Wednesday, November 12, 2008

007 days of Bond: From Russia With Love

After Bond became a smash hit with his first film, Dr. No, the ball was in the court of the producers to select the next film to be made. The novel, From Russia With Love, was one of President Kennedy's favorite books, so it was only logical to have this film be the second installment. The rest is history.

John Barry makes his first appearance as the composer of the film, which would prove to be the first of many - even David Arnold take a cue from him and keeps the same style of music for his films.

The plot is extremely simple. Bond is tasked with a mission to obtain a top secret code-breaking machine from the Russians. The spy organization introduced in Dr. No, SPECTRE, wants revenge for his meddling so they devise a plan for a Russian operative to seduce him to get incriminating evidence on him.

Extremely simple and straightforward. No silly "I'll destroy the world" scenarios, no over the top villians that do silly things. Sure Grant is strong, but he's not some superhuman.

Connery shows why he's the best Bond, he's more comfortable in the role the second time around, which allows him to stretch a little and grow, allowing us to really believe that he's who he says he is.

The supporting characters include Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal), a brilliant tactician involved in SPECTRE; Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), Number 3 in the organization; Red Grant (Robert Shaw), the hitman sent to dispose of Bond; Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), Bond's friend and confidant in Istanbul; and last but not least, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), who plays the georgous Russian unknowingly chosen by SPECTRE to seduce Bond. This film marks the introduction of Desmond Llewelyn as Major Boothroyd, otherwise known as 'Q,' who replaced Peter Burton who appeared in Dr. No.

At times I feel that this is perhaps the best Bond film that they've made, hitting all the elements necessary for the subsequent 19 Bond films to be made, a credit normally given to Goldfinger.

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