#86 From Russia With Love
The criminal organisation SPECTRE wants to obtain a Russian Lektor cryptographic device. In order to do so they trick Tantiana ‘Tanya’ Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a Soviet Loyalist cryptic clerk in Istanbul, into being their unwitting pawn. Tanya sends word of her willingness to defect to British Intelligence, with the Lektor machine, but only if James Bond (Sean Connery) will escort her. Sensing it’s a trap, but with the incentive of the Lektor being too much, Bond is sent in to retrieve both the girl and the device.
After the success of Dr No, this second installment was given double the budget of the first film and went on to be a major success. Many critics denote this film as the best film in the series and it is listed as the personal favourite Bond film by Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig.
Like Dr No, this film sets up a lot of what would be common themes of the series: the pre-title section, the use of gadgets, the introduction of Desmond Llewelyn as Q, an accompanying musical number and the sentence “James Bond will return in …” before the credit sequence. Additionally this is the first time the secondary bond action theme music would be employed.
I’ve already mentioned my opinions of Connery in the role but I’ll reiterate that the interactions between him and Tanya in this film perfectly illustrate how loving he can be with a women and then just how cold he can be to her only moments later if he thinks she’s working against him. Bianchi does wonderfully in this role and I prefer her character over that of Ursula Andress’ in the previous film. Once again she had to be dubbed by another actress (Barbara Jefford) however, as she was picked for the role primarily because she was 1960’s Miss Universe runner up and didn’t speak any English.
The plot of this film is often praised for being one of the few in the series in which the story seems to be much more grounded in reality. There is less interest in gadgets and cars in this one and is more geared as a Cold War espionage thriller. Some compare it to North By Northwest and it is rumoured the helicopter chase near the end was inspired by its biplane chase sequence.
A final point of interest is that this is one of the only Bond films to have any sort of continuity with previous films. Dr No is referred to, and the whole reason for Bond being brought in, is for SPECTRE to try and get revenge for disrupting their plans. A couple of later films (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Die Another Day) do this a little but it wasn’t really until Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace that any sort of continuity was incorporated again. Another tie in with the previous film is the continued relationship with Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson), Bond’s off mission girlfriend. Originally she was supposed to be a long running character, like Monneypenny (Lois Maxwell), but was dropped after this movie for some reason.
A great film, with much tighter plot and pacing than Dr No but before the gadgetry and super human attributes of Bond seemed to kick in. 5/5