The second James Bond movie, and the first to sport the lavish production values that characterized all subsequent entries in the series, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE sends Secret Agent 007 (Sean Connery) to mysterious Istanbul to grab a top-secret Russian decoding machine. There, he falls for
Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a Soviet Embassy clerk who is an unwitting pawn of SPECTRE. Bond is pursued by ruthlessly butch East German agent Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya, lots of fun here) who carries a poisonous switchblade in her shoe. He also has to fend off Robert Shaw, sporting a
fabulously bogus blond dye job, who plays a psychopathic trained assassin posing as a British agent (Bond spots him as a fraud when he orders red wine with fish). The highlight of the film is a terrific battle to the death on the Orient Express between Connery and Shaw.
Written with enough self-consciously campy humor to defuse the paranoid ideologies running rampant here, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is also acted with tongues held firmly in cheek. Thankfully, the film displays little evidence of the excessive gadgetry that would plague later Bond flicks. One of the
best of the Bond films, featuring Matt Monro singing the decidedly unmemorable Lionel Bart-penned title tune. leave a comment