From Russia With Love

Satrring: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi Directed by: Terence Young

There's only one Bond – James Bond.  And the consummate James Bond is Sean Connery.

I've read more novels by Ian Fleming featuring the dashing 007 than I've seen films about this spy extraordinaire.  The books are wonderfully well-written and better than I ever expected.  I just never got into the movies all that much.

Recently my friend Enrique Guemez suggested I watch From Russia With Love as it he thought it followed the novel very closely and wanted to see what my thoughts were on the film.

After watching it, I agreed.  The movie opens on a chess tournament – no 007 in sight.  Instead, we meet the Russians.  Controlled and frosty as the Cold War itself, they conspire to trap James Bond by tapping into his weakness for women.  The movie nicely condenses several chapters into a quick conference with the key Russian players – Colonel Klebb (Lotta Lenya), the assassin 'Red' Grant (Robert Shaw) she hand-picks (and punches to test his mettle) as the man to kill James Bond,  then introduces us to the handsome Bond whiling away the morning with one of his many admirers.

More importantly, M (Bernard Lee) has just been told a woman working in the Russian intelligence office in Istanbul has fallen in love with Bond based on his file and desperately wants him to help her escape to England. The British secret service immediately suspects something is rotten in Denmark, but can't figure out the rub.

With a briefcase full of tricks (primarily hidden weapons), Bond travels to Turkey to rendezvous with this mysterious woman Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi).  While he waits for her to make herself known, he pals around with the jovial Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz).  Bey, the longtime intelligence contact in Turkey, has many children to help him run his cover business as well as secretive activities, excellent Turkish cigarettes, a Rolls Royce, a Russian operative trying to kill him, and a periscope that was strategically installed to help him spy on the Russian intelligence office.

I honestly did not expect much of the adventures of Bond and Bey to make it into the movie – particularly the gypsy fight (which is a bit different from the book, but not much). However, they prove to be very action-packed and entertaining.

Bond's first meeting with Romanova has all the requisite sensuality and drama, as does their escape from Istanbul (and the Russians) on the Orient Express…then a 'borrowed' produce truck…then a speedboat.  Full of daring evasions, explosions, charm and the luck of the Bond, our hero, his cohorts and his lady deliver an exciting adventure until the very end, when a last-minute attempt to salvage this konspirastia almost succeeds.

As probably only the third Jame Bond movie I have seen in its entirely, From Russia With Love delivers. I also realized while watching this movie that James Bond is probably the reason action heroes feel they have to be ready with a one-liner.  He has several good one throughout the film, particularly after dispatching a pesky foe.

If you:

  • Like a good action flick
  • Love James Bond or have ever wanted to be a 'Bond girl'
  • Like reading a good book and then seeing an equally good movie version

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Want the Russians to win
  • Prefer Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig, George Lazenby, or Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson