From Russia With Love (1963)

From Russia With Love started to establish the Bond formula. The gun barrel, in the beginning, a Bond theme song, and the first appearance of Q played memorably by Desmond Llewelyn. From Russia With Love was the Connery movie I remember being the fondest of. From Russia With Love is a solid Bond film. The villains are formidable, the Bond women serve a purpose besides being eye candy, and the plot moves at a steady pace.

From Russia With Love opens with Donald Red Grant (played by a younger Robert Shaw who’s also in Jaws) as he strangles someone to death who’s wearing a mask of James Bond. Grant is being trained to take out Bond for revenge of Bond’s murder of Dr. No. To further this plan, Rosa Klebb (played by Lotte Lenya) recruits Tatiana Romanova (played by Daniela Bianchi) to seduce Bond. Bond is contacted by M who tells him of Romanova who contacted Bond to assist with her defecting from Russia. If Bond helps her, she will give him a Lektor, which would help in code-breaking foreign intelligence. M senses a trap, but ultimately, doesn’t care and wants Bond to retrieve the Lektor anyway. From Russia With Love features a brutal train fight scene, many assassinations, and a sharp shoe.

The two main villains in From Russia With Love are Rosa Klebb and Grant. Klebb is the worst of the two in my opinion. She recruited Romanova telling her if she doesn’t do this, she will be killed. She knows that once Romanova serves her purpose, she will be killed anyway. Klebb is manipulative and is willing to sacrifice someone for the mission. She doesn’t herself kill, but watches from afar which makes her that much worse. She does try to kill Bond in the end with the poisonous blade in her shoe, but she’s shot and killed by Romanova which was perfect. Grant is the physical equal to Bond. He’s trained relentlessly to be given his chance to perform each mission he’s assigned. He kills Bond’s ally, Ali Kerim Bey (played by Pedro Armendaiz) which Bond actually seems saddened about. Both Klebb and Grant were formidable opponents for Bond and I enjoyed watching them on screen.

The Bond women in From Russia With Love do serve a purpose besides being love interests. Besides Klebb, Tatiana Romanova is a cipher clerk and a corporal in the Soviet Union intelligence. She’s accomplished, intelligent, and loyal to her country. While From Russia with Love features Bond women in different roles, the treatment of women in this film is gross. There’s a scene featuring Bond and Kerim Bey at a location featuring Romani women. This film does use a slur repeatedly and shows two women fighting over one man. It also shows the same women being presented to Bond as a gift since Bond helped save the village from assassins. After this scene, Bond slapped Romanova because he felt she was hiding information from him. This turns out to be incorrect once the plan is revealed by Grant to Bond. Both Klebb and Romanova are intriguing female characters however, From Russia With Love’s treatment of women isn’t great.

My favorite scenes within From Russia With Love were the train scenes with Bond, Romanova, and Grant. It reminded me of Murder on the Orient Express especially since Bond isn’t sure who’s after him especially after Kerim Bey’s murder. I liked Bond’s fight scene with Grant as it shows this brutal action scene in such an enclosed space. I like the locations of filming in Instanbul, Eastern Europe, and Venice.

From Russia With Love is a solid Connery Bond film. This film establishes the Bond formula, and Connery starts to embody James Bond as a character. There was a considerable amount of action scenes both in the Romani camp, on the train, and a speedboat chase. The only negative point I would add is how From Russia With Love treats women as a whole. I ranked From Russia With Love three martinis.

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