From Russia With Love (1963)
Tatiana: “Oh James will you make love to me all the time in England?”
James Bond: “Day and Night”.
I absolutely love James Bond in this mission, not only is he having a good time but we see him in a different light than the one-dimensional spy version that follows this movie. We see James as a man of honor to his dear friend Ali Kerim Berey (Pedro Armendariz), allowing him to take a revenge shot on an attacker that killed many of his men and trading a good laugh here and there in the off hours. From Russia With Love also has one of the sexiest belly dance scenes I have seen in a movie, and a whole host of leggy beauties to complement the killers and agents throughout. This is Connery the way us hardcore fans remember him, the Connery of Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. Unfortunately after these three the old man became complacent, uninspired and drab in his roles as the spy and arguably nobody has come close to the James Bond of the initial 3 movies.
When MI6 receives a request from a beautiful Russian defector for none other than James Bond, they see it as an opportunity to gain a Russian deep coding machine named Lector. In order to get a leg up on things (no pun intended), James is instructed to go to Istanbul to meet up with his powerful friend Kerim in order to wait on the mysterious beauty to contact him. Knowing it’s a trap but too good an opportunity to pass up, James is lured into what the Russians assume is his greatest weakness, a beautiful woman. Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) is forced to woo the spy but what the Russians did not bargain on is James Bond ‘s sexual prowess, combined with the deep knowledge of women from Ali Kerim. A combination that not only avoids the trap but completely reverses it’s intent.
One interesting thing that gets lost in the future movies is Bond’s vulnerability, when James enters a bedroom he checks for bugs, traps and potential ambushers. In the later movies, especially the Roger Moore reign, we see Bond forget to be careful, forget to be human and assume the role of a relative god amongst men. The memorable lines in From Russia with Love is plentiful, as Tatiana mocks her love for James at every turn while he dodges them to stick to the Lector and attaining it. The criminal group Specter is in the background as usual and in a way that is absolutely genius this time around. This is the quintessential Bond movie to get a newbie started on old 007 and it is by far my favorite of the bunch.
Bond-o-meter Score (ranges from 1-10)
James Bond/Story(10): This is Connery at his most dashing, daring and professional.
Bond Girl (9): Tatiana Romanova is a hard act to follow as a Bond Girl.
Bond Toys(7): The suitcase is all Bond gets but the fact that it saves his life goes a long way.
The Villain (10): There isn’t a central villain, but a brilliant organization led by a mysterious leader is about as great as it gets. Specter comes off STRONG in this movie.
MoneyPenny Bonus (10): An alleged tale of M and 007 getting women off hours, James spooning my favorite Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) before heading out to a mission is what I look for. This movie is the one, it most definitely is the one.