Our Bond review series is progressing slowly, but it is progressing.

Cast and Crew Information

Sean Connery as James Bond
Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
Pedro Armendariz as Ali Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb
Robert Shaw as Red Grant
Bernard Lee as M
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
Desmond Llewelyn as Major Boothroyd

Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, adaptation by Johanna Harwood, novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by Terence Young

Availability Information

This is available in all sorts of editions. The DVD editions include the single disc, double disc, five movie ultimate collection, or the 21 movie ultimate collection. The Blu-Ray editions include the single movie edition, the three movie bundle or the six movie bundle.

Premise

SPECTRE plays the Russians and British against each other, with hopes of obtaining a top secret decoding device.

High Point

“I’ve had a particularly fascinating life. Would you like to hear about it?”

Low Point

The effects for the off screen explosions.

The Review

As is usually the case, the fact that the product is an adaptation from another medium limits its originality. As the second entry in a long running series, it introduces elements that the series would return to many times over the years. The most obvious such example is the introduction of Desmond Llewelyn as the gadget master. Granted, he wasn’t known as Q yet, but the actor would fill this role for almost 40 years, until his death by a drunk driver at age 85. Along with Q, the gadgets started to really come out, and Bond’s womanizing was made quite clear. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are extremely mixed. Some of the physical effects look great, mostly because they actually blew things up instead of trying to fake it. Sadly, when the explosions are off screen and the actors react, it’s pretty bad. The consulate explosion features some psychadelic colour switching, while the helicopter explosion is worse. Bond is hidden in a slight alcove, and the explosion lights his face but not the rocks around him, putting the blast almost straight ahead rather than directly above. To make matters worse, he’s hit by a gust of wind from his right, which also appears to be a result of the explosion. Is it really that hard to pick a direction and stick with it? I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is very well done. The machinations of SPECTRE are plausible, as are the British and Russian reactions to the moves. The supporting cast was interesting, and the villains were evil enough for the story to move forward in the classic spy style. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is what you’d expect from an early Bond movie. Every character on screen has a single dimension, and though they’re played well, they aren’t compelling parts to play. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production was generally good. It’s definitely a thriller from the 1960s, with the seemingly slow pacing that comes with such things. It’s well done given the style and technology of the times. Today’s more rapid editing wouldn’t work well with this particular script, anyway. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. The slow editing of the time makes other early Bond films feel slow, but this one moves along nicely, with good action set pieces along the way. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is easily one of the best classic Bond movies. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, From Russia With Love receives 32 out of 42.