From Russia with Love 25.05.18 [12]

From Russia with Love (1963) is the second in the James Bond film series of British spy films, directed by Terence Young, starring Sean Connery, Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee and Daniela Bianchi. Ted Moore won a BAFTA for Best British cinematography.

Bond (Connery) is deftly garrotted in the SMERSH (Spy Detection training facility) grounds, but the deceased is, in fact, an imposter and the scenario is merely a training exercise for SMERSH

Three senior SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) officers meet, one of whom is ex-SMERSH Colonel, Rosa Klebb (Lenya). A plot is devised to eliminate Bond and a beautiful woman, Tatiana Romanova (Bianchi) is enlisted to seduce him.

Bond is summoned to MI6’s London headquarters to meet ‘M’(Lee) as Romanova has been in touch with the offer of an invaluable coding machine if Bond will help her defect. Despite suspicions, Bond, well-equipped by ‘M’, travels to meet British Intelligence Station Chief, Bey (Armendáriz)

Klebb meets the earlier assassin, Grant (Shaw) who, with a diagnosis of “homicidal-paranoia”, is considered “superb material” for SPECTRE.

Bond’s driver is killed en route to the hotel where Bond finds his room bugged. Bey assures Bond that the Soviet Embassy can be infiltrated; cleverly spying on the conference room, they identify a Bulgarian assassin, Krilencu (Haggerty)

Bey is injured during an attack, Bond being saved by Grant in his role to ensure Bond can complete his mission. Bey kills Krilencu the next night.

Bond ends up in bed with Tatiana and they plan their theft, unaware Klebb is recording them. All goes well until Bey is killed on the train journey to Trieste. Bond suspects Tatiana, unaware that he is being tailed by Grant.

Grant drugs Tatiana and tricks Bond, then explains the whole plan to him – which Bond finds impressive. Bond naturally gets the better of him and goes after his boss, Klebb, whilst she is told by her menacing boss to get the coding machine and kill Bond.

A desperate struggle ensues in Bond and Tatiana’s hotel room ……….

Compared to Dr. No, From Russia with Love almost has a sense of realism to it, with significant improvements in costume design and the beautifully intricate sets and locations earning 10/10 for production design. The wonderfully complex narrative, with an abundance of compelling characters and exhilarating acting, in addition to more complex camera work and directing, shows this film as more expertly crafted.

As Armendáriz was terminally ill during filming, scheduling was amended so his scenes could be filmed whilst he was still physically able, but the director had to double for him in some of the long shots.

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