Bond 60th Anniversary: From Russia With Love (1963): Bond 2, Starring Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya

From Russia With Love, the second movie in the James Bond series, following Dr. No, assembled together the crucial Bond elements into a successfully effective formula that would be refined in the future installments.

Grade: B+ (**** out of *****)

 

From Russia with Love
Poster by Renato Fratini and Eric Pulford

Overall, From Russia With Love is a more stylish and more entertaining picture than Dr. No, toning down the coitized cold-bloodedness seen in that film.

In this film, the action sequences are stronger and lend greater, more integrated tension to the plot.

Moreover, John Barry’s memorable score makes its first appearance; and Connery’s Bond is cooler and more imposing.

In the pre-credit sequence, Bond is hunted through a moonlit garden by a man (Donald Grant), who garrotes him.  The man is then revealed to be a masked actor, engaged in a training exercise.

Director Terence Young later commented that the sequence was inspired by the 1961 French film, Last Year at Marienbad, directed by New Wave co-founder, Alain Resnais.

The movie’s title and credits are projected onto the body of a dancing woman, in a sequence designed by Richard Brownjohn, Maurice Binder’s assistant.

Villains:

In this installment, the villains don’t want to take over the world–they just want to capture a Russian decoding device.

Two individuals are assigned to the mission of stealing the decoding device: No. 3, a former KGB agent Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), and No. 5, Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal), an expert chess player who has plotted every move of the task.

Bond’s weakness for and skill in seducing beautiful women are exploited by the villains in acquiring the decoding device.

Once Bond obtains the device from Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a Russian cipher clerk, SPECTRE muscleman Red Grant (Robert Shaw) plans to take it from him and kill him.  Bond travels to Istanbul to meet Tatiana.

Arguably, the film’s wittiest lines are manifest in the encounters between Bond and Grant. Commenting on Grant’s bad table etiquette, Bond says: “Red wine and fish. Well, that should’ve told me something.”

Later on, threatening Bond, Grant says: “The first won’t kill you. Nor the second. Not even the third.  Not till you crawl over here and kiss my foot.” To which the ever-cool Bond replies: “How ’bout a cigarette?”

The central action set-piece is one of franchise’s longest and most thrilling ones, depicting a lethal fight between Bond and enemy agent Grant aboard the Orient Express.

 

Photo: Robert Shaw

Among the gadgets given to Bond by Q-branch is a lethal leather briefcase, which has become a standard issue for all of the personnel.  It contains storage space for ammunition, knives and 50 gold sovereigns for emergency security.  The case also contains a sniper rifle, which is later used to kill Krilencu and bring down the SPECTRE helicopter.

Way ahead of its times, in terms of technology, Bond also carries a beeper and a mobile telephone, so that he can contact–and be approached right away–with the headquarters.

Not left behind, the villains are also well-armed.  Grant has a Garotte watch, and Rosa Klebb carries a poison-tipped dagger in the toe of her left shoe.

“She’s has had her kicks,” Bond says coolly after her death.

 

Double Entendres: Your Mouth Right Size for Me

There are some campy double-entendres in the dialogue between Tatiana and Bond. When Tania notes, “I think my mouth is too big,” Bond quickly replies, “No, it’s the right size, for me that is.”

(Bianchi’s dialogue was dubbed by uncredited Barbara Jefford, and Gayson’s by an uncredited Nikki van der Zyl.)

Bond seems to have time for–and enjoy–everything, especially sexual seductions and encounters.  Explaining to Miss Moneypenny his delay in reporting to the head office, caused by a quick afternoon tryst, Bond simply says: “Well, I’ve just been reviewing an old case.”

Lotte Lenya makes a wonderfully sinister villainess, named Rosa Klebb.  For some Bond fans, she is one of the two or three best foes in the long-running series. Lenya had just scored an Oscar nomination for playing Warren Beatty’s vicious pimp in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.

Credits

MPAA: PG.

United Artists

Directed by Terence Young
Produced by Harry Saltzman, Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, adaptation by Johanna Harwood, based on From Russia, with Love by Ian Fleming
Music by John Barry (score)
Lionel Bart (theme song)
Monty Norman (“Bond Theme”)
Cinematography Ted Moore
Edited by Peter R. Hunt

Production company: Eon Productions

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: October 10, 1963 (London premiere); October 11, 1963 (UK)

Running time: 115 minutes
Budget $2 million
Box office $79 million

DVD: March 28, 2006

 

Cast
Sean Connery as James Bond, MI6 agent 007.

Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova, Soviet Consulate clerk and Bond’s love interest.

Pedro Armendáriz as Ali Kerim Bey, head of MI6 Station T in Istanbul.

Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb (SPECTRE No. 3), former SMERSH colonel-turned-SPECTRE operative.

Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant, cunning SPECTRE assassin

Bernard Lee as M, chief of British Intelligence.

Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench, Bond’s semi-regular girlfriend.

Walter Gotell as Morzeny, SPECTRE thug who trains personnel on SPECTRE Island.
Francis de Wolff as Vavra, chief of Gypsy tribe used for dirty work by Kerim Bey.

George Pastell as the Orient Express train conductor.

Nadja Regin as Kerim Bey’s girlfriend.

Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, M’s secretary.

Aliza Gur and Martine Beswick as Vida (in green) and Zora (in red), respectively, jealous Gypsy girls disputing the same man.

Vladek Sheybal as Kronsteen (SPECTRE No. 5), Czechoslovak chess grandmaster and SPECTRE agent.

Anthony Dawson as Ernst Stavro Blofeld (SPECTRE No. 1), head and mastermind of SPECTRE and Bond’s nemesis.

Dawson’s dialogue was dubbed by an uncredited Eric Pohlmann.
Fred Haggerty as Krilencu, Bulgarian assassin who works for the Soviets in the Balkans.

Desmond Llewelyn as Major Boothroyd, head of MI6 Q Branch, also called “Equipment Officer”