Summary: Sean Connery returns as James Bond in this thrill-a-minute adventure with blistering action, romance, and high-tech gadgetry. The evil organization SPECTRE has hatched a plan to steal a decoder that will access Russian state secrets and irrevocably unbalance the world order. It is up to James Bond to seize the device first, but he must confront enemies that include Red Grant and the ruthless Rosa Klebb, a former KGB agent with poison-tipped shoes. Even as Bond romances a stunning Soviet defector, he realizes he is being lured into a deadly trap, and he will need all of his courage, abilities and cutting-edge technology to triumph over the forces that seek to destroy him.
Review: Perhaps the most realistic and down-to-earth movie of the series, From Russia With Love is the perfect Bond movie and my favorite of the series. Sean Connery is in the prime of his Bondian career both physically and in terms of his portrayal of the character. While many consider Goldfinger to be his best movie, I feel that he was a bit too comfortable in it. In From Russia With Love, he still seems a bit wet around the collar, which is perfect for an agent on his second mission. Connery is also most like Ian Fleming’s version of 00: something that gets lost in his later films.
As for the film itself, the tone is set early when Red Grant kills a Bond double during the opening sequence, showing the audience that this man is Bond’s equal, even if it is not Bond himself. As the movie continues, Bond must rely on his skills as a secret agent and his God-given talents, not on Q’s gadgets and dumb luck. The plot itself is brilliant yet simple; spies don’t spend their lives battling megalomaniac villains bent on world domination. Rather, the espionage aspect of this film seems like something Bond would be more suited for in real life.
Another wonderful aspect of From Russia With Love is that it continues the Blofeld/SPECTRE arc that was begun in Dr. No. Blofeld’s introduction and utilization is well done, not giving away too much of who he will become in the Bond universe while still impressing the diabolical nature of his character. There is no need to see his face yet, as he is a mere puppet-master in the film.
The true villains of the movie, Rosa Klebb and Red Grant, are brilliantly developed characters and two of the most memorable of the series. Klebb’s shoe goes down as one of the best villain “gadgets” ever and the battle between Bond and Red Grant aboard the Orient Express shows the true brutality of Bond’s job as well as just how much of a trained assassin he is. Even Kronsteen, who has minimal time, is a sinister and brilliant henchman who is a perfect fit for the film.
Of course, what would a Bond film be without the Bond Girls. First, Sylvia Trench returns for a little rendezvous with Bond in the beginning of the movie and later the gypsy battle between Zora and Vida provides some fantastic eye-candy. However, the screen really heats up when Tatiana Romanova first meets Bond in bed, wearing only a bowtie. Tatiana is, in my opinion, the most beautiful Bond girl in the series and, despite being in an early Bond movie, she is still a strong woman.
To conclude, From Russia With Love excels in that it takes its time, develops the characters and makes the viewer care for the people on the screen. In addition, it manages to avoid the “dragging” feeling prevalent in so many of the early Bond films and moves quickly enough to not lose the viewer’s interest no matter how many times it is viewed. So, due to amazing characters and their development, stunning locations, a classic plot and James Bond at his best, I can safely declare From Russia With Love as my favorite in the series.
Universal Exports Rating: 007
First appearance of Desmond Llewelyn as Q
First Q gadget (The briefcase)
First appearance of Walter Gotell (Later played General Gogol)
First appearance of a car phone
First villain with a gadget (Grant's watch)
First time Bond is being chased by a helicopter
First time another Cubby Broccoli/Saltzman production appears in a Bond film (Call Me Bwana)
First time the villain avenges a colleague's death (Blofeld wants revenge for Dr. No's death)
Unknown to cast and crew, Pedro Armendariz (Ali Karim Bey) was dying of cancer. When his conditions was revealed, he nonetheless finished his scenes and a party was thrown in his honor. Days later, in the hospital, he committed suicide.|
In both the British and American trailers, the name of every major cast member is mentioned, except one: Sean Connery.
Principal photography ended two days before a revolution in Istanbul.
Just after Bond and Tatiana jump off the Orient Express, Ian Fleming can be seen standing next to a car.
Daniella Bianchi was an ex-Miss Italy.
This is Sean Connery's favorite Bond film.