BASED ON THE NOVEL BY
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)
The winning combo of director Terrence Young, and actor Sean Connery as James Bond, return for another 007 adventure in From Russia With Love. This time, however, a bigger budget helps the duo enhance the template from the ground breaking Dr. No, where the viewer last saw Bond foiling the plans of the villainous title character.
Continuing from that storyline, Bond finds himself the target of the secret villainous organisation Spectre, of which Dr. No was a member of. Spectre’s leader – a faceless enemy always shown stroking his cat (excellently parodied in the Austin Powers films) – organises a two pronged attack to bring Bond down, and start a war between the British and the Soviets.
The first exposes Bond’s standing as the premier man-whore, whose sex life goes hand in hand with his espionage work. A crabby Soviet Colonel by the name of Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) – exactly the type of woman Bond cannot seduce – arranges for a faux deflective and extremely attractive Russian intelligence operative, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), to lure Bond with the promise of an encryption device.
Spectre’s second plan of attack is more traditional, with an unintentionally hilarious scene involving a bad guy training camp – complete with flame throwers and karate – giving way to Spectre’s own super agent, Red Grant.
Played by a spot on Robert Shaw, Red Grant is the perfect antithesis to Bond: blonde, charmless, and void of sex appeal. As a result, Connery and Shaw play well off each other, going mano-a-mano in a contest between two brawny men from the old school of acting, and male culture as a whole.
And so, with girl in hand, an enemy in pursuit, and an always ready quip for the bad guys, Bond travels throughout Eastern and Central Europe. Cinematographer Ted Moore captures the films exotic locations and retro set designs, while the pulsating and catchy as hell Bond score provides momentum.
It is silly and somewhat dated fair, but still an entertaining adventure regardless.