Michael K. Beusch | San Mateo, California United States | 12/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From Russia With Love, the second James Bond film, is one of the best (in my view, second only to Goldfinger). Unlike the later films in the series, From Russia With Love is extremely faithful to the Ian Fleming novel with only slight variations on the story. In order to obtain a Russian decoding machine, 007 must travel to Istanbul, Turkey to aid a beautiful Russian defector ... even though he and the British Secret Service know it's probably a trap. But unbeknownst to Bond SPECTRE is playing the Russians and the British against each other. This is the most realistic of the Bond films with a story that could probably happen in the real world of espionage. The film does contain a gadget -- a trick briefcase (also in the Fleming novel) that contains throwing knives, ammunition, a folding sniper's rifle, 50 gold sovereigns and a tear gas cartridge that explodes when the case is opened improperly. The film, however, takes a very realistic approach to the story with none of the cartoon antics present in many of the later Bonds.
Terence Young, who also helmed Dr. No and Thunderball, does an outstanding job of directing. He makes wonderful use of the locations, especially in Istanbul. As with his other two Bond efforts, Young eschews a cartoon approach to the action in favor of a more brutal, realistic approach. And unlike many later Bond directors, Young concentrates on developing characters, making them real people with real emotions. The audience feels for the characters emotionally -- something unheard of with the cardboard cutout characters of the later films.
Peter Hunt's editing is a marvel. The action scenes are tightly edited and the film's pacing and continuity are flawless. In addition, the DVD documentary shows just how much Hunt helped shape the final project. He went beyond simply editing the film and actually helped shape and improve the story.
However, the best thing about the film is the casting. Young must have taken great care to properly cast From Russia With Love because every part matches their novel counterpart down to the last detail. Sean Connery, of course, is, and always will be, the best James Bond. Newcomer Daniela Bianchi is terrific as pseudo defector Tatiana Romanova. She is beautiful, sexy and appealing. It's too bad she didn't have more of a screen career. Lotte Lenya (Threepenny Opera), the famed German musical star, does a wonderful villainous turn as Rosa Klebb, former SMERSH agent who is now working for SPECTRE. Robert Shaw (A Man for all Seasons, Black Sunday, Jaws) is chilling as SPECTRE assassin Red Grant. And Pedro Armendariz, in the performance of his career, plays Ali Karim Bey, the head of Station T, Turkey. Aremedariz's performance is especially poignant because he was dying of cancer during the filming. He shot himself while in the hospital soon after he was through filming.
From Russia With Love is not only a good Bond film, but a good film alone, apart from the series. Along with Dr. No and Goldfinger, From Russia With Love represents a high point that the later films never quite matched.
The DVD transfer is spectacular, with terrific sound and picture quality. What makes the DVD special, however, are the special features which include three documentaries, trailers, TV and radio spots and cast & crew profiles. The main documentary is especially interesting as it details how the filmmakers drastically changed the story progression during the shoot. As with all of the Bond DVD's, MGM has done a superb job, giving the buyer much, much more than just the film to view."
Among the Finest in the Series
Mark Wylie | Spokane, WA United States | 09/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From Russia With Love ranks among the top three films in the durable James Bond series. As in many of the best films in the series, the tone is relatively serious. Rather than the fantastic schemes of some of the later Bond films, the plot is a fairly straightforward espionage story, dealing with Bond's attempts to get his hands on the obligatory MacGuffin, a coding machine. The story is believable and there is an atmosphere of genuine tension throughout the film.From Russia With Love's greatest strength is its superb cast. Sean Connery, in his second outing as Bond, is very good, handling both dialogue and action adeptly. Daniela Bianchi is a beautiful heroine, and her onscreen relationship with Bond is very plausible. Other roles are also cast from strength--Lotte Lenya and Robert Shaw, as the principal villains, and Pedro Armendariz, as Bond's fellow MI-6 agent, are the most notable performances.While From Russia With Love cannot be considered a classic movie--it owes too much to North By Northwest for that--it is a very enjoyable movie to view again and again. I watch it several times a year."
Connery's Favorite 007 Film
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 01/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bonds come and go, but "From Russia With Love" (1963) is a screen classic in its own right. The second 007 adventure makes the most of its increased budget with expansive locales (Turkey, Italy and even Scotland), ruthless villains (memorably portrayed by Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya) and Sean Connery in terrific form. Terence Young directs this Ian Fleming adaptation with a firm hand. "From Russia With Love" remains Connery's favorite Bond film . . . and it's easy to see why."
Easily one of the greatest in the James Bond series
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 03/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most James Bond fans have their personal favorites among all the films in this forty-year series: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is mine. In many ways, this was actually the first film with the full James Bond formula in tact. DR. NO was enjoyable, but Sean Connery's Bond was very different in that film than in the subsequent films. In DR. NO, Bond was a serious, unironic, humorless secret agent, very much like the character in the Ian Fleming novels. In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, Bond departed from the character in the novels, and became witty, ironic, and very much tongue-in-cheek. In short, he became the Bond we all know and love. This is also the first film in which Desmond Llewelyn appeared as Q, who went on to play in all the remaining films (excepting Sean Connery's comeback with a different studio). Q provides Bond with his trick attaché case, the first of the many gimmicks we associate with Bond. The story is a great improvement as well. On top of this, the villains in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE represented a huge leap forward from DR. NO. In the list of the great Bond villains, both Robert Shaw's Donald 'Red' Grant and cabaret legend Lotte Lenya's Rosa Klebb rank near the top. Shaw comes across less as a human being than a highly programmed cyborg, and Lenya's sadistic turn as a poisoned-knife-in-shoe harpy has been often imitated.The setting for the film, Istanbul, is one of the best in the entire series. It perfect set the international tone for all subsequent Bond films. The city is used as a perfect backdrop for much of the film. Among all the other distinctions of this film, it also belongs on the short list of the great train films, with much of the film taking place on the train that travels along the route of the former Orient Express. The only film that I think rivals this one in the James Bond series is the immediate sequel, GOLDFINGER, which is my second favorite Bond film.By the way, this is one of the few films in which Bond does NOT say, "Bond, James Bond.""
The Best Bond Film
J. Patterson | Virginia | 11/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a James Bond purist. I've seen each James Bond movie (except Quantum of Solace) at least twice, and own all of the Special Edition DVDs from 2002. I have come to the conclusion that this is the best of the Bond films.
I've read several of the James Bond novels, and I believe that starting with Goldfinger, the film series began to rely too heavily on gadgets and other things that distracted from the plot. This and Dr. No are the most faithful to the novel series, and they also have the best production values. FRWL is the better of the two.
Since I already own all of the films on DVD from 2002, I was reluctant to re-purchase them when they were released as "Ultimate Edition" DVDs a couple years ago. I wound up not re-purchasing them, and I'm glad I didn't. I just bought Dr. No and FRWL on Blu-ray, which feature better picture and sound quality than the DVDs, and also have better extras. I highly reccommend picking this (and Dr. No) up on Blu-ray!Dr. No (James Bond) [Blu-ray]"