Saturday, August 29, 2020

The 007 Project: From Russia With Love

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
SPECTRE lays a trap for Bond by using a low-level Russian clerk to tempt him with a Lektor decoding device. Bond plays along and meets the woman in Istanbul, and they steal the Lektor, with SPECTRE agents in hot pursuit. 

Memorable Quote:
You won't be needing this, old man.  ~Bond

The dialogue between Bond and Grant on the Orient Express. Robert Shaw is great as Grant, and it's not the first time on this blog that I've extolled a "Robert Shaw on a train" scene.  

The middle third of the movie is slow and confusing. 

Most interesting piece of IMDB trivia:
Though he isn't shown actually taking it, it is implied that Bond keeps Grant's garrote watch, as the watch appears in On Her Majesty's Secret Service when Bond cleans out his desk, as well as in a deleted scene in A View to a Kill when the Paris police return Bond's property.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Great song for this movie, both the instrumental version in the title sequence and the lyrical version sung by Matt Monro at the end. 
  • 7:10 mark - all those people watching the chess game and no one sees Kronsteen rip up the paper with the SPECTRE message?
  • The character of Morzeny (partially bald guy who we first see on SPECTRE Island) is played by Walter Gotell, who we'll see in later movies as General Gogol. He also appeared in MacGyver as the psychic Starkoss in GX-1 and as the Russian general in Gold Rush
  • 28:04 - not sure why Bond tells Kerim Bey that M thinks Bond's wasting his time on this mission, because M was totally on board earlier. 
  • 29:15 - kind of strange how the full Bond action theme is played while he's just inspecting his hotel room. 
  • It's nice of Bond to stop the girl fight, but they never tell us which one he picked as the winner. 
  • When Tatiana "Tanya" Romanova (not to be confused with Victoria Tomanova) first meets Bond, she seems much more confident than I was expecting based on her earlier scene with Rosa Klebb. Daniela Bianchi, the actress playing Tanya, was only 21 years old at the time -- she's quite charming. 
  • 1:16:03 - there's some debate as to whether the random guy in the grass outside the train might actually be Ian Fleming. 
  • 1:16:50 - not one of Bond's finer moments when he gives Tanya's face a hard slap. Turns out that Connery himself was not always the most progressive on this topic. 
  • 1:27:10 - Bond is surprisingly quick to put his gun down and turn his back on Grant, even after discovering that Grant drugged Tanya's drink. 
  • So SPECTRE's plan is to get Tatiana to steal the Lektor and give it to Bond, and then they're going to steal it from Bond and sell it back to the Russians. What's the point of all that, and why involve Bond at all? I get that they want revenge for his role in taking out Dr. No, but there would be simpler ways to get that.  
  • Weird how Grant makes Bond open the first briefcase but then insists on opening the second one himself, which of course is the one that's rigged with the tear gas.  
  • It's kind of embarrassing for Bond that he can't subdue Klebb on his own, even with her having a poison shoe-knife -- she's basically a little old lady. 
  • 1:51:55 - Tanya quickly moves the gun back and forth as if she's actually considering shooting Bond instead of Klebb. I guess Bond did slap her. 
  • Two other pieces of trivia:
    • There was a From Russia With Love video game released in 2005 for Playstation 2, and Connery did the vocal work for Bond. 
    • Louis Armstrong performed with Lotte Lenya, the actress who plays Klebb, and he added her name to the lyrics of Mack the Knife. 

Final Analysis:
This movie seems to be regarded by many people as one of the best Bond movies ever, but I didn't care for it, and I'm sure it's going to be in my bottom 5 by the time it's all said and done. Bianchi and Shaw are both great and the theme song is good, but otherwise there's not a lot of highlights or scenes that I really enjoyed. I also found the plot to be confusing, especially in the middle third of the movie, such as what did the Gypsies have to do with anything, and why were the Russians shooting at them? And then I didn't know who the guy was that Kerim Bey shoots with a sniper rifle -- probably a Russian, but the Russian characters were so underdeveloped that it was hard to tell. Slotting this below Dr. No in my rankings


  1. I remember enjoying this one more than most and a fair amount better than "Dr. No". I didn't love it, just as I haven't "loved" most Bond movies, but I remember this one being above-average for me.