Following the success of Dr No James Bond returns in his second movie out based on the 5th novel by Ian Fleming. From Russia With Love ranked in then US President John F. Kennedys 10 favorite books. The film sees the return of Sean Connery as James Bond as he tries to retrieve a Russian lektor cryptographic device. Once again Terrance Young returns to direct with Broccoli and Saltzman producing
The Story: Following the death of Dr No in the previous movie SPECTRE plan to steal a lektor cryptographic from Russia with the intention to sell it back to them. Former SMERSH operative Rosa Klebb is put in charge of the mission and hires assassin Red Grant to assassinate Bond. She also hires a cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova to seduce Bond Romanova is unaware of Klebbs defection to SPECTRE.
Bond is informed of his new mission and meets with M for his briefing. Bond is given a photo of Romanova before being handed his main gadget. This marks the first appearance of Desmond Llywellyn as Q. The attache briefcase is the first in a line of many classic Bond gadgets we will see over the years. Bond is sent to Istanbul to meet with Kerim Bey. Much like Dr No Bond is tailed by a mysterious man when he arrives but unlike Dr No we have already met this man who is Red Grant. Bond meets with Bey following his meeting Bond does some spy work in his hotel room checking for any bugs which is seen several times throughout the series.
Beys office is bombed the next day so he and Bond go under ground to spy on a meeting at the Russian Consulate. Bond and Bey retreat to a gypsy camp whom Bey is friends with. The camp is attacked by Krilencu who was present at the meeting at the consulate. Bay is shot in the arm and wounded. Following the attack Bay and Bond Bey find Krilencu and Bey kills him with Bonds sniper.
Bond returns to his hotel and meets Romanova for the first time who is in Bonds bed. The following day Bond and Romanvoa meet for a rendezvous as one of the men who followed Bond at the airport is also there. The man is killed by Grant. Bond who know has the floor plan to the Russian Consulate thanks to Romanova from their meeting earlier takes the plans to Bey. Bond goes to the Consulate and a pre-arranged Bomb goes off. As the staff leave Bond goes into steal the lekto device. Bond, Romanova and Bey escape to the Orient Express train which is departing Istanbul.
While on the train Bey and Benz a soviet security man are killed by Grant who makes it look like they killed each other. Grant boards the train pretending to be Captain Nash a contact for Bond. Grant drugs Romanova during dinner which leaves just Bond and Grant. Grant knocks out Bond and when he awakes interrogates him. Grant reveals that SPECTRE have been playing the Russians against the British and that Romanova is under the impression she is doing this for Russia. Grant mentions a film of Bond and Romanova from the hotel. Grant then goes onto mention that after both are killed Grant will plant a letter in her bag mentioning that the whole thing was a murder suicide. Bond tricks Grant into opening his attache case which blows tear gas into Grants face. The fight scene that follows is one of the great Bond fight scenes ever. With Grant strangling Bond with fiber-wire Bond gets his knife from his case and stabs Grant in the arm allowing Bond to reverse the strangling killing Grant.
Bond and Romanova use Grants escape plan to escape the train. A boat chase ensues as SPECTRE chase Bond and Romanova. After their fuel barrels are shot Bond has Romanova deploy them into the ocean Bond then fires a flare into the barrels causing them to explode and destroy the SPECTRE boats.
Now in Venice Klebb disguises herself as a hotel maid and tries to steal the lektor while Bond is not looking. Klebb pulls a gun on Bond and orders Romaova out of the room. Romaova re-enters knocking the gun out of Klebbs hand as she now tries to kill Bond with a poisoned knife in her shoe. Romanova now with the gun decides on who to shot. Romanova shoots Klebb. Bond and Romanova end the movie on a gondola as Bond throws the film into the water.
Thoughts: One of the true great Bond movies. Many consider this the best Bond movie of all time. This film lacks a lot of the over the top action which would be a factor in the series following Goldfinger. From Russia With Love is one of the real true “spy” movies in the series. The fight scene between Bond and Grant is one of the best in the series. The idea of doing a fight in such a confined space just makes a fight scene so much more fun because it just makes everything that little more brutal.
Verdict: This is a top 5 Bond film in my book. Everything is just done so well. Connery is great once again which I will say for his first 4 films. Kerim Bey is one of the better Bond allies yet underrated I think. Grant is one of the better villians in the series. Overall just a classic Bond film.
Sean Connery as James Bond
Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
Pedro Armendariz as Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya as Rossa Klebb
Robert Shaw as Red Grant
Bernard Lee as M
Lois Maxwell as Miss Monneypenny
Desmond Llywellyn as Q
Terrence Young Director
Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman Producers.