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Film Review: From Russia with Love
In 1963, Terence Young released From Russia with Love, based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, as the second film in the franchise. Starring Sean Connery, Pedro Armendárez, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, and Daniela Bianchi, the film grossed $78.9 million at the box office.
Kronsteen, the expert planner of SPECTRE, wants revenge on James Bond for killing Dr. No, so he devises a plot to steal a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets and sell it back to them. Meanwhile, Tatiana Romanova contacts MI6 and offers to defect with the Lektor, but only if she can defect to Bond, who flies to Istanbul to meet her.
The second film in the series, From Russia with Love is a great film to further the Bond mythos. Like the film before it, there’s a bit of a deviation from the standard James Bond convention in its opening song. While it did move to silhouettes of dancing women, the music over it was still the instrumental leitmotifs rather than a distinct title song. While there was a title song sung by Matt Monro, it’s sung over the radio at two different points during the movie. There’s also the interesting part at the beginning of the film, where Rosa Klebb is speaking with Blofeld and she basically recaps all of Dr. No. No other film in the franchise would do something like this and it’s interesting as it’s a pretty good way for audiences to get acquainted with Bond if they hadn’t seen the previous film.
On the other hand, there were several conventions that would be series mainstays that were introduced here too. There was a sequence before the title where a Bond lookalike was killed, Blofeld is introduced, Q gave Bond a gadget. in this case it was a booby-trapped briefcase, a helicopter sequence, an action scene following the climax, the aforementioned theme song, and a tagline specifying that Bond will return.
Speaking of Blofeld, even though he only his appearance is very brief, it does well in establishing him as the main nemesis for James Bond. He’s cold and calculating in figuring out a way for SPECTRE to come out on top and make sure his enemies are dispatched while removing those who have failed him very efficiently. His face is never seen either, making him mysterious. Doing so makes it seem like he’s the Anti-Bond, like what would happen if Bond decided he wanted to stop saving the world and had a desire to rule it. His short appearance also cements that SPECTRE will be much more prevalent in later films and more of a threat to Bond.
Red Grant and Klebb are also pretty interesting villains as well. The former is chosen by the latter to take Bond out and while a homicidal maniac assassin isn’t interesting in and of itself, the fact that he almost succeeds in killing bond speaks highly of his talents. Unfortunately, he’s incredibly stupid and greedy. Shooting Bond is the plan, in order to make it look like suicide, but he says he’s going to continue shooting Bond until he kisses Grant’s foot. Multiple bullets won’t make it look like suicide. He’s also taken out because of his desire to have 50 gold coins. There’s also Klebb who fails on every account. Her death is actually quite karmic. She had Tatiana fake falling for Bond in order to get the Lektor, but Tatianna ends up shooting her because she really did fall for him. Klebb orchestrated her own death, and one that was probably more merciful than what Blofeld had in mind when she failed.
The film quite a few good action scenes, too. What comes to mind first is the boat chase where Bond just decides to drop a few barrels off to lighten the load. They end up creating a wall of fire that he uses to make his escape. Grand and Bond have a great fight on the Orient Express as well, where Connery and Shaw did most of the scene by themselves. It’s quite intense, where it seems that Bond will actually lose at some points.
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- Best British Cinematography (Colour)
British Society of Cinematographers Awards
- Best Cinematography Award
Golden Laurel Awards
- Second Place - Action Drama
- Third Place - Supporting Performance, Female (Lotte Lenya)
Golden Globe Awards
- Best Song ("From Russia with Love")
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards
- Best DVD/Blu-Ray Collection (Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection)
IGN Summer Movie Awards
- Best Movie Blu-Ray (Bond 50 Box Set)
- Best Classic DVD Release ("The James Bond DVD Collection," volumes 2 & 3)