Sunday, October 28, 2012

176. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)


This second Bond film is where the franchise comes into focus: Sean Connery is visibly more confident, Blofeld (not yet named) is stroking the cat, Desmond Llewellyn is in place as Q, the main theme is woven throughout the score as a leitmotif, the gadgets are still more utilitarian than comic, the romance between Bond and the singularly charming Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi, a uniquely classy yet tender presence among the Bond girls) is believably surprising and sweet, and the action is truly international in scope, building to a thrilling fistfight between Bond and Robert Shaw's proto-Jaws Red Grant aboard the night-shuttling Trans-Siberian Express. It's reportedly the favorite Bond films of Connery, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig, perhaps because it feels closest to the spirit of the Fleming novels, being serious and romantic and full of worldly adventure not entirely without a twinkle. That twinkle runs the full gamut from Bond's double entendres and ironic asides to the spirited companionship of Kerim Bey (Pedro Almandariz) to the knife built into the shoe of the evil Soviet agent Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya). It all ends, in the classic Bond style, with the friendly merging, so to speak, of East and West as Matt Monro vocalizes the theme we've heard throughout, giving us the first bonafide Bond theme.

Viewed as part of the BOND 50 Blu-ray set from MGM. 

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