International crime syndicate SPECTRE has hatched a devious
plot to play the British and Russian governments off against
each other. In a race to seize the Soviet Lektor decoding
device, James Bond is thrust into a thrilling boat chase,
a brutal helicopter attack and a deadly brawl aboard the Orient
the James Bond series science fiction? That's a question our
readers ask us from time to time. Certainly most of the movies
have used science fantasy elements such as lasers, incredible
gadgets, space probes and satellites. Even Dr. No tied
in with the US space programme.
From Russia With Love is the least fantastical movie
in the series. More than any other Bond film, this can truly
be described as an espionage thriller. Later entries would
veer further into action/adventure territory, with varying
degrees of espionage thrown in as a secondary consideration,
but this one has enough twists, suspense and intrigue to bear
comparison with the works of Alfred Hitchcock. And despite
a noticeably larger budget than that of Dr. No, the
gadgets have not yet taken over. Bond has only an exploding
attaché case, his trusty Walther PPK and his wits to rely
upon. This is particularly evident during his gritty fight
scene against SPECTRE agent Grant (portrayed with chilling
sadism by Robert Shaw) on board the Orient Express.
movie marks a number of firsts for the Bond franchise. The
aforementioned attaché case is introduced by the late great
Desmond Llewelyn, though his character is credited here as
Boothroyd rather than Q, and he displays none of the famous
condescension towards Bond that Q would adopt from Goldfinger
Also for the first time, we have a pre-titles sequence, though
this is more of a teaser to the main story than the "mini
action movie" format that would become typical of the later
films. From Russia With Love also features the first
Bond song (sung by Matt Monro) to share the title of the movie,
though, unlike the standard adopted from Goldfinger
on, the song is not combined with the title sequence.
Finally, this is the first Bond movie to feature a musical
score composed by John Barry. Having previously conducted
Monty Norman's soundtrack to Dr. No, Barry provides
a rousing score of tremendous range. It is marred only by
the slight overuse of the James Bond theme as 007 searches
his hotel room for listening devices, which makes it appear
as though Bond is actually trying to find where the music
is coming from!
what is most remarkable about From Russia With Love,
as the DVD's "making of" documentary reveals, is not that
the film is so good, but that it was completed at all. The
production was bedevilled by potentially fatal accidents involving
leading lady Daniela Bianchi and director Terence Young. A
problematic script, in which the Russian villains of Ian Fleming's
original novel are replaced by SPECTRE, required last-minute
rewrites in order for it to make sense to a cinema audience.
During filming it also become apparent that Pedro Armendariz
(who played the Turkish agent Kerim Bey to perfection) was
terminally ill. In the end, the movie was literally saved
on the cutting room floor with the aid of some ingenious editing
by Peter Hunt.
In addition to the previously released documentary about co-producer
Harry Saltzman, the Ultimate Edition also features
newly discovered vintage interviews with Bond creator Ian
Fleming, including an appearance on Desert Island Discs,
and an animated storyboard sequence (though the latter items
were not provided for review).
lot of love has gone into restoring this fine movie, so it's
well worth rushin' to the shops to pick up this new edition.