (I guess as any women would be from the Soviet Union) and attracted to Bond’s foreign appeal. Moreover, once she gets an English name on her passport (Caroline Somerset), she visibly repeats it lovingly over and over again with enthusiasm as Bond and Kerim make plans for later. It’s a great little character detail that depicts her in love with a new identity beyond her own.

    Tatiana must feel a sense of freedom with the western culture open to her through her partnership with Bond, which is enabling her to do what she wants outside of the stricter control she could’ve grown to accept in the Soviet state. She has no idea about western customs, and it's clear from her ignorance about the dresses she’s wearing. She is also adorably lost while trying to decide what to order on the menu, so Bond decides to get her what he’s having to move things along. Again, she is culturally blind to anything non-Russian. The elation she exudes outside of Klebb’s hold and the larger Soviet state are clear, which makes me think Tatiana is the biggest representation of a culture clash character we’ve got in Bond, not too dissimilar from Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Both women are also innocent and at times appear in over their heads, stupidly in love with Bond. I think Kara was purposely and actively meant to recall Tatiana in how she was characterized and portrayed.

    Overall, I really enjoy Tatiana as a character and Bond girl. She feels real yet mysterious at the same time, because at times it’s hard to know whether or not her motivations rest with Bond or Klebb, making her tough to pin down. It’s interesting to watch how Tatiana’s demeanor changes around Bond and Klebb respectively throughout, as there’s a great mystery in how she really feels. Is she truly falling for Bond and neglecting her mission from Klebb to help him, or is she faking the affection to get Bond into a vulnerable position to fulfill her duty to the Russian state?

    This inner confiict I sense with Tatiana is best underscored as Bond is wrestling with Klebb in the hotel room, and she wavers the pistol between shooting one or the other of them, when the choice should be easy for her to make at this point, since she seems like she’s been shot with Cupid’s arrow and loves Bond. Maybe she thinks that if she kills Klebb, SPECTRE will have her head on a pike in retaliation?

    I don’t think we ever get a clear sign of Tatiana’s inner struggle, or what side she is fighting for until she chooses to kill Klebb, but that is all part of what makes her fascinating.

    Bond Henchman and Performance:

    Kronsteen- This master calculator played by Vladek Sheyba reminds me very much of Mads Mikkelson’s Le Chiffre. His egotism is so pronounced, deliciously so, and I enjoy watching his plans fall under the weight of his miscalculations on account of Bond every time I pop in From Russia with Love.

    Following the pre-title sequence, Kronsteen is the first person we see, and I love how the film opens proper with the chess game he is playing that is very symbolic of the spy game Bond plays, and the trap he’ll be placed in the middle of during the movie with so many moving pieces and moments of checkmate throughout. If there’s any Bond film that feels like watching a chess game played by two maestro players as they move pieces strategically to usurp enemy control of the board until victory is reached, it’s From Russia with Love.

    I love how once Kronsteen gets the note and knows he’s expected by SPECTRE, he almost seems to finish his opponent early just to make the appointment. This makes me think that he’s such a skilled chess player that he has to reign himself in to avoid playing his best with lesser opponents just to entertain himself and make the game worth watching for others. His arrogance is mighty.

    His death is magnificent. A simple moment of biting tension when he thinks he’s arguing for Klebb’s demise instead of his own. He and Bond never meet in person, but I love how 007 still manages to write his death certificate, as indirect an action as it is.

    Rosa Klebb- Lotte Lenya is in fine form here as a menacing bitch of a woman, a true metal heel of the Soviet and now SPECTRE ranks.

    Throughout the film Klebb is characterized chillingly as an invasive woman. She backs down from nothing and boars her way into the personal zones of others to get the information she needs. Her meeting with Tatiana is the perfect example of her invasive personality. The scene carries a tense and uncomfortable mood as Tatiana’s privacy is demolished and Klebb closes in on her physically and mentally to ensure she has control over the girl and can count on her to follow the orders she’s been given.

    Even creepier is later on in the film when, unbeknownst to Bond or Tatiana, Klebb is having a sex tape filmed of them in secret from behind the bedroom glass. Klebb is locked in to the moment, and you can feel her eyes piercing Tatiana in a way that clearly relates her true sexuality and attraction to the woman to the audience. She’s using the sex tape as a perfect opportunity to get off on her kink, in a very uncomfortable and creepy fashion. She’s the pinnacle voyeur Bond villain.

    Her demise is magnificent as well, though the overacting on Lenya’s part after she is shot is amusing. I still get a bit hot under the collar and feel the tension as Klebb’s knife shoe brushes the legs of Bond as he tries to block her in with the chair. No matter how many times I watch the film, I always worry Bond is about to be stuck by the point!

    Grant- If there’s ever been a perfect adversary in every way to Bond in this franchise, it is in the form of Donald Grant. This most recent viewing of From Russia with Love only confirmed how much I love this character even more. He’s a predator like Bond, a complete animal with equal skills in resourcefulness, cunning, brutality and ability. The thing that sinks him, however, is his confidence as he gets too complacent with his plan coming to fruition, and slips up just enough for Bond to level the field and kill him.

    It’s amazing just how much this film does to build up Grant as Bond’s true doppelgänger throughout, reinforcing the idea that these two are perfect matches for each other, building up to that great face-off between them on the Orient Express. In many scenes Grant’s suits seem ripped from Bond’s closet, as he rotates through the same repeating wardrobe of gray suits with white or blue shirts and black or blue ties. His style seems heavily picked from Bond’s own, like he’s studied 007 so intensely in order to know how to kill him that he’s unintentionally absorbed some of the spy's style along with his voracious examinations. We know that Grant killed at least one man to get information on Bond before the SPECTRE mission, so it’s not difficult to imagine that Grant knows Bond so well he’s unconsciously copied his wardrobe in the way I've suggested. In addition, Grant knew he’d have to pose as a British agent at one point in the mission, so he may have adopted Bond’s British dress sense to fall into that role with greater, more convincing ease. I love the idea of Grant actively aping Bond, like an animal studying its prey so that it can effectively fit into its ecosystem to strike at it when the opportunity is prime. These details are one of the many reasons why this film feels predatory in nature, as it’s packed to the brim with scheming, double-scheming, assassination attempts, mating rituals and more beastly acts than can be counted.

    Overall, Grant carries a feeling of intense danger in From Russia with Love, acting like walking pestilence. Everywhere he goes he casts an ominous shadow, and rarely leaves anyone who crosses him alive. It’s fitting that Grant is SPECTRE’s blunt instrument, as he haunts Bond’s path throughout like a specter, always in the shadows but acting to make Blofeld’s plan go through. I’ve also never noticed until this watch just how much Grant uses gloves. He puts them on before every kill he makes, which is funny when you consider the old adage about clean hands. Grant gets his hands dirty without actually getting his hands dirty.

    Grant and Bond feel more and more like doppelgängers of each other as the Orient Express travels on. The shot of Bond walking along the track in Belgrade station while Grant tails him through the train windows is immaculate. It’s funny that Shaw would go on to star in ‘Jaws’ as the hunter of the beast, because here he’s very much a predatory shark preying on Bond, to the tune of tense music not unlike John Williams’ iconic theme for the film in question. Then, when the train stops at the Zagreb station, the scene that plays out is a clever reversal of the previous station stop in Belgrade. This time Grant gets off the train while Bond prowls from the carriages. With the code words known to him, Grant tries to act British/like Bond, further underscoring the doppelgänger feeling he gives off as 007’s equally deadly match.

    The greatest section of the film is when Grant and Bond finally meet, and the real chess game between them carries out as both are in the position to checkmate. The tension builds as Grant says one “old man” too many in the train car as he, Bond and Tatiana eat, and slips even more when Bond spots him adding something into the girl’s drink. In this scene in particular, Grant’s attempts at seeming British by being overtly British is almost painful to watch. If he’d kept his cool and calmed down a bit in his performance, Bond would’ve played right into his hand, but his overconfidence makes him slip up underneath the mask he’s trying to wear, which Bond sniffs out with ease. I like this detail, because in real life, a person pretending to be a certain person or thing convincingly will act with a greater, more exaggerated degree in order to sell it, often showing their hand. It’s a great window into Grant’s psychology.

    When Grant gets Bond on his knees, it’s clear that he really has it in for 007, like it’s personal. He was a great pick by SPECTRE for this mission, as he has studied Bond well and gets a kick out of stringing him along, making him wait for death, condescending him by referring to him as “the great James Bond.” An amalgam of envy and disgust coats his words. Grant sets himself apart as a Connery Bond villain in this scene in that he refuses to treat Bond as an equal, showing him no respect or courtesy beyond allowing him one last cigarette, which he still demands payment for. This man wouldn’t serve Bond a five star meal or treat him to a game of golf, oh no. Grant is razor focused on his mission and the hell he wants to unleash on Bond for meddling with SPECTRE, ending 007’s suffering only when the spy crawls over to kiss his foot. All this tension builds perfectly to their fight, which remains an all time high for the franchise. Bond and Grant finally get to face-off and the payment in thrills is high as the entire film has been steadily building to it from the very beginning.

    Grant gets a seriously high mark as a villain because he’s one of the only people who has come that close to actually killing Bond. 007’s fear while in Grant’s crosshairs is palpable, and the man worked with surgical precision to get Bond and the other “pawns” in the film to play into his hand like a true chess master in the league of Kronsteen. Robert Shaw is a magic mix of strength, danger, brutality, coldness and cunning in this film. No surprise, he is the perfect foil to Connery’s Bond, perfectly playing to the same strengths as his acting partner. Shaw will never be forgotten for his work here as the ultimate Bond henchman to this day, with many imitators but no worthy successors.

    Bond Villain/s and Performance:

    Blofeld/SPECTRE- After getting a tease of the SPECTRE conspiracy in Dr. No, in From Russia with Love we see the face-er, I mean the hands, of the terrifying organization the late Dr. threw his lot in with.

    Blofeld feels similar to Grant in that they both hang from the shadows and wait to properly shift pawns in directions that will best serve their ends. Blofeld’s voice makes you uneasy, and I like the contrasting image of him delicately petting his cat while he discusses vile schemes to come. He’s every bit as cunning and stealthy as his pet, that much is certain.

    Supporting Cast Performances:

    M- Bernard Lee makes good use of his short screen time here. I love how he defuses Bond’s attempt to impress Moneypenny with his hat toss. Then, in the briefing he gives Bond the pair feel like true equals in mind and strategy as they agree that the chance to possess a Lektor should be pursued by MI6 even with some of the risks that could be posed by it. He and Bond have a nice dynamic here that is very relaxed, accommodating and respectful. M isn’t lecturing Bond on something he’s done wrong, and Bond isn’t trying to defend himself for a mistake he’s made recently like the briefing of Dr. No.

    I also love how M acts later in the film when he’s listening in to Bond’s questioning of Tatiana about the Lektor decoder. When he overhears Bond talking about an experience the two of them had in Tokyo, M is fast to switch off their communications in an effort not to embarrass himself in front of his colleagues and underlings, including Moneypenny. It’s a unique moment in the Bond cannon where M breaks out of his stoic, stiff upper lip demeanor to display a rattled constitution.

    Moneypenny- Lois Maxwell is just as exquisite here as she was in Dr. No, but it’s impossible for her to do wrong, so that’s not saying much. Although the meeting between her and Bond goes by fast, it’s a sweet and flirty moment as Bond pecks her with kisses, and tells her, “let me tell you the secret of the world,” one of my favorite lines from their many interactions together throughout the series. This film only continues to prove that no other actor talked to Lois’s Moneypenny as well as Sean’s Bond did. Their interactions always feel genuine, and their chemistry is unmatched.

    Q- Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know he’s technically referred to only as “Boothroyd” here, but I’m counting it anyway.

    In just a quick exchange here with Bond and M, Q’s love of his work is heavily visible. He seems so pleased watching Bond play with his creation, testing it out.

    Bond really owed Q big time on this particular adventure, because without the gadget master’s attaché case he’d have been dead to rights in the crosshairs of Grant. This film shows better than most that Bond is never a true loner. He always depends on others to help him out of tough patches and can’t do everything on his lonesome.

    Kerim- A mix of great little character details and interactions make Kerim a great ally for Bond.

    I love that he grew up breaking chains and bending bars in the circus, and how keen he is to always share a story from his “interesting” life. He’s also an endearing family man who knows the true value of blood and trust better than most.

    Through Kerim’s eyes we also get to see an interesting window into the spy craft of Turkey. The relationship Kerim and his agents have with the Russians in Istanbul is fascinating. While the west is eager to hide in the shadows to stalk their enemies, Kerim and the Russians are overt towards one another and don’t play any games. It’s a great contrast to the kind of locations Bond usually visits where enemies aren’t out in plain sight.

    One of my favorite scenes of the entire franchise is Bond and Kerim going underground through the Byzantine tunnels to eavesdrop from underneath the Russian’s own consulate. This ingenuity shows Kerim is prepared for anything and I love the image of him and Bond spying on the Russians from underneath their “home” base.

    Overall, Kerim’s character is a great window for Bond and the viewer into how Turkey’s espionage operations differ from the rest of the world. His experience in these matters is palpable and he’s like a tour guide for us as he takes us everywhere from under ground level, to a smoky gypsy camp, around crowded bazaars and on roaring trains across international boarders.

    One of my favorite character details for Kerim is the moment when he is worn down by the woman in his office to sleep with her again. While in other scenes he seems to be quite a lustful man, here Kerim views sex as an obligation and not as a fun recreational activity like Bond does.

    Kerim’s death is a particularly poignant moment in the film, not only because he is such a wonderful character, but also because of the effect it has on Bond that shows 007 there’s a greater conspiracy afoot than he realized. Kerim’s last words to Bond,“Life in Istanbul will never be the same without you” cement him as a great ally who was always kind and welcoming to Bond from the very start in a fatherly capacity, and it’s a moment underscored with sadness for those of us who know what’s coming. Bond’s sadness at Kerim’s passing is palpable, displaying just how much the Turkish man meant to him as a partner and friend.

    As sad as Kerim’s death is, what the actor behind the great performance, Pedro Armendariz was going through rings even more tragically. A consummate professional, Armendariz was suffering from a debilitating illness during the filming of From Russia with Love. Stricken with cancerous hips, he can be seen limping in some scenes, and shooting schedules had to be built around his illness, with Terence Young sometimes having to step in for the actor during certain moments.

    But Armendariz never complained through the pain and worked through it to ensure that his family would get his paycheck from the film. In June of 1963, while filming on From Russia with Love was still being undergone, Armendariz found himself in a UCLA medical center tormented by the pain that would soon await him and his family as his cancer worsened. In a moment of self-mercy and selflessness, Armendariz took a pistol he smuggled into the hospital with him, held it to his heart, and pulled the trigger.

    From Russia with Love was his last movie, and with the personal straits he was facing while filming the picture in proper context, it’s doubly tragic to watch Bond find Kerim dead and blooded in the train compartment, knowing our dear Pedro would be found in much the same state not long after in reality.

    Still, Armendariz’s work lives on as one of the all-time greatest Bond allies we shall ever see, and watching him smile and joke around, so full of life in his performance here, you’d never guess that inside he was dying from cancer. A true professional and gentleman, to the very end.[/quote]
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited January 2017 Posts: 28,694

    Gun barrel sequence-
    I love the gun barrel sequence for this film. We immediately get a slightly sped-up shot of the Bond theme as the dots race across the screen, then Simmons is spotted, he turns, fires his shot and the blood drips. Afterward, quite magnificently, the booming Bond theme fades into the background like a spy racing to the shadows as the pre-title sequence begins. I love how the fading music here perfectly sets up Grant chasing the SPECTRE agent through the gardens, as it conveys the stealthy mood that scene and the entire film transmits to the viewer.

    Pre-Title Sequence-
    The pre-title sequence for From Russia with Love is one of the all-time greats. It’s such a great fake-out to see who you think is Bond being preyed upon by an adversary, and it’s even more intense and shocking to see him come upon by Grant and killed ruthlessly. The atmosphere of the sequence is on another level, best exemplified when Grant snaps a twig while tailing the SPECTRE agent and the music booms alongside the crack as the paranoid agent’s head turns to the source of the noise.

    The sequence wins points for doing what other Bond pre-title sequences would never dare to do, which is leaving Bond out of the picture entirely to shed a light on the lives and operations of the villains that will be his enemies throughout the rest of the film. At this early stage in the series there wasn’t the expectation that audiences needed to see Bond as soon and often as possible like there is today with a series 24 films strong. Just two films in, Young and his team could experiment and do things you would never be allowed to see in today’s movie climate.

    From Russia with Love is a special film because we get to live with the villains as much as our hero, and because of this, we get to set our sights on the training rituals of SPECTRE’s agents as in this sequence and witness first-hand what their hierarchical structure looks and feels like underneath big dog Blofeld. Only From Russia with Love has delivered this, and it’s one of the many reasons why it’s so special.

    When I think about the locations of From Russia with Love, I am instantly transported to the smoky train stations of Zagreb and Belgrade. I can hear my shoes clapping against the ruined stone roads of Istanbul’s districts and hear the echo of my whistles in the wide expanse of its mosques.

    As in Dr. No, Young and his team bring alive the sights of Istanbul and truly take us with Bond on his journey. We’re with him as he navigates the Grand Bazaar with its vast color spectrum of opulent quilts and rugs. We go hand in hand with him on the boat as Kerim rows us along the waters of the ancient reservoirs to spy on the Russia consulate. We lick our lips as we sit with Bond, Kerim and Vavra while the belly dancer gyrates just inches away, giving off an insatiable attraction. Everything feels alive and enchanting.

    Istanbul in the days when it was only known as Constantinople was the world center of mass trade for nations from vastly different worlds and cultures, and that massive variety of cultural color is heavily visible in this film. Istanbul feels like a true melting pot, and the vibrant palette of colors we see in the bazaars and the gypsy camp and the gradations of cement grays and smoky whites that paint the train stations evoke a great sense of atmosphere.

    Moreover, as vibrant, engrossing and inviting as the locations are, the film also successfully carries a prevalent sense of dread. The atmosphere, the gradations of gray and browns we witness in the many locations and the thick shadows of the Istanbul nights all come together to produce an ominous feeling, like Bond could be shot from a far away corner or crevice at any moment. Nowhere in Istanbul feels safe to travel or take rest, and not just because Grant is likely hiding in wait near every bend in the road or curve of the street.

    Above ground or under, the locations of Istanbul and the surrounding areas wear menacing faces that make Bond and his allies feel sensitive to harm, and that compounds the intense danger their landmarks give to the film and Bond’s adventure at large.

    For this movie, the gadgets we have are perfect because they feel like real spy craft items an agent of the day would have on hand in a Cold War climate.

    Q’s briefcase is exquisite, the perfect spying kit for Bond to have in the thick of the danger he’ll be facing. Its many functions, hidden compartments and booby traps are immaculate, as is the AR-7 rifle resting inside it, a real-life survival weapon still made today by military personnel. Production designer Syd Cain produced this nifty gadget to great effect, Young’s own “Q” on set.

    Like everything in From Russia with Love, the gadgets feel believable and necessary for what awaits Bond. Honorable mention must also go to the cool little electronic bug detector Bond uses to snuff out the surveillance in his hotel room while touched down in Istanbul. Everything he has on hand feel like practical and believable spy tools that would be indispensible in the kinds of environments he finds himself in this time around.

    The action in From Russia with Love can best be described by the adjectives messy, economical and brutal. As Bond himself says in the film, “Let’s just say that Istanbul’s a rough town.” The action we see in this film, and its rough and messy nature, inform this statement well.

    The scenes of action we see feature people going at each other like animals to the death, their every kick, punch or squeeze of the trigger designed to end their opponent with extreme effectiveness, post haste. These acts of violence are often brutal and untamed, connecting with the feeling of animalistic savagery From Russia with Love gives off when I watch it.

    The gypsy camp fight is one of my all-time favorite action sequences in a Bond film, because it ticks the boxes perfectly for messy, economical and brutal conflict. The vivid and rousing sequence plays out much like a West West shootout, with chaos unloading as gun smoke covers the torn up and blown out camp space. Bond is a marvel, devilishly navigating himself through it, running all over the place tripping people up, hammering them on the head with his Walther, shooting them center mass from a downed position on his knee classic Connery style, and using his environment of carriages, arrows and knives to effectively sabotage the enemy forces into incapacitation. Connery’s Bond is so much fun to watch in this sequence because he feels like a visibly cunning and effective dispenser of his foes, a true man of action.

    Another short but sweet sequence is Krilencu’s death, plotted by Bond and Kerim from the shadows. It’s such a great spy idea on Fleming’s part to have a man hiding behind the guise of a billboard depicting a beautiful woman. It’s also a nice character detail that Kerim is adamant about him being the one to take the fatal shot; he needs to do it on principle to get even for the past attempts Krilencu made to harm him and his family. The build up to the action thanks to Barry’s score is rich, and the moment is tense until Kerim strains to pull the trigger and we spot the release of relief on his face.

    Other sequences in the film, like Bond’s battle with the rabid copter that follows him all along the gorgeous greens of the countryside is great, as is the boat sequence that leads into Bond touching down in Italy. But anyone who’s anyone knows that nothing compares to the granddaddy of them all.

    That’s right, folks, the fight on the Orient Express. The fight that still holds up and always instantly comes to mind when I think of this film and Bond on the whole, because it perfectly transmits the messiness and danger of the world he occupies in the rawest way possible. It is straight-up genius to have a no-holds-barred fight between two alpha male spy killers play out in the cramped compartment of a train carriage. The entire film from the very start builds up to this face-off so that when it finally comes, it’s like viewing a high-stakes boxing bout, and it instantly cements itself to the viewer as a vital scene of iconography in the franchise.

    When the fight kicks off, it’s pure, unadulterated cinematic magic. Bond and Grant butt heads like two animals going at it in the wild competing for the supremacy of their ecosystem; two beasts of equal feats battling for survival like a pair of lions before their pride. The claustrophobic bout is rough, loud, cloaked in shadow and seeped with blood and sweat. We hear every muffled groan of Bond and Grant, feel every punch, deflection, counter, crack of glass and shatter of bone as the battle plays out in the vibrant blue hues of the darkened space. We strain in our seats and seize up as Bond nearly has the life choked out of him, like Grant has a wire wrapped around our throats as well, then we breathe an exhausted sigh of relief when 007 turns the tables and brutally finishes his opponent. Bond’s payback to Grant at the end by calling him “old man” is the cherry on the top of a very tasty cake. It truly doesn’t get any better than this.

    The predatory nature of From Russia with Love in mood, atmosphere and feeling is encapsulated best by this train fight, a signature moment of the film. It remains a legendary sequence for a reason, over 50 years on.

    As with Dr. No, much of the best laughs here come in the way of physical comedy or in lines of rather black comedy Bond or his allies spout during or after moments of extreme fatalism.

    A great moment of entertainment happens early when Bond’s hat toss falls flat once he realizes that he’s playing to an audience of two, with M looking on quite indifferent to his attempts at giving Moneypenny a show.

    Furthermore, it’s delicious to hear Bond ask, “Who won?” when he sees Kerim’s destroyed hide-out, and even more so later on when he says, “She should have kept her mouth shut,” following Krilencu’s death after the man mounted a failed escape from dear Anita’s chompers. Other favorites are when he says to Kerim, “I’m not mad about his tailor, are you?” after they tie up Benz in his own wardrobe, or the line, “Yes, she had her kicks” that he throws out following Klebb’s demise. I also adore Bond’s delivery of, “Day and night. Go on about the mechanism” as he grows annoyed with Tatiana’s constant requests of lovemaking. I also grin every time I witness From Russia with Love’s Bond/Moneypenny scene, where Bond comforts a jealous Moneypenny by saying, “Darling, Moneypenny, you know I’ve never even looked at another woman.”

    My personal favorite moment, however, is when Bond condescends Grant in the train car even in the face of death, asking what lunatic asylum SPECTRE got him out of, and then, once the man is dead, how he spits an “old man” at his corpse for good measure. The scene where Bond and Grant have the former exchange reminds me fondly of the talk Bond and Dr. No have in the first film, where Bond’s disgust at the doctor’s character and his scheme rises to the surface and he can’t resist sending ad hominem attacks his way.

    Kerim is also used to good effect in the film as a storyteller who enjoys torturing people with his big mouth, as he does to Benz in the train compartment in a funny moment.

    Plot plausibility-
    One of the many reasons why I think From Russia with Love is still so well respected, and why it still feels timeless is because of just how real and raw it feels. So much of what we see in this film feels ripped from the history books, and the geo-political conflicts feel distinctly Cold War in nature as the tensions between the Brits and the Russians and the Turks and the Bulgars resonate off the screen. Conflict rules the day, here.

    Everything depicted in the film is perfect, and I’m never taken out of the action through disbelief in what’s happening. Dr. No carries this same feeling for much of it, but I do admittedly grimace during the radiation bath scene from the sheer implausibility of the moment in the middle of a film that usually feels so straight down the middle and raw.

    In From Russia with Love, however, there’s no moments like that. For my money it’s the most “real” Bond film we have, and its tight and perfectly constructed spy thriller plot presents geo-political subterfuge that at times feels like a documentary on the Cold War. In fact, Fleming is said to have been inspired to write the original book from a real life scenario he heard about involving an American intelligence agent who was killed and thrown off the Orient Express by an enemy faction.

    Villain's scheme-
    The overall plausibility of the plot of From Russia with Love is lent credence to by the scheme that is featured inside it.

    From Russia with Love features one of the greatest villain schemes we have, and I am scrambling to find another that matches it. Everything is so finely crafted in this film, from the motivations of SPECTRE, MI6, the gypsies, the Turks, the Bulgars and the Russians all explosively playing off each other. It’s like a western and spy thriller made a baby, giving us a scheme that features groups manipulating each other into fatal ambushes that feels true to real life spy situations. I fully believe something like what SPECTRE is planning here could’ve happened in the midst of the Cold War, where an outside party played nations off one another and planted compromising film to mask their plot under the veil of a gaudy scandal.

    I said in my initial character analyses of this film that viewing From Russia with Love is like seeing two master chess masters going head to head, moving their rooks, bishops, knights and pawns across the board to utter conquest, setting up devastating counter-maneuvers and offensive attacks. Watching Bond, Kerim and Tatiana race aboard the Orient Express is like witnessing a maestro shove a queen chess piece up and down the board, just as seeing Bond choke the life out of Grant is like watching a player use his white knight to knock down a black king and claim checkmate.


    Terence Young returns to the Bond series for a landmark second time to give us another rousing adventure.

    Young’s directing style favoring wide shots and a distaste for close-ups is back as he delivers us even more action and drama than the first time. Young’s wise choice to always show as much of the actors moving in scenes as possible pays off here and the expansive locations the cast navigate help to create a sense of smallness, like Bond is a speck in a dangerous world, under the thumb of SPECTRE.

    The production of From Russia with Love cemented Young’s genius as a director, and proved his knack for working around problems that could pop up on the fly. While shooting at the train stations of Istanbul, for instance, Young was annoyed by all the attention the camera equipment, lights and film stars were attracting from loads of bystanders there, so he had a stuntman distract the crowds by hanging himself over a nearby balcony, pretending like he was going to fall without proper assistance. As the crowd rushed to the stuntman, Young called for cameras to roll and got his shots.

    When deciding how to realize the scripted fight between the gypsy girls at the camp location, Young had the two women involved, Martine Beswick (later a star in Thunderball) and former Miss Israel Aliza Gur train exhaustively for the bout every day for a three week period to ensure that they had the movements down and would look natural when shot. Wanting to ensure that he would catch a realistic looking fight on camera, Young’s directorial advice to the women while shooting the scene urged them to act as though they really were going to kill each other.

    The biggest moment in the production for Young, however, was the helicopter crash that occurred when he was scouting locations in Scotland for the film’s boat chase. Young, along with the pilot and his art director took off in the copter, which had been showing signs of malfunction, and, once in the air, they fell with it into the water, sinking fifty or so feet to the bottom of the ocean. Thankfully members of the production were on shore nearby the crash, and were able to swim to the rescue of Young and his fellow passengers. In true Terence Young fashion, the director was back behind the camera filming From Russia with Love only thirty minutes after the near-fatal crash. Unflappable, just like Bond.

    Opening title design-
    I adore this title design. The vibrant colors of the text and the kinetic energy of the moving bodies of the women and the credits projected on them is brilliant. The theme for From Russia with Love used is my favorite arrangement of it, so full of brassy life, and it’s stuck right in the middle of Barry’s updated Bond theme. The theme is produced here with a great mix of bellowing trombones as trumpets and saxes produce a wailing sound like the tune is struggling vigorously to come into life.

    Just as From Russia with Love has one of the strongest villain schemes and most plausible plots, it naturally also has one of the best scripts, and may be Maibaum’s finest.

    There’s so many great themes and ideas at play here interspersed with a rousing spy adventure. For one, From Russia with Love is one of the most sex-laden and adult films in the Bond canon, when you really sit down and think about it. This film features a honeypot spy scheme, a incriminating sex tape gets filmed with Bond and a girl, Bond has a threesome at a gypsy camp of all places, and one of the villains is a repressed lesbian who acts on her attractions with a sensuality laced with poisonous control and force.

    On top of these adult themes and ideas, From Russia with Love is a film about fractured privacy because there are so many incidents throughout the picture where intimate moments between characters are uprooted, surveyed or exploited, and where spaces that are meant to be safe havens are bugged, compromised or rigged to blow, taking you with the blast. Bond’s hotel room is covered in bugs that only increase the paranoid feeling he displays while in Istanbul. Kerim’s domestic life in his secret hide-out in the Grand Bazaar is figuratively and literally obliterated by a mine, shaking him up and nearly writing his death certificate. The agents of the Russian consulate have no idea that Kerim and his team have literally burrowed into their fox’s den and have compromised their security. Later in the film, the same consulate is bombed and in the ensuing chaos, Bond breaks through their security and robs them of their greatest possession. The gypsy camp is raided in a moment of peace and lit up with gunfire and flames in a massive ambush. Kerim goes directly to Krilencu’s doorstep and kills him at the place where he expected sanctuary and protection with nothing more than a cold shot to the back from the AR-7 rifle. Kerim’s death in the confines of the train car forever fractures his domestic family back in Turkey, who are now without their leader. And lastly, Klebb breaks into Bond and Tatiana’s hotel room when the pair think their troubles are behind them, under the guise of a cleaning lady.

    From Russia with Love also shows us no secrets can get kept, and depicts characters wearing all kinds of masks to survive. Bond, M and Kerim all know they’re in the middle of a duplicitous game, yet they play their part in it to secure the Lektor. Klebb lies to the Russians and Tatiana, Tatiana lies to Bond as Bond lies to her, and they are both lied to by Grant, who nearly succeeds in his mission. That’s not even factoring in the duplicity that plays out between Kerim, the gypsies, the Bulgars and the Russians, who each think the wrong things about the other thanks to SPECTRE’s delicate and manipulative hand. Analyzing From Russia with Love and studying the motivations of each of the characters, the lies they tell and the lies they’re told is head-spinning to contemplate. The script presents us with a raw spy adventure that creates a very real world picture of the Cold War climate, where you were constantly being watched from above ground or below, and where danger was always lurking around the corner to strike at those unaware.

    In true espionage fashion, a great emphasis in the script is also put on surveillance and communication between parties, and how our words have the power to manipulate the state of play. An equal emphasis is put on mouths and lips as the carriers of information or deliverers of lies of great duplicity. Tatiana comments to Bond about how her mouth is too small. Krilencu attempts to escape his hide-out from the open mouth of Anita Ekberg. Grant won’t allow Bond to die until he crawls over to kiss his foot. The words Bond and his spy colleagues as they exchange plans around the stations are muted to nothing by the rattling of the carriages, the steam puffing from the trains halted on the tracks and all the voices of the pedestrians milling about, masking their secret operations. And of course, in a spy game this tough, it’s lips that need silenced most of all.

    The motif of fish become surprisingly prevalent as well, where Blofeld’s fighting fish serve as metaphors for the characters at conflict in the film. The shot composition and editing as the pair of fish flap violently beside SPECTRE’s No. 1 is amazing, and it’s great visual foreshadowing for the brutal action that unfolds on the train between Bond and Grant in their final confrontation. Even more so, however, the bout of the fish is strong foreshadowing of the conflict between Kerim, Benz and Grant. Kerim and Benz are the two fish fighting it out, while Grant is the sharper fish that lies in wait, striking when the enemy’s weakness is highest.

    In addition to all the interesting elements the script really seems to showcase, there’s an endless amount of ways that From Russia with Love truly sets itself apart from any other film out there, even 50 years on. The filmmakers dared to underserve Bond for the first twenty minutes of the film in order to give screen time to the villains to build up the scheme that will be forming itself around our British agent in this adventure. This is a film where we get to spend as much time with the villains as we do our hero. We as the viewers actually get to see SPECTRE island on the screen as opposed to having it just mentioned off-hand by one of Blofeld’s agents, or by the man himself. Like no other Bond film, From Russia with Love walks us by the hand into the villain’s den on SPECTRE island to give us a front row seat into how the organization is run and how SPECTRE agents are forged from normal candidates into brutal killing machines. I grin sadistically every time I hear Morenzy state that they use “live targets too.” We live with these villains, sleep with them and follow them as they lay traps for Bond and his allies. As the SPECTRE plot gradually envelopes Bond and the rest of our heroes, we know the truth behind the traps they’re falling into through our time with the villains and can only watch as 007 is swallowed up in it and ends up on his knees in a train car with a pistol jammed in his face. The script makes you wonder just how Bond is going to worm his way out of that predicament, it feels so fatal and final.

    The film never loses the ominous feeling of impending doom from start to finish that the script helps form, and this danger is felt in such a vast variety of different locations, from smoke filled stations and massive mosques to colorful bazaars and the cramped, quiet train compartments of the Orient Express where your only company is hopefully the sound of the rattling carriages on the tracks.

    Such is the magic of From Russia with Love.

    Ted Moore returns to continue his great work from Dr. No in a film that once again allows him to showcase the atmosphere a location can exude for audiences. While his work depicting Jamaica was fantastic, the contrast of the less exotic, more rugged and gray toned Istanbul does magic for the film.

    What makes Dr. No and From Russia with Love such great back to back Bond adventures is that the creative team took what worked in the first and brought it back in the second, while also flipping the script on a few things to make the adventure feel extremely fresh and different from Dr. No visually and in mood, which they really succeed at.

    From Russia with Love carries a smoky feeling and atmosphere, and Moore’s visuals and lighting choices make us able to smell the odorous alleyways of Turkey, feel the rough textures of the rugs littering the bazaars and taste the cigarette smoke coating our lips as Bond and Kerim both light one up. This is truly transportive filmmaking here, where the movie looks and feels like a visual travelogue to the location, making us believe for a moment that we were there with the filmmakers as they brought it to beautiful life. The color palettes on display, the use of light and shadow, the staging of the action and how the shots are composed are all finely tuned and perfect, representing some of Moore’s greatest work.

    In John Barry’s big debut as the main composer of a Bond film, he doesn’t back down and delivers big time. For From Russia with Love he produced an amazing set of compositions, some that delivered the now classic arrangement of Norman’s Bond theme, and others that used local sounds of Turkey to give the score an exotic and cultural edge. Throughout the film Barry’s arrangements of the Bond theme hit hard, and you can feel his orchestra’s instruments straining and wailing to birth the classic Bond sound.

    Constantly, Barry’s music adds layers of atmosphere to the film, ramping up the tension to excruciating levels of tension that don’t let up. And when you mix his music with the visuals of Ted Moore and the performances of the cast, you get a combination that’s hard to beat.

    This film also debuts the secondary Bond theme by Barry, simply titled “007” that for my money is just as classic as the main theme. It’s rip-roaring, action packed and pulse-pounding music that is used to great effect. All hail John Barry!

    Lionel Bart’s song From Russia with Love, with vocals by Matt Munro has always been a favorite for me as well, largely because it’s the closest we’ll ever get to hearing a Frank Sinatra styled Bond song. The orchestra is grand, as is Munro’s range, his greatest moment being during the finale of the tune when he holds the final note for twelve long seconds. Classic.

    As with Terence Young, Ted Moore, Richard Maibaum and John Barry, editor Peter Hunt returns from the Dr. No team to continue to marvel us.

    Hunt’s fast and exhilarating editing style is back in full effect, bringing with it a great sense of kinetic energy. He makes the simple image of two fish in a tank wrestling with one another feel as lively and tension-filled as the gypsy camp and helicopter chase.

    Some of Hunt’s all-time finest work comes in the train fight between Bond and Grant, where he keeps the momentum of the shots quick and vigorous. As in Dr. No, he amps up the sound to give the audio a serious punch, making the cracking and shattering of the glass, the steady rhythm of the train carriages shuffling on the tracks and the bodily collisions of Bond and Grant as they wrestle each other in the cramped space register as avalanches of cascading sound that delight our eardrums even while the noises are in serious danger of rattling them to muteness.

    Hunt’s rough, quick and messy style perfectly compliments a film like this whose script and cinematography strive to evoke the same feelings that the Cold War era imprinted on our human history.

    Costume Design-
    One of the many things that return from Dr. No to From Russia with Love is Bond’s wardrobe, handled here by the costume design team of Jocelyn Rickards and Anthony Sinclair. The first two Bond films cemented gray suits with white or light blue dress shirts and navy grenadine ties as Bond’s go-to “uniform” out in the field. These looks defined Bond’s visual appeal under Connery, and he wears them with the same swagger as he did in his debut appearance. He truly feels like he sleeps in the suits-as Terence Young even advised-it’s so natural how he wears them. And this time around the grenadine ties use a four-in-hand knot instead of the Windsor knot used in Dr. No, as Fleming himself despised the latter and thought they made a man look too vain. Sinclair also provides Sean with another exquisite tuxedo (seen in the PTS), a nice navy lounge suit for M’s briefing and the flannel chalk stripe suit that he wears while facing off with Klebb in the hotel room at the end. All exquisite, no less.

    Where the other members of the cast are concerned, there’s some great suits to behold, from Kerim’s collection of suits to M’s brown flannel suit with matching bowtie. The suits picked for Grant feel reminiscent of the suits Bond wears, which further makes them feel like doppelgängers of one another. The different factions in the film, from the Turks, the gypsies, the Russians and the Bulgars also have distinctive looks, setting them apart visually. And of course the style choices made for Daniela Bianchi’s Tatiana are perfect. Her wardrobe nicely accentuates and accompanies her graceful beauty and makes her feel like a presentable and professional woman. Bianchi could pull off wearing nothing but a neck ribbon with class though, so this is no surprise!

    Most of the original team from Dr. No returned for From Russia with Love, but one big exception was Ken Adam, who was off on production design duties for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove at the time of production.

    EON sought out Syd Cain to fill the vacancy, the production designer extraordinaire who created the iconic visual of the dragon tank for Dr. No, though he went uncredited for it at the time.

    While much of From Russia with Love is built up of location shooting, Cain’s work here stands up well in the history of the series’ production design. If the anteroom chamber of Dr. No was the visual treat of that film’s production design, in From Russia with Love it must be Cain’s chess room set that he made for $150,000. It’s a set that stands up to all the greatest sets in the Bond series, with a strong use of chess motifs to give it that special something. Like Adam, Cain plays with space to make the actors feel small, ramping up the tension of the scene and the operatic nature of the space. His use of shapes, notably the rising circle that supports Kronsteen and his opponent while they play the game, and the larger outer floor designed like a chess board are exquisite, to say the least.[/quote]

    I don't do quantitative ratings on a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale as a principle of mine, but From Russia with Love has always been a top 10 Bond film for me, and always will be. It is also always listed second for me in a "Best of Bond" film ranking, just behind Casino Royale. I am of the opinion that this is the sole perfect Bond film, or at the very least, as perfect as a Bond film can be when you analyze its many parts and cast a final judgement on its merits.

    From Russia with Love comes together as one of the best sequels ever realized in film that successfully takes everything that worked in the first adventure and amps it up while axing or improving what didn't. If Dr. No is a detective film, From Russia With Love is the ultimate spy thriller picture. There is enough covert eavesdropping, message swapping, shadowy assassinations and double-faced intrigue to drown in as the Turks play the Bulgars and vice versa, with SPECTRE stampeding through unnoticed in the hysteria. The movie has all the gold of Dr. No viewed through a moodier, more international and ambitious prism, and while the first Bond adventure presented us with a hint of SPECTRE's power and influence, From Russia with Love delivers on that threat in spades and shows Bond just what kind of enemy he's up against. Over time lies pile on lies, motives get clouded and the atmosphere of Istanbul becomes overwhelmingly pervading. In the soft blue gloom of the moonlit night you don't know what else could be coming Bond's way next, but you do know that somewhere out there Grant is watching like a predator studying its prey.

    The hallmark of From Russia with Love and the biggest reason it is a classic in the series is all down to the performances given by Sean Connery's Bond and Robert Shaw's Donald Grant. It is the actions of these two whilst pitted against each other that gives From Russia with Love so much re-watchability and an everlasting punch. I don't sound at all the fool by holding to my argument that the single finest section of any Bond film ever is the entirety of Bond's ride on the Orient Express in this very picture. Up to this point in the film the script has built up Grant as a force of nature that can't be stopped, and numerous times he and Bond have been within feet of each other, with only their shadows touching. Everything about the film's narrative and visuals are setting up and/or relentlessly teasing their eventual fight to the death, a Chekhov's gun in the script that's more like a bazooka.

    The genius of the writing is such that we spend so much time with our villains that we end up knowing way more than Bond does about what SPECTRE have prepared for him, his government and the Lektor decoder. We eat breakfast with the organization, visit their secret training island and see the intimate recruitments they've made to stop Bond in his tracks, one of which is Tatiana, nothing but an ingénue caught in a web whose threads cast farther than she could ever imagine. We know all this information, but the moment Grant murders Nash for his things and fools Bond into believing his cover, the movie becomes insanely intense and no volume of our shouting will relay to Bond our warnings.

    The Orient Express is the stage for the greatest face-off in Bond history, and in these moments the camera films the action almost like a stage play, suitable for the fine craftsmanship we're privy to as Connery and Shaw subtly compete their presences against each other. With each word the men share the closer Bond looks to uncovering the trap ready to spring on him, and when Kerim turns up dead he snaps, turning instantly volatile, slapping Tatiana in a heated moment, thinking her the rat. Sean's face in this moment sends chills up my spine, and you swiftly forget that we're watching a piece of fiction unfold. Key scenes play out where Grant overuses too much of his exaggerated English accent, slipping with every word, and Bond spots the drop the sadist makes in Tatiana's drink. But the worst of all his wine with fish?

    Bond let down his guard one last time around Grant when he needed to be his most vigilant, and it costs him. Only when it's too late and the SPECTRE killer has 007 in the sights of his pistol does the spy truly understand the plot, identifying the killer's organization out loud as it comes to him in an epiphany. We see the gears working inside Bond's head as he thinks on his feet. "It all makes sense," you can almost hear him say. The finest moments in Connery and Shaw's performances arrive when the former is on his knees with his hands in his pockets, the latter ready to make his torture long and painful. Bond has a bit of a nasty surprise in mind for his carriage partner, if he can only get him to open his attache case. Thanks to Q's ingenuity Bond's plan works perfectly, and, amidst a giant cloud, Bond and Grant do battle like two beasts on the wild plains. It's messy, it's loud, it's claustrophobic. You can almost feel the slithery sweat flying off their brows, smell the remains of the tear gas choking the air and hear all their concussive grunts as they use just their bare hands to wrestle the life out of each other. Bond's eventual victory becomes our victory, a celebratory moment of triumph shared of sheer iron will and ingenuity over arrogance and sadism. We all want to prod Grant with verbal repetitions of "old man," if only to pay him back for all the moments he had the gall to label 007 thusly, and thankfully MI6's finest gets the last word in.

    Like the fight that makes it famous, From Russia with Love is rough-n-tumble, no-holds-barred and laced with danger, containing a climax like a steady heartbeat that never lets up. To watch it is one of the finest pleasures a Bond fan can enjoy, and to review it was "A real labor of love," to quote the late Colonel Klebb.
  • Daniel316Daniel316 United States
    edited July 2019 Posts: 210
    That was From Russia With Love, overall what an amazing movie

    Let's just knock those positives outta the way RN. First of all we have amazing characters here, all the characters were strong and always had something about them that made them interesting. You also get an amazing henchmen in Red Grant played by the very talented Robert Shaw and his chemistry with Connery in their scenes really shows as they are really good. Rosa Klebb is a pretty decent villain all things considered and that final fight scene was very tension filled. Another character I feel was just great was Karim Bay, him and Bond had this wonderful partners chemistry that I really enjoyed and the two always killed it when on screen together.

    Tatiana romonova was imo the first good bond girl and I feel she did establish the formula and unlike Honey Rider she actually isn't useless. This movie also has great set pieces as well as locations, and class all around. While the movie might have a slower pace, it makes it work really well by having each scene be interesting and important to the plot and the tension was really there. Now while all the above is amazing, there's even more amazing things that this film has a right to boast about introducing to the film series.

    This movie introduces the legendary John Barry and his fantastic musical scores to the bond franchise, the best one certainly being "007 Takes The Lektor" (AKA the 007 Theme). This film also introduces the Pre Title Sequence to the series and it happens to be one of the best PTS's in the film franchise and sets up the villains wonderfully.

    The film also introduces the Ever so dastardly blofeld and his cat to the series and he was done very well in his first outing here imo. And last but not least this film introduces the Legendary Desmond Llewelyn as Q (still Called Major Boothroyd here) and his fun gadgets make their introduction here, though the gadgets wouldn't get more crazy until the next film, they still provide some nice fun moments and of course Desmond rules.

    Now as for negatives..well I have none, yeah for once I don't have any real complaints here. The only minor nitpick I have is that Tatiana's Voice dubbing isn't that great but it's not really a major issue and it's still not as bad as Honey's voice dubbing.

    So overall this movie is simple imo a masterpiece and it is a must watch bond film for any Bond fan

    for all the amazing improvements over Dr. No and for the great staples that were introduced here, my final rating is a 10/10
  • LocqueLocque Escaped from a Namur prison
    Posts: 262
    Fifty years on still hands down the best Bond movie ever made.
    It's surprisingly low in action, but high in suspense. Once Bond and his girl get on the train trying to escape to the West with Robert Shaw's goon lurking nearby, the tension mounts to extraordinary levels.
    And though it has little or no discernible function in the plot, you can't hate on a movie that has a gypsy cat-fight.
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