From Russia with Love (1963)



"The first shot won't kill you, nor the second, not even the third — not until you crawl over here and you kiss my foot!""The first shot won't kill you, nor the second, not even the third — not until you crawl over here and you kiss my foot!"

“The first shot won’t kill you, nor the second, not even the third — not until you crawl over here and you kiss my foot!”


With the financial success of the first Ian Fleming adapted James Bond film Dr. No, greenlighting a second follow up film as a sequel is a no brainer. This allows the studio Eon Productions to funnel more money into the project while staying true to what made the first film so successful. The underlying cause of Dr. No’s success is largely due in part to Sean Connery’s performance as the title character Bond, James Bond.  From Connery’s charismatic smile to the way he carries himself in the heat of action to in the more intimate moments, Connery has made this character his own. 

From Russia with Love takes what its predecessor accomplished and only adds more to it. Terence Young coming back to direct adds to the already high chemistry between him and Connery – the two fully understand this character in how he would act to nearly every situation. Add to that chemistry is a solid spy thriller that is steeped in political intrigue that’s inspired by the Cold War. And it shows, though never directly mentioning certain countries in power but in creating SPECTRE -the villainous organization set out on world domination. The novel is Fleming’s 5th released in his James Bond saga, but the film never plays that way. Not having read the novels by Fleming, it’s hard for me to say how the continuity lines up from book to book but within the realm of the first two novels, the story is seamless from one to the next. 


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Just like with Dr. No, the scale of From Russia with Love presents a smaller budget with every penny used to the studios advantage. The on-location scenes in Scotland and Turkey add an authenticity with breathtaking landscapes to soak in amidst the car chases, shootouts and romance happening all at once. Therein lies the DNA of these films that are easily identifiable with their namesake. It can’t be a 007 James Bond film if there isn’t a car chase, sex appeal, and a lot of violence for story’s sake and a charming lead actor.

In From Russia with Love, SPECTRE seeks revenge on James Bond (Sean Connery) for the death of Dr. No in Jamacia. SPECTRE NO. 5 Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal) devises a plan to have Bond assassinated by a top assassin of SPECTRE Donald Grant (Robert Shaw) when the timing is right. In between all that which Bond and M (Bernard Lee) get swept up in unknowingly is the plan of a theft of a Lektor Cryptography device. 

As far as spy thrillers go From Russia with Love is intricately thought out and executed. From the main storyline to the sub plots, From Russia with Love gives enough time and energy to everything established. All thanks to screenwriter Richard Maibum who also wrote Dr. No. Having the same screenwriter/director duo is crucial to the early Bond films success – going from novel to adaptation to the final cut. The connection between Bond and SPECTRE is well established as two forces of nature – one good and one evil. It’s a game of cat and mouse or, better suited, the most dangerous game, on an international scale. Because of the scale of this film, the stakes are higher than they were previously in DR. No which were high to begin with. 

Even though this is the second James Bond film a pattern is beginning to form. For one, the theme music which is synonymous with these films as well as the opening walk out and gun shot with the camera motioning that we’re dead are simply iconic. The next is the Bond girl, different every time but brings the sex appeal all the same. Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) is as captivating as her love interest counterpart. Her character lacks from her dialogue, which is the weakest aspect of this second film in some regards. in Bond’s case, Connery has a subtly to his humor, making it convincing in his delivery. Add one more alpha personality trait to James Bond that makes him irresistible. 


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What attracts a film character of James Bond is his charisma. It’s like a gravitational pull – everyone is drawn to it and once the characters come in close contact with James, it’s hard to leave, unless you kill him in which that’s no easy task. 

Like I mentioned earlier, there are several patterns associated with James Bond that continue in future projects. The pop genre theme music that mixes in the iconic riff, the peak at the main villain running SPECTRE Ernst Blofeld aka Number 1 (Anthony Dawson) who we only get glimpses at with his cat in hand, The high-tech gadgets crafted by Q (Desmond Llewelyn), and a helicopter sequence. 

For it’s time James Bond is ahead of it’s time in regards to the use of technology. In may many ways the same can be said about Star Trek. But with Bond, the gadgets are a character in themselves with how they are utilized and showcased throughout the story.

All of that is what makes James Bond a staple in the spy genre to keep coming back to. It’s something to look forward to within the subsequent films to follow as they are just as big as the title character himself. Among all of that are the action sequences that are way bigger than in Dr. No. Terrence Young easily pulls off the ambitious scenes full of moving parts, fire and limp bodies thrown around like rag dolls. And in the middle of them all is a calm, cool, and collected 007 not even breaking a sweat.

From Russia with Love is written by Richard Maibaum, directed by Terrence Young is Rated PG and has an 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. From Russia with Love was released on October 10, 1963 in the United Kingdom and on May 27, 1964 in the United States and has a runtime of 1 hour and 58 minutes. From Russia with Love can be bought from online retailers like iTunes, Amazon, and Google.  4.5 out of 5.


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