FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)
Article 1856 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-14-2006
Posting Date: 9-11-2006
Directed by Terence Young
Featuring Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendariz
James Bond goes to Istanbul, and, fully aware that he is falling into a trap of some sort, hooks up with a beautiful Russian agent in the hopes of getting his hands on a decoding device known as Lektor.
I’m not a big fan of the James Bond series, but if you ever felt the need to talk me into being one, this would be your starting point. For me, this is the best of the ones I’ve seen to date; it has an air of seriousness about the proceedings, it’s gritty and suspenseful, it has some truly great villains, and it avoids some of the pandering of other movies in the series as it spends more time telling the story than filling up the running time with his love conquests and cute action sequences. Oddly enough, though, the gritty seriousness of this one also takes it more out of the realm of science fiction to which most of the other entries of the series belong to at least marginally, as the reliance on gadgets is deemphasized here; the booby-trapped suitcase doesn’t quite qualify to me as a science fiction device, though the decoding device may. At any rate, this one has some memorable set pieces, especially a harrowing confrontation between Bond (Sean Connery) and the assassin who has been tailing him throughout the movie (Robert Shaw). Lotte Lenye also makes for one of the most memorable of Bond’s adversaries. I will always regret that the rest of the series didn’t keep going in the same direction as this one.