From Russia With Love (1963)

James Bond (Sean Connery) is the target of SPECTRE, who is seeking revenge on him. Meanwhile Bond is working with Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) to retrieve an encryption device before SPECTRE does and gives it to the Soviets.

Director: Terence Young

Cast: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Aremendariz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee

MPAA Rating: PG for action violence

Fun Fact: Sean Connery’s favorite of the Bond films.

Here is the second entry in my series of James Bond views as I continue to view them all in a different perspective. Like I stated before I never got into the series all that much and decided why not give it another go. Dr. No was a surprise hit for me as I had enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. That film was a nice set up for the character and other things that would continue to make the franchise famous.

From Russia With Love improves were Dr. No left off. Dr. No relied on the story and build up to the climax, while From Russia With Love expands on the story and introduces many things in a more action packed and faster environment. We are introduced to the SPECTRE villains and we get the classic villain that we never see his face while petting a cat. We can see where the influence for Dr. Claw comes from along with all the parodies. We get the gadgets as well as Bond is going on a more dangerous mission and needs some extra tools to help him on the way. Those things bring more interest in the movie and while it is based off a novel, the producers have quite a bit of material if they ever needed to make an original story. It works because Dr. No is already the setup and establishes the characters, so we do not need to really focus on that as much.

The same screenwriting team of Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood from Dr. No return for From Russia With Love. While the main focus is the action it also has quite a bit of comedic moments as well. While the action scenes bring a decent amount of tension, the comedic parts bring lighthearted moments to balance them out. Sean Connery once again is fantastic as James Bond. We get the same charming and smart secret agent, but we also get a witty one as well. Connery delivers his one liner quotes to satisfaction. I caught myself laughing a few times in this film. Robert Shaw was great as the villain Grant. While Shaw is mostly silent in this film, just the look of him is menacing and he would seem like he would be hard to take down. Daniela Bianchi also delivers a fine performance in the Bond girl role. Her and Connery work well with each other in their scenes and it has interesting character build as the movie progresses.

For a film that was released in 1963, it is action packed with various scenes that will keep you invested. We get a shootout scene towards the beginning that has quite a bit going on. While something like a big shoot out could be hard to focus on, the camera work is clean, and we get the right amount of time on each character participating in the shootout. There is quite a bit of time devoted in the film on a train that is well directed. We get plenty of tense moments and roadblocks on the way. In the second half we get two great action sequences that involve a helicopter and a boat chase that have on point cinematography and special effects. The cinematography by Ted Moore is focused on every shot to capture the important moments in clean and focused shots.

Once again, the music is great, and it is nice to hear the James Bond theme to get the viewer ready for action. Another first was of a theme song with lyrics. That would continue on in the franchise and it is always a big deal when a new artist writes the theme for the film. Another continuation from the previous film is the filming location once again is beautiful. Most of this film was filmed in Turkey and other places in Europe. These locations are pleasant to look at the cinematography also captures the landscapes at their full potential.

Overall, From Russia With Love not only brings more to the table, it should be considered legendary in not only the James Bond series, but in movies in general. It is influential in other spy films and parodies with some of the new things introduced in it. We not only get an action packed and fast paced, but a decent mystery and tension building film. Since Dr. No did a great job setting up, we are able to focus on new material and plot devices to keep the series going. The cast led by Sean Connery bring great performances and interesting characters. The cinematography is fantastic with clean and focused shots in not only the landscapes, but in the action sequences where top notch cinematography is much needed. From Russia With Love has gotten me excited to see more and I what I have seen so far has been highly impressive.

Verdict: Hit


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