Monday, 11 January 2016

From Russia with Love (1963)

"Red wine with fish- that should have told me something!"

Two films in and we still haven't quite hit the formula as it would be. There's another perfect, fully-formed Bond villain- a cat-stroking head of SPECTRE whose face is unseen and who is, as yet, unnamed- and this time there's a rather extensive gadget, handed to Bond by Major Boothroyd of Q branch (not "Q"), this time played by Desmond Llewelyn. It's early days still, though: it's 1963, and in the final sequences Bond even wears a hat.

It's a good film though, making the most if it's glamorous Istanbul location with a set piece in the Hagia Sophia, although this contrasts somewhat with the cramped surroundings of the Orient Express.

The film is again carried by the remarkable Sean Connery, although another acting highlight is the rare appearance of George Pastell in a film not featuring Egyptian mummies. Pedro Armendariz gives us a likeable, worldly-wise Karim Bey, although it's obvious from an early stage that he's going to die. Such is the rhythm of films like this.

Daniela Bianchi is a rather passive and restrained Bond girl; that's a tradition which had still to evolve. At this point the films are still reasonably faithful adaptations of the novels, even to the absurd point of the clearly Scottish Bond being referred to as an "English gentleman. It is again, though, a bloody entertaining film.

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