From Russia with Love
From Russia With Love: James Bond must assist a Soviet Defector, while watching his back as SPECTRE are out to avenge the death of Dr No.
As with Dr No, this film expands on several more recurring themes in the series; most notably Q Branch and the gadgets, pre-title action (although technically a mini mission), and Red Grant – the first of Bonds larger-than-life opposite numbers – and more generally ‘henchmen’ carrying out the grunt work on behalf of the main villain. More than anything else From Russia is quite the sexist film, with crass lesbian overtones, full-on belly-dancing credits, a ridiculously overlong scantily-clad girl fight and continual put-down of the women – what happened to the ladykiller from Dr No?!?
For me this film is summed up by “Trains and Tunisia”, as it takes around an hour for anything substantial to happen. Unfortunately, Bond doesn’t even make it to Russia (Cold War tensions were high at the time), yet the film’s full of Terrible Russian – and English – accents. For being one of the most celebrated and highly rated films I personally don’t think that there’s much to like in From Russia, and that the majority of the film is mediocre and forgettable.
Villain: Rosa Kleb – looks mean, pointy shoes but killed by the Bond Girl! – 5
Henchmen: Red – benchpressing benchmark for super-strength bad guys / Footnote for chess Grandmaster – 7
Bond Girl: Tania – Hot Russian – 8
Action: Train fight, helicopter, Boat Chase – 3
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4? Ah man this is one of my favorites! To me it works more as a straight spy movie than a James Bond film as there is a lot less of the grandness that characterizes the later stuff and to a lesser degree Dr. No. The fight in the train is one of the best non-martial arts hand-to-hand fights ever put to film in my opinion. So well shot and edited. To be fair, the first time I saw this I thought it was ridiculously boring and only came to appreciate it later.
Fully agree on the fight – the fact that similar train fights are attempted twice with Tee Hee and Jaws later in the series is probably the best complement this one could get.
Just think there’s too much dead time in this film in between the little blips of action. Also, Red would have been much better in a lot of the other films where a decent henchman is lacking.
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I also agree that it’s an overrated Bond. Even Matt Munroe’s song is boring. But that close-in fight scene in the train, which they sort of replicated in the elevator in Thunderball, worked brilliantly.