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James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition – From Russia With Love

Genre: , ,

Cast: Sean Connery, Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Daniela Bianchi

Director: Terence Young

Rated: PG

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

SUNY Purchase '05

"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: December 12th, 2006
Click to Buy on DVD or Bluray!
Overall Grade: A

James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition – From Russia With Love

Review By: Rocco Passafuime

From Russia with Love

In 1962, the world was introduced to secret agent James Bond 007's first screen outing in Dr. No, which became a fairly modest worldwide success. With Bond introduced to the moviegoing public, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli felt it was inevitable what 007 novel the follow-up film would adapt.

A year before Dr. No's release, Ian Fleming's 1957 Bond novel From Russia With Love was endorsed during a Life magazine interview by then-U.S. president John F. Kennedy. As a result, the book series skyrocketed in popularity and From Russia With Love was soon hailed by critics and readers as the best of the Bond novels, as well as one of the best spy thriller novels ever written.

That, coupled with Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Russia-dominated U.S.S.R at an all-time high, culminating with the Cuban Missile Crisis, were among the factors that paved the way for the release of the film version of From Russia With Love, now available on DVD.

The film begins as the mysterious organization SPECTRE hatches a plot to assassinate agent 007 James Bond (Sean Connery) in retaliation for the defeat of the mad scientist Dr. No. In charge of the mission is the militant former agent of the Soviet spy agency SMERSH, Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), and ruthless assassin Donald "Red" Grant (Robert Shaw).

Klebb's plan is to use embassy clerk Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) to lure Bond into Turkey. This is under the false pretense of not only defecting to the West with the promise of turning in a valuable Russian decoder device to the Western spy agencies, but of a professed love for 007.

Bond, knowing clearly that it's a potential ruse, travels to Istanbul where he teams up with Turkish agent Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz). After Bond intercepts Tatiana and travel by train west across Europe, he soon encounters Grant and discovers Tatiana is merely a pawn in a much more deeply complex SPECTRE conspiracy.

While Dr. No set the tone for the basics of the James Bond character and the mood of the story, From Russia With Love would expand on this and set much of the basic framework for the structure of the James Bond film. Surprisingly, compared to the previous film and many of the film that followed this, From Russia With Love is one of the most realistically and cleverly-conceived 007 films ever.

Wisely eschewing the novel's original villains SMERSH for the more fictitious SPECTRE, director Terrance Young and screenwriter Richard Maibaum manages to set the most seamless balance of smart storytelling and great characters with exciting action and escapism as a result, while the basic story remains largely faithful to the original novel. Also adding to the high quality of From Russia With Love is the film's great main cast of characters.

While Sean Connery spent much of Dr. No trying to

fine-tune his own distinct interpretation of the character, here he completely sets the tone for what the James Bond character would be in the film, suave and tough complemented with often darkly humorous quips. Lotte Lenya manages to create one of the most undoubtedly creepy Bond villains as Klebb, Daniela Bianchi brings an added elegance to the Bond girl standard as Tatiana Romanova, and Robert Shaw sets the standard for the cold-blooded Bond assassin with "Red" Grant.

The DVD is presented in the 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the sound quality in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. The first disc also includes audio commentary by director Terence Young and various cast and crew members.

The audio commentary here is obviously cut and pasted from numerous archived video and audio. However, the different perspectives of the long-deceased Young and many of the actors and crew members does manage to provide a great wealth of information for how the film was conceived and produced.

While the Bond series would not make its greatest mark on the world of film until the subsequent entry Goldfinger, From Russia With Love sets much of the pattern for how a Bond film would operate at its most basic level. It manages to transcend its antiquated Cold-War-era mood due to a high quality of cast, script, and direction, creating a Bond film that, even now, can stand strongly on its own.

Movie Grade:
DVD Features Grade: B-
Overall Grade: A

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