From Russia With Love
Release year: 1963
Director: Terence Young
Screenwriter: Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Ian Fleming (based on the novel by)
Starring: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Eunice Gayson, Walter Gotell, Lois Maxwell
Ratings: 1 Golden Globe nomination: Best Song
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #312, week 24 2020
James Bond (Connery) is sent to pick up a Russian decoding machine from a Russian spy (Bianchi) in what is clearly a set up. While starting a romance with the spy, Bond tries to get his hand on the machine while fighting of several S.P.E.C.T.R.E. assassins after his life.
After the success of the first Bond movie there has clearly been a bigger budget for this, the second, and it shows in the appearances of the gadgets we have come to associate with Bond, not much but at least Q appears, while still delivering a great story. Connery (The Rock, 1996) get to deliver a more fleshed out Bond, a brilliant spy but one with flaws, especially an obvious one that can make women dangerously close to considering him an anti-hero; this is clearly not made in today’s me-too days! The stunning Bianchi (Missione speciale Lady Chaplin, 1966) is a fine Bond-girl and one with quite a lot screen time while Amendaáriz (Fort Apache, 1948) is wonderful as Bond’s associate in Istanbul. The friendship between the two men works well with the two sharing a great chemistry that ads a suiting humanity to the movie. The action is great and with several changes of scenery one is never bored.There is oriental Istanbul, colourful gypsies, not to mention the climatic train sequence with nerve-wracking fight scenes. After watching several Bond movies it can be difficult to differ them from each other and one of the easiest ways is by memorable baddies, something that is definitely the case with this, the second movie, which gives us the unforgettable Rosa Klebb played terrifically by Lenya (The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, 1961) who manage to keep the over-the-top character from becoming a caricature and Red Grant, the blond, strangling assassin played by a menacing Shaw (Jaws, 1975). In other words, From Russia just about delivers all your heart can desire from a cold war thriller.
Sean Connery has called this is personal favourite Bond movie.
Pedro Armendáriz (Kerim Bey) was terminally ill during filming. He had cancer, which he had likely contracted while filming the notorious movie, The Conqueror (1956) near the site of the U.S. nuclear test site in the Utah desert. Armendáriz had accepted the role in this movie partially as a means of providing financial security for his widow, and the movie’s schedule was altered in order to film his scenes while he was still physically able. Towards the end of filming those scenes, such as the Gypsy camp battle sequence however, director Terence Young had to double for the actor in some of his long shots. One month after all of his scenes were completed, Armendáriz, in emulation of his friend Ernest Hemingway, committed suicide in a hospital in Los Angeles as his cancer progressed into the advanced stages.
Although he had his reservations about the choice of Sir Sean Connery for the part of James Bond, after seeing him in this movie, Ian Fleming was completely won over by the actor. In fact, as a result, Fleming added a Scottish ancestry to Bond’s character in later novels.
Picture copyrights: Sony Pictures