From Russia with Love – 1963 – English
Film directed in 1963 by Terence Young, and starring Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Daniela Bianchi, Lotte Lenya, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Pedro Armendáriz, Vladek Sheybal…
Synopsis: James Bond 007 is on the search for a Russian decoding machine, known as “Lektor”. Bond needs to find this machine, before the evil S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organization discovers it. While being romantically linked with Russian girl, Tatiana Romanova, Bond sneaks his way around Istanbul, while each S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Agent tries to pick him off, including the over powering Donald “Red” Grant and ex K.G.B. Agent Rosa Klebb, who knows all of the tricks in the book, and even possesses an incredible poison tipped shoe.
Review: Following the surprising success of Dr No, it became obvious that Broccoli and Saltzman’s next step as producers would be other cinematic adaptation of Ian Fleming’s work. Their choice this time was From Russia With Love, a novel once pointed out by US president Kennedy as one of his favorite books.
Trying to capture the unique mood and look of Dr No, the producers brought back almost everyone involved in the first Bond outing ( excepting mediocre composer Monty Norman, whose clumsy tunes were replaced by a magnificent John Barry’s score, in his first “official” collaboration in the Bond series). This includes Broccoli’s long-standing collaborator Terence Young, screenwriter Richard Maibaum ,and, of course, Connery, that rough Scottsman, initially despised by everybody as a “lorry driver” , who nevertheless delivered an unforgettable performance as James Bond.
All these talents combined to produce what no doubt is one the best Bond films of all time. Contrasting with the over the top story lines which would very soon become synonymous with Bond, From Russia With Love is a gritty and realistic Cold War thriller,filled up with sex violence and pure excitement. Terence Young considers this to be his best Bond film, and the movie proves him right. It is full of stylish shots( the famous close-up of Romanova’s lips while Bond says “your mouth is just the right size”) and really hot( by the 60’s standards) seduction sequences. Even the back projection, a technical device often unfairly criticized , works wonderfully. Although many have criticized the action sequences following Bond’s scape from the train, I think they’re excellent, adding to the film’s sense of danger and excitement. The helicopter chase, in particular, is a moment of brilliant film-making.(And it’s even better than the sequence From North By Northwest that inspired it) The shot of Bond and Romanova embracing in the foreground with the helicopter exploding in the background perfectly encapsulates what the entire movie is about:danger, romance, violence.
As for the cast, Connery seems more confident and relaxed this time, but when it comes to his job, he is as ruthless and cold as Fleming originally envisioned the character. Lotte Lenya wonderfully portrays SPECTRE mastermind Rosa Klebb (“..such a disgusting woman…” as Romanova states at one point) . But it is legendary supporting actor Robert Shaw who nearly steals the show as a cold-blooded hit-man with a psychotic strain to him.
All in all, From Russia With Love is definitely a must-see not only for Bond fans, but for every discerning film lover.A true classic.