Not sure, but this may supplant Goldfinger as my favourite Connery-featuring Bond film. Obviously I’ll get to that one shortly, so stay tuned for that development on this question.
The advantage of this instalment is the simple plausibility of the story. There aren’t massive, expensive laboratories for creation of apocalyptic bombs, or radio towers for missiles being re-directed, or theft of LNG, or…
All we’re asked to believe is:
- the Russians have a mechanical code machine (Fleming weekly visited the ENIGMA research facility during WWII so he knew about this quite intimately);
- MI-5 wants one of them (why wouldn’t they?); and
- a woman has fallen in love with James Bond’s photo (who hadn’t by 1963?)
Seems perfectly fine.
The Gypsy Camp sequence is a tad token in the “chicks wrestling are sexy” department, and the whole rail sequence might have been trimmed somehow, as it does seem to go on so very long. Still, both deliver important plot points mostly due to information, driving our favourite agent on to his goal. The boat chase later, however, doesn’t seem too important, as really cool-looking as it may be.
The gadgets have arrived: AR-5 sniper rifle that is stored in its own stock, twin-lens reflex camera with reel-to-reel tape recorder inside it, attaché case with several concealed features, plus a hand-held microphone detector. Thankfully, the story doesn’t get sidetracked by them and they’re there to help the story.
Bond’s wit is worked a tad too hard here, but given they’ve only just enabled it, and the previous film probably had only one witticism, some over-compensation is understandable.
Finally we’ve seen the head of SPECTRE, albeit only the hand of that head, and not the head of the head… erm… yes.
The title sequence has gyrating female flesh (as God intended); and it follows a pre-titles sequence that shows a Bond double, so almost is the first Prologue showing Bond doing ‘something cool’. This version actually serves a purpose, and I wish more of them did this, rather than showing us a bit of an un-related mission involving some crazy electronic, magic expanding trench coat with jet-propulsion sleeves.
All in all, even with the grumping above, excellent stuff.
From Russia with Love (1963)
Directed by Terence Young
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, with adaptation of the novel
of the same name by Ian Fleming done by Johanna Harwood
This year, I’ve been watching DVDs from the library for a number of reasons, mostly to do with a combination of “filling in the gaps in my ‘pop culture’ knowledge”, as well as a concerted effort to better understand story editing by both watching a film and then re-watching listening to people who have studied that particular movie for years in order to better appreciate the themes, plot construction, symbolism, and so on.
The process would be nothing without the secondary audio tracks. Sometimes it’s like having actually been through the film-making process with the people involved.
Table of contents for the series “The Bond Films: Which is the Least Goodest?”
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #1: Dr. No (1962)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #2: From Russia with Love (1963)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #3: Goldfinger (1964)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #4: Thunderball (1965)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #5: You Only Live Twice (1967)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #6: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #7: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #8: Live and Let Die (1973)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #9: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #10: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #11: Moonraker (1979)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #12: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #13A: Octopussy (1983)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #13B: Never Say Never Again (1983)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #14: A View to a Kill (1985)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #15: The Living Daylights (1987)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #16: Licence to Kill (1989)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #17: GoldenEye (1995)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #18: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #19: The World is Not Enough (1999)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #20: Die Another Day (2002)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #21: Casino Royale (2006)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #22: Quantum of Solace (2008)
- RE:VIEW ~ Bond #1 – 22: Which is the Least Bestest…?