Thursday Night Movie Club
From Russia With Love
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Release Date: May 27, 1964

Director: Terrence Young
Sean Connery
Daniela Bianchi
Pedro Armendáriz
Lotte Lenya
Robert Shaw
Bernard Lee
Desmond Llwellyn
Eunice Gayson
Walter Gotell
Francis De Wolff
George Pastell
Nadja Regin
Lois Maxwell
Aliza Gur
Martine Beswick
Vladek Sheybal
James Bond
Tatiana Romanov
Kerim Bey
Rosa Klebb
Donald 'Red' Grant
Sylvia Trench
Vavra, the Gypsy Leader
Train Conductor
Kerim's Girl
Miss Moneypenny
From Russia With Love movie poster
From Russia With Love is the best James Bond movie, so far. The screenplay is excellently written and directed. The acting is top-notch. There is plenty of sex and violence to boot, with humor in abundance. This movie is probably best known for its high level of intrigue that is so lacking in future Bond films.

SPECTRE (The Special Executive for Terror, Revenge and Extortion) plots to steal a Lektor decoding device from the Russians. In order to accomplish this and remain anonymous, SPECTRE will dupe the British Secret Service into stealing it for them and discrediting MI6. SPECTRE will play the Russians against the British and make them both patsies. Of course, an added bonus is that the British would no doubt send their best agent, James Bond, to accomplish such a high level mission. SPECTRE can avenge themselves for the killing of their operative, Dr. No. An added bonus for Bond is the promise of a beautiful Russian file clerk who can help him steal the decoder.

This mission takes Bond to Istanbul where the cold war is about to heat up. Bond employs the help of Kerim Bey, head of Station T: Turkey. Bey is the foreign version of M but still gets out into the field when circumstances dictate. Assassination attempts on Bey and the killings of Russian agents starts the intrigue rolling. Even Bond is caught in the web.

After several adventures with Kerim Bey, Bond finally meets the exquisite Tatiana Romanova (One of my personal favorite "Bond Girls"). Daniela Bianchi is not one of the best actresses but she is extremely sexy. This meeting only furthers SPECTRE's plot. Bond and Tanya are filmed making love as part of SPECTRE's plan to embarrass MI6.

The cat and mouse game continues as Bond and Bey make their final plans. The Russians keep a close eye on 007 and SPECTRE killer Grant keeps the game tilted in favor of the British. Suspicious murders keep 007 on his toes throughout leading up to the confrontation with Grant aboard the Orient Express to Paris. This is probably the best one-on-one fight scene in movie history as both Bond and Grant gain the upper hand, momentarily, as they battle inside the cramped stateroom.

From Russian With Love is only the second James Bond film but it is heads and tails better than the excellent Doctor No. An amazing feat! Suspense, intrigue and plot twists dominate the film rather than overdoing the action and gadgets.

Director Terrence Young keeps up the action and suspense throughout with taut editing. Although the audience knows the full plot, Young executes the film that hightens Bond and Bey's confusion. Bond follows his SPECTRE-driven storyt exactly on cue. They have thought of every contingency, except one. They did not count on Bond's resourcefulness in a crisis.

John Barry thankfully takes over as the musical composer/arranger and gives us one of the best sound tracks, easily providing an aural theme to coincide with the Eastern locales.

Sean Connery improves on his portrayal of James Bond cementing him in history as the best 007. There is amazing chenistry between Connery and Pedro Amendariz. From the moment they meet, it feels as if the two had been good friends for a while. There is also a spark between Connery and Bianchi. They can be playful one moment and suspicious of each other the next.

Three villains dominate the film. Best of the trio is Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb. She is the one who carries out the plan. She is creepy and makes Tatiana squirm with her possible lesbian advances. Vladek Sheybal plays SPECTRE Head of Planning Kronsteen. He is a master chess player who is calm and collected under any situation. He is confident to the point of arogance in his methodical planning. Robert Shaw is chilling as the assassin Grant. Grant is a an who enjoys killing. He doesn't care about the plot, he will enjoy killing Bond in his own way.

Doctor No was very good. From Russia With Love is leaps and bounds better. What's next? How do producers Harry Saltzmann and Albert R. Brocolli top this film? James Bond will return in Goldfinger.