A Men's Lifestyle and Family Blog | North East England

Monday, 2 May 2016

Project Bond: From Russia With Love

"Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something"



The 2nd movie in the James Bond franchise is From Russia With Love released in 1963, only a year after Dr No, it is very different from it's predecessor but still bears all the hallmarks of a Bond movie. Again it stars Sean Connery as Bond. 



The movie starts with Bond being stalked through a garden by a blond haired pursuer, when all of sudden, out of nowhere Bond's assailant strangles him with a garrotte wire hidden in his watch. I mean what the heck is going on? Bond is dead in the 1st few minutes of the movie! But wait, not all is as it seems... This is not the real Bond it's just a body double in a Bond mask. This whole thing has been a training exercise for the blond haired assassin.

The titles roll and it's classic James Bond fare with dancing ladies over the credits while a John Barry orchestral score lets you know you are truly in Bond country.

After the titles we head to Venice where there is a chess tournament happening. A dodgy looking chess player gets a secret message and quickly ends the game. He heads to meet an unseen baddie called number 1 who has a white cat on his lap (we all know who that is right?) and woman called number 3, who is really called Rosa Kleb and was a Colonel in the Russian Military but has recently defected to SPECTRE. The trio discuss plans for SPECTRE to steal a Russian decoding device called the Lektor Decoder. They need a Russian communications agent and British agent to get it, unbeknownst to the agents.




Kleb goes to meet the blond haired man who was being trained in the opening scene but 1st we see a true Bond cliche where there are a load of blokes being trained in various weapons, hand to hand combat and even flame-throwers (coz they always come in handy in a fight) and we then learn that blond haired man is called Grant (played by Robert Shaw) and he is being trained by SPECTRE to be their version of Bond and Kleb arranges to meet Grant in Istanbul where his mission will be to take the Lektor from Bond and kill him.

In Istanbul Kleb poses as her former role as a Russian Colonel to recruit Tatiana, the Russian communications agent with access to the Lektor decoder, the plan is for Tatiana to claim she is defecting to the west and bringing the Lektor with her. Kleb's interrogation of Tatiana is firm, as you would expect from a Russian character in a movie made during the height of the cold war, but I was surprised by Kleb's not so subtle undertones of lesbianism from a movie in the mid-1960's.

Finally we meet the real Bond and unsurprisingly he is making out with some woman (I think she is the same woman he picked up playing baccarat at the start of Dr No) when he gets a message from Moneypenny telling him that M wants to see him. Bond head to MI6 HQ where M gives him his mission and we meet Q for the 1st time  who gives Bond a briefcase full of gadgets.


Bond heads to Istanbul and meets his contact called Karim Bey (the whole time being followed by Grant). Bond and Bey agree that the Russian agents defection is probably a trap but go along with it in hopes that they will get the Lektor Decoder.




Soon after Bey's office is bombed and for Bonds safety he takes Bond to stay with some Turkish gypsies he uses as hired muscle however the Russians send their own operatives from Bulgaria and a mass shoot out/battle ensues. Again Grant watches from a distance but doesn't get involved.

Bond and Bey decide to take out the leader of the Bulgarians before continuing with the mission. When the Bulgarian has been dispatched Bond heads back to his hotel where he finds Tatiana in his bed and Bond is in there like swimwear.




Bond heads to the Russian Consulate where he has arranged a bomb to go off as a distraction and when has the Lektor he legs it with Tatiana in tow. Bond now has to smuggle the decoder and the Russian blond back to London unaware he is still being followed by Grant.

On a train bound for London there is more intrigue as there are more deaths and when Karim Bey ends up dead Bond suspects Tatiana is involved and interrogates her again and slaps her around a bit (not very hero like). As the train passed through Zagreb Grant decides to make his move so kills Bonds contact and takes his place and finally Grant and Bond come face to face. Bond is immediately suspicious. Over dinner Grant drugs Tatiana and back at their cabin Bond is also knocked out. Now at this point anyone who has been through any kind of training in this sort of thing surely would kill Bond and Tatiana and take the Lektor Decoder but does Grant do this, of course not. Instead he waits for Bond to wake up and then tells him everything. Bond then bargains for his life in a ploy to get Grant to trigger one of Q's gadgets. The fight that follows is the highlight of the movie and one of the best fights in any Bond movie, Grant seems more than a match for Bond and not just another henchman. With the help of another Q gadget Bond overcomes and kills Grant.

Back in Venice Number 1, still stroking the pussy, is criticising Kleb and the Chess Guy, called Number 5, for the missions failure. He says SPECTRE won't tolerate failure and Kleb kills Number 5. Bond and Tatiana are then pursued by some SPECTRE agents but are able to evade them and arrive in Venice themselves to contact the British Government. Before they do though Rosa Kleb returns posing as maid and tries to take the decoder again but after a short and bizarre fight Tatiana shows she really has defected and shoots Kleb.

From Russia With Love is often cited by critics as one of the best movies in the James Bond series. Personally I've never really been a fan of it and have always thought it is Sean Connery's weakest film as Bond. My recollection of it was always that nothing much happens in it, however I haven't actually watched if for about 15-20 years and having now just watched it again I realise it is actually a good Bond movie, it's still not one of my favourites but it is a lot better than I remembered. I think the reason why I didn't enjoy it as a kid was that while most of the Bond movies are full on action movies From Russia with Love is the most pure spy/espionage movie of the entire Bond series and here's the trailer.



The next film in the series will be Goldfinger, so look out for my review coming soon.

Well, that's all for now

S

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