From Russia with Love
- Sean Connery as James Bond
- Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
- Pedro Armendáriz as Kerim Bey
- Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb
- Robert Shaw as Red Grant
- Bernard Lee as M
- Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Following on from the groundwork of Dr. No and armed with twice the budget, Terence Young crafts From Russia with Love; a quintessential entry into the Bond series that is also a classy, exotic and exciting thriller in its own right. Featuring eccentric villains, a stunning Bond girl, likeable allies and an absolutely riveting story of international espionage, From Russia with Love ranks as one of my favourite movies in the James Bond franchise.
This time Bond is summoned to M to investigate a very mysterious and twisted case. A beautiful cipher clerk in Istanbul named Tatiana Romanova has contacted MI6 saying she wants to defect with information regarding a Lektor device. M thinks it is a trap but sends Bond anyway to see what he can find out. It transpires that the crime syndicate SPECTRE has devised a cunning and seemingly ingenious plan to steal the Lektor from the Soviet’s, whilst getting revenge on Bond for the killing of Dr. No. Tatiana Romanova, unbeknownst to her, is in fact an unwitting pawn in SPECTRE’s twisted plan, she believes she is doing this mission for the good of her country. Bond heads to Istanbul to investigate and is aided greatly by Kerim Bey, the charismatic British Intelligence Chief stationed in Istanbul. Meeting with the gorgeous Tatiana, he begins to unravel the case. From here it is a cat and mouse game of espionage as Bond tackles villains left, right and centre, including the sadistic Rosa Klebb and the psychopathic Red Grant. With exotic foes, nefarious schemes and Sean Connery back as James Bond, From Russia with Love is classic Bond.
From the get go, From Russia with Love emerges as an excellent spy thriller. Terence Young directs with flair and allows the humour and suspense to be supplied in equally effective quantities. Visually, the film is stunning to watch as we see Istanbul in all its beauty. The title sequences that would populate later ventures are used for the first time here, the title seductively projected over the undulating hips of a belly dancer. Peter Hunt, the editor is at his best here, with many of the action and fight scenes being a significant highlight. These range from a jaw-dropping and savage fight between two women at a gypsy camp in order to settle a love triangle, Tatiana exchanging information with Bond in the Hagia Sophia and not forgetting Bond’s brutal fight to the death aboard the Orient Express with the assassin Red Grant. John Barry’s score is suitably amazing and perfectly compliments the exciting yet dangerous atmosphere of foreign intrigue. Matt Monro croons the title song that features at various important times in the narrative. He would be the first high-profile singer to sing the title song in a Bond movie and since then many illustrious stars have followed.
The cast itself is reason enough to catch this marvellous entry in the series. Sean Connery is back as the debonair, womanizing Bond and this time gets some great one liners to compliment the ruthless side of his character. Daniela Bianchi, whilst being a stunning girl, embodies the naive charm of Tatiana as she begins to realise the trickery that has befallen her. Pedro Armendáriz turns in a highly charismatic performance as Kerim Bey; he has a humour, charm and intelligence that make him one of the best allies in the Bond movies. Lotte Lenya is unforgettable as the twisted and sadistic Rosa Klebb, her poison tipped shoe making her a dangerous and highly original villainess. And adding to the excellent villains of the piece is Robert Shaw, who is outstanding as the homicidal paranoiac Red Grant, who is charged with killing Bond. His violent and well-executed fight with Bond on the Orient Express is an excellent scene of hand to hand combat and danger. In the supporting roles, Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell are as always a welcome presence as the crusty M and the keen Miss Moneypenny. For the first time, we get a glimpse of Desmond Llewelyn as the much-loved gadget master Q. He supplies Bond with a nifty attaché case, armed with a throwing knife and tear gas, that comes in very useful later on in the movie.
So all I have left to say is that From Russia with Love is a thrilling, gripping and exciting high point of the James Bond franchise.